Mask Mandate Announcement, Face Coverings in Chicago Archdiocese – NBC Chicago

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to make an announcement Wednesday that would change Illinois’ indoor mask mandate.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Chicago has made face coverings optional for some schools around the city.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Pritzker Aims to Lift Illinois Mask Mandate By Feb. 28, He Announces

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker revealed Wednesday that he hopes to lift the indoor mask mandate for the state by the end of this month.

Speaking during an unrelated press conference, the governor revealed he aims to lift the mandate for the state, with certain exceptions, by Feb. 28.

“My intention is as we’ve seen these numbers peak at about 7,400 hospitalizations, and heading downward significantly – we’re now I think under 2,500 hospitalizations, so that’s almost a third of where we were at the peak and heading even further downward – to lift the mask mandate in the indoor locations by Feb. 28. And that… of course, we still have the sensitive locations of K-12 schools, where we have lots of people who are, you know, joined together in smaller spaces, thousands of people interacting in one location at a time. And so that’s something that will come weeks hence. But very importantly, things are getting better across the state of Illinois.”

Read more here.

New York Lifts Indoor Mask Requirement as Pritzker Announces Plan to End Illinois’ Face Covering Mandate

New York will lift the state’s indoor mask mandate for businesses Thursday, the governor announced, as Gov. J.B. Pritzker says when Illinois’ face covering requirement will end.

In a press conference Wednesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the mask mandate will remain in schools, despite ending for businesses.

However, though the state is lifting its mask mandate, New York City will still require face coverings while inside.

Read more here.

Pritzker to Announce Plan Wednesday to Phase Out Illinois’ Indoor Mask Mandate, Sources Say

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to unveil a plan Wednesday to drop the state’s indoor mask mandate over the course of several weeks, sources tell NBC 5’s Mary Ann Ahern, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue a downward trend.

According to sources with knowledge of the announcement, the governor will announced a phased-plan to drop the indoor mask mandate in most settings, but that plan will not include a repeal of the mask mandate in public schools.

It is not known when the mandate will be fully removed, but sources tell NBC 5 that the plan is to have the mandate dropped before March 1.

The governor will give the update at 2 p.m. Wednesday from Chicago.

Archdiocese of Chicago Switches to Make Masks Optional Inside Some Schools

The Archdiocese of Chicago announced late Tuesday night that masks will be optional in some school settings, citing low coronavirus cases over the past few weeks.

In a letter to families late Tuesday, archdiocese Supt. Greg Richmond wrote that students will no longer be required to wear a face covering in schools located in areas where the local health department does not have a mask mandate.

In Lake County and most of suburban Cook County, the diocese wrote that masks will be optional beginning Thursday. However, masks will still be required in classrooms in the city of Chicago, Oak Park and Evanston to align with local health departments.

Read more here.

Queen of Martyrs School Principal Placed On Administrative After Defying Mask Mandate

Parents and students held a rally outside Queen of Martyrs in Evergreen Park to support principal Doc Mathius, who is on leave after speaking out against mandatory wearing of masks in the school.

“I want the focus to be on the kids not me,” he told NBC 5 in a phone interview. “I happen to be the guy that was in charge that made this call.”

Mathius spoke out against the Archdiocese of Chicago’s policy on masking, and has since been placed on paid administrative leave. He sent a letter to parents on Monday letting them know that masking will be optional for students and staff at the private Catholic school and believes it was the right decision to make.

Read more here.

Northwestern Experts Say Lifting Mask Mandates ‘Is Clearly Not a Decision Based on Data’

As more schools across Illinois decide to lift mask requirements in the classroom following a downstate judge’s decision, experts at Northwestern said removing face-covering mandates “is clearly not a decision based on data.”

Dr. Tina Tan, professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, called lifting existing mask mandates “a little bit premature.”

“Yes, there are many places that have gotten over the omicron surge, but there are still some places in the U.S. where the peak hasn’t happened yet,” Tan said.

The timing also plays a major role in removing masks inside schools, according to Mercedes Carnethon, vice chair of preventive medicine at Feinberg.

“The timing of this is very poor because in Illinois, it’s still very cold so our kids are forced to spend most of their days indoors,” Carnethon said. “It would be one thing in the summer or the late spring when more things can be done outside where transmission rates are lower.” 

Read more here.

