The mayor of Naperville is calling for the removal of mask mandates in Illinois amid an increase in COVID-19 cases in Illinois.
“Illinois is the only midwestern state that currently requires a mask and yet as of today, we are no better off than the surrounding states,” Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico posted on Facebook last week. “In my view, based on the CDC information and the minimal, if any, impact of COVID mitigation strategies on actual results, It’s time to drop the mask mandate in Illinois."
Chirico also encouraged his followers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in the same post.
The western suburb, located in DuPage and Will counties, is experiencing high rates of COVID-19 transmission, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. In DuPage County, there have been 115,663 COVID-19 cases and 1,403 deaths, while Will County, which also includes parts of Naperville, has had 97,449 cases and 1,159 deaths.
Statewide there have been nearly 1.8 million COVID-19 cases, and the holiday season is expected to drive the number of cases up.
Chirico said on “Chicago Tonight” that he supports Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mitigation efforts but still believes Illinois should follow the other 44 states that do not have a mask mandate. He said the virus “cycles through” the state regardless of mask requirements placed.
“Illinois has a lower transmission rate than the surrounding states,” he said. “And transmission rates are not surprisingly a direct link to the death rate, which I used to think it was, but [it’s not] playing out that way. People get sick, and we understand that masks can help a little bit, but at what cost? And right now, I do not believe [COVID-19 data] is not supporting [the facts].”
Dr. Mia Taormina, an infectious disease expert from Duly Health and Care, agreed with the Chirico that Illinois is the only Midwestern state with a mask mandate but she predicts a fifth wave during the holiday season.
“I want these masks to be done and over with,” she said. “And I think in some ways, we are going to see [mask mandates lifted] in the weeks and months to come as we progress through booster doses, as we progress with vaccine mandates, and as we start vaccinating more of our children. But at this moment in time, the trends are not favorable. With a 4.1% positivity rate, we are approaching that 5.5% positivity rate that originally put us back into masking in August.”
Chirico, who voted in favor of rejecting the mask mandate with Naperville’s city council last year, said that his team has gained a lot of tools to slow the spread of the virus without a mask mandate.
“Our local hospital has 28 ICU patients, and only one had [COVID-19]. And so, we are in a period of accelerated transmissions. From the beginning, we all talked about the whole purpose to flatten that curve in order to protect the health care system, which I fully support and agree with. The health care system was stressed in the first wave, but then lesser so in the third wave and the fourth wave. But, today, [COVID-19] is not [impacting] the health care system,” he said.