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Mask Mandates End In Chicago And Illinois As COVID Cases Drop

Masks are still required in some places, like on public transportation, at Chicago public schools and in parts of nursing homes.

Christina King of the Grand Crossing neighborhood wears a mask in Chicago as fears of COVID-19 rise on Friday, March 20, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city’s and state’s mask mandates have ended — though they’re still required in some spots, including Chicago’s public schools.

The requirement to wear a mask when indoors in public ended early Monday, as did Chicago’s mandate that people show proof of vaccination at restaurants, bars and other public spaces. The changes have been made as Chicago and Illinois have seen COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths fall sharply in recent weeks.

Masks are still required in some places, like on public transportation and at long-term care facilities, including nursing homes.

Schools, day cares and individual businesses can enforce their own COVID-19 rules, which means some places are still requiring vaccine cards and indoor masks. And people can still wear masks if they feel comfortable doing so, officials have said. They’ve urged residents to be respectful of others’ choices.

Under new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cook County — including Chicago and its suburbs — is considered to be low risk for COVID-19.

When a county is in that low level, the CDC recommends residents stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if they have symptoms. People can wear a mask at any time if they choose, but the agency recommends masks for people with symptoms of COVID-19, people who have tested positive or people who have been exposed to COVID-19.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced on Feb. 9 the statewide mask mandate would end Monday. City officials announced the same day that Chicago’s mask and vaccine card mandates would end this Monday.

Chicago’s and Illinois’ mask mandates went into effect in August as the Delta surge drove up cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The Omicron surge in December then brought cases and hospitalizations to record levels, straining the city’s and state’s health care facilities.

Those numbers have now fallen dramatically, though officials have said they could bring back the mask mandates or other measures if there is another wave of COVID-19.

What’s happening in schools:

Pritzker announced late Friday he’s ending the statewide school mask mandate, which had been at the heart of a legal battle, on Monday.

Individual school districts can still enforce their own mask mandate or other COVID-19 safety precautions.

Chicago Public Schools still has a mask mandate in effect, though officials said an announcement on that rule could be coming soon.

Archdiocese of Chicago schools are allowing masks to be optional.

Where masks will still be required:

  • Chicago public schools.
  • Health care facilities.
  • Congregate care facilities.
  • Public transportation, including buses, trains and airplanes.
  • Federal buildings in areas of high of substantial risk of transmission.
  • Long-term care facilities when in communal areas.
  • In businesses that privately require mask use.
  • When in municipalities, like cities or counties, that have mask mandates.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 8.1 million people — or 63.72 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 13,807 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 21,106,414 vaccine doses of the 23,822,265 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.8 million Chicagoans — or 69 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 76.6 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 5 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Since Friday, 109 Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.

• At least 32,763 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 4,147 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 4,483 cases since Friday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 3,031,220.

• Since Friday, 306,397 tests were reported statewide. In all, 54,645,376 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 1.7 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 1.8 percent Friday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 2 percent. It was at 2.4 percent Friday.

• As of Sunday night, 157 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 82 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, seven deaths were reported since Friday. There have been at least 7,230 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than four people dying per day, down 40 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has had 962 confirmed cases reported since Friday. It’s had a total of 558,048 confirmed cases. An average of 250 confirmed cases are being reported per day, down 30 percent from a week ago.

• Testing in Chicago is down 18 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 1.4 percent, down from 1.7 percent a week ago.

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