CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned the city could bring back the restrictions of Phase 3 if the “second surge” of coronavirus doesn’t turn around.
The surge started this month and has quickly gained steam: Chicago’s averaging 508 new cases per day, a 50 percent increase from the start of October. The city’s positivity rate has also jumped to 5.4 percent; the week before, it was at 4.2 percent.
The increase is not just due to testing, officials emphasized: Coronavirus is spreading more in Chicago.
“If we don’t see a dramatic turnaround in our numbers and soon, then we will not hesitate to take the steps that are necessary to save our city, save our residents, even if that means going back to some of our Phase 3 restrictions,” Lightfoot said at a press conference Monday.
Under Phase 3, restaurants and bars were not allowed to have indoor seating; large venues, like movie theaters, performance venues, museums and zoos, were closed; and social gatherings were limited to 10 people or fewer; among other things.
The mayor said she understands Chicagoans have been “a lot of sacrifices” over months to squash the virus. But with winter approaching, it’s “the worst possible time to let our guard down,” Lightfoot said.
People need to “double down” on wearing masks and social distancing now so the city can get its outbreak back under control, Lightfoot said.
“I know we’re all tired. I know that being diligent in the fight against COVID takes a psychological toll, takes a physical toll, but we have to be diligent and push aside the COVID fatigue,” Lightfoot said. “… If we pretend that COVID is not the deadly virus it is, the result, with certainty, is sickness and death.”
Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner, said the virus is on the rise through the city and among people of all ethnic and age groups.
“There are a lot of people who want to say it’s just an increase in testing that is driving this increase in cases … . But [testing] is not up the 40-50 percent that we’re seeing cases rise,” she said.
Deaths have remained stable in Chicago, at about two per day. But hospitalizations are rising quickly, Arwady said, with the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 up 25 percent Sept. 22.
That means Chicago will soon see a rise in people having even more serious cases and dying from coronavirus, Arwady said.
COVID-19 has killed at least 3,013 Chicagoans, and there have been 88,412 confirmed cases.
Over the summer, Arwady said the city would need to look at bringing back restrictions if Chicago hit 400 new cases per day and had an 8 percent positivity rate.
“We are sounding this alarm because the increase is real,” Arwady said. “… I fully expect this number to pass 600 potentially maybe within the week, and even to keep growing from there.”
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