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Illinois officials respond to the possibility of another mask mandate

Illinois officials are not discussing the possible return of a statewide indoor mask mandate, for now.

City health officials in Philadelphia have announced a new mask mandate, including in schools, that takes effect next week. Several universities on the East Coast have also reinstated mask mandates for students and staff.

Although a statewide mandate in Illinois is not being discussed, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that every community in the state should consider a mask mandate depending on their local circumstances.

“I think that towns and cities across Illinois, not to mention across the country, should do what they feel is necessary in their communities to keep people safe,” Pritzker said.

Illinois right now is in a good place in terms of new cases statewide, he said.

The acting head of the Illinois Department of Public Health said there are no plans to revive a statewide mask mandate, but Dr. Amaal Tokars left the door slightly open.

“That is not something that we are talking about at this time,” Tokars said. “However, I would never say that nothing is possible. We are going to do what we think is wisest and best based on the current circumstances that we see.”

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is extending the nationwide mask requirement for public transit for 15 days as it monitors the uptick in COVID-19 cases.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was extending the order until May 3 to allow more time to study the BA.2 omicron subvariant that is now responsible for the majority of cases in the U.S.

“In order to assess the potential impact the rise in cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, the health care system capacity, the CDC order will remain in place at this time,” the agency said in a statement.

The CDC recommends that masks be worn in areas that have a “high risk” of COVID-19 transmission. There are 19 counties in the United States that are currently in that high risk category, with four of them in Illinois.

Saline, Gallatin, Pope and Hardin counties, located in the southern tip of Illinois, are all seeing increases in COVID-19 cases in recent days.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president of United States, told ABC News this past weekend that the virus is not going to be eradicated and it’s not going to be eliminated.

“And what’s going to happen is that we’re going to see that each individual is going to have to make their calculation of the amount of risk that they want to take in going to indoor dinners and going to functions,” said Fauci.

This article was originally posted on Illinois officials respond to the possibility of another mask mandate

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