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Naperville Mayor Calls for Removal of Mask Mandate Amid Increase in COVID Cases

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In a recent Facebook post, the mayor of suburban Naperville says that he would support a removal of the state of Illinois’ mask mandate, even as COVID cases have continued to rise in recent weeks.

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico points to the fact that Illinois is the only state in the Midwest that still has a mask mandate on the books, while still seeing increases in COVID cases, as a reason behind moving away from the mandate.

He goes on to argue that masks have a “minimal, if any,” impact on the spread of the coronavirus.

“Fact: Illinois is the only Midwestern state that currently requires a mask, and yet as of today, we are no better off than the surrounding states,” he said. “In my view, based on the CDC information and the minimal, if any, impact of COVID mitigation strategies on actual results, it’s time to drop the mask mandate in Illinois.”

Chirico says that he encourages residents to get the COVID vaccine.

The CDC, which recommends that residents who live in an area where there is a “substantial” or “high” risk of COVID transmission wear masks regardless of vaccination status, says that both DuPage and Will counties are currently in a “high risk” category for transmission of COVID.

In fact, a vast majority of Illinois’ 102 counties are currently in that “high risk” category.

The CDC’s website says that “wearing masks can help communities slow the spread of COVID-19 when worn consistently and correctly by a majority of people in public settings,” and says that it is made even more effective when residents take over preventative measures, including social distancing and washing hands frequently.

Mask mandates, which had been lifted earlier this year throughout the country, were reinstituted in Illinois as cases began to increase because of the spread of the more-contagious delta variant of COVID-19 this summer.

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While cases briefly had declined in the state earlier this fall, they have begun to move upward again in recent weeks, with daily cases in the state increasing by more than 80% overall.

Even still, there is growing pushback against mask mandates. One Chicago suburb, Elk Grove Village, has already announced that masks are now optional in indoor spaces, including in public buildings in the community.

While Naperville has not indicated that it will follow a similar strategy, it could be faced with a tough decision as cases continue to rise in the area surrounding the community. In the last seven days, DuPage County has seen 1,712 new cases of COVID-19. There have been 79 new hospital admissions, and the county is averaging 185.5 new cases of COVID per 100,000 residents over that time.

According to the CDC, the case rate in the county has increased by 25% in the last week alone.

In Will County, which also contains a portion of Naperville, the case rate over the last seven days stands at 218.61 per 100,000 residents, with a 41.4% increase in that number over the last week. The county has reported 1,510 new cases in the last week.

Overall in the state of Illinois, COVID cases have risen significantly in recent weeks, with the state averaging 3,767 new cases of coronavirus per day. That represents an increase of 81.5% since Oct. 24, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has not made any announcements about whether the state plans to roll back its mask mandate for indoor spaces. Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, has indicated that the city would need to see fewer than 200 new COVID cases per day to roll back the requirement, but says the city is seeing more than double that number in recent weeks.

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