Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a home visit advice on Thursday after the number of coronavirus cases rose 36 percent in the past two weeks. Chicago was the first major US city to issue a new suspension order.
“Chicago has reached a critical point in the second wave of COVID-19 and is demanding that we make these diverse and comprehensive efforts to stop the virus in its infancy,” Lightfoot said at a press conference.
Chicago has seen a massive increase in coronavirus cases over the past month. By Wednesday, the city had more than 122,000 confirmed cases, according to the Chicago Department of Health and Human Services. The city has reported over 10,000 new cases this week alone, with a 14.1 percent positive rate.
“Unless changes are made by Chicago’s residents, businesses and visitors to curb the spread of COVID-19, the city is on track to lose 1,000 more Chicagoans or even more by the end of the year,” Lightfoot said.
Effective Monday, the 30-day ordinance urges residents to leave their homes only to go to work or school or to provide essential needs, to practice social distancing and wear masks at all times, and to avoid all non-essential travel.
Nonessential business must be closed at 11 p.m., and the mayor has instructed Chicagoans not to hold meetings with anyone outside their homes, including “trusted family members or friends.
The city will also introduce new restrictions on social gatherings, limiting both indoor and outdoor events to no more than 10 people. These restrictions will also apply to events such as weddings, funerals and birthday parties.
Lightfoot also told Twitter that the city will increase its coronavirus response team and deploy approximately 2,000 city employees, including up to 550 contact trackers, and hundreds of community organizations to reach at least half of Chicago’s households.
Lightfoot has also targeted the Thanksgiving celebrations. She called on residents to “cancel traditional Thanksgiving celebrations” to help contain the spread of the virus.
“While this is difficult – and of course the whole year has been difficult – we have to tell you: You have to cancel your normal Thanksgiving plans, especially if they include guests who do not live in your immediate household,” she said.
“I know that many people are tired, exhausted. The fatigue is real,” Lightfoot added. “Our whole lives have been stirred up by this terrible virus, and even if we put these restrictions in place, I know that our success is largely due to our ability to work together on solutions to educate people to comply.
As the number of viruses in the state of Illinois has reached new highs, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has also hinted at the possibility of a nationwide house arrest order.
On Wednesday, Illinois health officials reported 5,042 hospitalizations – the most the state has seen since the pandemic began. On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Health reported 12,702 new and probable coronavirus cases, setting a new daily record for the state for the third consecutive day.
“I am very concerned as we approach Thanksgiving,” Pritzker said earlier this week. “I am very concerned as these numbers continue to rise. And that’s why, as I’ve been telling you for days, we’re really looking at all the possibilities – the possibility that we might have to go back a phase, the possibility that we might eventually have to have house rules. These are not things I would rather do.”
Even the hospitals in Illinois are beginning to feel the pressure of the rapid rise in virus cases.
One healthcare provider, NorthShore University HealthSystem, has converted its Glenbrook Hospital back into a COVID-19 hospital, which means that patients who are not COVID-19 compliant are sent to the other facilities in the system. The system, which consists of five hospitals, has also begun to reevaluate elective surgeries on a case-by-case basis.
“The total number of hospitalized COVID patients in Illinois has increased over the past week, with an increase in the number of COVID patients in the ICU and an increase in the number requiring mechanical ventilation,” said Dr. Neil Freedman, M.D., Director of Lung