Officials with the Chicago Department of Public Health have documented 29 cases of the virus that can cause intensely painful lesions between April 22 and Tuesday, after recording just five cases between Jan. 1 and April 15, according to city data.
Recently, a young child was poisoned in his Belmont-Cragin apartment and now faces a host of health problems. It’s spurred a debate on whether the city can do more to fix the problem before another child is affected.
Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, led Chicago’s effort to fight the deadly virus. On this third anniversary of the pandemic, Arwady reflects on lessons learned and whether she would have done anything differently.
During the past seven days, an average of 31 people have been hospitalized each day in Chicago from COVID-19, down more than 40% during the past week, according to city data last updated Wednesday.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday said the city is expected to move from a “medium” risk level for contracting COVID-19 back to a “high” risk level, likely sometime in the next week. When that happens, the city will reinstate an advisory, urging Chicagoans to mask up.
Chicago hospitals and health care providers are also coping with sharp increases in flu cases and illness caused by RSV, a respiratory virus, officials said.
The move is likely to reduce fears, at least temporarily, of an imminent surge of COVID-19 once colder weather settled over Chicago for the duration, forcing people indoors.
Chicago and Cook County last faced a medium risk of COVID-19 in mid-September.
The two people — about whom no other information was shared — both had underlying health conditions, including weakened immune systems, and were diagnosed with the virus more than six weeks ago, officials said.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said COVID hospitalizations remain a point of some concern in the city.
Chicago and Cook County last faced a low risk of COVID-19 on May 5. The region has bounced between a medium risk and a high risk all summer.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady urged all Chicagoans older than 12 who were vaccinated against COVID-19 with the original vaccine at least two months ago to get the updated vaccine, which targets the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the omicron variant of COVID-19.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, called the vaccines the “best possible match” against strains of the virus now in circulation. They’ve been formulated to provide immunity against the omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, which account for nearly all of the cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, who has been the public face of Chicago’s response throughout the continuing COVID-19 pandemic as well as the outbreak of monkeypox, said she would work from home while isolating.
Chicago Department of Public Health officials continue to recommend that residents wear masks indoors and on public transportation to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19 and ensure they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.
The move backs a push from progressive members of the City Council to enshrine those protections into law. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s announcement came one day after several progressive members of the City Council urged their colleagues to protect those crossing state lines to get reproductive and gender-affirming health care in Chicago.