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Coronavirus In Chicago: Not Staying Home, Wearing Masks Could Lead To More Surges, Pritzker Says

Officials are worried about potential second waves of coronavirus this summer or fall.

The COVID-19 Testing Center at Innovative Express Care in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on Monday, April 27, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Gov. JB Pritzker said he’s concerned people easing up on social distancing now could lead to a surge of coronavirus cases this summer or fall.

Officials have said before they’re worried about new waves of coronavirus in the fall and winter. But Pritzker said he’s concerned about more cases this summer, too, as people are staying at home less and not following guidelines like wearing masks when around other people.

The governor, speaking during a Monday press conference, said he doesn’t yet know if he expects a summer surge but he is “deeply concerned.”

“It’s the reason we’re following this very gradual plan; it makes sure we have a health care capacity to deal with any kind of surges. If people don’t follow the plan or if people don’t wear face coverings … more people are going to get coronavirus, COVID-19 …,” Pritzker said. “We have beautiful days that are coming throughout the summer and people will want to be outside where ever they are in the state, they’ll want to be together gathering … .

“We’ll keep monitoring. We hope people will follow the rules.”

Officials have tried to step up enforcement of virus prevention methods: Business owners can now be charged with a misdemeanor if they reopen prematurely, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot threatened to fine churches that hold in-person services.

Chicago’s also fining people who host parties and towing cars of people who attend them.

But what’s also troubling is the potential for another wave of COVID-19 this fall. Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said cases in the fall could be dangerous since that’s also flu season — and Chicagoans who have had to battle the flu and COVID-19 have done worse.

“I worry about having a really bad flu season on top of even a lower level of COVID,” Arwady said April 28.

Pritzker said he’s very worried about the fall, as well.

“I must say that I’m concerned about all of the warnings that have been given by epidemiologists about the potential for a surge in the fall,” Pritzker said. “If people don’t learn the lessons over the summer … and then we hit a fall surge, we’re going to be in trouble.”

Lightfoot has no scheduled press conferences. Pritzker has his daily briefing at 2:30 p.m.

Coronavirus Cases

• There have been 96,485 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois as of Monday afternoon. Many of those patients have recovered since testing positive.

• At least 4,234 people have died in Illinois as a result of the virus.

• There have been 37,381 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chicago and at least 1,705 people have died.

If You Need Help

• Sick? Broke? Want To Help? Here’s A Massive List Of Coronavirus Resources In Chicago

What’s Happening In Chicago

Salons: Barber shops and salons are preparing to reopen with new safety measures.

Small Gyms: Workout reservations and temperature checks could be on the docket as small gym owners get ready to safely reopen.

Contact Tracing: Pritzker is ramping up the tracing program that intends to isolate every person known to be in recent contact with someone who has newly confirmed case.

Masks: Two local designers have switched from high fashion to protective masks as part of the city’s effort to provide 1 million reusable cloth masks to Chicagoans.

Humboldt Park: Center Home for Hispanic Elderly marked a grim milestone last week: It had the most deaths due to coronavirus out of any nursing home in the city.

• Domestic Violence: Demand is spiking at domestic violence shelters, but they’re losing beds for social distancing.

• I Grow Chicago: The group is raising money to better help Black Chicagoans who are struggling during the pandemic.

• Undercounting Deaths: The number of COVID-19 deaths in Illinois is likely higher than what’s been reported, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

 Street Vendors: Street vendors are seeing sales plummet — but they have few, if any, options for emergency relief. Volunteers are raising money to help families, many of them undocumented, who are struggling.

• Food Delivery: Services like Grubhub and DoorDash will soon have to tell customers just how much they’re charging restaurants for delivering food. The city is pushing for more transparency from the services as restaurants struggle during the pandemic.

 Armory: The Broadway Armory has become an emergency homeless shelter as city officials try to alleviate crowding at existing facilities and protect people who are homeless from coronavirus.

• Therapy: The Center on Halsted is launching virtual therapy groups to support LGBTQ people during the coronavirus pandemic.

• Unemployment: 1099 and gig workers can now file claims for unemployment.

• Keep Isolating: It’s not safe to start expanding your “quarantine circle,” doctors said.

• Help for Artists: The statewide Artist Relief Fund is again taking applications.

 Masks: Everyone is now required to wear a face covering or mask when unable to social distance. And yes, stores can require you to wear a face covering if you want to shop.

Here’s what you need to know about the requirement.

• Testing: Officials are now saying anyone with coronavirus symptoms can get tested in Illinois. Before, they’d advised most people to simply stay at home and assume they had coronavirus.

Here’s where you can get tested in Chicago.


Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.

Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People with no symptoms may have the virus and spread it to others.

The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The most common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills and shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste and/or smell

People have also experienced body aches, nasal congestion and runny nose, according to Harvard Medical School.

If you or someone else has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, become confused, cannot be roused or develop a bluish face or lips, get immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.

How To Protect Yourself

Here’s what you can actually do to prevent getting ill:

  • The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you have to sneeze or cough with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.

What To Do If You Think You’re Sick

Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where COVID-19 is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been ordered to stay home or risk getting a $500 fine.

Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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