Pritzker mandates masks in health care clinics one day after mask mandate ends

Pritzker mandates masks in health care clinics one day after mask mandate ends

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has revised the indoor mask mandate issued in August, limiting indoor masking to health care and congregate facilities. Also, he said the Illinois Department of Public Health director is resigning.

A new executive order from Illinois Gov. J.B Pritzker updates statewide rules to require masks only in health care and long-term care settings.

Hospitals, nursing homes, physician offices and other health care facilities will still follow masking mandates.

“Across the state, Illinoisans are taking their masks off today knowing that most eligible adults are boosted, and our hospitals have much more capacity to save lives,” Pritzker said.

The end of masking March 1 also came with the announcement that Dr. Ngozi Ezike will resign March 14 as head of the Illinois Department of Public Health. She stood with Pritzker through 160 COVID-19 press conferences during which death tolls that hit 32,000 were announced. Her assistant, Amaal V.E. Tokars, will fill in as a national search is conducted for a permanent director. Ezike’s future plans were not part of the announcement.

New U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines issued Feb. 25 recommended indoor mask mandates be lifted, stating they were not necessary for 70% of the population. That combined with rapidly dropping hospitalizations prompted Pritzker to revise the statewide mandate.

Masks will still be required on public transportation and congregate settings such as homeless shelters and prisons. Federal mandates also require masks on federal property such as airports and Amtrak, but they’re set to expire March 18.

Pritzker’s executive order indicated mitigations such as social distancing and indoor masking may be required again in the future, depending on COVID-19 numbers.

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