Chicago joins other area health departments recommending masks to be worn in public indoor settings

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — COVID-19 cases are rising to the point where face masks are now recommended in most of Illinois, including Cook County and Chicago.

Cook County health officials detailed their guidelines in a live update on their Facebook page Friday. They said at this point it is a mask advisory and not a mandate.

On Friday afternoon, the Chicago Department of Public Health said they recommend masks for everyone over the age of two, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in public indoor settings.

The Centers for Disease Control added Cook County to the list of areas with substantial COVID-19 transmission. This means the agency recommends wearing masks in indoor public places. The county’s senior public health officer said expect updated masking guidance to come out.

Cook and Will county are the only area counties at this time to officially recommend masks inside for those who are vaccinated. Other area counties who have recently entered the “substantial transmission” category are McHenry, DuPage, Kendall, Grundy and LaSalle counties.     

Following the development, Gov. JB Pritzker announced a mask requirement in all state buildings effective immediately even if you’re fully vaccinated.

The governor stopped short of bringing back the state-wide mandate that was in place for much of the past year.

Most new Covid cases are unvaccinated people. The Delta variant is the dominant one in the U.S. right now. The CDC said new data suggests those who are vaccinated can still spread the more contagious strain.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike. head of Illinois’ Department of Public Health, said until more people get vaccinated and numbers go back down, masking will protect us all. Cook County health officials are pleading with people who have not gotten the shot to reconsider.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently told the New York Times she’d consider a mask mandate if daily COVID-19 cases reach 200 a day.

The city is nearing that point but hospitalizations, the numbers of people in ICU and on ventilators are not surging.

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