A number of Chicago residents stood together in the Little Village neighborhood Sunday, pleading for the city to reinstate its COVID-19 mask mandate to prevent a possible surge following another uptick in cases.
Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez, of the city's 25th Ward, along with members of the People's Response Network, expressed concerns about mask mandates being lifted locally and nationwide.
In late February, both the state of Illinois and city of Chicago rescinded their mask mandates after sustained decreases in the number of new cases and hospitalizations.
Protesters argue Chicago's Department of Public Health didn't do a good job at handling the pandemic and said the city's Black and Brown communities are still at risk. The group also presented a list of demands, including reintroducing the mask mandate across the city and in Chicago Public Schools.
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“We need to make sure that we prioritize the well being and the health of our students and staff in CPS," Sigcho-Lopez said. "We have schools like in Pilsen in the 25th Ward, where we still have vaccination rates that don't even reach 50% 30%? In some cases, higher. Is it possible that we're still insisting on lifting a mandate?”
The group is also pushing for the expansion of free COVID-19 testing for at-risk communities on the South, Southwest and West sides of the city.
The Illinois Department of Public Health in early April issued a COVID public health warning, saying "case rates are slowly rising in many areas of the state." Health officials advised people to pay attention to the conditions in their communities and to stay up-to-date on their vaccinations.
Chicago, too, has seen a recent uptick in cases.
The city was averaging 521 daily COVID cases as of Friday, a 15% hike from a week earlier, according to data from CDPH. However, both hospitalizations and deaths were down from the week prior.
Chicago's community level status remains low, the least severe of the three risk levels as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.