While the state of Illinois had already targeted the end of February as the rollback date for its mask mandates in indoor spaces, the city of Chicago has now announced that it too will follow that same schedule to wrap up the month.
Here’s what we know so far.
When Will the Mandates End?
Both the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois will end their indoor masking mandates on Feb. 28. The city of Chicago will also end its requirement for patrons to show proof-of-vaccination against COVID on that date, according to officials.
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The city announced its plans on Tuesday, while the state of Illinois announced its decision to roll back mandates earlier this month.
Where Will They Remain in Effect?
Both the city and the state have said that there will be select areas where masks will continue to be required at this time.
That list includes:
-Long-term care facilities
-Congregant living facilities
All of those decisions were based on guidance and requirements put forward by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to officials.
What Does the Data Say About Where We’re Headed in the Pandemic?
In the city of Chicago, officials were monitoring four key metrics when it came to deciding to roll back the mandates: COVID cases, positivity rates, hospital admissions and ICU COVID patient census data.
Three of those four metrics were required to be at a “lower transmission” factor by CDC guidelines, and the latter three metrics are all within that range at this time.
COVID cases are still at a “substantial transmission” factor, but have fallen in Chicago by 37% in the last week, dropping to 283 as of Monday.
The current COVID positivity rate is at 1.5%, while hospitalizations have dropped to 227, a 29% decrease from last week.
ICU admissions are currently at 68, also well within the “lower transmission” risk factor.
Will Chicago Public Schools Students Still Have to Wear Masks?
While the city of Chicago has officially announced that it will roll back its requirement for masks in most indoor settings on Feb. 28, officials say that a decision on whether to require facial coverings in Chicago Public Schools has not yet been reached.
The decision on requiring masks in schools was conspicuously absent from a press release put out by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health on Tuesday. While the state of Illinois had initially planned to keep the mask requirement in place in schools, Chicago officials say that no such decision has yet been made when it comes to CPS.
“They are in the process of engaging with their stakeholders internally and externally, and I would expect an announcement from them in the coming days,” Lightfoot said during a Tuesday press briefing. “So for now, CPS students must wear masks.”
Will City of Chicago Employees Still Need to be Vaccinated?
Mayor Lightfoot says that city employees will still be required to get COVID vaccinations.
“We’re not about to change that one bit,” she said. “The rules were very clear. We announced this in August, and we gave ample opportunities. If you’re a city of Chicago employee, you need to be vaccinated.”