Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Dr Allison Arwady said current trends in urban settings, many of which have increased in recent weeks, especially among young adults, are similar to trends seen before the outbreak. fall that led to coronavirus mitigation across the city and state.
“Sadly, these types of increases are exactly what we were seeing in October as we start to see the beginnings of what has become our huge push,” Arwady said in a coronavirus update on Tuesday. “It’s really the same case rates and young adults who started out. ”
The city’s positivity rate stood at 3.2% on Tuesday, remaining in the low-risk category, but marking an increase from a recent low of 2.7%, Arwady said.
“Seeing that go up by about half a percentage point over the last, you know, a week and a half to two weeks is not progress,” she said on a previous Facebook Live. Tuesday.
More worryingly, she said, the number of cases in the city is also starting to rise, with a current average of 350 cases per day, up from 285 a week earlier.
“Sometimes people ask, don’t you just do more testing? No, because if it were just testing we would see testing up 23% and cases up 23%. It’s a real increase, ”said Arwady.
Arwady said that while the current level of cases remains in a moderate risk category, the rate of increase actually puts the city at higher risk.
“At this point, the cases are in a high risk condition due to the increase. Our positivity remains in the low risk state but is heading in the wrong direction and then our emergency department visits, which were low risk. are also back in a moderate risk condition because, in line with the increase in cases, we have also seen an increase in the number of people with COVID-like illness in the emergency department, ”she said. “Our ICU numbers and hospital numbers at this point continue to be good. But I will tell you that we are worried about this. ”
The city’s top doctor had planned to announce more reopenings on Tuesday, but said she decided not to do so as the numbers in Chicago began to change.
“I was very hopeful today that I would be able to reopen again,” said Arwady. “As part of what these numbers look like, we’re just keeping a close eye. We need to get back to moderate risk in all of our metrics and, you know, the state agrees on that as well, that these increases that we’re seeing aren’t just in Chicago. They’re actually worse in the suburb of Cook and in the northeast, you know, statewide. It’s not an emergency yet, but it’s… that’s why we’re watching these things and when we see signs of worry like this, it’s a time to look and see what’s going on. ”
His comments were echoed in part by Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike, who said Tuesday that the state “is seeing plateaus of concern and even an increase in hospitalizations and cases.”
“Even as we receive more and more doses of the vaccine, we cannot lower our guard, especially with these new virulent strains in circulation,” Ezike said in a statement. “We’ve come this far and are so close to a more normal hour, but we are already seeing worrying plateaus and even an increase in hospitalizations and cases. We’re not out of the woods yet, so keep wearing your masks, avoid large crowds, and keep six feet away.
Illinois health officials on Tuesday reported 1,832 new cases of the coronavirus and 13 additional deaths, as well as more than 70,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours.
Arwady noted that emerging variants of the coronavirus, believed to be more contagious, are still being reported across the city.
More recently, on March 5, the Chicago Department of Public Health reported the city’s first case of the Brazilian variant COVID-19, which also marked the first such case in Illinois, officials said. health.
Illinois reported its first case of the variant first discovered in South Africa on February 11, while the British strain was initially reported in Chicago on January 15.
“We are seeing variants of COVID spreading in Chicago, and we don’t test everyone who gets COVID for those variants, but we are absolutely reviewing the B.117 variant which first appeared in the UK, which ‘they see a lot. Michigan, ”she said. “We are also seeing more cases of this disease here in Chicago and we have seen a spread. And so reminding people, you know, we see cases all over the city, no matter where you live in Chicago, we keep seeing cases emerge from every part of Chicago, we keep seeing people being hospitalized. ”
Michigan, health officials added, now has the third highest number of COVID cases in the United States, as a recent surge led to a 112% increase in cases in the past two weeks, leading to an increase 52% of hospitalizations. Figures that mirror those seen in late December, officials said.
“It’s surprising because for a month they were one of the best states for COVID control in the entire Midwest,” Arwady said. “I will also note that they have detected a large number of cases of this B.117 variant, the one that originally appeared in the UK. in Michigan there are even more potential cases. ”
Arwady said that while the city continues to make progress in vaccinating residents, it is particularly concerned about the short-term impacts of an outbreak, but remains optimistic about longer-term projections.
“I remain really confident that this summer, assuming we continue to see very good vaccine demand and very good adoption as vaccine supply increases, we will be in good shape this summer, but I’m really worried. for that next type four to eight. weeks, ”she said.
While it’s not clear whether the hike in settings will actually mark the start of a third wave in the city, Arwady said residents shouldn’t let their guards down.
“I don’t really know what’s going to happen here,” Arwady said. “I know we are pushing the vaccine as quickly as possible, stepping up our surveillance for the variants that we see… and continuing to ask people to do what has brought us here. If we’re seeing a sharp increase in unaccompanied cases with an increase in hospitalizations or deaths, I’m not as concerned. But if we start to see that it’s having a serious impact, you know, and then the big question is, what does this mean for the reopening? “