Naperville mayor: ‘It’s time to drop the mask mandate in Illinois’

Naperville mayor: ‘It’s time to drop the mask mandate in Illinois’

The mayor of Illinois’ third-largest city, Naperville, said it is time for Illinois to drop its statewide indoor mask mandate. Illinois is the only state east of the Mississippi with an indoor mask mandate regardless of vaccination status.

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico announced his support for lifting Illinois’ statewide mask requirement in a Facebook post Nov. 18, saying, “It’s time to drop the mask mandate in Illinois.”

“Let me be clear, this is not a political statement. I supported the Governor’s mitigation strategy this year as opposed to shutting down the economy. BUT, based on the information we now have… including new vaccines, therapeutics and the data on how different mitigations affect outcomes, it doesn’t make sense to me to wear masks,” Chirico said.

He pointed to the fact Illinois is now the only state east of the Mississippi with a mask mandate and yet, case positivity trends continue to parallel those reported by Midwest neighbors without the restriction.

“Fact: Illinois is the only Midwestern state that currently requires a mask, and yet as of today, we are no better off than the surrounding states,” he said. “In my view, based on the CDC information and the minimal, if any, impact of COVID mitigation strategies on actual results.”

Chirico strengthened his position Nov. 22 during a radio interview with WGN, encouraging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to follow through on the holiday deadline he teased for lifting his executive mask order.

Chirico said there are better, more effective tools to fight the coronavirus that are less burdensome than masks.

“I think that the strategy that he [Pritzker] has had this year, up until now, has been good. We have a lot more tools today,” said Chirico on WGN’s Chicago Afternoon News. “We have the multiple vaccinations and boosters that are available to people.

“We’ve got therapeutics and some really big ones coming up here that hopefully will get approved soon. But even without the ones that are sort of in the pipeline, there are several being used that have really been effective.”

Chirico’s stand makes him the most recent community leader to push back against Pritzker’s now 573-day-old executive orders related to COVID-19.

Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson and the Orland Park Village Board both previously announced they would not enforce the governor’s indoor public mask requirement, giving residents the final say on when to mask up. Madison County’s prosecutor has refused to enforce Pritzker’s mask mandate, saying it was not legally enforceable.

Some state lawmakers have similarly renewed calls for legislative debate over the handling of the pandemic and mitigation policies such as the mask mandate.

Despite Illinoisans continued adherence to masking requirements, the state has experienced a recent resurgence in new COVID-19 cases worse than the spike seen in late summer but below pandemic peaks.

Illinois averaged 4,618 new cases for the seven days ending Nov. 23.

Being the only Midwestern state to force even vaccinated residents to wear masks indoors is not making Illinois immune to COVID-19 surges. Chirico is right to question why Pritzker stands nearly alone in still demanding their use.

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