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Illinois governor announces statewide mask mandates, COVID-19 vaccine requirements in certain fields

Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to reinstate an Illinois-wide mask mandate.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill — Governor J.B. Pritzker announced on Thursday that Illinois will join several other states that have reinstituted statewide indoor mask requirements regardless of vaccination status. This takes effect on Monday.

"Masks work. Period," Pritzker said.

The mandates will be similar to the ones already issued in Cook County and Chicago which follow the same guidelines of masks required indoors.

Pritzker also announced vaccine requirements for all Illinois P-12 teachers, higher education personnel, all higher education students, and healthcare workers who work in settings like hospitals, nursing homes, urgent care facilities, and physician's offices.

He added, beginning September 5, individuals working in those settings will be required to get tested for COVID-19 at least once per week if they are unable to get vaccinated before that date.

Pritzker expressed concern with hospitals running out of space to treat COVID-19 patients due to the "rapid spread" of the Delta variant in communities with low vaccination rates.

"Let's be clear, the vaccination is the most effective tool we have for keeping out of the hospital and preventing deaths," Pritzker said. "Nearly all Illinoisans who are hospitalized with COVID-19 are not vaccinated."

He added from January through July of 2021, 98 percent of cases in Illinois, 96 percent of hospitalizations, and 95 percent of deaths were all from the unvaccinated.

Described as a "pandemic of the unvaccinated," Pritzker emphasized, "You don't need to be an epidemiologist to understand what's going on."

"If you're an elected leader from one of those highly infected communities and you're spending time resisting masks instead of working to get people vaccinated, your definition of public service looks a lot different than mine," Pritzker said.

He added the "quick spread" of COVID-19 in Illinois and across the country is holding us back from a post-pandemic life and harming the most vulnerable among us.

According to the CDC, in the Quad City area; Jo Daviess, Carroll, and Whiteside Counties fall under the warning level for COVID-19 transmission. All counties, minus Carroll, are faced with high transmission rates.

Watch the Governor's full address here: