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Up To 105,000 Chicagoans Have Coronavirus Right Now, Top Doc Says, Urging Residents To Buckle Down

In one recent case, parents invited a small group over to celebrate their child's first birthday. All six people invited now have COVID, and the baby does as well, public health officials said.

Humboldt Park on April 7, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Illinois hit a record high number of new coronavirus cases Thursday — and officials in Chicago are begging residents to “shake off” their COVID fatigue and stop all non-essential gatherings — even on Thanksgiving.

In Chicago, 10 deaths and 2,182 confirmed cases were reported during the past day. There have been at least 3,111 Chicagoans killed and 110,752 confirmed cases in the city, according to state data.

Cases are doubling about every 12 days in Chicago; if that continues, the city is on pace to see “hundreds of thousands of cases just by the end of the year,” Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Thursday.

Contact tracers are linking many cases to gatherings in private residences — even small ones, Arwady said. In a group of 10 random Chicagoans, there’s a 1 in 3 chance someone has COVID-19, she said.

“We know there are actually between 70,000-105,000 Chicagoans with active COVID right now,” Arwady said, noting that just a fraction of those with the virus get tested.

In one recent case, parents invited a very small number of people over to celebrate their child’s first birthday. All six people invited now have COVID, including the baby. None had symptoms the day of the party, she said.

“Yes; most people eventually recover,” Arwady said. “We can see 83 percent of the people with COVID here in Chicago have recovered, although every day we’re learning more about long-term consequences that people are seeing. But we’ve also had more than 3,000 deaths.”

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Arwady said contact tracing teams dedicated to everything from restaurants to work places to parties are seeing the same thing — people without symptoms not wearing masks or social distancing when in groups of people they trust.

“Every single of those [CDPH] teams is reporting dramatic increases because people are picking up COVID in the community and then bringing it to whatever setting they are next in,” she said. “But the risk remains highest when folks are getting together with those they love and letting down their guard.”

There are already 15 cases linked to a wedding this week, Arwady said. Thanksgiving this year needs to be different and limited to those within your household in order to prevent further spread, she said.

“The hope is we can turn this around and get to a point where we don’t have to admonish you,” she said. “We know how to turn these curves around. We did it once before. And the guidance has actually not changed very substantially.”

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