Pub­lic health com­mis­sioner: Hot spots for age group in Lin­coln Park, New City

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY JON SEI­DEL AND CARO­LINE HUR­LEY Staff Re­porters

Chicago’s pub­lic health com­mis­sioner said Fri­day that coro­n­avirus cases in the city re­main sta­ble, de­spite a rise in cases else­where in the coun­try.

Deaths, hospi­tal­iza­tions and emer­gency room vis­its re­lated to COVID-19 in Chicago are at their low­est lev­els since March, ac­cord­ing to City Hall. Pub­lic Health Com­mis­sioner Al­li­son Ar­wady said the city is likely in the next few weeks to even see a day with­out a coro­n­avirus death for the first time since March 20.

How­ever, Ar­wady also said in a con­fer­ence call with re­porters that Chicagoans be­tween the ages of 18 and 29 — mem­bers of Gen­er­a­tion Z as well as young Mil­len­ni­als — now have the high­est daily case rates in the city.

The big­gest hot spots for that age group are in Lin­coln Park and New City, Ar­wady said.

“Of course, younger in­di­vid­u­als are per­fectly ca­pa­ble of trans­mit­ting that dis­ease to peo­ple in those older age cat­e­gories, peo­ple with un­der­ly­ing con­di­tions,” Ar­wady said.

A surge in that young pop­u­la­tion would be cause for con­cern,

Ar­wady said. But that hasn’t hap­pened yet.

Chicago en­tered Phase 4 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s re­open­ing plan on June 26. About a week later, Mayor Lori Light­foot is­sued an or­der, ef­fec­tive last Mon­day, that re­quired any­one trav­el­ing or re­turn­ing to Chicago from states that have seen a spike in COVID-19 in­fec­tion rates to quar­an­tine for two weeks. Light­foot is­sued the or­der in re­sponse to a rise in COVID-19 in­fec­tions pri­mar­ily in the South and West re­gions of the United States.

The city has yet to fine any­one for vi­o­lat­ing that or­der, Ar­wady said Fri­day.

Mean­while, Ar­wady said Chicago is see­ing less than 200 new cases per day, its pos­i­tiv­ity rate re­mains at less than 5%, and more than 5,000 Chicago res­i­dents are be­ing tested for COVID-19 ev­ery day, on av­er­age.

Be­fore rolling back the city’s re­open­ing, Ar­wady said she would watch for a rise in the num­bers — but also a rapid rate of change.

“I am ab­so­lutely happy to tol­er­ate slight changes, slight in­creases,” Ar­wady said.

Ar­wady said a jump to 400 new cases a day would be no­table, as would in­creased stress on health care fa­cil­i­ties. Flu sea­son, later in the year, could change the cal­cu­lus.

As for young Chicagoans now lead­ing the city in coro­n­avirus cases, Ar­wady said they can ex­pect to be the tar­get of outreach and me­dia cam­paigns from the city.

“I want to make sure that we are re­mind­ing younger Chicagoans that their be­hav­ior also can put peo­ple they love at risk who may be at higher risk,” Ar­wady said.

A health care worker per­forms a coro­n­avirus test at a mo­bile test­ing sta­tion Wed­nes­day at Ed­ward Coles School in South Chicago.

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