While health officials in Chicago aren’t willing to call a current rise in coronavirus cases a “surge,” they are remaining vigilant and expressing concern that the city could be heading in that direction if residents don’t take the chance of a dramatic rise in cases seriously.
Dr. Jennifer Seo, chief medical director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that the city is closely tracking a recent increase in coronavirus cases, and that the next four-to-eight weeks will be key to determining whether the current rise in cases is just a blip in the radar, or an indicator that the city is heading for the type of spike in cases that it saw in the fall.
“We are certainly seeing a rise in cases. It’s not to the point that we were seeing in November, but it’s something that we want to closely follow,” she said. “We are very concerned about what the outlook may be over the next four-to-eight weeks.”
Seo says that the city is encouraging residents to keep their guards up against the coronavirus, even with more vaccine doses being administered.
“We still remain optimistic that if folks continue to do what they need to be doing with wearing masks, social distancing, not gathering and getting the vaccine when it’s their turn, that we will be in a better place in the summer,” she said.
Seo’s comments come on the same day that Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, expressed concern that the country could be heading toward “impending doom” if current coronavirus trends continue.
“I’m going to pause here and I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” she said. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope, but right now I’m scared.”
Walensky pointed out that the nation is seeing around 1,000 deaths per day because of the virus. According to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the country is recording a weekly average of 63,239 new COVID-19 cases a day, a 16% increase compared to just a week ago.
Public health officials are blaming an uptick in travel, along with more contagious variants of the virus, for the increasing numbers, and are sounding alarm bells in hopes that the nation can get closer to herd immunity by continuing to get the COVID vaccine.
As of Monday, approximately one-third of adults in the United States have received at least one COVID shot, but there is more work to be done.
“It will be a race between a vaccine and what’s going on with the dynamics of this outbreak,” White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
Beginning April 12, all residents age 16 and older in Illinois will be eligible to sign up for coronavirus vaccine appointments. President Joe Biden had previously announced that he intended for all American adults to be eligible for the vaccine by May 1, but announced Monday that 90% of adults in the US will be eligible to get the vaccine within the next three weeks.