Lightfoot warns city could go back to Phase 3 if coronavirus cases continue to increase

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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a news conference Wednesday with city health officials and warned residents that the number of coronavirus cases in Chicago is trending upwards, especially for young people. It could mean serious consequences for daily life in the city once again.

“We are dangerously close to going back to a dangerous state of conditions,” Lightfoot said.

Although death and hospitalization rates are way down, Lightfoot cited an increase in COVID-19 cases in the age group of 18-29 year olds which has seen a nearly 30% increase since June.

The largest driver right now is the white population in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. However, the city emphasizes the increase in that age range is across the city and across all races and ethnicities. This is also the age group most likely hitting the bars and restaurants more, and possibly not taking the right precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing.

“If we continue to see this uptick in cases we are going to have no choice but to go back into Phase 3,” she said. “That means shutting businesses down. That means imposing more restrictions on your mobility.”   

Overall, Chicago is seeing 192 cases a day. The Director of Public Health in Chicago says this is a number she really looks hard at when she is recommending whether or not the city moves back or forward in reopening. Under 200, she says, is where we need to stay. If Chicago goes above 200, along with some increases in other indicators, she would look at ways to get that number done — which would mean shutting down indoor dining and closing bars.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health said what they don’t want to see is the cases of young people translating to older Chicagoans.

The city has already shut down and cited some bars and restaurants for not following the rules on things like capacity limits.

Lightfoot reiterated the importance of wearing masks and social distancing as well as minimizing the number of people at gatherings.

“Some of you have joked that I’m like the mom who will turn the car around if you’re acting up,” the mayor said. “No, friends. It’s actually worse. I won’t just turn the car around. I’m going to shut it off, I’m going to kick you out and I’m going to make you walk home.”

As far as schools go for fall, all Lightfoot said is a framework for that should be out soon.

“The last thing I want to do is take steps back,” she said. “No one wants to go back there. But we will have to go back there if people continue to ignore the public health guidance.”

Tuesday the City of Chicago is extending its travel quarantine order to include two more states that are seeing spikes in coronavirus cases.

Starting Friday anyone arriving in Chicago after spending at least 24 hours in Iowa or Oklahoma will be asked to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. This includes both residents and people visiting the city.

Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah were already on the list.

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