CHICAGO — All people should wear masks indoors when in the public in suburban Cook County, officials announced Thursday.
The recommendation comes because the county is now classified as having “substantial” community transmission of COVID-19, according to a Cook County Department of Public Health news release.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced earlier this week it’d advise all people — including those who are fully vaccinated — to wear masks indoors in areas seeing “substantial or high transmission.”
Officials hope the move can slow down the spread of coronavirus’s highly contagious Delta variant. The variant is wreaking havoc across the country, with surges seen in various states.
“The Delta variant is the strongest version of COVID-19 yet and we must contain it through both vaccinations and prevention measures such as mask wearing indoors and in crowded outdoor settings,” the county health department said in the news release. “Until we reach a higher vaccination rate in the county, we must continue following sensible mitigation practices, particularly when cases are rising. Masking, vaccination and physical distancing are imperative. We will need the cooperation of all residents, employers, venue operators and officials to keep our communities safe.”
Chicago has not yet brought back a mask mandate, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said the city will see safety measures return if Chicago’s outbreak worsens.
The Governor’s Office announced Thursday all people must wear face coverings inside state-run facilities, as well. The state news release noted Illinois is seeing substantial or high COVID-19 in the majority of its counties, including Cook.
And state employees are required to wear a face covering and try to stay socially distant when in their workplace.
“Vaccines work — but we cannot promise those protections for every single future variant if we allow this virus to spread and mutate unchecked in our communities,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in the news release. “With all the misinformation out there, I encourage all eligible Illinoisans who haven’t been vaccinated yet to talk to their doctors to alleviate any of their fears. Vaccines are how we put this pandemic behind us for once and for all, but I will continue to evaluate the need for further additional mitigations.”
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