Chicago coronavirus cases are doubling every 12 days, Arwady warns
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago COVID-19 cases are surging in a way the city has not ever seen before, in an outbreak that is worse than the first coronavirus peak in April and May.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady emphasized Thursday that all Chicagoans needed to immediately take steps to contain the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks, avoiding gatherings, washing hands and staying home.
"When we are asking you to double down on the things we know work, we are absolutely speaking to you," she said.
Arwady said as of Thursday the average number of new cases in Chicago each day is 1,395 cases. The target number of cases for the city is less than 200 per day. During the summer, while coronavirus surges were seen around the United States, the city was able to keep the number of daily cases between 200 and 400; in just the past month, the number of daily cases has surged past 1,000 per day.
The test positivity rate citywide is 10.9% which means that more than 1 out of 10 people tested for COVID-19 are positive. The target test positivity rate for the city is 5%.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said Chicago reported 2,182 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday.
Arwady said the city has diagnosed more than 108,000 total cases of COVID-19 and that currently almost 15,000 of those cases are active right now, which means they are infectious and potentially spreading the virus. Arwady also said CDPH knows the number of actual COVID-19 cases in the city is five to seven times higher than the cases diagnosed through testing.
That means the actual number of Chicagoans who actively have COVID-19 right now is between 70,000 and 105,000, Arwady said.
Arwady said the increase in cases has already led to an increase in hospitalization, ICU usage, ventilator usage and a small uptick in deaths. With the current health data trends, more than twice as many people are hospitalized, not in the ICU, compared to the end of September.
Arwady said there is no reason to think those metrics would slow down.
The current time for case doubling is 12 days, according to Arwady. The curve in the rise in cases is as sharp as the first coronavirus wave form the spring.
Arwady said every age group in the city is seeing increased infections, with people aged 40-49 with the most infections, followed by 30-39 and 18-29.
COVID-19 is now widely spread in the community, according to CDPH. Arwady said 15 cases affecting people who attended a wedding this week have been reported, as well as a birthday party of six people who all have contracted COVID-19, including a 1-year-old boy.
No one at the party was symptomatic, but Arwady said people are very efficient at spreading COVID19 in the two days before they develop symptoms. She also reminded the public that some cases of COVID-19 remain asymptomatic for the duration, but are still infectious.
Arwady once again doubled down on the steps the public must take to curb the spread of COVID-19.
"Even if you feel well, you must wear a mask. You must keep your distance. You must wash your hands. And you must think of others," she said.
Parties, indoor gatherings and other risky situations are off the table as well, she said.
While no one will be able to have a traditional Thanksgiving or other holiday celebrations, Arwady said the hope is to turn the trend around and get to the point where health officials no longer need to admonish the public. And to do that, she said, we all need to take it upon ourselves to act responsibly.
"This means me," she said. "What can I do today to limit my risk?"
Illinois reported a record high of 9,935 new COVID-19 cases and 97 additional deaths overall on Thursday.