As COVID cases continue to rise in Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says that city officials are considering a variety of strategies and potential mitigations to help curb the spread of the virus, but emphasized that any decisions will be made in a patient and methodical manner.
Lightfoot, speaking to media on Monday, said that the city hasn’t “landed on one particular” strategy to slow down the spread of the virus, but that a variety of options are on the table.
“We are looking at a number of different strategies that can help us deal with this latest surge, but we always do that in partnership and in communication with the individuals and the businesses that are going to be affected,” she said. “We don’t unilaterally impose anything.”
Lightfoot and other public officials have expressed concern over the rising number of new cases both in the city and in the state of Illinois. Lightfoot says that the city reported nearly 1,000 new cases of COVID on Monday alone, prompting the discussion of potential mitigation strategies.
“We haven’t landed on one particular additional mitigation strategy versus another. Obviously, you see what’s going on across the country and the type of tools that are being used at the local level to help both mitigate the spread, but also to compel some unvaccinated folks to get vaccinated,” she said.
What those mitigations will be has not been decided. While Lightfoot has made it a point to rule out stronger measures, including complete shutdowns, she has also ruled out similar policies to the one enacted in New York, which would require all private businesses to impose vaccine mandates for employees.
“We will not see that here in the city of Chicago,” she said last week. “And frankly there’s a question of whether something like that is going to sustain what will invariably come as judicial review.”
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said that the city would consider encouraging more businesses and venues to institute vaccination requirements for guests and ticket-holders.
“Might we begin requiring proof of vaccination for more activities and public spaces? Yes, I think we might,” she said. “I certainly am more interested in that than I am in needing to do some of the major shutdowns.”
City sports venues, including the United Center, have instituted vaccine or negative test requirements for ticket-holders, but the idea is also catching on at some other businesses, including restaurants and concert spaces.
Even with those rules likely to grow in popularity amid upticks in cases, some city officials, including 35th Ward Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, are also considering other ideas.
“One option would be limiting the number of people that can attend a bar or restaurant. Capping it at 50% perhaps, or less,” he said.
For now, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has indicated that the main focus of his administration will be enforcement of currently-existing mask mandates, but he said he won’t rule out additional steps in the future.
“We’re looking at everything that has been done over the last few years, but what we’re really focused on is making sure that people are following the masking requirements indoors,” he said. “Thank you to all (residents) who are doing that.”