coronavirus chicago

Officials Warn Chicago Could Bring Back Restrictions if Coronavirus Numbers Don't Slow

In a press conference to "sound the alarm," Chicago's top doctor said the city won't wait until the state-mandated 8% positivity threshold to increase restrictions

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Chicago could see the return of some restrictions in the coming days if the city's coronavirus metrics continue rising in the midst of what officials said is now a "second surge" of the virus.

"To further fight the spread of COVID-19, the city is considering additional measures in the coming days, including bringing back restrictions on businesses," a release from the mayor's office read Monday.

In a press conference to "sound the alarm," Chicago's top doctor said the city won't wait until the state-mandated 8% positivity threshold to increase restrictions.

"We continue to follow the same framework that we set out way back in June," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Monday. "We will follow all of those metrics. We will be looking to make decisions about what needs to happen."

Lightfoot warned that if the numbers continue rising, the city could see returns to phase three restrictions.

"We will not hesitate to take the steps to save our city and save our residents," she said.

Currently, Chicago is reporting an average of more than 500 new coronavirus cases daily, the "highest daily rate since the tail end of the first surge at the end of May," officials said.

As of Monday, Chicago was seeing a 7-day rolling average of 508 new cases per day, according to the city's coronavirus data dashboard. That marks a significant increase from the roughly 300 new cases per day rolling average the city was seeing just three weeks earlier when restrictions were eased.

The numbers also coincide with a 25% increase in non-ICU COVID-19 hospitalizations since Sept. 22, according to city data.

"This is the second surge that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Arwady have been warning about since March," Lightfoot said. "And we are now in it."

She said while the surge is not surprising, she attributed it largely to the fact that "COVID thrives in enclosed spaces."

"We've been talking about these kinds of risks now from the very beginning," she said.

Lightfoot and Arwady last month announced that the city would ease some of the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, allowing indoor bar service again and raising capacity limits on businesses, including restaurants, among other major changes.

The changes that took effect on Oct. 1 included increasing indoor capacity at restaurants, health and fitness centers, personal services, non-essential retail and all other establishments from 25% to 40%.

Bars, breweries, taverns and other businesses that serve alcohol without a food license could also open indoor seating - shut down since late July - at 25% capacity up to 50 people, officials said.

The city has been in phase four of its reopening plan since June 26, when some of the earlier restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus were gradually lifted.

Then on July 24, city officials changed course to shut down indoor bar service, reduce capacity limits at fitness classes and heighten other restrictions as the city continued to see an increase in its average number of daily new cases.

Monday's update comes just days after Arwady said in a news conference on Thursday that it was "not a good week for COVID" in Chicago - a claim she reiterated Monday.

“I’m deeply concerned about these trends and worried that we’ve got some COVID fatigue setting in where people are not following the public health guidance as they should," Arwady said. "This virus doesn’t care who you are, it’s just looking to spread, and if we give it the opportunity to do so it will. Most troubling is the fact that COVID-19 continues to have a disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx individuals, and those with under-lying medical conditions. But we’re seeing a rise in cases across the city and across all races and ethnicities, so we all need to re-dedicate ourselves to combatting this epidemic.”

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