California, Connecticut drop mask mandates as Pritzker fights to keep control

California, Connecticut drop mask mandates as Pritzker fights to keep control

Gov. J.B Pritzker is appealing a state court ruling striking down Illinois’ mask mandate in schools. His appeal and his 24th emergency declaration come as California and Connecticut join a growing list of states loosening their restrictions.

California and Connecticut are joining the growing number of states loosening up their mask mandates, but Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker just renewed his powers and is fighting a court order letting schools decide whether to mask students.

The court decision Feb. 4 puts a temporary hold on Pritzker’s mask mandate for schools. He said the judge used “poor legal reasoning” and filed notice of an appeal Feb. 7.

Sangamon County Circuit Judge Raylene Grischow ruled Pritzker’s executive order issuing a mask mandate is outside of executive branch authority.

“The (Illinois Department of Public Health) is limited by law to delegating its authority only to certified local health departments and has not been authorized by the Legislature to delegate any of its authority to any other body of government, including school districts,” Grischow wrote.

The ruling sent schools into a frenzy over which districts are or aren’t continuing to require students to wear masks. Many have made masks optional or recommended. Chicago’s public schools and private Catholic schools are carrying on with mask guidance.

Masks are still required on school buses because of a federal policy. While the appeals process plays out, other states are moving away from mask mandates.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced Feb. 28 will be the final day of a statewide mask mandate in schools. It will be decided on the district level afterwards.  

California is ending their indoor mask mandate for vaccinated residents, which is nearly 70% of the state. Iowa, Delaware, and New Jersey are all dropping mask mandates as well, citing a drop in COVID-19 metrics.

When asked which metrics are most significant, Pritzker said, “We’ve already seen northeastern states where omicron hit first, like New Jersey, see the signs that they need to lift these protocols – namely decreased hospitalizations.”

Illinois is experiencing a steep decline in COVID-19 patient hospitalizations, down 62% Feb. 6 from Jan. 10.

Pritzker issued his 24th state disaster proclamation Feb. 4, giving himself the power to issue mandates without legislative approval. By the end of the current disaster declaration, Illinois will have been under emergency pandemic rule for 724 consecutive days.

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