CDC Mask Guidance, Businesses Brace for Mandates to Lift – NBC Chicago


Chicago is heading into its final weekend with COVID mandates still in place, but not all businesses will be changing their guidelines once the mandates are lifted.

At the same time, new masking guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to be announced Friday.

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

CDC to Significantly Ease Pandemic Mask Guidelines Friday

The Biden administration will significantly loosen federal mask-wearing guidelines to protect against COVID-19 transmission on Friday, according to two people familiar with the matter, meaning most Americans will no longer be advised to wear masks in indoor public settings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday will announce a change to the metrics it uses to determine whether to recommend face coverings, shifting from looking at COVID-19 case counts to a more holistic view of risk from the coronavirus to a community. Under current guidelines, masks are recommended for people residing in communities of substantial or high transmission — roughly 95% of U.S. counties, according to the latest data.

Read more here.

With Chicago COVID Mandates Lifting, Here’s What Some Businesses Plan to Do

On Monday, Chicago will lift the last remaining COVID mitigations that have dictated to business owners how — or even if — they can serve customers for the better part of two years. While the state is getting rid of its most recent indoor mask mandate — which has been in place since August — the city is also dropping a proof-of-vaccination requirement to get into restaurants, bars, gyms and some other businesses after less than two months in effect.

Since the city will still allow individual businesses to implement their own rules, it’s probably best to keep a mask and vax card in your pocket.

Here’s a look at what some businesses are planning across the city.

Arbitrator Rules City’s COVID Vaccine Mandate for Police Can Take Effect, Lightfoot Says

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday that an arbitrator has ruled in favor of the city’s vaccine mandate for sworn members of the Chicago Police Department, saying that she hopes the ruling will pave the way for more officers to get COVID vaccine shots.

The Fraternal Order of Police had challenged the city’s mandate, but the ruling by an arbitrator upheld Lightfoot’s decision to enact the regulation.

Read more here.

Chicago Board of Education Holds Firm on Masking in CPS Classrooms For Now

Chicago’s Board of Education reiterated its decision Wednesday to continue requiring masks in public school classrooms even as the city plans to lift its indoor mask mandate along with the rest of Illinois at the end of February.

“It’s great to see that the metrics are going in the right direction, however, on behalf of the board, I want to reiterate our commitment to masking at this time,” Board President Miguel Del Valle said.

Board members added that masking rules will stay in place for students and staff for now with no current end date.

“Masks are not oppressing anyone. Oppression and systemic inequality is what has actually caused the disproportionate impact of COVID along lines of race and class.”

Those decisions did not sit well with some parents at the board meeting.

Read more here.

Archdiocese of Chicago Schools to Go Mask-Optional Beginning Monday

The Archdiocese of Chicago announced Wednesday that all of its schools that were still under a mask mandate will instead switch to a mask-optional set of mitigations beginning on Monday.

According to a letter to parents, the Archdiocese says that its schools in Chicago, Evanston and Oak Park will be mask-optional for teachers and students beginning on Feb. 28, the same day that the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago will remove their mask mandates in indoor spaces.

Read more here.

Federal Authorities Investigating Another Chicago COVID Testing Site

Federal authorities were seen investigating another Chicago COVID testing location Wednesday.

Police activity could be seen outside of LabElite’s Northwest Side testing location, in the 5800 block of North Northwest Highway, Wednesday afternoon.

A spokesperson for the FBI confirmed the agency was “conducting court-authorized law enforcement activity in that vicinity,” but declined to offer specifics on why.

LabElite told NBC 5 the testing company was cooperating with an investigation from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Read more here.

1 State Removed From Chicago Travel Advisory, More Could Follow Next Week

For the first time this year, the entire U.S. is not on Chicago’s travel advisory.

The city announced Wednesday that one state had been removed from its warning list and six other states or territories could soon follow.

Maryland was removed from the city’s list this week, leaving 48 states and four territories still on the advisory. But health officials said three states and three territories could join Maryland, if they stay below the threshold for another week.

Read more here.

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