The Illinois Department of Public Health is "fully adopting" the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated masking guidance, the state's health department said Tuesday, recommending that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with substantial and high transmission.
IDPH also will follow the CDC's new recommendations for masking indoors at K-12 schools, recommending it be done universally among teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.
"While data continues to show the effectiveness of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the U.S., including against the Delta variant, we are still seeing the virus rapidly spread among the unvaccinated," said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike in a statement, noting that COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to increase, especially among those who are unvaccinated against the virus.
"The risk is greater for everyone if we do not stop the ongoing spread of the virus and the Delta variant," Ezike said. "We know masking can help prevent transmission of COVID-19 and its variants. Until more people are vaccinated, we join CDC in recommending everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask indoors in areas of substantial and high transmissions, and in K-12 schools."
According to IDPH, areas of substantial transmission "are considered by the CDC to be those with 50 to 99 cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period. Areas of high transmission are considered to be those with more than 100 cases per 100,000 people over a 7-day period."
IDPH pointed to the CDC's data on the delta variant showing the variant is considerably more contagious than other strains and spreads more than twice as easily from person to person.
Ezike and IDPH continue to encourage Illinois residents to get vaccinated.
"According to CDC, the Delta variant is causing some vaccine breakthrough infections, but even so, most breakthrough infections are mild, and the vaccines are preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death," IDPH said.