Mask up, Illinois

AP Photo/John O'Connor

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is set to announce today a new statewide, indoor mask mandate for all individuals, 2 years old and older. That’s right, dear denizens of the Land of Lincoln, get ready to mask back up.

Oh, and all K-12 and higher education employees will be mandated to get vaccinated, as well.

Per the Chicago Sun-Times:

The facial covering requirement would apply across Illinois to everyone aged two and over, regardless of vaccination status. Chicago and suburban Cook County are already under comparable masking mandates. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle opted to return to them last week.

New vaccine mandates and a return to masking are hot topics as COVID-19 cases rise across Illinois, fueled largely by the more highly contagious Delta variant. All of the state’s 102 counties now fall under the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s high transmission category, painting the state’s public health map a troubling coat of red.

A troubling coat of red, you say? (Ironic, no?)

It’s okay, though; the teachers unions are all on board:

The Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association, the two statewide teachers unions, welcomed the vaccine mandate to help “provide the greatest possible level of safety” for in-person school.

“The surge of COVID-19 cases in our state reminds us that this vaccine mandate is a public health imperative,” the unions said in a joint statement. “To implement it properly, widespread education and access to vaccines will be essential. For members who cannot, or will not, get vaccinated, we are glad to see the governor has implemented twice weekly COVID testing.”

So, what’s going on in Illinois to prompt these measures? Here’s a peek at the current Daily New Cases data, courtesy of Worldometers:

Illinois Daily New Cases – 7-day moving average (Credit: Worldometers)

 

 

So, yes, they’re seeing an uptick in new cases. And what of COVID-related deaths?

Illinois Daily Deaths – 7-day moving average

I imagine Pritzker’s rationale here is to “do something” (or appear to be doing something) to get ahead of the curve. That, of course, presupposes that a mask mandate will mitigate this latest surge. (Keep in mind, Illinois had a mask mandate in effect from April 23, 2020, until June 11, 2021 — with an exemption for fully vaccinated individuals effective May 17, 2021, so….)

But it’s all good, folks — the unions are happy.

Sorry, Illinoisans — I’m pretty sure Eric Schmitt has no jurisdiction on your side of the Mississippi, and I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for your own Attorney General, Kwame Raoul, to challenge the latest decree — particularly while sporting your re-required face covering.