Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s indoor mask mandate for all of Illinois officially went into effect today and his vaccine requirements for education staff and healthcare workers go into effect this weekend.
The mandate will apply to anyone ages 2 or older and applies to even those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the governor’s office.
The mandate will apply to all indoor environments, including gyms, restaurants, health clubs, bars, and other establishments.
“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 of cases 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 also announced that 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.
Pritzker had warned earlier last 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.
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 nine days of increases in COVID-19 patients that have been hospitalized in the region.
Between Lake and McHenry counties, there are currently 117 patients with COVID-19 in the hospital.
Region 9, however, is still below the 8% threshold for test positivity, which has been steadily decreasing in the past week.
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 Putnam County, is experiencing “high transmission” for COVID-19, according to the CDC.