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It has been a very hard, very challenging two years for so many people. Nearly 7,600 Chicagoans have died from COVID-related causes. The early days of the pandemic and lockdown are unforgettable; the empty streets in the Loop made Chicago look like a ghost town.
But as the city emerges from the pandemic, the mayor sees hope.
“We are in a much better place right now that we have been at any other point in the pandemic. But let me be clear the pandemic is not over. Every week we still are seeing 10 to 15 of our residents die,” said Lightfoot
West Side pastor Marshall Hatch has lost at least eight members of his congregation to COVID, along with his own sister Rhoda who died from the virus at age 73 on April 4, 2020.
Hatch said there has been plenty of grief, but he’s seen the fellowship in his church deepen.
“I’ve noticed that people have been a lot more intentional about looking out for each other, keeping up with each other. And so in many ways, we’ve gathered less in the sanctuary space, but in many ways people have grown closer in their relationships,” he said.
Mayor Lightfoot praised front line workers who labored through the pandemic and community partners who helped keep people safe. She credited the vaccine with helping the city get to this point, but she bemoaned the lingering lack of buy-in from the Black community.
“While 82% of Chicagoans age five and up have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, for Black Chicagoans that number is just 61%,” Mayor Lightfoot said.
The Chicago Department of Public Health also continues to closely monitor COVID data.
“I can’t promise what the future will bring, but I do feel very confident that right now, the risk is low enough. That it is appropriate, where people feel comfortable, to not have the universal mask requirement,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, CDPH commissioner.
Dr. Arwady and Mayor Lightfoot cautioned that if there is a surge, mitigation measures could reinstituted to deal with it, but the mayor said it’s her hope to never have to shut down the city again.
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