Chicago, Cook County to lift mask mandates and vaccine requirement Feb. 28

Chicago, Cook County to lift mask mandates and vaccine requirement Feb. 28

Chicago and Cook County health officials announced plans to revoke pandemic masking and vaccination entry requirements by Feb. 28, the day Illinois’ statewide mask mandate will be lifted. Pritzker has warned Illinoisans to keep masks handy.

Chicago and Cook County health officials said they will lift the city’s proof of vaccination requirement and indoor mask mandate by Feb. 28, nearly two years under COVID-19 mitigations.

The news follows Gov J.B. Pritzker announcement that the statewide indoor mask mandate will be lifted on Feb. 28, excluding in schools, hospitals and on public transit. Pritzker said the indoor mask mandate will remain in effect at these venues throughout the city, county and state.

“We are on track to come out on the other side of this latest COVID storm in better shape than even the doctors expected,” Pritzker said at a news conference Feb. 9. “If these trends continue, and we expect on Monday, Feb. 28, we will lift the indoor mask requirement for the state of Illinois.”

The decision to phase out statewide pandemic protocols coincides with announcements this week that New York, New Jersey, California, Delaware, Connecticut, Nevada and Oregon will do the same.

The governor cautioned Illinoisans keep masks handy to comply with these lingering mandates and others set forth by local jurisdictions and businesses.

He also hinted his superseding state mask mandate could return if case rates rebound, requiring Cook County residents to mask up again even if the local order is revoked.

“I think all of us are very hopeful that we might be able to never put masks back on,” Pritzker said at a news conference Feb. 9. “But as we saw, things started to rise and it was good thing that people in Illinois were maybe ahead of others to say, ‘time to put masks back on’ so yeah, there may come a time in the future when we need to do that.”

For the majority of the pandemic, politicians have pointed to the number of COVID cases as the most important metric for decision-making. Now, Pritzker said he’s watching hospitalizations.

The Chicago Department of Public Health reported 532 new daily cases on Feb. 10, down 46% from the previous week. Hospitalizations and deaths have also decreased by nearly half during that time.

Countywide, the Cook County Department of Public Health reports an average of 632 new daily cases, down from 1,007 the week prior. Hospital admissions mirror this decline through the end of January.

While local, county and state officials are revoking the indoor masking requirement for most state residents, Illinois’ students and school staff will continue to remain masked as other states empower local school districts to decide.

Pritzker said that mandate could be lifted “in the coming weeks” if rates continue their downward trajectory. However, the governor did not offer any specific threshold for COIVD-19 metrics to rescind his executive order for schools.

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