Last Updated 3:04 p.m. April 8, 2021
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Coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations continued to spike this week, with the greatest number of cases seen since late January recorded on Wednesday. Suburban Cook County officials said younger people are now driving the pandemic, and warned that mitigations could be tightened again within days if the trend continues. Similar imminent warnings have not been issued at this time by the City of Chicago or the State Of Illinois, though Mayor Lori Lightfoot did say last week that ballparks and bars around them could be closed if the numbers continue to spike.
An especially severe spike was seen at the University of Chicago, which saw its biggest outbreak yet – with 50 cases of the virus having been reported on campus over 48 hours.
Dr. Rachel Rubin, Senior Medical Officer with the Cook County Department of Public Health, said Wednesday that people should not be congregating indoors and should be outdoors for dining and other events in the wake of the spike in cases.
“Our 20s and 30-year-olds and somewhat 40-year-olds that are the ones that are testing positive,” Rubin said. “Folks are, as we know, the ones that are more likely to be out and about and maybe being a little bit less observant of the guidance.”
In the past two weeks, cases are up 200% or more in Norridge, Robbins, Harvey, Glencoe, Riverside, Berkeley, and Lynwood.READ MORE: In Wake Of 'Events Across The Country,' Chicago Police Deploy Additional Resources And Cancel Days Off For Some Units; Some Stores Board Up In Case Of Unrest
At the University of Chicago, officials said a “substantial number of cases are among students living on-campus, distributed across multiple residence halls.” The university said it expects that number to increase.
The cases are being traced to off-campus fraternity parties and there is concern that the students have contracted the highly contagious B.1.1.7 variant of the virus.
Those who have tested positive are in isolation. Students living in residence halls must observe a new stay-at-home period of seven days, beginning immediately. Classes will be conducted remotely, starting Thursday, for at least seven days, the university said.
On Wednesday, April 7, there were 3,790 new COVID-19 cases in the state of Illinois. To put that number into perspective, Jan. 29 was the last time there were numbers that high. The numbers for Thursday, April 8 were nearly as high with 3,739 cases. Hospitalizations have also been on the rise.
With the rapid rise in COVID-19 cases, the Chicago Teachers Union said this week that the Chicago Public Schools should pause on their plans to reopen the city’s public high schools on Monday, April 19.MORE NEWS: Proposed Laws Would Improve Privacy Protections For Sex Crime Victims In Illinois
CPS and Mayor Lori Lightfoot are holding firm on keeping April 19 as the date for high school students to return to the buildings. But union leaders now want that plan delayed for at least a week.