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Mask mandate, COVID-19 restrictions possible, Lightfoot says
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Mask mandate, COVID-19 restrictions possible, Lightfoot says

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Over the past 18 months, scientists have learned the deadly virus enters the body through the nose and mouth with the infection beginning in the mucus layers of the nasal passages.

CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot will consider reinstating a mask mandate and other restrictions if the city starts to consistently record more than 200 new COVID cases per day, she said.

Lightfoot made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times where she was asked about the pandemic and expressed alarm about rising totals among the unvaccinated, as she did during a news conference last week.

Asked what her threshold is for reinstating a mask mandate, Lightfoot said, “Well, look, if we get back into an area where we feel like we’re in a red zone, which we are working very hard to make sure that our daily case rate is below 200, if we start to see consistently going over that, we’re not only going to look at a mask mandate, but we’re going to look back at other tools that we’ve been compelled to use.

“I hope we don’t get there," Lightfoot added. “What we’re going to keep focusing on is pushing the vaccine. But my number one priority is to keep people safe.”

As of July 19, the most recent city data available, Chicago’s seven-day rolling average of new cases was 130, a 76% increase from the previous week, when the figure was 74 cases.

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Lightfoot faces a complicated balancing act on the pandemic. She has encouraged residents to get vaccinated and warned about possible restrictions if the city sees spikes. But she also has made a point of emphasizing her desire to keep the city as open as possible. At times, it has led to some mixed messaging.

As cases rose last October, for instance, she regularly warned about tighter restrictions being forthcoming — then criticized Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker for again shutting down indoor dining.

Lightfoot is also facing some criticism from people who think Lollapalooza shouldn’t be allowed to happen this year as cases swell. Her administration is nevertheless carrying on with plans to host the 100,000 person a day festival.

Prosecutors have accused R&B singer R. Kelly of new abuse allegations. Kelly allegedly sexually abused a 17-year-old boy after meeting him at a McDonald's in Chicago in 2006. He is facing trial in New York for several charges, including child sexual exploitation and making indecent images of minors. These charges involve six unnamed women. Prosecutors now want jurors to hear about over a dozen others the singer has allegedly abused or mistreated. The R&B singer supposedly propositioned a teenager and had sexual contact with him while he was underage. A judge has yet to decide whether the new evidence will be considered. Kelly has been in jail for almost two years while awaiting his trial, which is due to start August 9.


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