Chicagoans urged to cancel in-person Thanksgiving dinner as city could lose 1,000 lives in next 7 weeks
CHICAGO (WLS) -- A stay-at-home advisory goes into effect Monday morning for Chicago and suburban Cook County as coronavirus cases once again surge throughout the community.
The advisory, issued by Mayor Lori Lightfoot last week, goes into effect at 6 a.m. and last for at least 30 days.
"The numbers are significantly worse. It's stark. I am very concerned," said Dr. Jay Bhatt with Medical Home Network.
The latest concerns prompted Mayor Lightfoot to tweet that 1 in 18 Chicagoans have active COVID-19 infections as of Nov. 13.
The stay-at-home advisory in Chicago encourages residents to stay home as much as possible for 30 days, recommending that they only leave to go to work or school, or for essential needs like groceries. It urges people to not have gatherings in their home with anybody outside of their household, including for Thanksgiving, and to avoid all non-essential, out-of-state travel.
Cook County officials have similar recommendations for the suburbs.
"Everyone wants to be with their families, their friends and their loved ones, particularly in the holiday season, but this season that could come at a really significant cost," said Dr. Kiran Joshi with the Cook County Department of Public Health.
Health officials say the way to celebrate safely is to do it virtually instead of gathering in person.
"The next few months, winter, the flu and COVID fatigue have the potential to truly create a catastrophe that could be avoided here," said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. "I am more worried about COVID right now than I have been since March."
Arwady said daily case counts, hospitalizations, the number of patients in ICU, and deaths have all tripled, and without bending the curve, Chicago is headed for catastrophe.
Lightfoot warned in the next seven weeks, the city could lose at least 1,000 more lives. Officials say that number could actually be closer to 1,800 people dead, according to some computer models.
If travel is necessary, Chicagoans are asked to quarantine or get tested. Officials also emphasize residents should wear facemasks and follow social distancing protocols.
The city's updated color-coded travel order is now in effect, with travelers from states in the red category required to quarantine for 14 days.
"Chicago has reached a critical point in the second surge of COVID-19, demanding that we undertake this multi-faceted and comprehensive effort to stop the virus in its tracks," she added. "The gains we have made this past year have been the result of our willingness to work together. Even in this difficult moment, we will continue to unite as we always have for our city in order to halt the rise we're seeing, shake out of the fatigue we've been experiencing, and make the crucial difference in what our future is going to look like."
"The data are troubling, and I'm very concerned we could be looking at tens of thousands of more cases, which would overwhelm the healthcare system and lead to hundreds more deaths," said Arwady. "But we know what works and what we need to do to bend the curve. We did it once and I know we can do it again."
In addition to the Chicago stay-at-home advisory, the City is imposing new restrictions on meetings and social events. The new restrictions limit gathering to 10 people, whether indoors or outdoors. This includes weddings, birthday parties and funerals. However, it does not apply to fitness clubs, retail stores, personal services and movie theaters.
This all comes as the holiday shopping season is about to get underway.
Eric Williams owns The Silver Room in Hyde Park. Although retailers can stay open, he's worried that shoppers will stay home.
"It is very critical for retailers right now going into the holiday season," he said. "A lot of us make up to 30% of our revenue over the next 45 days."
Health officials warn more restrictions could be on the way depending on the conditions over the next several weeks.
"We are starting with these measures. We are going to see how it goes and if we don't see a change then we consider other options," Dr. Joshi said.