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Chicago Could Bring Back Stricter Limits On How Many People Can Gather Together As Coronavirus Rises Again

The city could look at further limiting how many people are allowed to gather, since gatherings are where officials have repeatedly seen outbreaks of COVID-19, Chicago's top doctor said.

Patrons gather in Old Crow Smokehouse on Clark Street in the Wrigleyville neighborhood on June 27, 2020 during the first weekend of Illinois in Phase Four of reopening amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city is considering a stricter limit on how many people are allowed to gather as coronavirus continues its resurgence in Chicago.

Officials haven’t made any decisions yet, but they are looking at how they might bring back restrictions to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus, said Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, during a Wednesday press conference.

Just a month ago, the city regularly saw fewer than 200 new cases of coronavirus per day and was considered only moderate-high risk, Arwady said. Her goal was to keep that number at 200 or fewer.

But coronavirus has been making a slow comeback in Chicago and throughout Illinois.

As of Wednesday, Chicago is seeing an average of 277 new cases per day — and, recently, there have been days that have seen more than 300 or even 400 cases reported, Arwady said.

Arwady previously said hitting 400 or more new cases per day would be a “line in the sand” where Chicago would seriously look at bringing back restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus. That’s because being at 400 new cases per day means Chicago will be considered to have its outbreak in poor control, according to city and federal standards.

“We’ve seen a significant increase over the last month in both the number of cases and the percent positivity,” Arwady said. “Where we’re in that 200-400 range again, that’s sort of our yellow zone, where we’re thinking about the need to potentially make additional changes.”

The city could look at further limiting how many people are allowed to gather, since gatherings are where officials have repeatedly seen outbreaks of COVID-19, Arwady said.

As of now, the city allows people to gather in groups of up to 50 indoors or 100 outdoors.

RELATED: Gatherings With ‘Trusted’ Friends, Family Are Driving Rise In Chicago Coronavirus Cases, Top Doc Says

But gatherings among friends and family are what’s driving the rise in coronavirus cases here, officials have said. Birthday parties and other events among family and friends have turned into super-spreader events where multiple people have gotten COVID-19 — and part of that is because people are letting down their guard at such gatherings.

Arwady said the city hasn’t yet made decisions about what restrictions, if any, will be re-imposed. The city will track its data to determine what officials can do to limit the spread of coronavirus, she said.

Already, the city has canceled its plans to have public schools reopen with a hybrid model in the fall; instead, Chicago Public Schools will start Sept. 8 with all classes held remotely — with officials saying it’s because there’s been an uptick in new COVID-19 cases over the past month.

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