CHICAGO — Every part of Illinois is struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, Chicago’s top doctor said Tuesday.
Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said everyone in Illinois should “have their guard up” and should be taking steps to try to avoid spreading coronavirus. That means wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and washing your hands, she said.
“Virtually the whole state is now at a point where we are seeing a level of new cases that is of concern,” Arwady said during the press conference. “Every week there are counties that are being updated as warning counties.”
The state reported 29 more people dying from the disease during the past day, including seven in Cook County. At least 7,917 people have died in Illinois.
Another 1,680 cases were reported, as well, bringing the state’s total up to 223,470. Illinois’ positivity rate is at 4.1 percent.
As of Monday night, 1,549 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 345 people in the ICU and 135 people on ventilators.
New restrictions have been imposed in Will and Kankakee counties and further downstate. Those restrictions aren’t coming to Chicago yet because the outbreak is more under control here — but Arwady warned she does have concerns about Chicago.
“And frankly, when Illinois is having a problem, we’re all having a problem,” she said. “… None of us in Illinois are really in a place to brag at the moment.”
In Chicago, the average number of new cases per day has risen to 341, and an average of three people are dying every day. The city’s positivity rate is at 5.1 percent.
There have been 69,039 confirmed cases in Chicago and at least 2,855 people have died.
Chicago and the rest of Illinois have seen a gradual rise in new coronavirus cases for months. And while Chicago has increased the amount of testing it’s doing, the rise isn’t just due to testing, Arwady said — COVID-19 is spreading.
Most of Chicago’s new cases are being seen among people who are 18-29 years old, and nearly half of the city’s new cases are among people who are Latino, Arwady said.
And the bulk of new cases are coming from people traveling and bringing the virus back to Chicago or from coronavirus spreading among members of a family, Arwady said.
One of the city’s investigators contacted a family after a mom brought her baby in for a coronavirus test, Arwady said. A relative of the mom’s answered and told the investigator the young mother had contracted the virus and died after being hospitalized for just three days.
“Over and over again, we are hearing about people, even now in Chicago, who are seriously ill and, in some cases, even dying,” Arwady said.
The doctor said that means people need to keep taking the virus seriously, even at home. People should be avoiding “unnecessary gatherings of any kind,” including weddings, birthday parties and other events, Arwady said.
If someone is sick, they are legally required to stay home, and they should get tested, Arwady said.
While people wait for COVID-19 test results, they should assume they are positive and stay home and try to keep themselves distant from members of their family. They shouldn’t eat together, shouldn’t prepare food, should sleep apart from family members and should wear a mask indoors with their family.
If a member of your household does positive, everyone should quarantine for 14 days — even if other people in the household test negative, Arwady said.
Parents should also keep teaching their kids about wearing masks and washing their hands.
“Those everyday preventative measures do work,” Arwady said. “We know at this point what can help prevent COVID. It’s just about making sure we keep it in our mind.
“Everybody wants COVID to be over, but, unfortunately, it’s going to be with us really for a long time.”
Everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot to prevent a double flu and coronavirus epidemic, Arwady said. Those shots are becoming available now.
And people should also wear a mask outdoors when around others, even if just passing someone on the sidewalk, Arwady said. There has been spread of coronavirus outdoors, so people shouldn’t think they don’t need to wear a face covering or social distance just because they’re outside, she said.
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