Pritzker threatens additional mitigations as Illinois requires masks be worn at all State facilities

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FILE – In this March 30, 2020 file photo, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks in Chicago during the daily update on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Pritzker said during a stop in Rock Island, Ill., Monday, July 27, 2020, that “things are not moving in the right direction” in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic in Illinois, where officials reported a sixth day in a row of more than 1,000 newly confirmed cases. Earlier in Quincy, the Democrat said he didn’t expect life in Illinois to return to normal until sometime next year. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — The State of Illinois is now requiring the use of face masks in all State facilities, regardless of vaccination status, following guidance from the CDC to halt the spread of the coronavirus’ Delta variant.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows a majority of the counties across Illinois are experiencing substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.

The State will continue to evaluate the need for additional mitigations and will not hesitate to put them in place as needed to protect the health of Illinois residents, Gov. JB Pritzker’s office said Thursday.

“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,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “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. 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,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “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.”

State employees, regardless of their vaccination status, must (1) wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth while in a workplace or performing work duties in indoor settings outside of their residence, unless they have a medical condition that prevents them from doing so; and (2) at all times, or as much as reasonably possible, maintain physical distancing of at least six feet from any other person while in a workplace or performing work duties outside of their residence.

Visitors over the age of 2 are required to wear face coverings while inside State offices and facilities unless they are unable to medically tolerate a face covering.

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