Chicago is on track to see 1,000 additional coronavirus deaths, possibly more, by the end of the year if changes aren't made to slow the spread of the deadly virus, city officials said Thursday.
“Chicago has reached a critical point in the second surge of COVID-19, demanding that we undertake this multi-faceted and comprehensive effort to stop the virus in its tracks,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement announcing a new strategy called "Protect Chicago" that includes a stay-at-home advisory and new restrictions on gatherings as the city and the world faces what experts are warning could be the deadliest surge of the pandemic yet.
The stay-at-home advisory is set to take effect at 6 a.m. on Monday, officials said.
It asks that residents "only leave home to go to work or school, or for essential needs such as seeking medical care, going to the grocery store or pharmacy, picking up take-out food, or receiving deliveries," a statement announcing the advisory reads.
City officials also advise residents not to have gatherings inside their homes with anyone outside of their household, even trusted family and friends, and to avoid all non-essential out-of-state travel. Chicago officials have for months asked that anyone required to travel to or from the list of states on the city's emergency order - now including 43 states - quarantine or test negative prior to arrival in the city, with the requirement depending on the state and the severity of its outbreak.
The stay-at-home advisory also asks that everyone practice social distancing by staying six feet away from others and wearing a face covering at all times, as experts have advised for months.
The city also specifically noted that holidays should be celebrated using phone or video chat instead of in-person visits.
In addition to the stay-at-home advisory, Chicago officials also announced new restrictions on gatherings Thursday. The restrictions limit meetings and social events to 10 people, both indoors and outdoors, and will also take effect at 6 a.m. on Monday.
The restriction applies to all events except for industries that already have specific capacity guidelines in place, like fitness clubs, stores, personal services, movie theaters and more, which are already generally limited to 50 people max or 40% capacity, whichever is fewer. The restrictions will apply to events like weddings, birthday parties, business dinners, social events and funerals, city officials said.
Chicago is "deep into a second surge of COVID-19," city officials said Thursday, noting the city has experienced "several weeks of steeply rising new daily cases" as well as an increasing positivity rate in testing.
The positivity rate was above 14% as of Thursday, officials said, with a rolling seven-day average of more than 1,900 new coronavirus cases reported daily. That figure is the highest it's been since the pandemic began.
Data from the Illinois Department of Public Health showed Thursday that Chicago reported its highest one-day total cases ever at 2,699, as well as seven new deaths. That brings Chicago's rolling average of daily new cases as of Thursday to a record of 2,264 new cases reported on average each day.
In the last week alone, Chicago added 15,330 new coronavirus cases - more than some entire states like Arizona, Massachusetts, Georgia or Virginia.
“The data are troubling, and I’m very concerned we could be looking at tens of thousands of more cases, which would overwhelm the healthcare system and lead to hundreds more deaths,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said in a statement, adding, “But we know what works and what we need to do to bend the curve. We did it once and I know we can do it again.”
“The gains we have made this past year have been the result of our willingness to work together. Even in this difficult moment, we will continue to unite as we always have for our city in order to halt the rise we’re seeing, shake out of the fatigue we’ve been experiencing, and make the crucial difference in what our future is going to look like," Lightfoot added.