Chicago health officials repeated their warnings that younger populations are now testing positive for coronavirus at an accelerated rate, but one city zip code was cited as having the biggest increase in recent days.
According to Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, the city saw new cases in virtually every zip code within the last week. She noted as well, that a majority of those cases were in the 18-to-29-year-old cohort.
The zip code seeing the highest amount of new cases in that age group in the last week was 60614 in the Lincoln Park area, Arwady said.
"The bottom line is we're seeing these cases throughout the city," Arwady said. "Where we're seeing changes in COVID cases is again in that 18 to 29. For the most recent week, we see the increase again, in that Lincoln Park area as well as in New City in the south."
Since June 15, nearly 30% of Chicago's new coronavirus cases have come from that age group, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
"If you are in the 18-to-29-year-old cohort, you are catching COVID-19, you are getting sick," Lightfoot said, "And you're not only putting yourself at risk, you're putting every single person that you come into contact with at risk as well."
The warning to younger populations comes as Chicago is inching closer to a metric that could see the city rolling back some of its reopening progress.
According to Arwady, the city is currently averaging about 192 cases per day.
"This, if I had one number, is the number that I follow," she said, noting that "we've come a long way" as the Chicago was average about 1,000 cases per day in early May. "This is the best reflection of the burden of our disease."
The daily average currently puts Chicago in a "moderate-to-high incidence" state.
But if the number rises above 200, the city returns to what Arwady described as a "caution state" that could spark the return of certain restrictions. She noted, however, that reaching that mark won't mean an automatic rollback.
"I wanted to make the point with the mayor that we're quite close to 200 here," Arwady said. "We'll start thinking about pulling back if we need to once we're over 200. There are other things that play in there: how fast are we seeing a rate of increase? What's happening with percent positivity? Are we seeing any impact on the healthcare system?"
Lightfoot echoed that sentiment, saying the city is "dangerously close" to reversing course.
"Right now we are on the precipice. We are dangerously close to going back to a dangerous state of conditions," Lightfoot said during a news conference.
Lightfoot has said in recent days that she will not hesitate to reimpose some of the restrictions put in place in the earlier months of the pandemic should coronavirus cases and metrics continue to rise - a point she reiterated on Wednesday with a strong warning.
"Some of you have joked that I'm like the mom who will turn the car around when you're acting up. No friends, it's actually worse," Lightfoot said. "I won't just turn the car around. I'm gonna shut it off, kick you out and I'm gonna make you walk home. That's who I am. That's who I must be for you and everyone else in this city to make sure that we continue to be safe."
"I don't want to be that person if I don't have to - but I will if you make me," she continued.
Most industries were shut down nearly entirely beginning in mid-March as cases began to climb in Illinois. Restrictions have been gradually lifted in a phased reopening framework, with Chicago entering phase four on June 26, allowing indoor service in a limited capacity at bars and restaurants, among other changes.