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Chicago’s Not On Track To End Mask, Vaccine Card Mandates When State Does — But It Might Cut Them Short Anyway

Chicago was supposed to hit three out of four COVID-19 milestones for two weeks before it'd drop the city's mandates. But it's only hit one so far — and the state's masking end date is creeping up.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot shows her COVID vaccine card at Club Pilates, 2047 N. Clybourn Ave., in Lincoln Park during a press event recognizing the city’s requirement for some businesses to start checking patrons’ COVID-19 vaccination status began on Jan. 3, 2022.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Chicago is not on track to end its mask mandate Feb. 28, when the statewide mandate is set to end — but the city might lift the requirement then, anyway.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced last week Illinois’ statewide mask mandate is set to end Feb. 28, so long as the state’s COVID-19 metrics continue to fall. Chicago’s health department then announced it would also aim to end the city’s mask and vaccine card mandates by the end of the month, though Chicago would have to hit three out of four milestones for at least two weeks for that to happen.

But there are less than two weeks to go before Feb. 28 — and Chicago’s only hit one of its goals so far.

That could mean Chicago’s mask mandate will hang around after the state lifts its restriction, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Tuesday.

But the city could also opt to end its mandates early to line up with the state and avoid confusion for residents, Arwady said. More information will be announced next week, Arwady said.

“We’re gonna see where we are next week and make a decision sort of either way there,” Arwady said. “If we are not able to move on the 28th, I think it would probably be not very long after that.”

Here are the state’s goals for ending the mandate and where Chicago stands with each:

Cases: Chicago must report an average of 199 cases or fewer per day. It’s reporting an average of 431 per day.

Positivity rate: Chicago’s positivity rate must be at 4.9 percent or lower. It’s at 2 percent.

Hospital beds: Chicago must have an average of 249 or fewer beds occupied by COVID-19 patients per day. It’s reporting an average of 376 per day.

ICU beds: Chicago must have an average of 99 or fewer ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients per day. It’s reporting an average of 115 per day.

Chicago has met the goal for its positivity rate, and it could meet the goal for ICU beds within a day or two, Arwady said. The health commissioner expects the city to hit its goal for non-ICU hospital beds “just a little behind that.”

That would mean Chicago could shortly have three out of four goals ticked off and would just need to wait two weeks to lift its mandates, under its own rules.

“Given the progress we are making, I am feeling very optimistic,” Arwady said.

But if the city gets to a position where it’d be on pace to lift its mandates just a few days after the state ends its mask mandate, Chicago will cut short the two-week wait and end its own mask mandate and vaccine card requirement early, Arwady said. It wouldn’t be worth confusing residents to continue the mandates, so long as Chicago has hit at least three of its goals and numbers are declining, she said.

But if there’s a week or more of difference between when the state drops its mandate and when Chicago is supposed to, the city will keep its mandates in place for the full two weeks, Arwady said.

“I will be honest with you: We need to hit those metrics to feel confident,” Arwady said. “I want people to understand we’re not just choosing a date; we’re going based on when we’re there.”


• In Illinois, about 8 million people — or 63.18 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 23,110 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 20,909,741 vaccine doses of the 23,455,645 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.8 million Chicagoans — or 68.2 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 76.1 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 5 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.

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:

• Since Monday, 53 Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.

• At least 32,072 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 3,985 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 2,893 cases since Monday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 3,004,664.

• Since Monday, 103,189 tests were reported statewide. In all, 53,187,015 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 2.9 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 3.3 percent Monday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 3.8 percent. It was at 4.1 percent Monday.

• As of Monday night, 352 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 172 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, 24 deaths were reported since Monday. There have been at least 7,136 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than eight people dying per day, down 40 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has had 270 confirmed cases reported since Monday. It’s had a total of 553,812 confirmed cases. An average of 431 confirmed cases are being reported per day, down 30 percent from a week ago.

• Testing in Chicago is up 17 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 2 percent, down from 3.3 percent a week ago.

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