A person wears a mask in the Loop on Monday, April 27, 2020. Starting May 1, All Illinois residents required to wear face masks in public. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — All Chicagoans should stay at home for the next 30 days, part of a stay at home advisory, but not order, issued Thursday by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

The advisory goes into effect 6 a.m. Monday and lasts for at least 30 days, Lightfoot said.

The city is also putting a tighter cap on gatherings, saying only 10 people can be together for a social event. Gatherings inside private homes have an even tighter limit of just six non-household members, and the Chicago Department of Public Health could fine those who don’t comply.

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Thursday she is more worried than ever before about the out-of-control outbreak in Chicago.

“In March, I knew that we were taking this seriously as a city,” she said. “And we were doing that largely out of fear. At this point, we all know somebody who’s had COVID. And, in fact, in Chicago, given what our numbers look like, a lot of us know someone who’s had COVID just in the last few weeks.”

RELATED: Chicago’s Coronavirus ‘Catastrophe’: City Could See 1,800 More Deaths By End Of The Year, Top Doc Says

While most people recover, the number of infections is leading to more deaths — and it will get worse if residents don’t stay home if possible and wear masks at all times when leaving the house.

“We’ve seen no sign of slowing here. And we’re in uncharted territory. We are the largest city in the part of the country that is having the most uncontrolled outbreak,” Arwady said.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 is surging throughout Chicago, Illinois and the rest of the United States. Locally and nationally, officials have said the new wave of coronavirus is being driven by people gathering in small groups with friends and family, often inside their homes.

The new city advisory asks residents to comply with the following public health guidelines:

  • Only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up takeout food or receiving deliveries. If you do leave home, practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from others and wearing a face covering at all times.
  • Do not have gatherings in your home with anybody outside of your household (except for essential staff such as home health care workers or educators), even with trusted family or friends.
  • Avoid all non-essential, out-of-state travel; if travel is essential, quarantining or testing negative prior to travel is required, depending on which state a traveler is originating from.
  • Comply with city and state orders, including wearing face coverings, limiting gatherings and mandating early closure of non-essential businesses at 11 p.m.
  • Practice social distancing and avoid touching surfaces frequently touched by others if you go outside to get fresh air.
  • Use remote modes of communication like phone or video chat instead of visiting friends or family, especially on holidays such as Thanksgiving.

If action isn’t taken now, up to 1,800 more Chicagoans could die before the end of 2020, Lightfoot said at a Thursday news conference.

RELATED: Chicago’s Coronavirus ‘Catastrophe’: City Could See 1,800 More Deaths By End Of The Year, Top Doc Says

“None of us can keep maintaining the status quo in the face of this very stark reality,” Lightfoot said. “Everyone — me, you, everyone — must step up and we must do more.”

Lightfoot said people must wear masks and social distance to slow the virus’s spread and bend the curve. They should stay home unless they have essential reasons for leaving and should not travel.

“You must cancel the normal Thanksgiving plans, particularly if they include guests that do not live in your immediate household,” Lightfoot said.

Hoping to slow the spread, the Illinois Department of Public Health has also advised everyone to stay at home as much as possible and to stop gathering — but that recommendation goes for the next three weeks.

In Chicago, seven deaths and 2,699 confirmed cases were reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 3,176 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 126,599 confirmed cases, according to state data.

Up to 145,000 Chicagoans currently have active COVID-19 right now, Arwady said.

An average of 1,920 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 36 percent increase from the prior week. The city’s seven-day positivity rate has risen to 14.1 percent, up from 10.9 percent the week before — and also up from the 13.6 percent it was Wednesday.

The city is also seeing an average of eight deaths per day; for months, that number hadn’t risen above two or three per day, but it’s been going up the past several weeks.

RELATED: Cancel Your Thanksgiving Plans Now To Slow Coronavirus Surge, Officials Plead

At least 10,477 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 369 deaths are considered to be probably related to coronavirus.

The state also reported 12,702 confirmed cases in the past day, a new record. That’s the 13th time in the past 28 days Illinois has broken a record for new cases in a single day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 536,542.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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