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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s COVID vaccination mandate for restaurants, gyms, theaters, and other indoor locations could be lifted soon. The mayor agrees that if the metrics continue to drop, the rule that requires patrons to show proof they are vaccinated within a few weeks, the Illinois Restaurant Association reported after the mayor gave a keynote speech at their annual meeting on Thursday.
The requirement requires anyone five and older to show proof of COVID vaccination to dine at an indoor restaurant or go to venues where food or beverages are being served. Gyms are included in the mayor’s mandate.
Chicagoans’ good news comes on the eve before officials announced that COVID-19 had claimed over 900,000 lives in the United States, over 5.7 million globally. Yet, at the same time, the number of new infections is sharply falling nationally, as are recent hospitalizations.
“Illinois is actually doing well. The upper northeast and the Midwest, represented by Chicago and Illinois, are better in general than the rest of the country,” reports Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH). Cases in the state are less than a fourth of what they were during the last peak in January.
For many Illinoisans, the decreasing infections feel like the state may be coming out of the worse COVID-19 pandemic. However, Dr. Fauci cautions against people letting their collective guard down even as he offered hope for more sunny days ahead.
He pointed out that the state boasts a higher vaccination rate than most of the United States. Over 70% of Illinois residents over five are fully vaccinated compared to an average of 64% nationally, Fauci noted. That rate is as good or better than the rest of the country — “no doubt about that.”
The doctor credited Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwardy with “extraordinary good judgment.” Regarding whether or not she should lift the proof of COVID vaccination mandate, Fauci added, “if she makes that decision I have total confidence that that’s the right decision.”
He reminds everyone not to become overconfident because things are starting to turn around. Rushing back to pre-pandemic normality could result in another COVID serge.
Vaccinations, booster shots, and tests for COVID are free of charge regardless of insurance or immigration status. Call the local health department for information regarding times and locations where these services are available.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
Crain’s Chicago Business: Lightfoot to restaurant crowd: Vax requirement could drop within weeks; by A.D. Quig
NBC 5 Chicago: Here’s What Dr. Fauci Says on Illinois’ COVID Metrics, Masks and More; by Phil Rogers
The New York Times: U.S. Covid Death Toll Surpasses 900,000 as Omicron’s Spread Slows; by Julie Bosman and Mitch Smith
Featured and Top Image by Major Michael O’Hagan Courtesy of New York National Guard’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of U.S. Department of the Interior’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License