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Chicago’s Top Doc ‘Really Optimistic’ About Chicago’s Progress On COVID

Chicago's mask mandate may be ended early to line up with the state, which plans to end its mandate Feb. 28.

People, some wearing masks, pack into Daley Plaza for the annual Christkindlmarket four days before Christmas on Dec. 21, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Chicago could soon hit the goals it needs to remove its mask and vaccine card mandates, the city’s top doctor said Thursday.

Chicago has to see three out of four COVID-19 metrics fall into the “lower” risk category for transmission and stay there for at least two weeks for the mandates to be removed. As of Thursday, just one metric — the city’s positivity rate — has hit that.

But Chicago’s moved closer to hitting two other milestones: hospital and ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

The fourth metric — the average number of cases reported per day — has fallen but remains high. Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said she is “really pleased” with the city’s progress in that category.

Arwady said she is “really optimistic” about where Chicago is headed. She thinks the city could see three of the four milestones — positivity rate, hospital beds and ICU beds — in the “lower” or “low” categories by early next week.

Chicago would then just need to wait two weeks for officials to lift the mask and vaccine card mandates, according to the health department’s rules.

That puts Chicago behind the state when it comes to ending mask mandates, as Gov. JB Pritzker previously said Illinois’ mask mandate will end Feb. 28.

But Chicago’s mask mandate may be ended early to line up with that if the city is just a few days behind the state’s deadline for ending the mandate, Arwady has said.

Here are the city’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 389.

• Positivity rate: Chicago’s positivity rate must be at 4.9 percent or lower. It’s at 1.9 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 292 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 102 per day.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 8 million people — or 63.3 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 21,021 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 20,950,257 vaccine doses of the 23,657,525 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.8 million Chicagoans — or 68.4 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 76.2 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 Wednesday, 73 Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.

• At least 32,249 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 4,036 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 2,538 cases since Wednesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 3,010,525.

• Since Wednesday, 174,151 tests were reported statewide. In all, 53,468,470 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 2.5 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 2.8 percent Wednesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 3.3 percent. It was at 3.6 percent Wednesday.

• As of Wednesday night, 298 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 146 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, seven deaths were reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 7,148 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than seven people dying per day, down 38 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has had 262 confirmed cases reported since Wednesday. It’s had a total of 554,426 confirmed cases. An average of 389 confirmed cases are being reported per day, down 31 percent from a week ago.

• Testing in Chicago is up 4 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 1.9 percent, down from 2.8 percent a week ago.

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