As Cook County officials prepare to release new mask guidance in the wake of updated recommendations by the CDC, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is already taking steps, ordering all individuals, including those fully vaccinated against COVID, to mask up inside state buildings.
County officials will make their announcement on new guidance on Friday, a day after the county was pegged as having “substantial” transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
Now, residents are reacting on both sides of the debate over mask regulations, with some saying that they understand that policies have to change as the delta variant continues to send COVID case rates skyrocketing.
“I’m not upset. Anything that keeps everyone safe (is good),” Unique Williams, a Chicago resident, says. “You know people have died from this disease.”
The CDC’s new guidance says that fully vaccinated individuals should wear masks while indoors if they are in counties that are experiencing “substantial” or “high” rates of COVID transmission.
Numerous Chicago area counties are starting to fall into those categories, including Kendall and Cook counties, which crossed that threshold on Thursday.
“I feel like it’s a good precaution to have the masks worn indoors,” Chicago resident Kamari Morrison said. “Even though you’re vaccinated, you can still carry the virus.”
In addition to Cook and Kendall counties, Will, DuPage, McHenry, Grundy and LaSalle counties are also seeing surges in the number of COVID cases being reported in those communities.
“We are seeing an increasing level of new cases each day,” Dr. Rachel Rubin of the Cook County Department of Public Health said.
As Pritzker mandated mask-wearing in all state buildings, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot followed suit, mandating that visitors wear masks in common areas and areas where social distancing is impossible at City Hall.
Currently, the city of Chicago is seeing an average of 192 new COVID cases per day. Officials had previously said that 200 was the threshold for a mask mandate, but it is not yet known when city officials may make that move.
In DuPage County, officials are recommending that residents wear masks indoors, even if they are fully vaccinated, but they are also still pushing residents to get their vaccines if they haven’t yet.
“It may not prevent every individual from getting COVID, but almost universally it prevents individuals from getting severe disease that would result in extensive hospital stays and deaths,” Rubin said.