Lightfoot back in action — with a mask — one week after COVID-19 diagnosis

Lightfoot back in action — with a mask — one week after COVID-19 diagnosis

Mayor Lightfoot speaks at a press conference Tuesday to announce the winners of the Chicago Community Works challenge. | Brian Rich/Sun-Times

The mayor said COVID-19 “kind of felt like a cold — a bad cold.” Lightfoot said she “luckily recovered quickly” and feels strong enough to attend the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot was back in action on Tuesday — wearing a mask at all times — one week after being diagnosed with COVID-19 and feeling well enough to travel to Washington D.C. this week for the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Lightfoot described her symptoms as “relatively mild” and said it “kind of felt like a cold — a bad cold.”

The mayor said she “luckily recovered quickly” and feels strong enough now to fly to the nation’s capital for the meeting with her fellow mayors and lobby the federal agencies whose help she needs to fight Chicago’s unrelenting gang violence.

Lightfoot grew somewhat defensive when asked why she has decided to defy the guidelines for travel issued by the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC recommends that people who test positive for COVID-19 avoid travel for 10 full days after experiencing symptoms.

“That’s not all it says. … There’s a lot of caveats to that,” the mayor said.

Lightfoot said she has been in “constant consultation” with Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

“One of the questions we talked about is whether it was prudent or not” to travel, the mayor said.

“She’s given me the clearance. I feel very comfortable about going.”

Normally, Lightfoot enters public events wearing a mask, but takes it off when she’s about to speak at a microphone.

Not this time. She never took the mask off. She called it a “matter of prudence” she plans to follow for 10 full days after her Jan. 11 diagnosis.

Omicron surge slowing down

As for the recent surge tied to the Omicron variant, Lightfoot said Chicago is “starting to see cases slow and start to come down.” They’re “down a measurable amount from even a week ago.” She can only hope the trend continues, in spite of the “holiday lag” in reporting new cases.

“It definitely appears from the data that we are now on the kind-of-downward slope. But I want to caution [that] the cases are still really high. We have 4,000-plus cases-a-day. Deaths are [still] high,” the mayor said.

“Hospitalizations are really stable. The concern that we had, even a week ago, about a shortage of potential ICU beds has really come down substantially. I think we’re seeing a peaking of this surge — but with a lot of caveats and caution.”

Having said that, Lightfoot said she has no intention of lifting the proof of vaccination mandate imposed on restaurants, bars, gyms and other venues where food and drink is served.

Never mind that restaurants are struggling to enforce the mandate and maintain their already short staff.

“People want to feel like they’re in a safe space when they’re going out in areas of entertainment,” she said.

“I don’t see anything in the near term that we would take down the vaccine mandate.”

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