Chicago's Lightfoot, Arwady warn masks may be needed again should COVID-19 surge

Chicago city leaders mark a pandemic anniversary, looking back on what we’ve endured and what’s to come.

"It’s been a long challenging two years since COVID-19 first hit home here in Chicago," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a news conference Tuesday.


Chicago saw the first COVID death on March 16, 2020. Then, came the shutdown — a response Chicago hopes not to see again.

"My goal is to never shut our city down again," said Lightfoot.

More than 7,500 Chicagoans have died from COVID. But as we put on masks, socially distanced, and got vaccinated, Chicagoans stepped up to save lives, too.

Seventy-seven percent of Chicagoans have received at least one vaccine dose. The mayor, however, is stressing the pandemic is not over.

"Every week we are still seeing 10 to 15 of our residents die every week," said Lightfoot. She said most are unvaccinated and many are people of color.

And while cases are low in Chicago, they're increasing fast in parts of Asia and Europe.

"Can I promise COVID is over? No, but my team is monitoring every day the variants, the data, seeing what we're learning, every week focusing on the science and I want to thank everybody in Chicago for helping us put that science into place," said Chicago's top doctor Allison Arwady.

Dr. Arwadys says there's always a chance we'll have to put the masks back on — should there be another COVID surge — but it would be just temporary.

"You stood firm. You followed the public health guidance. You made the sacrifices that were necessary, and we are a better and stronger city because of your strength, your resilience every single day of this pandemic," Arwady said.