Mayor calls out 6 zip codes lagging behind in vaccinations
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city's top doctor are pleading with Chicagoans to step it up in the fight against COVID-19 and avoid more restrictions or another round of shutdowns.
"We have no goal or current plans to close down Chicago again, but we need people, please, once again to step up. We've made it through this pandemic. Well, so far, especially when you compare what happened right at the beginning to after we were able to get a lot of these mitigations in place," Dr. Allison Arwady.
Arwady joined the Mayor at a Sunday morning news briefing to update the rising COVID-19 numbers and to press the need get vaccines into neighborhoods across the city.
Chicago is now reporting an average of 206 new cases per day and 97% of the people dying from the coronavirus in in the city are unvaccinated.
WATCH: Mayor Lightfoot, Dr. Arwady provide COVID-19 response update
"You are playing with your life," said Mayor. "The delta variant is real. It is vicious and it attacks those who are not vaccinated.
Nearly all counties in the Chicago area are now showing a "substantial spread" of COVID-19, according to health officials.
The CDC bumped both Lake and Kane counties up from "moderate spread" in its latest report.
The two areas now seeing 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period, the CDC reported.
With Lake and Kane counties moved up to "substantial" spread, Kankakee is the only county in our area that's still listed at "moderate."
"We have full confidence that the people of Lake County will really come together and, you know, follow guidelines to make sure that we don't see increases in cases," said Emily Young, marketing and communications manager for Lake County Health Department.
Style Shack in downtown Highland Park is among many shops in the area now requiring masks for people coming inside their store
"As of today, with the new suggestions in Lake County, we will be asking customers to use masks," said Style Shack co-owner Sherry Levin.
Levin said the recommendation was an easy one for them implement.
"If it's as easy as putting the mask back on, we're willing to do whatever it takes," she said.
In fact, last week, ahead of the new CDC recommendations, the shop's owners required all employees to re-mask in light of the uptick in cases and concerns over the fast-spreading delta variant.
"Number one is the health and safety of our staff, our customers and our larger community," Levin said. "Anything business related really comes second and to support that ultimate goal to keep everyone safe.
The Summer Bash Music Festival near Washington Park also served as a pop-up vaccination clinic this weekend.
The surge of the Delta variant pushed some festival-goers to get their shot.
"You got a lot of people that are not vaccinated. You got a lot of people that are not wearing masks so I don't want to cause anybody to get sick," said Ronald Smith.
The mayor specifically called out six zip codes on the South and West Side that are lagging behind the rest of the city in vaccinations.
They include 60633 South Deering, 60621 Englewood, 60649 South Shore, 60620 Auburn-Gresham, 60644 Austin and 60628 Roseland. Less than 50 percent of the residents in those neighborhoods are vaccinated.
"This thing has been researched pretty good and I would rather have it than not to have and I wanna live. I don't want to die." said Smith.
Last week Lightfoot warned the mask mandate and other mitigations would make a comeback if the COVID case count consistently went above 200 new cases a day.
For now, the use of face masks is strongly recommended, especially in public indoor spaces.
More than three million COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered in Chicago, according to Dr. Awardy.
"So, if you've been waiting to to say, 'I wanna see more people get it,' or, 'I wanna wait longer,' the trials of the Pfizer vaccine -- the big trials -- have all been going on now for more than a year," she said. "We have not identified longterm side effects, we have not."
The doctor also debunked fertility concerns and high rates of death associated with the vaccine, as well as other conspiracies.
"In Chicago, we can be open and be careful at the same time," Dr. Awardy said.
The city is also offering to vaccinate people at home.
Every Chicagoan is eligible for free at-home COVID vaccination for up to 10 people at a time. Residents also have their choice between Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson. You do not need to show identification or proof insurance.
To request these services, visit zocdoc.com or call 312-746-4835
Illinois is not alone in seeing COVID-19 cases surge.
The country's top infectious disease expert warns "things will get worse."
Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC's "This Week" that he doesn't expect the country to return to the restrictions that were imposed at the height of the pandemic.
The U.S did report an increase in people getting the shot this past week, but still only about 60% of Americans are fully vaccinated.