Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced that there will be a statewide indoor mask mandate for residents, regardless of vaccination status.
At a press conference on Aug. 26, Pritzker also announced a vaccination requirement for all healthcare workers, including nursing home employees, all pre-k-12 teachers and staff, as well as higher education personnel and students.
The mask mandate goes into effect on Monday, Aug 30.
"The quick spread of this disease in Illinois and across the country is holding us all back from the post-pandemic life we so desperately want to embrace, and it's harming the most vulnerable among us," Pritzker said. "We are running out of time as our hospitals run out of beds. Vaccination remains our strongest tool to protect ourselves and our loved ones, to restore post-pandemic life to our communities, and most crucially, to maintain our healthcare system's ability to care for anyone who walks through their doors in need of help – and Illinois is taking action to keep our communities safe."
The public health requirements come as regions with low vaccination rates continue to see a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations, the governor’s office said in a press release. In IDPH region 5, Southern Illinois, with the lowest vaccination rate in the state at 44 percent, only 3 percent of ICU beds are available as the region experiences the highest case rate in the state. Since Aug. 1, local health departments across the state have reported 27 COVID-19 outbreaks at schools and currently hundreds of schools are being monitored for potential COVID-19 exposures.
While face coverings are not required outdoors, masks are strongly encouraged in crowded outdoor settings like festivals and concerts as well as for activities that require close contact with people who are not vaccinated.