All US States Remain on Chicago Travel Advisory for 6th Straight Week

For the sixth straight week, every U.S. state remained on Chicago’s travel advisory.

The city’s health department on Tuesday said no states were added or removed the city’s COVID warning list for travelers.

In order for a state or territory to be removed from the advisory, they must have a daily COVID-19 case rate of under 15 per 100,000 residents for two consecutive weeks.

“Although daily COVID-19 case rates have fallen steeply all over the country in the past few weeks, no state or territory has yet reached the sub-15 cases per 100,000 residents threshold,” the health department said in a release.

Pritzker School Mask Mandate: Judge’s Ruling Based on ‘Poor Legal Reasoning,’ Governor Says

The state of Illinois filed a notice of appeal Monday challenging a temporary restraining order issued by a downstate Sangamon County judge that prohibits school districts from enforcing a statewide mask requirement.

Speaking at a news conference, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker called the ruling by Judge Raylene Grischow “out of step with the vast majority of legal analysis,” saying it “cultivates chaos for parents, families, teachers and school administrators.”

The judge issued the order preventing enforcement of the statewide mask requirement in schools Friday, explaining Pritzker overstepped his legal authority by implementing such a mandate.

Read more here.

Ruling on Illinois School Mask Mandate Lawsuit: What to Know So Far

A downstate Illinois judge made a ruling late last week that effectively prohibits a statewide mask requirement in schools, sparking plenty of confusion from school districts across the state.

So what does it mean, how are schools responding and what’s next?

Here’s what we know so far.

CDC Guidance Shortens Time Between 3rd COVID Vaccine Dose, Booster for Immunocompromised Patients

According to revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommended wait time between booster shot does for “moderately-to-severely” immunocompromised patients has been shortened from five months to three months.

The new recommendation, released during a meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization on Friday, is aiming to “clarify” the booster schedule for patients with underlying conditions that make them immunocompromised.

Currently, those patients are scheduled to receive three doses, rather than two, of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID vaccine. Those patients were then slated to receive a booster dose at least five months after that third dose.

Under the new guidance, those patients should now receive a booster dose at least three months after the third dose of their mRNA COVID vaccine, the CDC says.

Read more here.

What If You Test Positive for COVID After Quarantining? Here’s What Health Officials Say

If you test positive for COVID-19 after quarantining and no longer showing symptoms, do you still have to remain in isolation?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person is encouraged, but not required to take a coronavirus test after quarantining for five days post-diagnosis.

After five full days, a person can end the isolation period should they be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication and other symptoms have improved, the CDC wrote online.

However, the CDC said the best approach would be to find an antigen test towards the end of the five-day isolation period.

Read more here.

Illinois to Appeal Restraining Order Issued in School Mask Mandate Suit, Pritzker Says

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday asked that the state Attorney General’s office immediately appeal a decision by a downstate judge to implement a restraining order barring schools from enforcing mask mandates, school exclusion protocols and COVID-19 testing requirements.

The governor’s office issued a news release in which he referred to Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow’s decision as “misguided,” saying schools may be forced to go remote if they don’t have proper tools to keep students and staff safe.

Read more here.

Exclusive: Dr. Fauci Weighs in on Illinois’ COVID Metrics, Masks and More

As Chicago and Illinois’ COVID-19 metrics plummet, the doctor leading America’s war against the virus sees signs for hope. Dr. Anthony Fauci shared his message for Illinois residents in an exclusive interview NBC 5’s Phil Rogers.

As Chicago and Illinois’ COVID-19 metrics plummet from their all-time peaks just weeks ago, the doctor leading America’s war against the virus sees signs for hope.

“Illinois is actually doing well,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview Friday. “The upper northeast and the Midwest, represented by Chicago and Illinois, are doing better in general than the rest of the country.”

For more on the interview with NBC 5’s Phil Rogers, click here.

Chicago Could Lift Vaccine Requirement ‘Not That Long From Now’ If Downward Trends Continue: Arwady

Chicago’s vaccine mandate in place at bars, restaurants and gyms could be lifted “not that long from now” should the city continue to see COVID-19 metrics trending downward, according to Chicago’s top doctor.

As the city sees coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations quickly decreasing, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Facebook live event Thursday that she hears people asking when the vaccine requirement could be removed.

“Not next week, I will tell you that,” Arwady said. “But if we continue to see the drops like we’ve been dropping, it would not be that long from now, I think.”

Read more here.



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