Debates over in-person learning continue as hospitalizations rates for young people climb to an average of about seven per day – the highest during the pandemic, according to Chicago Department of Public Health data.
Dr. Allison Arwady, CDPH commissioner, said it’s still rare for children to contract COVID-19, and that this hospitalization rate is similar to that of a flu year.
“I don’t want to make light of the fact that there are children being hospitalized, but only 15% of the kids in Chicago hospitals today have COVID-19 and the other 85% have other illnesses,” Arwady said. “We don’t upend school, we don’t stop for influenza.”
The city’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is 23.6% – the highest it has been since the first wave of the pandemic that peaked in Chicago in April 2020, according to CDPH data.
Despite the high positivity rate, Arwady said she believes students are safe in classrooms. She said that being in schools is not a risk factor for staff or students to have an increased risk of COVID-19.
“It really is concerning to me that we’re pretending like it’s February 2020, at the beginning of all of this,” Arwady said.
Amid concerns over the current surge and the return to the classroom after the holidays, Chicago Teachers Union officials have asked the district to increase regular testing, provide masks to all students and staff, provide a “major increase” in vaccinations at schools and require those who’ve had COVID-19 to get a negative test before returning to school.