Video: Colleen Connell, Robbie Lane, Renee Labrana and Sam Toia join “Chicago Tonight” to discuss whether the city should follow New York’s lead and require proof of vaccination for employees and customers of indoor businesses and services. (Produced by Alex Silets)
The number of COVID-19 cases is once again rising in Chicago following the massive Lollapalooza music festival, which drew hundreds of thousands of people to Grant Park last weekend. But Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady says the four-day event is not to blame.
“We’re clearly on the way up – not as a result of Lolla – just to be very clear about that, we’re on the way up because the surge that we were expecting is coming,” she said, adding officials had been expecting a surge due to rising case counts elsewhere in the country. “I do expect case to continue to rise,” she said.
Chicago is now recording 234 cases per day based on a seven-day average, according to CDPH data. In the past week, the number of cases has increased 40%, according to city data.
The city’s COVID-19 test positivity rate is now 3.3%, up from a low of 0.4% on June 27.
Prior to the music festival, Arwady said she was hopeful that Lollapalooza wouldn’t turn into a superspreader event.
In order to attend the event, people had to provide proof of vaccination or record a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival at the gate. Organizers said 90% of attendees were able to show proof of vaccination, a figure which Arwady said was consistent with checks performed at the event by the city’s vaccine ambassadors.
On Tuesday, she said she expects to see some cases related to the festival and will provide updates as they become available.
With the surge in coronavirus infections, some Chicago restaurants and bars are requiring people to show proof of vaccination to enter. While Arwady said she’s pleased with that decision, the city isn’t considering an industry-wide requirement at this time.
“It’s a really big decision to try and impose something like that on an entire class of businesses, and my hope would be more that people who are taking COVID seriously would want to go to businesses who have made those decisions,” she said. “We’re interested in this. We’ll be watching to see how this plays out but we don’t have a current plan to do something like this at the city level.”
Instead, the city is working with state public health officials to make it easier for people to show proof of vaccination and allow them to download their vaccination records in a way that protects their privacy, according to Arwady.
The goal, Arwady said, is to make showing or checking vaccination status as easy as possible.
City officials on Tuesday also announced the addition of five states and one territory to Chicago's travel advisory, which was reinstituted on July 13. In all, the advisory covers 19 states and two territories.
They are: Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, South Carolina, Utah and Puerto Rico, which on Tuesday joined Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming, Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Unvaccinated visitors to Chicago from those states are urged to quarantine for 10 days or record a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their arrival, officials said.