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Should Businesses Have To Check Patrons For Vaccine Proof? Lightfoot Says Focus Is Just On Getting Shots In Arms

New York City is requiring spots like gyms, restaurants and bars to check patrons for proof of vaccination. But Mayor Lori Lightfoot won't say if Chicago will do the same.

Patrons buy drinks Saturday from Old Crow Smokehouse's curbside bar on Clark Street in Wrigleyville. It was the first weekend of Illinois' Phase 4 of reopening amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot shied away Friday from questions about if the city will require some businesses to check people for proof of vaccination.

New York City is requiring spots like gyms, restaurants and bars to check patrons for proof of vaccination, hoping that can limit the spread of COVID-19 during this latest wave of cases. But Lightfoot has so far refused to say Chicago will do the same.

This week, a group of aldermen from the Committee on Health and Human Relations sent a letter to Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the city’s health department, and Lightfoot to say they’d support checking vaccination proof for people at restaurants, bars, movie theaters, gyms and concert halls. The letter was first reported by Greg Pratt of the Tribune.

Asked about that letter at a Friday news conference, Lightfoot did not directly respond.

“We gotta get more people vaccinated,” Lightfoot said.

The mayor said she’s been “encouraged” by the number of businesses that are individually opt to check if patrons are vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 test, but she would not say if the city will require such a measure.

“Fundamentally, what our focus is gonna be, as a city, [Chicago Department of Public Health,] is getting more people vaccinated,” she said.

About 97 percent of Chicagoans being hospitalized with and dying from COVID-19 are unvaccinated, Lightfoot said.

Officials have urged unvaccinated people to take stricter safety precautions — like not traveling and wearing masks when indoors and outdoors in public — since they’re more at risk of catching, becoming severely sick from and dying from the virus.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 6.8 million people — or 53.67 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 20,514 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 14,149,453 vaccine doses of the 16,672,735 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.5 million Chicagoans — or 56.3 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated. About 61.6 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Forty-six Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Thursday.

• At least 24,261 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,584 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 5,309 cases since Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,564,386.

• Since Thursday, 117,097 tests were reported statewide. In all, 29,756,833 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 4.5 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 4.7 percent Thursda.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 5.1 percent. It was at 5.1 percent Thursday.

• As of Thursday night, 549 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 311 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, five deaths were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 5,686 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than four deaths per day, a 50 percent increase from the week prior.

• Chicago has had 758 confirmed cases reported since Thursday. It’s had a total of 309,263 confirmed cases. An average of 466 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 10 percent decrease from the week prior.

• At the same time, testing has increased 4 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 3.7 percent, down from 4.3 percent the week prior.

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