Dr. Allison Arwady

Arwady: Multiple COVID Outbreaks Traced Back to Sporting Events in Chicago

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

As coronavirus cases inch upward in the city of Chicago, CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady says that there have been at least seven COVID outbreaks or clusters related to sporting events in recent weeks.

According to Arwady, as many as seven outbreaks have been identified by the health department, and some of the cases are occurring in younger residents.

“We are continuing to see clusters and outbreaks in Chicago, and a lot of those are in younger Chicagoans, which is no surprise,” she said.

According to Arwady, there have been at least seven different sports-related clusters of coronavirus cases in the city of Chicago. Those outbreaks ranged from four to 17 new COVID cases apiece, according to Arwady, and impacted sports at the high school, college, and adult recreational levels.

Arwady says that two of the outbreaks occurred in connection to football games, while two others occurred around basketball events. Clusters were also reported as a result of swim meets, hockey games and softball games.

Multiple officials at Chicago’s Loretto Hospital have received reprimands, but are expected to retain their positions after multiple instances in which coronavirus vaccines were purportedly given to individuals with connections to the hospital’s board. NBC 5’s Natalie Martinez has the story.

Arwady did not release details on which events the outbreaks occurred at, or whether the infected individuals were competitors, coaches or spectators, but said that residents need to remain vigilant with new strains of coronavirus going around, and with the end of the pandemic potentially in sight as more vaccine doses become available.

“This is not about the sport. This is about the fact that people are getting their lives back, but we need to keep those masks on,” she said. “It’s probably happening in informal ways around some of these events, and we’re just reminding people that we continue to see outbreaks and we do continue to see real clusters, particularly in relation to younger social events.

“We’re seeing a lot of COVID cases being driven by the decisions you’re making,” she added.

Arwady says that the new outbreaks come as the city sees an increase in coronavirus cases. According to CDPH data, cases are up 23% over the last seven days, and the city’s test positivity rate has gone up from 2.9% to 3.2%.

Arwady said the current trends in city metrics, many of which have risen in recent weeks particularly in young adult populations, are similar to the trends seen ahead of the fall surge that led to coronavirus mitigations across the city and state.

"Unfortunately, these sorts of increases are just what we were seeing in October as we were starting to see the beginnings of what became our huge surge," Arwady said during a coronavirus update Tuesday. "It was really the same case rates and younger adults that started this."

The city cautioned residents that a continued increase in cases could result in reversals of some recent loosening of COVID mitigation rules, but did not say what specific metrics would dictate whether those changes take place.

Contact Us