Three years ago, on March 20, 2020, Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order for all residents and the state went into COVID lockdown.
Life changed quickly and abruptly that day, as COVID cases surged. Two weeks later, McCormick Place Convention Center was being transformed into a temporary field hospital to prepare for a possible crush of COVID cases at area hospitals.
Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, led Chicago’s effort to fight the deadly virus.
On this third anniversary of the pandemic, Arwady reflects on lessons learned and whether she would have done anything differently.
“It’s about making decisions with the best information you have at the time. And I want Chicago to know that is absolutely what we did at every point,” said Arwady.
Arwady also reacted to a WTTW News investigation into Chicago’s efforts to peel away at the city’s lead paint problem.
“We can predict, based on the age of a home, where a child may be at increased risk for lead poisoning,” said Arwady. “We’d like to be doing more, but it costs money. There’s a lot of work to do here.”
Arwady’s top priority is making sure inspections start in buildings that have been identified by the Buildings Department as being at highest risk for lead.
Arwady estimated it would take six hundred inspectors to properly check all those older homes.
“Unfortunately, that’s more people than work at the entire Chicago Department of Public Health,” said Arwady.