Chicago mayor: Data shows progress but 'long way' to go

  • A woman waits at a Chicago Transit Authority bus shelter during the coronavirus pandemic on the city's West Side Wednesday, April 15, 2020.

    A woman waits at a Chicago Transit Authority bus shelter during the coronavirus pandemic on the city's West Side Wednesday, April 15, 2020. Associated Press

  • A homeless man occupies a Chicago Transit Authority bus shelter during the coronavirus pandemic on the city's West Side Wednesday, April 15, 2020.

    A homeless man occupies a Chicago Transit Authority bus shelter during the coronavirus pandemic on the city's West Side Wednesday, April 15, 2020. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/15/2020 3:08 PM

CHICAGO -- Chicago residents' adherence to a statewide order to stay at home has helped slow the spread of the coronavirus, the city's mayor said Wednesday.

But Mayor Lori Lightfoot said officials need to see cases flatten and drop before moving to lift any restrictions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

'We still have a long way to go,' Lightfoot said. "Many things are needed for us to lift the restrictions we have placed on our city.'

Public health and city authorities are paying particular attention to data on the number of new COVID-19 cases per day, capacity in city hospitals' intensive care units and the number of patients using ventilators, Lightfoot said.

The availability of tests for coronavirus must increase substantially and public health authorities must be able to monitor new cases and use 'contact tracing' to investigate potential spread of the virus as part of a 'new normal,' she said.

Governors this week began discussing strategies for reopening economies without risking a second spike in illness and deaths. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday said people should prepare for a 'new normal' rather than an immediate return to normal movement and interaction.

Lightfoot said she will be guided by the advice of public health experts and data to avoid that scenario in Chicago.

'We are hard at work thinking about and planning for a world in which we reopen before there is a vaccine,' she said. 'I know these restrictions have been frustrating and challenging for every Chicagoan but this is exactly the wrong time to let our guard down.'

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For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the city's Department of Public Health, said restrictions in Illinois and others specific to Chicago have made a difference.

A month ago, the city was seeing new cases double every two or three days. At that rate, Chicago could have had 1.5 million cases and 48,000 deaths by now, she said.

'We knew that if we didn't work quickly to start bending that curve we were going to be on an upward trajectory that would absolutely overwhelm the health system," Arwady said.

Chicago reported 10,192 cases and 361 deaths out of 24,593 cases and 948 deaths statewide as of Wednesday afternoon.

Data tracked by the city shows Chicago hospitals were 'stretched' but still had 25% of ICU beds available and about 50% of ventilators available early this week, Arwady said.

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