Citing a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases spurred by the delta variant, St. Louis city and county will require masks in certain public places starting Monday.
Masks will be mandatory in indoor public places and on public transportation for everyone age 5 or older, even for those who are vaccinated, officials said in a news release on Friday. Masking outdoors “will be strongly encouraged,” especially in group settings.
Parts of Illinois, particularly regions bordering Missouri, have also seen a significant spike in cases in the fast few weeks.
"We're seeing a surge we didn't expect," Pritzker said Tuesday. "The delta variant is challenging. Our next neighbor, Missouri, is the worst state in the country and that bleeds over into Illinois. It has in southern Illinois and Metro East you've seen an awful lot of people have gotten sick or gone to the hospital."
While other regions, including the Chicago area, have also seen a rise in COVID cases, mask requirements have yet to be reintroduced statewide or on local levels. At a news conference Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker didn't say whether the state plans to reissue a mask mandate, but offered advice to resident as fears over the Delta variant grow.
"I want to remind everybody that they ought to wear masks whenever they're in a crowded area indoors or whenever you just feel like you're not completely safe," Pritzker said.
After months of decline, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois recently doubled in a period of nine days.
The state saw 460 new cases on July 12, and by Wednesday, the number of new daily cases was reported to be 958, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Thursday that while the risk of contracting COVID-19 remains relatively low for those who've been vaccinated, she encouraged those who are concerned about crowded spaces to wear face coverings - if they wish.
"It's not a recommendation at a population level, because the risk of people having COVID is still low here, but it's not zero," she stated.
The Chicago health official asserted vaccinations help protect everybody and keep the surge of COVID cases small, but if reinstating a mask requirement becomes necessary, the city will "absolutely do that."