CHICAGO — More and more young people are testing positive for coronavirus in Chicago, the city’s top doctor said Friday.
Chicago is seeing a rise in the number of people age 18-29 who are testing positive for COVID-19, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a Friday call with reporters. That age group now makes up most of the city’s new cases of coronavirus.
The city has seen more gatherings among younger people, Arwady said, which could be fueling the rise in cases. And there’s been a “fair bit of spread” in informal settings, like people gathering for house parties or going to businesses where requirements like social distancing aren’t well-enforced, she said.
“I think young Chicagoans, like all Chicagoans, are getting a little bit of COVID fatigue and may be being less careful about practicing diligent mask wearing and being careful,” Arwady said.
Late last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot vowed to crack down on bars and other businesses that aren’t following rules for keeping people safe amid the pandemic. That came after Block Club reported on bars reopening in Wrigleyville, where large crowds of young people drank and gathered on the sidewalks and at some establishments without wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
The rise in young people is particularly prominent in the New City and Lincoln Park community areas, Arwady said.
A map from the department shows where that age group is seeing more cases:
Officials are worried young people could transmit the virus to older people, leading to a surge in cases among the elderly, who are more at risk of severe complications and death from COVID-19, Arwady said.
“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 of [a negative] outcome,” Arwady said.
While the city’s overall percent positivity is 4.8 percent, people age 18-29 have a percent positivity of 6 percent, Arwady said. That measures the percent of people who came back positive for coronavirus when taking a test.
The rise of confirmed cases among young people is partly due to the fact the city is doing a lot of testing in people that age, Arwady said.
It’s also because the city is “doing a very nice job of controlling the cases” in people who are older and more at risk of severe complications from COVID-19, Arwady said.
“But one of the concerns is, of course, younger individuals are perfectly capable of transmitting” the virus to older people, Arwady said.
People should continue to practice safety measures to keep Chicago’s outbreak under control, Arwady said. She’s long encouraged Chicagoans to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands.
“The biggest predictor of our longterm success is whether people continue to practice the behaviors that we know work,” Arwady said.
Despite the rise of coronavirus among young people, Chicago overall is doing well, Arwady said.
Data from the city:
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July 10, 2020 at 03:39PM