CHICAGO — Chicago health officials said Thursday a continuing surge in COVID-19 cases is worse than the city saw in the spring, with no signs of slowing down.
“It is the surge that we feared would have,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city is averaging 1,395 confirmed COVID-19 cases over a 7-day period as of Thursday, about five times the level health officials want to see.
“There is not a single person in Chicago who is not at some level of increased risk from Covid because our outbreak is surging in ways we have never before seen,” Arwady said.
A dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases concerned city and state leaders, leading to additional state-imposed restrictions including a ban on indoor service at bars and restaurants.
Lightfoot announced an emergency $10 million grant program for those struggling establishments Thursday in addition to a new contest to encourage people to order takeout.
Governor JB Pritzker said Thursday even stricter restrictions could be put in place statewide if the numbers continue to move in the wrong direction.
“We’re headed down a very dark, dark path to where we were last spring; let’s not let that happen,” Pritzker said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported nearly 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 including 97 deaths Thursday. Along with a rise in infections, the state is also seeing an increase in hospitalizations.
“We have more than double the number of people in our hospital system with this disease in just about five weeks with no sign of slowing,” Pritzker said.
While the number of new cases remained stable in Chicago when other states saw pervious spikes, the current rise reflects a similar increase occurring across the state and the U.S.
“All summer while things were surging all over the county we kept it in that 200-400 range, and then just over the last month this is what we’ve seen,” Arwady said.
While previous increases were mostly among young people, Arwady said Thursday the city is seeing increases across age groups.
City and state leaders also stressed Thanksgiving celebrations must be different this year. They cautioned residents to avoid traveling areas with high infection rates or hosting large gatherings, even if it’s just with friends and family.
“We will not get past this second wave unless people step up and recognize this is serious, shake off the Covid fatigue step; up and do the right thing for yourself, your loved ones, and for your city,” Lightfoot said.