Mayor Lori Lightfoot warns Chicago COVID-19 numbers ‘going in the wrong direction’

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Gregory Pratt, Chicago Tribune
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Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday the city of Chicago’s recent coronavirus case numbers are “going in the wrong direction” and resemble the period before last fall’s second surge.

“I’m very concerned. If you look at our data in the last week to 10 days, it feels like October when we saw the second surge happen,” Lightfoot said.

The mayor’s comments echoed remarks earlier in the week from public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, who warned of an uptick especially among younger residents. Equally concerning, Lightfoot said Wednesday, is an increase in percent positivity of new cases.

Because of that, she said, Chicago isn’t in a position to talk about any more reopening issues, “particularly when it comes to expanding capacity indoors.”

“The last thing any of us want to do is take any steps back,” Lightfoot said. “But we are in a place where both Dr. Arwady and myself are very concerned and we’re sounding the alarm.”

The increasing numbers mimic the start of the city’s second COVID-19 surge in October that later shut down indoor dining for months, Arwady said earlier in the week.

As that wave died down, the city was able to reopen indoor dining in January and continue expanding its capacity, most recently three weeks ago.

The rise in cases is led by younger adults: first by the 18 to 29 age group, second by 30- to 39-year-olds and third by 40- to 49-year-olds, city officials said.

Those groups are perhaps letting their guard down as vaccinations ramp up in Chicago, Arwady said.

gpratt@chicagotribune.com