Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced new regulations to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in a Nov. 12 press conference due to an “alarming” increase in infections, deaths and hospitalizations. Officials said levels haven’t been this high since the start of the pandemic.
A month ago, Chicago had a positivity rate — the percentage of tests resulting in a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 — of just more than 5 percent. It has now tripled, with some areas of the city seeing rates of 25 percent or higher, Lightfoot said. In response, Lightfoot said she “will not hesitate to take further actions” to combat the spread.
“I want to be very clear about this,” Lightfoot said. “If we continue on the path we’re on … we could see 1,000 more Chicagoans die from the virus by the end of the year.”
Lightfoot announced the start of the Protect Chicago strategy, which includes new regulatory measures and a stay-at-home advisory.
The stay-at-home advisory — set to go into effect at 6 a.m. Nov. 16 and lasts for 30 days — urges all Chicagoans to stay home and only leave for essential reasons like work, school, food and medical visits.
The advisory also includes:
- No visitors to your households, excluding home visits from essential workers
- This also prohibits visits from family members who don’t currently live with you
- If people choose to host guests in their home, limit it to no more than six non-household members
- Avoid any non-essential travel
- If you must travel, quarantine for 14 days or confirm a negative test before returning
- Thanksgiving plans must be canceled
New regulatory measures for businesses also include:
- Social events — both indoor and outdoor — must be limited to no more than 10 people
- This includes all event venues, such as Airbnbs and hotel rooms
- Doesn’t affect retail stores, gyms or houses or worship, but Lightfoot stressed businesses need to better enforce capacity limits
- Bars and restaurants must remain closed for indoor dining
- Curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. for non-essential businesses
Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said some estimates project 1,800 deaths in the next seven weeks.
“I am more worried about COVID-19 right now than I have at any point since March,” Arwady said. “[Even] if we magically stopped [the spread] today, we’d still have another 400 deaths in the next 49 days.”
Arwady said the city’s testing and contact tracing infrastructure isn’t designed for the large volume of cases the city has seen. Chicago has around 873 people hospitalized with the virus now, compared to 291 just a month ago.
Protect Chicago is also planning to use 2,000 city workers and 550 contact tracers to reach out to at least half of all households in the city, Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot is also urging essential workers to stay home if they feel sick or have a COVID-19 test pending, and warns employers not to pressure workers to come in or face consequences. Workers can call 311 if they’re concerned their employment might be in jeopardy from staying home while sick.