Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that he is implementing an indoor mask mandate for the entire state and vaccine mandates for all education staff and healthcare workers in Illinois.
“Unfortunately, our current vaccination levels are not enough to blunt the ferocity of the delta variant hospitalization surges in some regions. Hospital administrators are asking for more help to manage the sheer number of incoming patients,” Pritzker said during a Thursday COVID-19 update.
Pritzker blamed those who are unvaccinated for the surge in the latest COVID-19 wave.
“The tool to bring an end to the pandemic — vaccines — is readily available. But your neighbors aren’t taking it, many because they are being misled,” he said.
Pritzker said he is mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for preschool through 12th-grade teachers and staff, higher education personnel, higher education students, and healthcare workers in a variety of settings like hospitals, nursing homes, urgent care and doctor’s offices.
Effective September 5, those who are unable or unwilling to receive their first dose of the vaccine will be required to be tested at least once a week.
On Monday, Pritzker said his indoor mask mandate will go into effect for the entire state.
The mandate will apply to anyone ages 2 or older and applies to even those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The mandate will apply to all indoor environments, including gyms, restaurants, health clubs, bars, and other establishments.
Pritzker had warned earlier in the week that “significantly greater mitigations” would be imposed if COVID metrics did not improve in the state.
“If we are not able to bring these numbers down, if hospitals continue to fill, if the hospital beds and ICUs get full like they are in Kentucky — that’s just next door to Illinois — if that happens, we’re going to have to impose significantly greater mitigations,” Pritzker said during a Tuesday press conference.
“I want to remind you we’ve already implemented a number of significant mitigations and we’re always looking if we need to impose more,” Pritzker added.
Since August 18, Region 9, which includes Lake and McHenry counties, has dipped below a 20% threshold set by the state for available ICU beds.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has also reported eight days of increases in COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalized in the region.
Between Lake and McHenry counties, there are currently 108 patients with COVID-19 in the hospital.
Region 9, however, is still below the 8% threshold for test positivity.
The test positivity, ICU bed availability and COVID patients in the hospital are metrics used by IDPH and the governor to “identify early but significant increase of COVID-19 transmission in Illinois.”
“These indicators can be used to determine whether additional community mitigation interventions are needed for a region to control the further spread of COVID-19,” IDPH says.
Every county in Illinois, except Carroll County, is experiencing “high transmission” for COVID-19, according to the CDC.