Chicago health officials released staggering numbers Tuesday that show just how quickly the coronavirus is spreading in the city, with one estimate indicating that more than 57,000 residents could currently be infected with the virus.
During a weekly press conference discussing the city’s latest travel restrictions, Dr. Allison Arwady, the director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said that approximately 8,213 Chicago residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and are currently considered to be “active” cases.
Those numbers are already high, but city health experts fear the virus could be even more widespread than that. According to Arwady, officials believe there could be between five and seven times as many active cases as are currently being reported, due to residents who haven’t been tested or who aren’t showing symptoms.
Based on the US Census Bureau’s estimate that there are roughly 2.7 million residents in Chicago, that would mean between 41,065 and 57,491 Chicago residents could have active COVID-19 infections.
Put another way, between 1-in-66 and 1-in-47 Chicago residents could be infected with the virus at this time.
“Just within the last three weeks, which again, when we think about the folks who are not diagnosed, one in 50 Chicagoans has been infected within the last three weeks,” Arwady said. “And if we look at our graphs, these looks similar to what we looked at last week.”
In all, more than 94,000 Chicago residents have been diagnosed with coronavirus since the pandemic began. Of those residents, 88% have recovered, while a reported 3,037, or 3% of those infected, have died, according to Arwady.
Chicago’s positivity rate and hospitalization rates have increased so dramatically that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday that the city will see additional coronavirus mitigation rules beginning this weekend. All indoor bar and restaurant service will be suspended in the city, along with restrictions on gathering sizes and a ban on party buses within city limits.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the city has seen increases in its hospitalization rates seven of the last 10 days, and currently has 25% of its hospital beds available in the event of a surge in coronavirus cases. The city’s positivity rate now stands at 7.8% as of Tuesday, according to the latest available figures.