Suburban Cook County plans to rescind its indoor mask requirements if key COVID-19 parameters continue to improve through February, health officials say.
In a statement released on February 9, the Cook County Public Health Department announced that its vaccination and masking orders can be lifted in accordance with Illinois Governor JB Pritzker’s schedule to end the requirements of mask as long as improvements occur.
That day, Pritzker announced that he intended to lift Illinois’ statewide mask mandate, with limited exceptions, by February 28.
In Cook County, masks will still be required in schools for unnamed staff and students in an ongoing lawsuit over the state’s COVID mitigations in schools.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike previously reminded residents that masks will continue to be required in certain places and situations, including for public transportation, inside federal buildings, and in some parts of long-term care facilities.
“Although masks are no longer required and most indoor locations start on Monday, February 28, I want to clarify that they are still highly recommended,” she said last week.
CCDPH’s current mask order applies to all of suburban Cook County, excluding Evanston, Skokie, Oak Park and Stickney Township.
Over time, health officials say they will continue to monitor all metrics that will factor into the decision-making, including:
Illinois will lift its indoor mask mandate starting in late February, except for schools, if COVID-19 measures continue to decline, Gov. JB Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced Wednesday.
- Sustained improvement in bed availability in hospitals and intensive care units with decreased COVID admissions
- Decrease in case rates to a moderate level by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria (10-49.99 cases/100,000 population) for an extended period
- Decrease in case positivity rate to a moderate level by CDC criteria (5-7.99%) for an extended period
Not all measures need to be targeted to change current mitigations, health officials explained, but substantial progress must be seen.
“In the meantime, we continue to call for universal masking in indoor public places as part of a multi-layered strategy needed to control the spread of the virus,” their statement read.