CHICAGO — The city is facing a spike in coronavirus cases, and the city’s top doctor thinks it’s being fueled by “COVID fatigue.”
Some of the increase in new cases is due to increased testing, but not all of it, said Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health. Instead, it appears the virus is seeing more spread again, in part because people are not taking safety precautions — like social distancing — because they’re tired of the pandemic and its restrictions, she said.
“I think people are getting COVID fatigue,” Arwady said Thursday. “I think this is real, that people are feeling like they’re tired of wearing their masks, they’re tired of social distancing, and they’re often letting their guard down.”
But the virus is still spreading, Arwady said, and the vast majority of new cases are coming from events and places where people feel safe, so they don’t follow safety precautions.
For example, people aren’t wearing masks or social distancing when they’re gathering in small groups with family and friends because they think everyone is safe, Arwady said — but that’s exactly where most new cases are occurring.
The increased spread can be seen all around Chicago. There are new cases in every ZIP code, and every racial/ethnic group and almost every age group is seeing an increase in new cases, Arwady said.
In Chicago, the average number of new coronavirus cases is up to 475 per day, a 43 percent increase from just one week ago. The city’s positivity rate has also risen .6 percentage points.
Arwady urged people to continue following safety guidelines, like staying 6 feet away from others, wearing masks when with people who aren’t part of your household and washing your hands frequently. Those actions can prevent coronavirus from spreading, experts have said.
The virus doesn’t care if you’re sick of following the rules, Arwady said — it only cares about finding new people to infect.
“I know people are tired of COVID,” Arwady said. “We’ve been talking about COVID fatigue — this wishing that we didn’t have to do the things we know work. Wishing that we didn’t have to wear masks. Wishing that we could do all the normal ways of interacting that let us be close to each other … .
“But right now, we need people more than ever to do the things that we know work.”
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