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Governor to Lift Indoor Mask Requirements This Month

By Travis Volz

With the number of new COVID cases falling dramatically over the last two weeks, the Illinois Department of Public Health is lifting indoor mask requirements later this month.

Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that declining hospitalization rates has the state on track to lift the indoor mask requirement effective Monday, February 28.

Even with the indoor mask requirement lifted, Pritzker said the state intends to challenge the ruling from the Sangamon County judge that resulted in many districts lifting the mask requirments for students and staff.

According to Pritzker, students are not vaccinated at a high enough rate to justify the risks of potential outbreaks of COVID in schools that might result in remote learning.

“Children’s social-emotional and academic growth is best supported in the in-person educational setting, so extra precaution should be taken to prevent disruption and avoid adaptive pauses and remote learning,” said Dr. Zach Rubin, a pediatric immunologist based in DuPage County. “Maintaining masking and mitigation practices in the school environment buys us more time for infection rates to drop, for parents to get their 5-to-17-year-olds vaccinated, and for the 6 month to 4 years age group to become vaccine eligible.”

The numbers of people testing positive for COVID in Washington County has seen a precipitous drop over the last couple of weeks, a hopeful sign that the Omicron wave is subsiding.

Coming off a week with the lowest total number of new cases in months (23), the county had only 21 cases reported in the last week.

The seven-day rolling average of test positivity has been falling steadily, from almost 30 percent in the middle of January to 7.3 percent on February 11.

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