This morning Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide indoor mask mandate, effective Monday, in response to soaring COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
The mandate will apply to anyone two-years or older, regardless of vaccination status. It applies to gyms, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and other indoor venues.
“Hospital administrators are asking for more help to manage to sheer number of incoming patients, who are almost exclusively individuals who have chosen not to get the life saving vaccine,” said Pritzker.
Vaccine Mandate For Educators, Healthcare Workers
Also at the press conference Pritzker announced a statewide COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all education employees for all P-12 schools, along with higher education staff and students.
Those who do not get a first dose by September 5 will have to go through COVID-19 testing at least once a week.
The new vaccination requirements are also applied to healthcare workers at hospitals, nursing homes, urgent care and doctors’ offices.
Pritzker reiterated what many health officials, including Karen Ayala, DuPage County Health Department’s Executive Director, have said: getting a vaccine is best tool in the fight against the virus.
Driven By Data
According to data the governor shared, six out of Illinois’ 11 regions are currently below the 20% ICU threshold that indicated stressed capacity.
“I was hoping we would never have to be here again,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of Illinois Department of Public Health. “But right now we’re seeing 220 individuals being admitted to the hospitals everyday with COVID.”
As of last night, 2,184 individuals tested positive for COVID-19 and were in hospitals in Illinois Dr. Ezike said. Of those 489 were in the ICU and 241 were on ventilators.
According to the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker all but one county in the state is at a high transmission level.
When asked about the duration of mitigation measures, Pritzker said, “Until we alleviate the pressure on hospitals, we’re going to need to continue to put the pressure on for people to wear masks in indoor locations, and all the other mitigations that I’ve talked about today and that we’ve had in place.” He cited hospital and ICU bed availability, as well as hospital personnel availability as some metrics to watch.
The governor had previously issued a mask mandate for everyone entering a school building regardless of vaccination status.
Naperville News 17’s Christian Canizal reports.
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