As COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths decrease, Chicago and Cook County continue to impose egregious restrictions on daily life. Requirements are in place for anyone over five years old to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to dine indoors, go inside gyms, or attend entertainment venues where food and drinks are served. In early February, the Liberty Justice Center filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of eight Chicago and Cook County residents to put an end to these illegal and unnecessary vaccine requirements. On February 18, attorneys filed an emergency motion to suspend enforcement of the orders immediately.
“It has been two years since the pandemic started and the overwhelming majority of states do not have a mask requirement, let alone a proof of vaccination requirement, to participate in civic life,” said Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at LJC. “These requirements are blatantly illegal, not to mention unscientific and unnecessary.”
Vaccine mandates in Cook County, Chicago, and throughout the United States are strident infringements on personal liberties. Politicians leverage these mandates for political capital under the guise of public safety. But looking at the numbers, these restrictions are not only illegal, but unnecessary.
Omicron is less dangerous.
- Individuals testing positive for Omicron are 80% less likely to be hospitalized compared to the previous Delta variant.
- Zero cases with the Omicron variant infections received mechanical ventilation, as compared to 11 cases with Delta variant infections. Overall, emergency room visits are 70% lower and the necessity for ventilation is down by 84%.
- Omicron resulted in a nearly 70% decrease in the median length of a hospital stay.
- The CDC found evidence that the Omicron variant provides robust protection against the deadlier Delta variant, suggesting that it is less of a threat and more of a safeguard. Because Delta is still present, slowing or stopping the spread of Omicron would actually be counterproductive.
Omicron is the dominant variant in Illinois.
- The Omicron variant accounts for nearly all COVID-19 cases in Illinois and its neighboring states.
- The latest report from the Chicago Department of Public Health shows Omicron makes up 100% of COVID-19 cases in the city.
- Likewise, Cook County data shows Omicron makes up 91% of variants detected in 2022.
- Omicron has not burdened the Chicago, Cook County, or Illinois hospital systems. The state and local health departments maintain data on the number of patients who are hospitalized for any reason and test positive for Covid upon admission or during their stay, but not data on the number of patients hospitalized because of COVID-19. However, the Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois hospital systems do not show evidence of being highly stressed during the Omicron surge.
Vaccination is not a silver bullet.
- Vaccination does not stop Omicron variant transmissions – data from the Chicago Department of Public Health shows higher prevalence of COVID-19 in areas with higher vaccination rates.
The threat from COVID-19 is decreasing.
- COVID-19’s current infection fatality rate is lower than the seasonal flu, even with both variants circling.
- In countries where Omicron has already peaked, scientists declare that the pandemic is effectively over, as hospitals are spared for routine health services.
“These requirements are not protecting anyone,” said Courtney Connolly, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit and a Chicago resident. “The orders are about ostracizing and shaming people who disagree with the point of view of the government by prohibiting them from participating in life – and these government officials are so ruthless that they imposed these mandates on residents as young as five. That’s wrong.”
Connolly v. Lightfoot was filed on Feb. 10, 2022, in the United State District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.