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Hospitalization, ICU numbers lead Pritzker to end indoor masking Monday


photo of woman with mask
photo of woman with mask(MGN Online / Pexels)
Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 11:37 AM CST
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(25 NEWS) - 12:01 a.m. Monday, February 28, means the end of indoor masking in the State of Illinois.

A release says this is due to the continued decrease of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations along with an increase in available ICU beds.

Since making the announcement, the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has been cut in half and the number of ICU beds available increased by 24%.  Illinois’ weekly COVID-19 case rate has also decreased by 70%.

More than 8 million people in Illinois are fully vaccinated with an average of approximately 16,000 COVID-19 vaccines administered each day, including more than 4,600 first doses daily.

Masks will still be required where federally mandated (including on public transit), health care facilities, congregate settings, long-term care facilities, and daycare settings. Additionally, private businesses and municipalities may choose to implement their own masking requirements.

Schools are urged to continue following state and federal guidance to help keep students and staff safe in the classroom. Pritzker will review the results of lifting the indoor mask mandate before making any announcement regarding the school mask mandate.

“Throughout this pandemic, we’ve taken action to save lives and keep our economy open – and I’m proud that Illinoisans have done the hard work that has our made our state a leader in the Midwest,” said Governor JB Pritzker.  “Today, our hospitals are much better positioned to handle emergencies and more than half of all eligible adults have been boosted; this is the progress we needed to make to remove our state indoor masking requirements. As individuals, I encourage everyone to make the best choices going forward to protect your health, along with that of your family and community – and most importantly to treat each other with kindness and compassion.”

In the last four months of 2021 following the reinstatement of Illinois’ mask mandate on August 30, 2021, Illinois had fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations per capita and fewer COVID-19 deaths per capita than the entire Great Lakes region.  In the same period, Illinois out-tested the entire Midwest on a per capita basis, providing residents with significantly better access to testing than any of its neighbors.  Even with a much greater testing capacity, Illinois saw fewer reported COVID-19 cases per capita during this time than neighbors such as Iowa and Missouri.

“We are now entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic and while our focus continues to be on preventing severe illness and ensuring our health care systems aren’t overwhelmed, we are also looking forward to how we will coexist with COVID-19,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

Illinois remains a standout in the Midwest for its vaccination rates.  Illinois is home to the highest percentage of residents who have received a COVID-19 vaccine as well as the highest percentage of vaccinated and fully vaccinated 5–17-year-olds.

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