It's bad news for Chicago's reopening plans, as COVID-19 cases surge in Illinois

Jennifer Geer

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot sites a "quantum leap" in cases and pleads with businesses to cooperate.

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Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

We very much want to be done with the pandemic, but as the data shows, COVID-19 is not yet done with us.

In the City of Chicago, cases are up 45% this week. The positivity rate moved upwards to 4.7% from 3.4% last week. And Illinois just had its highest one-day increase of cases (3,526) in almost two months. The positivity rate for the state is up to 4%. The highest it's been since February 10th.

The neighboring state of Michigan is a hotspot, especially for young people. In Michigan, cases for children under 10 are up 230%, and people aged 10 to 19 are up 227% since February 19th.

While severe cases are rare in children, they do happen. Some children have suffered from a disease called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), where the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs can be affected.

It's bad everywhere. The CDC has predicted the projected number of COVID-19 deaths to reach 565,000 to 585,000 by April 24th.

And now, reopening plans for Illinois and the City of Chicago are pushed back.

Zoos, museums, convention centers, and amusement parks had been scheduled to allow capacity to increase to 60% during the bridge phase, but that is not likely to happen until cases stop rising.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, “As long as new hospital admissions continue to increase, the state will not advance to the Bridge Phase and on to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan."

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed restaurant and bar owners on Wednesday during a virtual meeting that wasn't advertised to the public. During the meeting, she expressed her concerns about the "quantum leap" in cases the city has been experiencing.

Chicago restaurant and bar owners had been hoping they could increase capacity limited to 50 people per room or 50% starting soon. Those plans are put on hold, and there is a real fear that city officials may even backtrack some of the more relaxed safeguards, even closing indoor dining.

Lightfoot asked for the owners' "full cooperation," and said, “We can’t stop the spread in the latest uptick if people are on the sideline, we need people in the game."

It's become a race to get vaccines in arms before the disease continues to spread.

Starting April 12 Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced all residents in the state of Illinois aged 16 and above will be eligible for a vaccine. In Chicago, however, the timeline is different. The mayor has said she does not want to commit to a date when she doesn't have enough vaccines available.

And even when the vaccine is available April 12th across the state of Illinois, and hopefully soon after in Chicago, it will take some time to get enough people vaccinated to begin to reduce the rising caseloads.

Health experts are urging people not to give up on wearing masks and social distancing. It won't be long before everyone who wants a vaccine can get one. Then the challenge will shift to convincing the reluctant ones among us that the vaccines are safe and why it's important we reach herd immunity.

But we aren't there yet. And currently, health officials in Chicago are concerned about establishments not enforcing rules like social distancing and wearing masks unless seated.

With health experts warning us that we are entering the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, this is not the time to let down our guard. We've only got a little bit longer to hang on before most of us can get vaccinated and we can return to a bit of normalcy in our lives.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL
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