mask mandate

City's Top Doc Says Declining COVID Metrics Mean ‘Very Good News for Chicago' Ahead of Possible Changes to Mask Mandate

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will join CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady will give a full COVID update at 2 p.m. from City Hall

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Chicago's top doctor said Tuesday that decreasing COVID-19 metrics mean "very good news" for the city, ahead of possible changes to Chicago's mask mandate in coming weeks.

"We see really very, very beautiful progress. I'm really happy with this," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.

In a Facebook Live event Tuesday, Arwady said, according to the latest data, that three out of four key coronavirus metrics, including test positivity, hospital bed capacity and ICU bed capacity, have moved into the "lower transmission" category or below as of Monday.

"We will be having a press conference at two o'clock this afternoon to talk about what this means and timing, but obviously it's very good news for Chicago," she added.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will join Arwady and other city officials at 2 p.m. Tuesday to give a full COVID update from City Hall.

Arwady explained that city health officials are relying on a set of metrics to determine when restrictions can be lifted, including that three out of four key metrics must be met to move forward with easing restrictions.

The metrics include test positivity, hospital beds occupied by COVID patients, ICU beds occupied by COVID patients and daily COVID cases. The seven-day rolling averages for each category need to be at a "lower transmission" level, which is set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

City officials have said that once three of the preceding four metrics hit at least the “lower transmission” level, a two-week clock, known as an “incubation cycle” will start.

After those two weeks, if the numbers remain within the “lower transmission” category, then officials would move to remove mitigations that are in place. However, Arwady has said that the full two-week period may not be reached before the lifting begins.

CDPH data showed that Chicago was averaging 283 COVID cases per day, which is a 37% drop from last week. Hospitalizations fell 29% over the last seven days, sitting at about 27 per day related to the coronavirus.

Deaths in Chicago are down 51% from last week and the city's positivity rate dropped from 2% to 1.5% of the past week, CDPH date showed.

Currently, Chicago 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.

Illinois aims to lift its mask mandate, with the exception of in schools, by Feb. 28 if state COVID metrics continue to decline, as well.

Adding that the state is "seeing the fastest rate of decline in our COVID-19 hospitalization metrics since the pandemic began," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said if trends continue as expected, "then on Monday, Feb. 28, we will lift the indoor mask requirement for the State of Illinois."

He noted, however, one important caveat.

"I want to be clear: Many local jurisdictions, businesses and organizations have their own mask requirements and other mitigations that must be respected," he said. "Having stricter mitigations than the state requirements is something that must be adhered to."

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