CHICAGO (CN) — Chicagoans were urged Thursday to self-quarantine for the next month to battle the recent spike in Covid-19 cases threatening to claim a thousand more lives in the city by the end of the year.
Although the stay-at-home advisory is not mandatory, the mayor pleaded with residents to keep home as much as possible during an afternoon press conference.
“We’re here with some very sobering news,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “For weeks now we’ve been sounding the alarm on the record level of Covid cases throughout our city.”
Thursday saw the rolling daily average cases in Chicago jump to 1,920 with a 14.5% positivity rate, up from 300-400 cases per day in October, when the positivity rate hovered just above 4%.
Lightfoot said some areas of the city are now seeing positivity rates of 25%.
“If we do not step up and do the things we know actually work…by the end of this year we will lose at least 1,000 more lives,” the mayor warned. “None of us can keep maintaining the status quo in the face of this stark reality.”
Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s public health commissioner, said the city could see 4,000 infections daily by Thanksgiving.
“I am more worried about Covid right now than I have been at any point since March,” Arwady said Thursday.
She added, “If you look at that curve, there’s been no sign that it’s slowing down.”
“Our goal now is the same as it was during the early days of this pandemic and that is to bend the curve,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “We are back there.”
Outlining the city’s new plan – which includes previous mask requirements, restrictions on the size of gatherings and an 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew – the mayor said all Chicago residents should stay at home whenever possible, avoid all nonessential travel and have no guests, including family members that don’t live in the same house.
“You must cancel your normal Thanksgiving plans,” the mayor said, adding that the virus is spreading among family and friends. “In these spaces people feel safe and you let your guard down.”
Almost all 50 states are on Chicago’s travel advisory list, requiring a 14-day quarantine when returning to the city. Now travelers from some states will require a negative Covid-19 test before coming home.
Lightfoot also asked businesses to allow employees to work from home whenever possible, especially when showing symptoms. Capacity limits will tighten up on businesses, churches and special events as well in an effort to limit the amount of people together in one space.
Chicago’s voluntary advisory begins at 6 a.m. on Monday and will be in place for 30 days.
The entire state of Illinois is seeing a massive surge in infections, setting a daily record the third day in a row Thursday with 12,702 new cases. The state has recorded a total of 536,542 coronavirus cases – over 122,000 of those in Chicago alone – and 10,477 deaths.
The new guidelines in Chicago echo those announced by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker earlier in the week. Indoor dining has also been shut down across the state just as the weather has taken a turn toward winter.
“This whole year has been tough,” Lightfoot said. “All of our lives have been upended by this terrible virus. These next weeks will be crucial to how we spend our 2021.”
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