covid masks

Mixed Reactions Greet Illinois' Decision to Lift Mask Mandates for Public Transit, Airports

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A day after a federal judge overturned a mask mandate put in place for planes, trains and buses, the state of Illinois has now followed suit, announcing that facial coverings will now be optional on all forms of transportation.

Many commuters who take buses and trains in Chicago had to wear their masks to work on Tuesday morning, but by the end of the day that mandate had been lifted, leading to mixed reactions from residents.

“I think it’s about time for us to ease the restriction. It’s been a long two years for us,” one passenger said.

“I think it’s a little premature,” another countered.”

The changes officially started yesterday, with the CDC’s mask mandate for airports, airlines and other forms of public transportation getting struck down by a federal judge in Florida.

The CTA, Pace and Metra all said initially that they would continue to require masks in accordance with an existing executive order from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, but after that order was modified on Tuesday, all three agencies said that facial coverings would now be optional.

There is some concern about the increasing number of COVID cases in the state of Illinois, which is now averaging nearly 2,300 new COVID cases per day, but hospitalizations remain low, and in the city of Chicago new records are being set for the low number of patients requiring care for coronavirus.

“We peaked Jan. 4 with over 300 Chicagoans newly hospitalized in one day,” Dr. Allison Arwady said. “We’re currently averaging fewer than five.”

In Illinois hospitals, 566 patients are currently hospitalized because of COVID. Of those, 73 are in intensive care unit beds, according to IDPH data.

Even still, those Illinoisans who have preexisting health conditions or are immunocompromised are still being urged to wear masks, and officials are asking residents to be courteous to those who choose to do so.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department says that it is undecided on whether to appeal the ruling in the case, saying that it will wait to take direction from the CDC before proceeding.

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