This illustration reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

The Chicago Department of Public Health noted on Friday that Cook County moved back to a medium COVID-19 risk level because of dropping confirmed cases. Hospital admissions and percent of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients slightly decreased week-over-week in Chicago.

At this point of late summer, no one on the mid-South Side has died of COVID-19 since late June; just three people have died of the disease since Memorial Day.

As of Aug. 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its COVID-19 guidance. People are no longer advised to quarantine if they come into contact with someone who has COVID-19; instead, they are advised to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and to get tested on the fifth day. 

People should still isolate themselves from others when they have COVID-19. If they test positive, they should stay home for at least five days, away from others. If the person does not have a fever for 24 hours after the five days without the use of medication, and if the person's symptoms are improving or they were asymptomatic, they can stop isolating, though they should avoid being around people who may get seriously ill from COVID-19 until the 11th day and wear a high-quality mask through the 10th day. 

Further isolation guidelines exist for those who experience moderate illness (with symptoms like  shortness of breath or difficult breathing) or severe illness (i.e., hospitalization). If symptoms worsen, the isolation clock restarts. 

The CDC is no longer recommending screening testing of asymptomatic people without known exposures in community settings. As of Friday, Chicago Public Schools said it will manage a voluntary, free, school-based asymptomatic screening testing program for employees and students on a weekly basis, regardless of vaccination status. 

The Associated Press reports that CDC officials said the changes came as around 95% of Americans 16 years old and older have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or infected with the coronavirus and therefore have some immunity to it.

People are still encouraged to stay up to date on their vaccinations. Vaccines are available for free for every Chicagoan 6 months and older through or by calling 312-746-4835.

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