Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker is lifting the indoor mask mandate effective at the end of February if the COVID-19 cases continue to decline. There are, however, exceptions. Everyone must continue wearing them in schools, healthcare settings, long-term care facilities, daycare, public transportation, federal buildings, and congregate settings like prisons and shelters.
While masks will not be required in most indoor locations, the governor highly recommends everyone continue wearing one. Even though there has been a 66% decrease in hospitalizations during the height of the Omicron variant outbreak in Illinois, there are still an average of 2,500 COVID cases in hospitals monthly.
State health officials and Pritzker stress the importance of vaccinations and boosters. Having the complete series of COVID-19 shots on board is one of the best ways to increase protection from the virus. Moreover, the vaccines help reduce the risk of increased cases, which, in turn, will lessen the chance of returning to mask mandates.
Illinois is not alone in the drastic reduction of COVID-19 cases; most of the country is also experiencing notable decreases. In addition, several states have announced they will be lifting some of their masking rules in the past few days, including New York, Oregon, Delaware, California, and Connecticut.
The move to relax the mask mandate and other regulations comes when top health officials publicly acknowledge that COVID-19 will continue to affect the country indefinitely. While they cannot predict when the pandemic will become endemic, like influenza, it is inevitable. Pfizer and Moderna are developing yearly vaccines used in conjunction with the flu shot.
COVID-19 vaccinations, boosters, and testing are available free of charge to everyone regardless of insurance or immigration status.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
ABC 7 News: Illinois lifting mask mandate for some by end of month, Gov. JB Pritzker says; by Jessica D’Onofrio, Craig Wall, Sarah Schulte, and Ravi Baichwal
NBC 5 News Chicago: Gov. Pritzker Unveils Plan to Lift Illinois Mask Mandate For Many By Feb. 28
The New York Times: New York joins several other U.S. states in rolling back mask mandates as infections fall.
By Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Azi Paybarah
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Rod Library’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Courtesy of Josh Kalov’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License