As new cases of COVID-19 surge and hospitalizations spike, Illinois public health experts are watching New York City’s move to require proof of vaccination for entering indoor restaurants and gyms, but there’s no plan for local governments to replicate it, officials said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday announced the new rule that applies to people with at least one dose of vaccine and also includes indoor entertainment facilities with enforcement to begin Sept. 13. “If you’re unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things,” de Blasio said.
For Illinois’ largest city, “at this point we’re interested in this. We’ll be watching to see how this plays out (in New York). We do not have a current plan to do this,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said at a briefing.
“It’s a really big decision to try and impose something on an entire class of businesses, and my hope would be more people who are taking COVID-19 seriously would actually want to go to businesses that have made those decisions,” she said.
Her remarks came on a day that the average number of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois grew to six times that of a month ago, reflecting the proliferation of the highly infectious delta variant of the virus on unvaccinated people.
Also, the number of patients in Illinois hospitals with COVID-19 reached 1,107 as of Monday night, the first time it surpassed 1,000 since June 1, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.
So far, the governor’s office has not weighed in on de Blasio’s Key to NYC Pass that will involve providing vaccination proof on smartphone apps or a paper vaccination card.
On May 17, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state did not intend to provide an official form of ID showing vaccination status but would assist the private sector. “We’re not going to stop people and start checking for a vaccine passport as part of a state mandate,” Pritzker said.
Chicago has no plans to develop apps but is collaborating with IDPH on a way to allow people to show their vaccination records electronically.
That could involve “more ability for people to be able, for example, to download their records in a formal way from the vaccine registry that protects their privacy,” Arwady said. For vaccinated individuals and businesses that want to check shot status the goal is “to make their lives easier.”
Numerous Chicago bars, taverns and restaurants are already checking whether patrons are vaccinated, she said.
Naperville is a popular restaurant and bar destination, and “I certainly think it’s within a business establishment’s rights to require proof of a vaccine, but we have not discussed a mandate to require this in Naperville and I do not anticipate we will,” Mayor Steve Chirico said.
Officials at both the Lake and DuPage county health departments said their agencies lack the authority to require vaccination checks.
But DuPage County “recognizes COVID-19 vaccines as the best tool we have to keep our residents healthy and bring an end to the pandemic,” agency spokeswoman Stephanie Calvillo said.
Cook County Department of Public Health officials said the agency is watching case counts but no actions currently are anticipated on vaccine requirements.
State data Tuesday showed new cases of COVID-19 totaled 2,862 and eight more people died from the respiratory disease.
The average number of daily new COVID-19 infections between July 28 and Tuesday equaled 2,058 a day. That’s more than six times the daily average a month ago, which was 320 cases.
On Monday, 19,830 more COVID-19 shots were administered. The average is 28,250 a day over the past seven days.
The federal government has delivered 14,963,155 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December and 13,310,174 shots have been administered.
So far, 6,514,041 people have been fully vaccinated, 51.1% of Illinois’ 12.7 million population. Vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna require two doses several weeks apart.
The state’s positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 4.4% based on a seven-day average.
Total cases statewide stand at 1,427,901, and 23,458 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.
Labs processed 44,565 virus tests in the last 24 hours.