Chicago officials are pushing for more residents to get COVID vaccines, saying that vaccination is critical to keeping individuals safe as the holiday season approaches.
During a news conference Monday, both Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said that while cases are beginning to increase in some surrounding states, the number of COVID vaccinations have led to less restrictive policies and recommendations surrounding the holiday season.
Lightfoot said that while last year saw a large spike in COVID cases and hospitalizations in the fall and into the early winter, this year likely will be different because of the vaccine, and that will likely lead to more relaxed restrictions and recommendations.
“It was right around this time (last year) where I said ‘this Thanksgiving can’t be like other Thanksgivings.’ We’re not doing that this year, and why is that? Because of the vaccine,” she said. “It’s made a world of difference. We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re getting there because of the vaccine.”
After a lull during the summer and early fall of 2020, massive surges in coronavirus cases occurred in October and November, with the state averaging more than 12,000 new cases of COVID per day in mid-November.
While cases have been on a steady decline since a summer peak caused by the more-contagious delta variant of the virus, Arwady does say that city officials are still anticipating increases in cases as the weather gets colder, and says that the best way to prevent that surge from becoming serious is to get vaccinated against the virus.
“Now is the time to do that,” she said.
Arwady reminded residents that the two-dose vaccine regimen would allow residents to be fully vaccinated by Thanksgiving if they get the shots soon, and said that part of the reason the city had imposed its COVID vaccine mandate for workers now was to help get ahead of any potential increase in cases in the fall or winter.
The commissioner said that Illinois officials are keeping a close eye on increases in cases in northern states, including Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, and are prepared to take measures if necessary if cases begin to climb in Illinois as the weather cools.
Earlier this month, the CDC recommended that individuals gathering for Thanksgiving get their COVID vaccinations, and wear masks if celebrating the holiday in indoor settings.
They also recommended that those traveling for the holiday take proper precautions to do so, and to get tested for the virus if individuals experience symptoms.