Chicagoans seemed to be on board Friday with the city reinstating an indoor mask mandate – and Cook County residents will be under a similar requirement starting Monday.
County health officials announced that all individuals will be required to wear a mask indoor in multi-unit residential buildings and public places, such as restaurants, movie theaters, retail establishments, fitness clubs and on public transportation. Businesses have been ordered to post signs.
“We have no choice but to mandate that people wear masks indoors to help contain this spread of the virus,” Dr. Rachel Rubin, co-lead and senior medical officer of Cook County Department of Public Health, said in a statement.
The city and county mandates, which apply to anyone age 2 or older, regardless of vaccination status, come amid a surge in the Delta variant and after two months of relative face freedom following the lifting of most COVID-19 restrictions locally.
“It’s a little thing to prevent a big thing,” said Don Brogdon, 61, as he left a Mariano’s grocery store Friday in Roscoe Village.
Speaking through a mask adorned with playful Australian Shepherds, Mary Rhodes, 78, said bringing the mandate back was a “no brainer.”
“The mayor is doing the right thing, and I hope businesses enforce it,” said Rhodes, a retired fundraiser from North Center whose son, a therapist in Chicago, recently had a breakthrough case of COVID-19.
“And it’s the right thing for kids,” said Rhodes, noting she was old enough to remember the scourge of polio and how some kids had to be put on “iron lungs.”
She said she gets “ticked off” over people who refuse to wear masks because they feel it steps on their personal liberty.
“You can’t shout fire in a crowded theater, and those people that think their rights are being infringed upon need to read a little more,” she said.
Alaina Davis, 40, a data administrator for a large hospital system, said she hates masks but appreciates the need to wear one.
“I’m tired of it. For me to get a shot and be fully vaccinated and go through the side effects and still have to wear a mask, it’s hell, it’s really hell and it’s disappointing,” said Davis, who lives in Maywood and was leaving a salon in Humboldt Park after getting her hair done.
“But I think about the children and the elderly when it comes to wearing a mask,” she said. “You don’t want to see anyone fighting for their life on a ventilator.”
Eduardo Arocho, 50, who gives walking tours of Humboldt Park, thinks the mask mandate should never have been removed.
He pointed to himself as proof they work. “I haven’t died … so, so far so good,” Arocho said.
Edwin Torres, 34, and his wife, Emily Guerrero, 30, disagree on masks, but both will wear them.
“I think it’s a good thing because you don’t know who’s actually vaccinated and who’s not, so it would be the best thing for us to go back to a mask mandate until we get it under control,” Torres, a general contractor from Humboldt Park, said while walking his dogs.
For Guerrero, though, the toothpaste is already out of the bottle.
“It’s too late, the city opened up, and we did way too much to go back to the mask mandate. I feel like it’s pointless; whatever is going to happen already happened,” she said, referring to infectious spread.
Madelyn Amos, 23, applauded the mask mandate.
“I’ve had COVID, and it was horrible. So if I can protect someone from not having that experience I’d do what it takes, plus I have three friends who’ve had breakthrough cases,” she said.
Peter Hong, 51, a pastor from Logan Square who was headed inside a Planet Fitness in Logan Square to lift weights, said he’s “100 % in favor” of the mandate.
“I think it’s important for us to look out for the common good, or our collective need as a society,” he said.
Cornell Shepard, who works as a convention center security guard and lives in Bronzeville, doesn’t think COVID-19 is as dangerous as it’s being portrayed and doesn’t believe in masks — but he’ll wear one anyways.
“I think it’s just a simple cold,” Shepard, who is unvaccinated, said while filling up his car at a gas station at 47th Street and Michigan Avenue.
“The youth, we don’t need them. But I don’t have a problem with wearing a mask, I will abide by it. But it sucks, man, it sucks.”