Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker holds a press conference in Champaign Wednesday morning to discuss a major increase in MAP grants, higher education in the state’s 2023 budget. | Photo: Illinois Information Service

Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday that he will lift Illinois’ indoor mask mandate on February 28, citing rapidly declining COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Pritzker held a press conference Wednesday morning in Champaign to discuss an increase in MAP grants in the state’s 2023 budget.

Following a Tuesday report that Pritzker was going to lift the state’s mask mandate, a reporter asked the governor during his Wednesday press conference about that plan.

“I think all of us are getting tired of wearing masks, that’s for sure. I have to say an enormous compliment to the people of Illinois. We have done such a good job — you have done such a good job — of keeping each other safe,” Pritzker said.

“Illinois has done better than almost every state in the Midwest. In fact, we’re better than all of the states around us at keeping people healthy and safe,” he said.

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Pritzker, referencing Illinois’ peak of approximately 7,400 COVID hospitalizations, said the state is heading downward “significantly” to now around 2,500 COVID hospitalizations.

“The intention is to lift the mask mandate in indoor locations by February 28. That of course we still have the sensitive locations of K-12 schools where we have lots of people that are joined together in smaller spaces, 1000s of people interacting at a small location at one time,” he said.

Pritzker hinted that an announcement on the state’s school mask mandate, which was recently ruled “null and void” by a downstate judge, could come “weeks hence.”

Democratic governors in several states, including California, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut and New York, have announced recently they are dropping their state’s indoor mask mandate.