Face coverings now are required in all state buildings in Illinois, regardless of vaccination status, according a news release from Gov. JB Pritzker’s office late Thursday afternoon.
Visitors older than age 2 are required to wear face coverings while inside state offices and facilities unless they are unable to medically tolerate a face covering.
With COVID-19 cases fueled by the delta variant increasing over the past few weeks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now show the majority of Illinois counties are experiencing high or substantial transmission. Updated CDC mask guidance released earlier in the week recommended everyone wear a face mask indoors regardless of vaccination status in areas experiencing high or substantial transmission of COVID-19.
“Given that the majority of the state is experiencing substantial or high COVID-19 transmission as measured by the CDC, all state of Illinois facilities will require face coverings – regardless of vaccination status – in line with the CDC’s current best guidance for ending this pandemic,” Pritzker said in a news release. “Vaccines work – but we cannot promise those protections for every single future variant if we allow this virus to spread and mutate unchecked in our communities. With all the misinformation out there, I encourage all eligible Illinoisans who haven’t been vaccinated yet to talk to their doctors to alleviate any of their fears. Vaccines are how we put this pandemic behind us for once and for all, but I will continue to evaluate the need for further additional mitigations.”
The delta variant continues to increase in Illinois and according to the CDC has caused more than 80% of recent COVID-19 cases and estimates indicate it will likely cause more, according to the state’s news release. Delta spreads more easily than other variants and there is new evidence that a small number of fully vaccinated people who may be infected with delta may infect others.
“While the vaccines have been proven to be effective against the delta variant at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death, with this new evidence of breakthrough spread, we are adding another layer of protection for state employees and the people we serve,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “Vaccination is still the best protection against both the older and newer variants that cause COVID-19. And until more people get vaccinated and transmission decreases, masking will help protect us all. IDPH continues to monitor all conditions for any additional mitigations as the pandemic changes over time.”