Pritzker orders masks inside all state buildings

  • J.B. Pritzker walks ahead of Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike at a media gathering last year.

    J.B. Pritzker walks ahead of Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike at a media gathering last year. Associated Press/September 2020

 
 
Updated 7/29/2021 6:10 PM

People working or visiting inside a state-run building will have to wear masks again, even if they're fully vaccinated, following an order issued Thursday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The edict comes days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised anyone in counties experiencing substantial or high COVID-19 exposure risk to wear masks in public indoor settings.

 

The governor's order is broader and covers all facilities, regardless of the virus' transmissibility threat in those counties, "given that the majority of the state is experiencing substantial or high COVID-19 transmission as measured by the CDC," Pritzker said.

The move comes the same day Cook County joined DuPage, McHenry and Will counties in the Chicago area as counties with a substantial transmission risk, which is any county experiencing 50 to 99 new cases per 100,000 residents over a week's time, according to CDC standards. High risk is 100 or more new cases per 100,000 residents.

"The safety and well-being of state employees and residents remains top priority for the state and this decision supports our efforts to provide a safe environment for our workforce and the people we serve," said Janel L. Forde, director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. "Masking up is a step that we all can take to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help ensure that state facilities can continue to operate safely."

The Cook County Department of Public Health endorsed the CDC mask recommendaton and said it will issue new guidelines Friday.

Federal, state and local health officials say the new safety measures are necessary to slow the spread of the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 that has become the predominant strain in the U.S.

"While the vaccines have been proven to be effective against the delta variant at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death, with this new evidence of breakthrough spread, we are adding another layer of protection for state employees and the people we serve," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

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