Feb 17, 2022 - COVID

Declining COVID metrics could lead to looser mandates


Screenshot from Chicago COVID Dashboard. Courtesy of City of Chicago

Health commissioner Allison Arwady this week set specific goals for dropping mask and vaccination mandates through four metrics — COVID-19 cases, positivity, ICU bed use and non-ICU bed use.

Why it matters: This is the first time the city has committed to well-defined reopening metrics.

  • And the numbers are easy to find on the city's COVID dashboard, allowing Chicagoans to track our daily progress.

The goal: Arwady says three of the four metrics need to fall into "lower transmission" zones before the city will consider dropping the mandates.

  • Only one metric, test positivity, has hit that target so far. The city is at less than 2% positivity.
  • Another, ICU bed occupancy for COVID patients, is closer. Chicago has a daily average of 105 and the goal is to be under 100.

Yes, but: The other two metrics are still a stretch.

  • Cases: The city is averaging 389 per day with a target of under 200. The last time daily average cases fell below 200 was July 24.
  • Non-ICU beds: Chicago is filling an average of 312 beds daily with COVID patients. The goal is under 250, but the last time that happened was mid-November.

The intrigue: While these are the city's official reopening metrics, Arwady left open the possibility of other scenarios.

  • For instance, if the state mask mandate falls as expected on Feb. 28, and the metrics are close, she says she might drop Chicago's mandates a few days early.

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