While the state of Illinois says it plans to drop its mask mandate if COVID metrics continue to improve, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the city is “not there yet,” and is closely monitoring statistics to determine when to remove its mitigations.
Currently, the city has a mask mandate in place for indoor settings, along with a requirement that patrons in specific indoor establishments show a proof of COVID vaccination in order to gain entry.
According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, the decision on whether to terminate those mitigations will come down to four key risk metrics: new COVID cases per day, COVID test positivity rates, hospital bed occupancy and ICU bed occupancy.
If three of those four metrics are at a “lower transmission” level or below, and then remain there for at least two weeks, then the city would move to remove COVID-19 mitigation rules that are in place.
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Here is where things stand in each of those metrics.
COVID-19 Cases Per Day: 431
While the city’s COVID case rates are dropping rapidly, they are still not close to the “lower transmission” level, which is defined by the CDC as between 20-199 new COVID cases per day.
In fact, the city’s case rate is still at a “high transmission” level, according to city data.
COVID-19 Test Positivity Rates: 2%
This metric is already at the “lower transmission” level that would be required to remove mitigations, and if it drops below 2%, then it would fall to the “low transmission” level, the lowest level that it can reach.
Hospital Bed Occupancy: 290
This metric remains in the “substantial transmission” category, but it is still declining and could hit the “lower transmission” threshold of 249 in the coming days.
ICU Bed Occupancy: 97
Chicago officials say that this metric has now officially hit the “lower transmission” level after dropping below 99 over the weekend. This number would have to stay at 99 or below for two consecutive weeks in order for mitigations to be rolled back.
When Could Mitigations Be Rolled Back?
City officials say that once three of the preceding four metrics hit the “lower transmission” level, that will start a two-week clock, known as an “incubation cycle.”
After those two weeks, if the numbers remain within the “lower transmission” category, then officials would move to remove mitigations that are in place.