In accordance with the state of Illinois, Chicago will lift its indoor mask mandate early next week in some public places as long as coronavirus measures continue to drop, officials said Tuesday.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told a press conference that the mask mandate, along with the city’s vaccine requirement, will end Feb. 28 at a number of locations across the city. , citing a decline in key COVID-19 metrics.
“Based on key data, it appears the worst of the Omicron push is behind us and we will be able to safely remove these emergency measures instituted to protect the health and safety of our residents,” Lightfoot said.
According to Lightfoot, masks will continue to be required in health care facilities, on public transportation and in other places of congregation, in accordance with federal mandates and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The mayor called the move a “huge step forward” in Chicago’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic, adding that the city wouldn’t have been able to make Tuesday’s announcement “even a few weeks ago.” .
Although the vaccine mandate is set to be lifted for domestic businesses next week, Lightfoot noted that city employees must continue to be vaccinated against the virus to work for Chicago.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said three of four key coronavirus metrics, including test positivity, hospital bed capacity and intensive care bed capacity, moved into the “lower transmission” category or below as of Monday.
Although these measures indicate that the city is able to lift some COVID mitigation measures, the city’s top doctor reiterated that the pandemic is not over.
“It doesn’t mean COVID is gone, it just means transmission levels are lower than they were during the surges,” Arwady said. “I always encourage people to take precautions and get vaccinated to protect you and your loved ones.”
Arwady explained that city health officials relied on a set of measures to determine when restrictions can be lifted, including that three out of four key measures must be met to move forward with the easing of restrictions. limitations.
Metrics include test positivity, hospital beds occupied by COVID patients, intensive care beds occupied by COVID patients, and daily COVID cases. The rolling seven-day averages for each category must be at a “lower transmission” level, which is set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
City officials have previously said that once three of the previous four measurements reach at least the “lower transmission” level, a two-week clock, known as the “incubation cycle,” will begin.
Although Chicago hasn’t stayed in the “lower transmission” rate for the full two weeks by Feb. 28, city officials noted that the mitigations could still be safely lifted before the end. of the “incubation cycle”.
CDPH data showed that Chicago had an average of 283 COVID cases per day, down 37% from last week. Hospitalizations have fallen 29% in the past seven days, standing at around 27 per day related to the coronavirus.
Deaths in Chicago are down 51% from last week and the city’s positivity rate fell from 2% to 1.5% last week, the CDPH date showed.
Until next week, Chicago has a mask mandate in place for indoor settings, as well as a requirement that patrons of specific indoor establishments present proof of COVID vaccination in order to enter.
Illinois aims to lift its mask mandate, except for schools, by February 28 if the state’s COVID measures also continue to decline.
Adding that the state “is seeing the fastest rate of decline in our COVID-19 hospitalization metrics since the pandemic began,” Governor JB Pritzker said if trends continue as expected, “then Monday, 28 February, we will be lifting the indoor mask requirement for the state of Illinois.”
He did, however, note an important caveat.
“I want to be clear: many jurisdictions, local businesses and organizations have their own requirements for masks and other mitigations that must be followed,” he said. “Having stricter mitigation measures than state requirements is something that must be adhered to.”