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Want To Avoid Illinois Shutting Down Again? Wear A Mask

"The single best thing you can do to help our state, to help your neighbors, help your community, is to wear a mask in public," Gov. JB Pritzker said.

Sebastian Arboleda and Stephanie Paul wear masks after buying coffee on Monday, April 27, 2020. The duo couldn't decide if they lived in the Ravenswood or Lincoln Square neighborhood. Starting May 1, All Illinois residents are required to wear face masks in public. | Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Coronavirus outbreaks are being reported across Illinois — and officials are warning that businesses could shut down and restrictions could be brought back as a result.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday she’s concerned because the city’s average number of new cases is ticking upwards, as is Chicago’s positivity rate. The city is “dangerously close to going back to a dangerous state of conditions,” the mayor warned, adding the city will take steps like closing businesses or even going back to Phase 3 if needed.

Similarly, Gov. JB Pritzker said during a separate Wednesday press conference outbreaks are being seen in every region of Illinois. They’ve been tied to church services, bars, Fourth of July parties and more, and the state will like impose tighter restrictions if a region sees a surge in cases.

But those shutdowns and restrictions don’t have to happen, officials said.

Illinois — and Chicago — can prevent a surge in cases using the same methods that worked to bring the state and city down from their peaks in May, officials said.

“The single best thing you can do to help our state, to help your neighbors, help your community, is to wear a mask in public,” Pritzker said.

Here’s what they suggested:

• Wear a face covering whenever you leave home.

• Practice 6 feet of social distancing. Don’t gather in large groups.

• Wash your hands frequently.

• Officials urged people who are coming from states with higher rates of coronavirus — which is every state around Illinois — to take care and, if needed, isolate upon returning to Illinois. That means people should wear masks even if the state they’re traveling to doesn’t require it, officials said.

In Chicago, it’s required that people quarantine for 14 days if they’re coming from a state on the city’s quarantine list.

• Get tested if you think you are sick and, if you are, isolate.

• If a contact tracer calls you, answer and speak with them, Pritzker said.

• If you come into contact with a person who has coronavirus, even if you do not have symptoms, self-isolate for 14 days, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. Wait until at least six to seven days after your exposure and get tested — you need to wait so there’s a better chance of not getting a false negative.

Even if you get tested on day seven and your test comes back negative, keep quarantined, Ezike said, as you could still develop symptoms.

If you get a positive test but don’t have symptoms, you still need to isolate for 10 days, Ezike said.

On Tuesday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield wrote that the data is clear: “masking works.”

“If we can get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think in the next four, six, eight weeks … we can get this epidemic under control,” Redfield said.

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