CHICAGO — Chicago health officials are hoping an indoor mask mandate slated to take effect Friday will help mitigate a rapid rise in COVID-19 infections throughout the city.
The city has seen a significant spike in cases and hospitalizations, with the city of Chicago now averaging 457 cases per day.
“I would say that the reason vaccinated people are still getting COVID is that COVID is still very much here,” Chicago’s top doctor Alison Arwady said.
The highly contagious Delta variant is to blame for the recent surge of cases, leading city health officials to lean on an indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, to look to curb the spread of the virus.
The mandate includes bars, restaurants, gyms and private clubs.
“We expect that to remain in place while we’re over the 400 case per day mark, hoping that won’t be too long, and then we’ll get a lot of people vaccinated because that’s the most important thing.
Breakthrough infections still seem to be rare, but are happening at an increasing rate. However, city data still shows 99.99 percent of vaccinated Chicagoans have not been hospitalized with COVID-19 complications.
“Generally where we are seeing vaccinated breakthrough infections get hospitalized, it tends to be people who are older and have underlying conditions, but the great majority are unvaccinated,” Arwady said.
Dr. Arwady said Thursday a combination of vaccinations and mask-wearing will help the surge at bay.
“I know it’s hard to feel like things are going backwards, but please know that these masks are not forever. They’re to get us through Delta, and they do help protect everybody, even those who are vaccinated right now,” Arwady said.