Pritzker announces indoor mask mandate for all Illinoisans, additional vaccine mandates announced

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CHICAGO, Ill. (WMBD) — Masks are back and vaccines will be required for all P-12 teachers and staff, all higher education staff and students, as well as health care workers, Gov. Pritzker announced Thursday.

Beginning Monday, everyone is required to wear masks in indoor settings regardless of vaccination status.

Effective Sept. 5, individuals working in a vaccine-required setting who are unable or unwilling will be required to get tested at least once a week. More frequent testing may be required, such as in the case of an outbreak, he said.

“The best way to manage this situation is for people and communities to slow the transmission with masks and vaccines,” he said in a press conference Thursday morning.

Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, said the last time the number of hospital admissions was this high was in May. Cases are 40 times higher than the low we experienced this summer, she said.

“The ICU beds have run out, particularly in southern Illinois and in parts of central Illinois,” she said.

The current vaccination levels are not strong enough to fight the Delta variant surge, Pritzker said. Hospital managers have asked for state assistance with trying to slow the spread.

“They fear the worst is yet to come for us,” he said. “Because of the Delta variant, hospitals are fighting the battle we hoped would be behind us by now.”

Vaccines are the way to end the pandemic, he said, but many are not receiving it because they “are being misled.”

Ezike also encouraged wearing masks, saying they work, and they are the best way to protect the population who are too young to receive the vaccine.

“The bottom line is masks are effective. Vaccines are effective,” she said.

More than 8.2 million Illinoisans, 76% of the eligible population, in Illinois, have received at least one dose of the vaccine, making Illinois the most vaccinated state in the Midwest.

This story will be updated.

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