Chicago may lift its mask mandate on February 28 along with the rest of the state, even though the city will not have met the criteria previously set out by health officials: that three of the four basic COVID-19 metrics be at the “lower” or “low” levels for two consecutive weeks.
So far, the city has only met one of its goals with less than two weeks to go, Block Club reports: only the positivity rate is in the “low” category. Meanwhile, the number of hospital beds and intensive-care unit beds occupied by COVID-19 patients is at “substantial,” and the number of cases is “high.” Currently, the daily average is 398 cases; the goal is 199.
But Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago’s public health commissioner, said at a Tuesday news conference that if the city is due to hit its goals within a week of the end of the state mandate, it will lift both its own mask mandate, in effect since August 20, and the proof of vaccination mandate that has been in effect since January 3 early in order to avoid confusing people. But if it will take longer than a week, the mask and vaccination mandates will stay in place.
“I will be honest with you: We need to hit those metrics to feel confident,” Arwady said at the news conference. “I want people to understand we’re not just choosing a date; we’re going based on when we’re there.”
Meanwhile, north suburban Highland Park decided on Monday to let its own proof-of-vaccination requirement for dining in restaurants, in effect since January 7, lapse. “The numbers have drastically improved on the necessary health care statistics,” the town’s mayor, Nancy Rotering, told the Lake County News-Sun. “We are working to achieve the balance between mitigating the strain on our health care system and returning to normal.” Highland Park was the only municipality in Lake County to impose a vaccination mandate.
COVID-19 protection measures are lifting across the country: the Twin Cities and D.C. both ended their proof-of-vaccination mandates for dining in bars and restaurants this week, and California has lifted its mask mandate for people who have been vaccinated.
Beatrix chef robbed at gunpoint in Logan Square
A chef at Beatrix, Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise’s casual restaurant mini-chain with city and suburban outposts, was robbed at gunpoint over the weekend in Logan Square, according to Block Club Chicago. Jill Barron, who works at the Fulton Market location, told reporters that she was coming home after work around 6:30 p.m. Saturday near Kimball and Schubert avenues when a man approached her with a gun and demanded that she hand over her bag. Barron wasn’t injured but her wallet was stolen and her bank card was used at an ATM and Portillo’s. As of Tuesday, Chicago police had not made an arrest.
Co-founders of Chicago’s Black-owned bread company featured on new Discovery+ series
The founders of Chicago-based brand the Black Bread Co., touted as the first Black-owned sliced bread company in the world, this month detail their experiences as business owners and native Chicagoans in Profiled: the Black Man, a new Discovery+/OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network series. Designed to highlight the challenges, complexities, and joys of Black men’s experiences, the series underscores the obstacles faced by Black operators like co-owners Charles Alexander, Mark Edmond, and Jamel Lewis, who say they’ve had to contend with limited capital, lack of support, and racial stereotypes while building their business. The pilot aired last week and new episodes will be released every Saturday through March 5. The Tribune has more.
Despite moderate gains, Chicago’s hotel industry still lags on pandemic recovery
Chicago hotels, a sector of the city’s hospitality industry that has taken hit after devastating hit throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, are recovering at a slower rate than those in other parts of the country, according to Crain’s. Downtown hotels ended 2021 with an average occupancy rate of 43 percent — a noteworthy leap from a 27 percent average the previous, but lower than the 2021 national average of 58 percent.
Bronzeville Starbucks remains closed due to COVID-19-related staffing shortages
The Starbucks cafe at 3506 S. State Street in Bronzeville has been closed since January 18 and will remain closed until “late February,” according to a sign on the door, Block Club reports. In a statement to Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd), the coffee chain said the closure was “due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and staffing issues.” Staffers who are able to work have been assigned shifts at other locations. Starbucks had announced in January that it would be closing stores nationwide. In February, the chain reduced COVID-related sick leave to five days from 10.