Pritzker may lift Illinois mask mandate before the holidays

Local News

CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday that he hoped to lift the state’s indoor mask mandate before the holidays, and said he and the IDPH are watching the metrics to make a decision.

Illinois is only one of six states that has a masking requirement.

Currently, Illinois’ COVID-19 testing positivity rate sits at 2.1%. In March, when the first mask mandate expired, the rate was 2.8%.

Pritzker signed a new Executive Order in August, at the time Illinois was experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Governor says some health metrics still need to improve before he’ll take further action.

“I want them to go away too, but I want make sure that we’re keeping people healthy and safe. Obviously, we want to remove mitigations before the holidays, where people spend extended time together,” Pritzker said. “We’d like to get to a place where we can remove the mask mandates.”

Pritzker said Tuesday the state is preparing for guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, due later this week, on which how and when eligible residents should receive booster shots COVID-19 vaccine.

“Right now, only Pfizer has been authorized for booster doses, but we expect CDC will move forward with the FDA’s recommendations about boosters for Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines within the next few days,” the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said in a statment.

“We know that COVID-19 vaccines are life-saving. For our seniors, you’re 29 times more likely to end up in the hospital if you’re unvaccinated. Boosters will extend that life-saving protection,” said Pritzker. “So let’s do what we can to save lives: roll up your sleeve. Get the COVID-19 vaccine if you haven’t yet – you might just save a life. Get your booster shot – so you can be even better protected. And let’s get out of this pandemic — we can do it by continuing to work together for the common good.”

Pritzker said the Food and Drug Administration is expected to announce Moderna boosters should be received 6 months after the initial dose; the FDA has already approved a 6 months booster for those who received the Pfizer shot.

IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the Moderna dose is expected to be half of the initial dose of the vaccine, where the Pfizer booster is the same dosage as in the initial jab.

The governor said those who received the Johnson & Johnson shot should receive a booster 2 months after first shot.

The state is working to create a booster plan to inoculate residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and prisons, Pritkzer said.

In the meantime, in Chicago, Pritzker addressed staffing alternatives to the police force after Mayor Lori Lightfoot threatened to put officers on a “no pay” status if they haven’t complied with the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

City officers had until midnight Friday to submit their vaccination status.

A CPD memo went out to Chicago police alerting officers that they could face being fired if they don’t comply with the city’s vaccination policy. It also stated that members who retire while under disciplinary investigation may be denied retirement credentials.

Pritzker said Illinois State Troopers will be used to fill in staffing gaps in the event that the force sees a mass walkout, as more than 3,000 officers did not comply with the Friday deadline.

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