CHICAGO – Public health officials are monitoring alarming COVID-19 trends that could lead to increased restrictions in Chicago.
Many health officials acknowledge it’s tough to balance the desire to returning to normal with the reality that the coronavirus is still here and still making people sick.
It’s spring in Chicago and it feels like the city is coming out of Covid hibernation.
Nowhere is that more evident than in Wrigleyville, where legions of fans have been yearning to live the lyric, “take me out with the crowd.”
University of Chicago medical student David Esterquest was among them. Headed to the Cubs game, he was wearing a mask along with his jersey.
“I’m very excited to be out here,” he said.
Esterquest said he knows the hard-won reopening of public spaces and events could be rolled back if the COVID-19 statistics keep going in the wrong direction.
“This is something we test out to see if it works and if it goes great, then perfect, but it’s up to health officials to determine if the numbers do rise to a concerning number, we might have to backtrack,” he said.
Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases since late January.
State health officials are monitoring key stats like hospitalizations, bed availability and mortality rate to see if new restrictions are needed.
Even with good news like increased vaccinations, some are voicing frustrations about the limited availability of appointments.
The city of Chicago is monitoring troubling trends. Confirmed Covid cases are up 21% from last week. The number of Covid tests conducted is up 9% and the test positivity rate has jumped from 4 to 5.2 % in a week.
“We’ve seen that increase in cases in the predominantly white neighborhoods on the North Side,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday.
Young people in their 20s and 30s in Lincoln Park and Lakeview are driving the spike, but Lightfoot has a warning for the entire city.
“Wear your mask, social distance, wash your hands, stay diligent,” she said. “We are still in this fight for our lives and we’ve got to make sure people don’t relax. People, don’t think that the virus is over.”
Across the state more than 1700 people are being treated in hospitals for complications with COVID-19. Hospitalizations are up, but nowhere near what the area saw last spring and last fall.
There are still 10,000 beds available across the state.