Chicago will revise its mask order after the state of Illinois updated its mandate Monday following new guidance for fully vaccinated people from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Social distancing, face coverings, and vaccinations have all been critical in slowing the spread of COVID-19, the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement Monday.
CDPH noted that the department and the CDC "continue to advise face coverings for all people who are not yet fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as for high-risk individuals."
"We also support businesses who want to require masks inside their establishments. COVID-19 vaccinations are safe and effective, and Chicago will broadly align with the CDC and State's updated mask guidance for fully vaccinated individuals, agreeing that these individuals are safe in most settings without masks," the city continued. "CDPH is reviewing the State's new executive order and will provide a formal update tomorrow."
"While this review is ongoing, existing rules requiring mask wearing and social distancing in Chicago remain in place. While we are proud of the vaccination efforts in Chicago, only 38% of Chicagoans are fully vaccinated at this time and Chicagoans age 12-15 just now became eligible," CDPH said. "COVID-19 vaccines are widely available in Chicago and we encourage everyone who hasn't been vaccinated yet to book their appointment as soon as possible."
CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady is set to discuss masking on Tuesday during a news conference with the update at 1 p.m. from City Hall. The event can be watched live in the video player above.
The news conference will be to "give an update on COVID-19 data, vaccine distribution in Chicago, CDC mask guidance and the Emergency Travel Order," CDPH said.
The update comes one day after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the state's mask mandate is changing based on the new CDC guidance.
Pritzker said he is issuing an updated executive order that will remove the mask requirement for fully vaccinated residents in most settings and the Illinois Department of Public Health "is rescinding emergency rules in the Control of Communicable Disease Code that enforce masking and distancing for vaccinated people in business settings."
Officials said unvaccinated residents should continue wearing masks in most settings and residents should continue wearing masks on public transportation, in congregate facilities and in healthcare settings regardless of their vaccination status.
Masks will also continue to be required in schools and daycares.
“Getting vaccinated is the ultimate protection from COVID-19 and the quickest ticket back to normal life,” Pritzker said in a statement. “With public health experts now saying fully vaccinated people can safely remove their masks in most settings, I’m pleased to follow the science and align Illinois’ policies with the CDC’s guidance. I also support the choice of individuals and businesses to continue to mask out of an abundance of caution as this pandemic isn’t over yet.”
Earlier on Monday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that she wanted "clarification" from the CDC on its new mask guidelines, calling the rollout "abrupt" as she said she personally would continue to wear a mask in public.
The CDC revised its guidelines on Thursday, saying that vaccinated individuals should not be required to wear masks in indoor and outdoor settings, with some exceptions.
Lightfoot appeared on MSNBC Monday morning and was asked, "Should people in Chicago wear masks or not?"
"Well, I think we’ve gotta get some clarification from the CDC. The rollout obviously is, the reporting has been, was a bit abrupt, and I think they’ve got a lot of clarification that they need to do," Lightfoot said. "I know for me personally, I’m gonna continue to wear a mask in public and I’m gonna encourage others to do so."
"We’ve gotta make sure that people are continuing to follow the public health guidance that has gotten us this far and masks I think are a big and important part of that," Lightfoot said. "To say, well, if you’re vaccinated, you don’t have to wear a mask, that’s great, but what about all the other people that are out there that aren’t vaccinated and there’s no way to know that? So I think for the time being, most people are gonna continue to wear a mask outside, outside their homes, and I think that’s smart."
When asked what Chicago is telling businesses about the new guidance, Lightfoot said she's promoting vaccinations while keeping in mind that the city is not "out of the woods."
"I’m telling businesses a couple things: one, get your employees vaccinated, and we're doing everything we can to provide support to those businesses," Lightfoot said, noting a new series of vaccination events at office buildings downtown.
"We're also continuing to make sure that we are social distancing. Even as we open up, we've got good news happening here in Chicago, but by no means, whether it's Chicago or anyplace else in the country, are we out of the woods," she continued. "The virus is still here, the virus is still real, we're still seeing deaths every day, so we can't afford to feel like the virus is gone and suddenly we can just go back to 2019. That's just not gonna happen."
When asked Monday, Lightfoot said the new mask guidance doesn't change Chicago's goal of fully reopening the city with no capacity limits by the Fourth of July.
"It doesn’t change the timetable, but I think we’ve gotta clarify for people what we need to do to get to that point," Lightfoot said. "And again, we still have a long way to go. We’ve gotta bring down, or continue to bring down our case rates. Our percent positivity is heading in the right direction, but we’ve still got to get more people vaccinated, the long and short of it."