Chicago is currently experiencing a coronavirus outbreak worse than anything the city saw during the spring and it is showing "no signs of slowing down," the city's top doctor said Thursday.
Speaking during a press conference to update on the pandemic in the city, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city is seeing an average of 1,395 cases per day, a number the city said it had tried to keep below 200, where it was at one point during the summer months.
"I continue to hear people here in Chicago who think we're not talking about them... my goal is that every one of you is recognizing that when we are asking you to double down on the things we know work, we absolutely mean you," Arwady said. "There is not a single person in Chicago is not in some way at risk."
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Arwady said the city knows of at least 15,000 active coronavirus infections as of Thursday, "but we know there are five to seven times that." She noted that the increase in cases has also led to an increase in hospitalizations and a "small uptick" in deaths.
The numbers, she said, are doubling, on average, every 12 days.
"If we don't slow this down... we will have hundreds of thousands of new cases by the end of the year," Arwady said.
Chicago, along with the rest of Illinois, is currently under heightened coronavirus mitigations imposed by state, despite opposition from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, which has led to the closure of indoor dining and bar service citywide.
But as positivity rates, cases and hospitalizations continue to rise across the city and state, it remains unclear when such mitigations might be lifted.
According to the latest data from CDPH, the city's positivity rate is currently at 10.9%, well above the 8% threshold requiring stricter mitigations from the state and a significant increase from the 8.2% reported one week earlier. In order to have such restrictions lifted, the city would need to drop to 6.5% or lower for three consecutive days.
On Thursday alone, the city reported a record high of 2,182 cases, topping the previous record of 1,888 cases recorded Sunday. In the last week, the city has logged 11,307 new cases.
Data showed Chicago is now reporting 59.7 new cases each day for every 100,000 residents, nearly four times the limit the city has set for states to be added to its emergency order requiring a quarantine for travelers.
"Yes, most people eventually recover," Arwady said. "We can see 83% of the people with COVID here in Chicago have recovered. Although, every day we're learning more about long-term consequences that some people are seeing, even with the recovery from COVID. But we've also had more than 3,000 deaths. And this increase in cases is already leading to an increase in hospitalizations."
Lightfoot, who also announced new measures aimed at helping city businesses survive the latest surge Thursday, pleaded with residents to avoid gatherings in homes and to wear masks as often as possible.
"We will not get past this second wave unless people step up," Lightfoot said. "Shake up the COVID fatigue and step up... we take a lot of great pride in Chicago. We take care of ourselves, we are second to none - if that's all true, prove it."