Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker receives his COVID-19 booster shot at Mile Square Health Center in Chicago on Tuesday. | Photo: IDPH

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on Tuesday that he will be keeping Illinois’ mask mandate in place until there is a further decline in hospitalizations, which he says remain “flat.”

Pritzker made the comments during a press conference at Mile Square Health Center in Chicago Tuesday morning.

Pritzker appeared at the clinic to receive his COVID-19 booster shot. He initially got the Johnson and Johnson shot in March and decided on getting the Pfizer shot for his booster dose.

After receiving his booster shot, he spoke to reporters, who asked about the indoor mask mandate.

“We’re making this decision every day. We look at the numbers and I talk to the doctors at IDPH, especially Dr. Ezike, and what we’re trying to evaluate is, are the hospitalization numbers increasing, decreasing or staying the same,” Pritzker said.

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“We want them decreasing. They’re not currently, just to be clear. New hospitalizations are flat. That is not a good sign. That is not what has happened in previous dips from surges. We went down for a while and we’ve leveled out at a level which is much higher than the summer,” Pritzker said.

“So the question is, is that just a temporary situation? Are we going to start heading downward in those numbers? So that’s one thing. The second of course is the number of vaccinations,” he said.

“Most importantly of course, if hospitalizations are heading downward, if the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 is heading downward, that’s a really good sign and that means we’re getting more and more optimistic about removing indoor mask mandates,” Pritzker added.

Pritzker noted that whenever indoor mask mandates are removed, school mask mandates would stay in place.

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Two weeks ago, Pritzker said if COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to decrease, he could lift “certain mask mandates” before the holidays.

“I want them [mitigations] to go away too. But we want to make sure we are keeping people healthy and safe following the guidelines doctors are offering for us. Obviously we want to remove the mitigations as we approach the holidays. It’s an important marker for us,” Pritzker said on October 19 during a press conference.

“We want to make sure these numbers keep going down because we’d like very much to head into — we have three holidays coming up — but especially Thanksgiving and Christmas where people spend extended amounts of time together, so we’d like very much to get to a place where we can remove certain mask mandates,” he added.