Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday that she would “encourage” fully vaccinated city residents to continue to wear masks despite recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC cited scientific data in its announcement last week that fully vaccinated individuals could stop wearing masks in most settings. In an interview with MSNBC, Lightfoot referred to the CDC’s announcement as “a bit abrupt” and called on officials to provide further “clarification” on its guidance.
“I know for me personally, I’m going to continue to wear a mask in public and I’m going to encourage others to do so,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to make sure that people are continuing to follow the public health guidance that has gotten us this far, and masks, I think, are a big and important part of that.
“To say, well, if you’re vaccinated you don’t have to wear a mask, that’s great. But what about all the other people out there that aren’t vaccinated? There’s no way to know that,” Lightfoot added. “I think, for the time being, most people are going to continue to wear masks outside of their homes and I think that’s smart.”
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said he would revise the state’s executive orders to reflect the CDC’s guidance. The Chicago Department of Public Health said it was “supportive” of the CDC’s recommendation.
Lightfoot’s office did not immediately return a request for further comment on her stance.
Lightfoot called on business owners in Chicago to get their employees vaccinated and maintain social distancing at their establishment while awaiting CDC clarification.
“We’ve got good news happening here in Chicago, but by no means, whether it’s Chicago or any place else in the country, are we out of the woods,” she added. “We’re still seeing deaths every day, so we can’t afford to feel like the virus is gone and suddenly we can just go back to 2019. That’s not going to happen.”
The mayor’s call for residents to continue wearing masks came as city and state officials push for progress in their vaccination drive. Roughly 38% of Chicago residents were fully vaccinated as of last Saturday, according to city data.
Lightfoot and other public officials have noted a racial disparity in citywide vaccination rates. About 45% of Chicago’s White residents were fully vaccinated as of last Saturday, while just 29% of Latino residents and 24% of Black residents were fully vaccinated.