Face masks required in all state buildings, regardless of vaccination status

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ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Governor JB Pritzker announced Thursday that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are required to wear face coverings while in all state buildings.

A press release says the decision was prompted by data from the CDC showing the majority of Illinois counties are seeing substantial or high COVID-19 transmission.

The State of Illinois also says it’s taking this measure to protect its employees as their employer. It adds that more broadly, the CDC and Illinois Department of Public Health are continuing to recommend all people to wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas with substantial and high transmission.

The release says the State will continue to evaluate the need for additional rules and will not hesitate to install those restrictions as needed “to protect the health of Illinois residents.”

Illinois is seeing increased Delta variant cases, the release says, which make up 80% of recent COVID-19 cases, according to CDC data.

“Delta spreads more easily than other variants and there is new evidence that a small number of fully vaccinated people who may be infected with Delta may infect others,” the release says.

“Given that the majority of the state is experiencing substantial or high COVID-19 transmission as measured by the CDC, all State of Illinois facilities will require face coverings — regardless of vaccination status — in line with the CDC’s current best guidance for ending this pandemic,” says Governor JB Pritzker. “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.

“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.”

“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,” says IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “Vaccination is still the best protection against both the older and newer variants that cause COVID-19. And until more people get vaccinated and transmission decreases, masking will help protect us all. IDPH continues to monitor all conditions for any additional mitigations as the pandemic changes over time.”

The release says state employees must wear face coverings, regardless of their vaccination status, unless they have a medical condition that prevents them from doing so. Social distancing measures will also be enforced.

People visiting state facilities who are above the age of 2 will be required to wear a face mask unless they are medically unable to tolerate one, the release says.

“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,” says Janel L. Forde, Director, 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.”

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