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Mayor Lori Lightfoot 'Very Concerned' About Recent Increase In COVID-19 Cases In Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) -- With Chicago experiencing a new uptick in COVID-19 cases, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday said she is "very concerned" that the city could see another surge in the pandemic, and said the city won't be loosening existing coronavirus restrictions anytime soon.

The mayor echoed the worries of her Public Health Commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, who one day earlier said key virus metrics in Chicago are headed "in the wrong direction."

"If you look at our data in the last week to 10 days, it feels like October, where we saw the second surge happen," Lightfoot said Wednesday afternoon. "Where we should be at this point in the arc of the virus is cases going down, not up. We've seen a significant uptick in the number of daily cases just over the past week, which is definitely concerning."

Chicago is averaging 360 new cases per day over the past week, up 23% from an average of 292 cases per day one week ago. Lightfoot said she's also concerned that the city's average positivity rate is up over the past week, and hospitalizations and ICU admissions also are on the rise.

"We're not in the position, as a result of that, to really be talking about any more reopening issues, particularly when it comes to expanding capacity indoors," Lightfoot said. "The last thing that any of us want to do is take any steps back, but we are in a place where both Dr. Arwady and myself are very concerned, and we're sounding the alarm."

On Tuesday, Arwady said new COVID-19 cases are up particularly among younger Chicagoans, between ages 18 and 29.

"If you are taking some chances with COVID, please rethink that," Arwady said. "Please wear your mask, and please be extra careful if you are interacting with anybody who's older or anybody with an underlying condition. We were averaging more than 88 new cases every day just here in Chicago among those aged 18 to 29."

Arwady added that, while the city is on track to enter into the next COVID vaccination phase on Monday, she sees problems ahead if numbers do not turn around.

"Unfortunately we are now up to a point where we're seeing 350 cases per day. We really want to get under 200 cases per day to take us back to that lower risk state," Arwady said. "Moving over 400 cases per day would move us to high risk."

Originally, Chicago officials had been expecting to announce new reopening guidelines in the city, but Lightfoot made it clear those plans are on hold while cases are climbing in Chicago.

"We're not in a place where we should be, which is cases going down," Lightfoot said.

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