LOGAN SQUARE — Chicagoans should cancel Thanksgiving plans now, officials pleaded Thursday.
For weeks, city and state leaders have asked people not to gather at all — and especially not to travel or host large parties with family and friends for Thanksgiving and other upcoming holidays. The city’s officials doubled down on that Thursday, saying people should cancel their plans now as coronavirus is surging and could kill up to 1,800 more Chicagoans by year’s end.
“You must cancel the normal Thanksgiving plans, particularly if they include guests that do not live in your immediate household,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a Thursday news conference.
Chicago is facing potential “catastrophe” this winter if the city can’t get its outbreak back under control, said Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health. New cases, positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths are surging in the city.
“We’re not set up for this level of outbreak,” Arwady said. “… There’s been no sign yet of it slowing down.”
Similarly, state officials like Gov. JB Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, have said they’re worried about how COVID-19 spread could skyrocket even further as people travel and celebrate the holidays. Hospitalizations hit a record high in the state Thursday.
Most new cases in Chicago and around the nation are coming from people gathering in small groups with family and friends, experts have said.
“Let’s be clear: Travel will increase your chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19. As will going to a crowded event. As will having multiple people in your home for Thanksgiving,” Ezike said at a Nov. 5 news conference.
Arwady said she’s not having a Thanksgiving bash and wouldn’t feel comfortable seeing her family — especially older people — for the holiday given how bad the COVID-19 outbreak is in Chicago and nationwide.
The doctor explicitly asked Chicagoans not to gather with people outside their household, like extended family and friends, for the holiday.
Rose Escareno, chief of Chicago’s business department, also urged people not to gather and to plan their holidays differently this year than they typically would.
“Now is not the time for parties, and there will be consequences for those that do” host them, Escareno said.
To slow the virus’s spread ahead of the holidays, the Illinois Department of Public Health has also advised everyone to stay at home as much as possible and to stop gathering for the next three weeks.
And starting Monday, Chicago is under a stay at home advisory that will last at least 30 days. Chicagoans are urged to stay home as much as possible, leaving only for essential activities such as grocery shopping; to not gather; to not have anyone inside their home; and to not travel.
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