Pritzker Reinstitutes Indoor Mask Mandate, Stricter Vaccination Requirements

By Jeremy Coumbes on August 26, 2021 at 2:58pm

An indoor mask mandate has been issued for the State of Illinois, as hospitalizations continue to rise in the state.

Governor J.B. Pritzker announced this morning that beginning Monday, Illinoisans age two and older, will be required to mask up again at all indoor settings regardless of vaccination status.

Calling it a pandemic of the unvaccinated, Pritzker said that from January through July of this year, unvaccinated individuals represent 98% of cases, 96% of hospitalizations, and 95% of deaths due to COVID.

Pritzker also announced stricter vaccination requirements will take effect in a little over a week from now.

In Illinois vaccines will be required for all P-12 teachers and staff, all higher education personnel, all higher education students, and healthcare workers in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, urgent care facilities, and physicians’ offices.

Effective September 5th, individuals working in these settings who are unable or unwilling to receive their first dose of vaccine will be required to get tested for COVID-19 at least once a week. And IDPH and ISBE may require more frequent testing in certain situations like in an outbreak.”

Pritzker says hospitals in every area of the state are straining under the influx of new COVID patients. He says the availability of ICU beds in southern Illinois is down to 3% compared to the surge the past spring when no region of the state’s ICU availability fell below 15%. In Region 3, which encompasses the WLDS/WEAI listening area, ICU availability has dropped to 15% as of yesterday.

Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngoze Ezike announced 2,184 individuals are reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19 currently, with nearly 500 in the ICU. She says IDPH is currently seeing an average of 220 individuals being admitted to the hospital due to COVID per day. She says ICU bed availability is reaching dire levels in some areas.

The ICU beds have run out, particularly in Southern Illinois and parts of Central Illinois where the vaccination rates are the lowest. In Region 5, Southern Illinois, the least vaccinated region of the state, there was only one ICU bed available on Tuesday. And that’s not just one bed, one ICU bed for a COVID patient, that’s one ICU bed in the entire region for the 20 counties that it serves for anyone.

Whether it’s appendicitis, a car crash, any kind of injury that would need a bed. Most hospitals in different areas of the state are reaching capacity as well.”

Ezike says cases reported today are 40 times higher than the lows reported earlier this summer, with more than 4400 reported statewide since yesterday.