Coronavirus Chicago: COVID-19 data shows city is 'flattening the curve,' Mayor Lori Lightfoot says

ByCate Cauguiran and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, April 16, 2020
COVID-19 data shows Chicago is 'flattening the curve,' officials say
Data from hospitals and health officials appears to show the coronavirus curve in Chicago may be flattening.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago health officials announced Wednesday that data suggests Chicago is "flattening the curve" in its fight to stop the spread of coronavirus in city.

The data shows the city has seen a slowdown in the rate of new cases, with the number of cases doubling every twelve days currently, as opposed to doubling every two to three days one month ago.

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Lightfoot said the city's department of public health has been working with a health care technology company called BlueDot to obtain anonymous location data from thousands of apps on residents' mobile phones.

"We're actually able to use this to see how much our cell phones and other mobile devices across Chicago are staying home," Lightfoot said.

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The technology works by looking at the location of the device between the hours of midnight and 9 a.m., then pinging the device's location every half hour to see how far it moves from home, Lightfoot said.

The data shows that in February and early March, about 60 percent of the time, Chicago residents' cell phones were home. Now, Lightfoot said residents' phones are within 200 meters of their home about 80 percent of the time.

"This kind of real change in your life is why we are seeing some of that curve flattening. That curve flattening in turn is why we've been able to protect our health care system," said Dr. Allison Arwady.

"Thanks to our citywide efforts to stay home and socially isolate, we have made important progress in flattening the curve and stemming the spread of COVID-19 in Chicago," said Mayor Lightfoot. "However, as encouraging as these numbers are, the light at the end of the tunnel is only a pinprick and we will need continued diligence and social compliance before we can bend the curve and outrun this crisis. That's why it is imperative we continue to be safe and act responsibly, as it is truly a matter of life and death."

The data also shows compliance with social distancing has led to fewer deaths, with 9,666 cases and 347 deaths. Without social distancing compliance, officials said Chicago could have seen as many as 2,000 deaths and 62,000 cases.

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Lightfoot said the city will continue to monitor data before recommending an end to the stay-at-home restrictions. The metrics include tracking new cases and deaths, monitoring hospital capacity, increasing testing capacity, using new technology and tools as well as reinforcing social distancing, the mayor's office said.

"This data is encouraging and shows that all of our efforts appear to be having the intended impact in helping to limit the spread of this virus," said Dr. Allison Arwady, CDPH Commissioner. "I want to thank the people of Chicago who absolutely have saved lives by staying home. But I want to be clear: this also tells us that we need to be abiding by these restrictions more now than ever, because we haven't yet gotten to the other side of the curve, where the number of daily cases begins to fall day after day. We need to get to the other side of the curve to be able to move forward as a city."

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Data gathered from BlueDot indicates Chicagoans are stay at or near home with an average median of 59 percent and 64 percent phone check-ins coming from home in February and March, with the rate climbing to 79 percent last week. For more information on the data, visit

Deaths among the African-American community account for about 62 percent of Chicago deaths, down slightly from 72 percent earlier reported disparity, but still far higher than any other group. African Americans also comprise 48 percent of city cases.