Chicago’s coronavirus numbers are still a fraction of what the area saw during the height of the fall surge in COVID cases, but a recent increase in the number of new cases has caused the city’s reopening process to pause, leaving bars, restaurants, and the city as a whole hoping that things aren’t headed in the wrong direction.
At Corcoran’s in Chicago’s Old Town, things look closer to normal than they have at any point since the pandemic began, but rising COVID numbers have owner Kevin Vaughn worried.
“It’s been great over the last few weeks and it’s been getting better every week,” he said. “There’s been a complete reversal. Numbers are growing very rapidly, so we as business owners are concerned that we’re heading to a third wave of the pandemic.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot put things very bluntly on Wednesday, saying that the city is seeing a “quantum leap” in cases that needs to stop.
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“We have 400, almost 500 cases per day on average as of today,” she said. “That’s a quantum leap from even where we were three weeks ago.”
Lightfoot says that the largest increases have been seen among 18-to-39 year olds in the city, with some North Side neighborhoods specifically standing out.
OEMC’s Rich Guidice has seen the same data, and says that people need to follow the rules, including abiding by social distancing guidelines and wearing masks.
“We noticed a bit of a spike after St. Patrick’s Day, and in some regards we hoped that we wouldn’t’ see that spike, but we kind of expected that it would happen.”
Neither city leader explicitly mentioned a rollback in reopening Wednesday, but Vaughn, and other business owners, can see the writing on the wall if things continue to trend upward in terms of COVID cases and hospitalizations.
“If we had to go back again, a third time around, I’m not sure we could take it,” he said. “It would be devastating.”