Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker holds a press conference. | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to announce Wednesday afternoon a new mask mandate for all preschool through high school students and staff in Illinois.

Pritzker is scheduled to appear at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday to give a COVID-19 update, according to his daily schedule.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Pritzker will be issuing a mask mandate for preschool through high school students and staff statewide.

He will also be issuing a vaccine mandate for state employees in prisons, veterans homes and other congregate settings, the Tribune reported.

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new recommendations saying that there should be universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status.

The guidance came as schools in Lake and McHenry counties had been debating over the summer what to require for the fall semester.

Both Lake and McHenry counties are now under the state’s recommendation for all people to wear masks indoors after the CDC categorized both counties as having “substantial” transmission of COVID-19.

The CDC’s recommendation, which was “fully adopted” by the State of Illinois, says that even fully vaccinated individuals should wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas with “substantial” and “high” transmission.

Areas of “substantial” transmission are considered by CDC to be those with 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.

Areas of “high” transmission are considered to be those with more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over a seven-day period.

“We strongly recommend that everyone follow CDC recommendations and take necessary precautions to stay protected against COVID-19 and its variants,” said Dr. Sana Ahmed, Medical Epidemiologist at the Lake County Health Department.

“A combination of vaccinations and prevention strategies is our best chance to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ahmed said.