Illinois Mask Mandate Ending TODAY, But Where Are Masks STILL Required?
With covid numbers dropping a whopping 94 percent since the peak of the omicron variant surge, hospitalizations down 84 percent, and death rates down 50 percent, Illinois dropped its statewide mask mandate today for indoor spaces as well as schools.
However, there are still some areas where masks are required; where are they?
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday reported 13,028 new cases for the week, an average of about 1,861 per day — numbers down considerably from the omicron peaks of over 40,000 per day in January. In addition, the IDPH reported that hospitalizations have plunged more than 84 percent, from an all-time high of 7,320 down to 1,143 as of Thursday night. The number of deaths per day is at 51 from covid, down more than 50 percent from the omicron peak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its masking guidance Friday to show that 70 percent of the nation’s counties are at low or medium risk for covid, meaning in those areas, masks are no longer necessary, according to the agency.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on Friday that students and staff in schools statewide will no longer be required to wear masks in Illinois schools as of Monday, and he will withdraw the executive order for that mandate, in alignment with new Centers for Disease Control recommendations.
Pritzker’s decision also comes after the Illinois Supreme Court declined to take up his request to overturn an appellate court decision that said schools could remove the mandates.
The new CDC rules say people should only wear masks indoors in communities where hospitals are at risk of being overwhelmed by patients diagnosed with covid.
Even so, the CDC says that local governments, even those in areas of low risk, have the ability to set their own rules. School districts, too, may decide to implement their own mask mandates.
So where are those areas in Illinois that, despite Pritzker lifting the statewide mandate, still have mask requirements?
Hospitals, public transportation, prisons and jails will still require masks. The new guidelines do not change the federal requirement to wear masks on public transportation and indoors in airports, train stations and bus stations.
In addition, Chicago Public Schools have decided not to lift the requirement and will continue to have students and staff masked.
Officials are recommending common sense in regard to masking up.
“I would still recommend that if you are in indoor spaces, especially those that are crowded, that you put on a mask,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, Cook County Department of Health.
The Governor praised the efforts to get the state to this point where it could drop the mandate, and looks forward to moving on from covid.
“Today, our hospitals are much better positioned to handle emergencies and more than half of all eligible adults have been boosted; this is the progress we needed to make to remove our state indoor masking requirements,” Gov. Pritzker said in a statement. “As individuals, I encourage everyone to make the best choices going forward to protect your health, along with that of your family and community — and most importantly to treat each other with kindness and compassion.”
Illinois’ covid test positivity rate is now down to 2%, while the positivity rate on individuals tested has now fallen to 2.6%.
For more information on this ongoing situation, continue to monitor QuadCities.com.