While COVID mitigation strategies have largely been rolled back across the United States, there are still some places where masks are still recommended, or even required.
Masking mandates were eliminated early in the year in most states as case numbers related to the omicron surge began to plummet. In Illinois, that mandate was removed at the end of February, and cases continued to drop through most of March.
Cases have since begun to increase, but officials at multiple levels of government say that they are confident that a “surge” is not forthcoming due to the BA.2 subvariant, and have said that masking requirements are not likely to return any time soon.
Even still, there are still situations in which residents are required to wear facial coverings, and there are four Illinois counties where masks are recommended in adherence to standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here is what you need to know.
Where Are Masks Still Required?
Under requirements issued by the Department of Transportation, masks are still required in airports and on airplanes, along with buses, trains and rideshare vehicles.
It is possible that the requirement could be lifted on flights as soon as April 19, but the White House could still potentially extend the federal mask mandate for a longer period of time as cases increase due to the “stealth omicron” subvariant.
Even still, there are legal challenges to the requirement, and some airline CEO’s have asked the Biden administration to end the mask mandates.
Where Are Masks Still Recommended in Illinois?
The CDC recommends that masks be worn in areas that have a “high” risk of COVID transmission. The department is now keeping track of those recommendations on a county-by-county basis, and in all, 19 counties in the United States are currently in that risk category.
Officials say that four of those counties, Saline, Gallatin, Pope and Hardin, are currently in that range in Illinois. All four counties are clustered together in the southern tip of Illinois, and all are seeing increases in COVID cases in recent days.
Edgar County, a county near Champaign had been seeing a “moderate” transmission rate of COVID, has since dropped back to a “low” transmission rate, according to IDPH.
In the United States, there are 19 counties that are seeing “high” transmission rates of COVID. Of those, six are in South Dakota, three are in New York, and four are in Illinois.
Two counties in Nebraska are also at a “high” transmission rate of the virus.