Chicago could see the return of more restrictions if the city's coronavirus numbers continue to climb, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Wednesday.
Though the city hasn't reached the threshold yet, Arwady said once data shows an average of 400 new coronavirus cases per day, rollbacks will be possible.
"We're in that 200 to 400 range," Arwady said. "Again, that's sort of our yellow zone where we're thinking about the need to potentially make additional changes."
As of Wednesday, the city saw a rolling average of 277 cases per day. And the number has been steadily increasing.
One month earlier, that number, which Arwady said "is the best reflection of the burden of our disease," was consistently below 200.
"The fact that over the last four to five weeks we've added between 80 and 100 cases and not seen signs of that turning around makes us concerned," Arwady said Wednesday.
The current daily average puts Chicago in a "high incidence" state.
The larger concern comes if the city reaches an average of 400 new cases per day, which "really marks a line in the sand," Arwady said.
According to CDPH, 400 cases per day is the number the state uses to determine if states should be added to the city's travel order, requiring a quarantine.
"It's the equivalent of needing to go back to a phase three, really pulling back on major activities," Arwady said last month.
And it may not be as far away as it seems.
"Regularly, we are having days with more than 300 cases," Arwady said Wednesday. "And particularly in the last two weeks, we've had a number of individual days already pushing 400 cases. And so where we're thinking about planning, needing to give a month of time, I think it is entirely possible that we would be at or very near that 400 case mark."
Arwady said the city hasn't yet determined which restrictions would be added first should metrics continue to rise. Though she indicated group gathering sizes could be on the list.
"We could be looking at things like gathering sizes, for example," Arwady said, echoing comments she made a day earlier. "You know that yesterday I made the point that where we are seeing most spread is in households and in these social gatherings. And so that might be an example, if we are not able to turn things around that we might be looking at."
According to Arwady, much of the recent spread of the coronavirus in Chicago has been through social gatherings.
Arwady noted that early on in the pandemic, transmission was driven largely by congregate settings like long-term care facilities, factory-style workplaces and other areas that have since implemented new protocols and regulations to slow the spread of the virus.
But as those outbreaks have slowed, the virus has spread more rapidly in social settings that the city is unable to regulate, she said.
Arwady implored residents to continue to follow public health guidelines and limit close contact - at times even within the home.
Get the latest news on COVID vaccines in your inbox. Click here to sign up for our coronavirus newsletter.