Chicago Mayor: City Could See More Than 40K Hospitalizations in Coming Weeks

The city is already reporting close to 1,000 confirmed coronavirus cases with nearly half-a-dozen fatalities as of Thursday

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city could see upwards of 40,000 hospitalizations as the coronavirus pandemic grips Chicago.

"Forty thousand hospitalizations. Not 40,000 cases, but 40,000 people who require acute care in a hospital setting," Lightfoot said. "That number will break our healthcare system... This will push our city to the brink."

The city is already reporting more than 1,000 confirmed cases with nine fatalities as of Thursday. That number alone is nearly double the number of cases the entire state of Illinois had less than a week ago.

So where does the 40,000 number come from?

"We are looking at a number of different projections based on modeling being done across the city," Lightfoot said. "That number is real and is sobering."

Allison Arwady, the commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public Health, said "the window to pursue a wide-ranging closing."

"The moves we make right now, really the next few weeks, are crucial," she said.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady says the window to make moves and slow the spread of coronavirus in Chicago “is closing.”

Meanwhile, at the same time, the mayor and other city officials issued a stern reminder to the thousands of residents who flocked to the city's lakefront Wednesday to "stay at home."

"What we must do now, together, is bend the curve of this disease," Lightfoot said in an address.

Chicago's Lakefront, along with the Chicago Riverwalk and the 606 Trail, were all shut down Thursday as the city works to keep people from congregating - as they did during warmer weather Wednesday.

"That is a very real and direct threat of the well-being of everyone in this city, and it has to stop," Chicago Parks CEO Michael Kelly said.

Lightfoot noted, however, that her order does not mean people should be going out in groups in city neighborhoods either.

"This doesn't mean people should mass inland at other parks," Lightfoot said.

Chicago police said they plan on enforcing the 24-7 stay-at-home order rigorously, warning of citations and possibly even arrests for those found to be in violation.

On the same day Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned that she might be forced to shut down trails and beaches along Lake Michigan to enforce the state of Illinois’ “stay-at-home” order, Chicago police were busy Wednesday evening ordering beachgoers to go home. NBC 5’s Natalie Martinez reports.

"If you violate it, you are subject to a citation, a fine of up to $500 and if you continue to violate it, you will be subject to physical arrest," Interim Police Supt. Charlie Beck said.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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