Mayor Lori Lightfoot used her press conference this morning to deliver a warning to Chicagoans: "We are dangerously close to going back to a dangerous state of conditions," she said. As cases surge across the country and many states begin to roll back openings of restaurants, bars and businesses, Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady outlined the factors that could lead Chicago to follow suit and move backwards to Phase 3 of its reopening plan.
While cases have been high among older Chicago residents over the past few months, the latest data indicates that young Chicagoans are now the most at risk. Lightfoot revealed that, since June 15, residents between the ages of 18–29 have accounted for nearly 30 percent of new cases (the most new cases in the age group have originated in the Lincoln Park area). As restaurants, bars and gyms have reopened throughout the city, young people have been more likely to gather, which has opened up more avenues for the disease to spread.
Dr. Arwady explained that Chicago is exceeding its daily goal for testing (more than 4,500 tests daily) and has been able to decrease hospitalizations and deaths, but that a rise in the average number of cases could be cause for concern. Chicago is currently at an average of 192 confirmed cases over the past seven days—if the city reaches 200, it will be back in a high incidence state. "It does not equal an automatic rollback," Arwady said, but it will spur city officials to discourage gatherings by rolling back the opening of bars and restaurants.
According to Mayor Lightfoot, the city will be rolling out a campaign targeted at the 18–29 demographic that stresses the importance of wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, especially when gathering at bars, restaurants and gyms. But it the numbers continue to climb, Lightfoot made it clear that "we will have no choice but to go back into Phase 3," which would likely roll back the reopening of businesses and increased gathering sizes that Chicago has enjoyed since it entered Phase 4 on June 26.
"Folks, this is our moment of reckoning... it is going to determine whether of not we continue to have some semblance of normal life" Lightfoot said. "I hope that the answer is yes, but it's up to you and we'll see that reflected in the public health guidance."
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