While families may be eager to gather for several upcoming religious holidays, public health officials and business owners are urging the public to be extremely careful in the coming days, with a rapid increase in COVID cases potentially being compounded by large-scale gatherings.
Those gatherings, along with increased travel, reduced restrictions and the spread of more variants, are creating the ideal conditions for a new surge in COVID cases around Easter and Passover, and health experts are hoping that those dire predictions don’t come to pass.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that while young people are largely driving the recent increase in COVID cases, gatherings could compound the issue.
“People are out and about more, and it’s causing concerning increases in COVID numbers,” she said.
Positivity rates have climbed above 6% in recent days, with most of the new cases of the virus coming from among residents between the ages of 18 and 39.
Religious leaders are also concerned about the increase in cases.
“I think people should be thinking more about living than about an occasion,” Rev. Robin Hood, a community activist with Redeemed Outreach Ministries, said.
Arwady echoed those sentiments in a Facebook Live Thursday.
"The preference is not to gather," Arwady said. "If you gather, please try to do it outside. Definitely keep them outside and be extra careful with anybody who's not fully vaccinated and/or has underlying conditions or is older and at high risk for those adverse outcomes."