The state of Illinois has seen decreases in COVID cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations in recent weeks, leading some to wonder if mitigations will be rolled back anytime in the near future.
Specifically, questions have emerged regarding the future of the statewide mask mandate and how much longer it will remain in effect.
Illinois is one of nine states where masks are currently required at indoor public places regardless of one's vaccination status.
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The statewide mask mandate was initially reinstated in August due to a surge in cases of the delta variant. At one point, Illinois was the only state east of the Mississippi River with such a requirement.
The governor's office faced criticism for keeping the mandate in place, with some local officials arguing masks have a minimal impact on the spread of the coronavirus.
As metrics have improved amid a decline in omicron variant-fueled cases, Gov. J.B. Pritzker revealed changes may be coming to the state's mask mandate.
"I believe that we should remove masks as soon as we possibly can," the governor said at an unrelated news conference Friday, adding he is constantly asking doctors and scientists when masks should be removed statewide and how to implement the change the right way.
Pritzker has yet to provide a timeline for such a decision but said he is "very hopeful we'll be able to make some announcements about that."
Similarly, the commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Public Health stated earlier this week that she hopes that mask and vaccine mandates could be lifted, but cautioned that doing so too early would set back efforts to combat the virus.
The governor added he has been dedicated to fighting the challenges brought on by the pandemic and will continue to do so while keeping people alive, health and safe.
"So that’s what I'm going to continue to focus on," he said. "It's the right thing to do, and we’re going to very carefully evaluate how to keep people safe and healthy while we might bring down the mitigation levels."