The new temporary mandate applies to everybody regardless of vaccination status after daily cases rose to the highest they’ve been in Chicago since early May.
City of Chicago officials have this week announced that this coming Friday, August 20th, will see the return of the indoor mask mandate. The mandate will apply to all Chicagoans ages two and up including those who have already been vaccinated. It comes as the more contagious Delta variant is being attributed with causing a gradual increase in Chicago’s COVID-19 metrics, and metrics across the country.
At the beginning of the month, The Chicago Department of Public Health issued a nationwide recommendation encouraging the use of face coverings in public indoor settings in areas of “high” and “substantial” transmission.
According to the CDC’s Level of Community Transmission map, Chicago was meeting the CDC’s criteria for “substantial” community transmission with more than 200 new COVID-19 cases per day. On Monday, Chicago surpassed the 400 mark recording 419 diagnoses which exceeds CDC’s threshold for “high” community transmission and pushes us into a “red zone.”
According to the mandate, Chicagoans must wear face coverings in all public indoor settings including restaurants, bars, gyms, and grocery stores but can be removed while actively eating or drinking or while working in private offices provided there are at least six feet between coworkers.
The mandate will remain in effect until diagnoses fall below 400 per day. From then on Chicago will return to a mask recommendation policy which would then also be dropped when Chicago falls below 200 diagnoses per day.
The City of Chicago follows in the footsteps of many other U.S. cities to reinstate the indoor mask mandate such as San Francisco and Charlotte whilst entire states including New Mexico will also bring it back this Friday.
CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said that no further restrictions are forthcoming for the time being but admitted that the latest metrics were “concerning” and the reason “why we’re acting”. Should Chicago see a drastic increase up to over 800 diagnoses per day City officials would be forced to consider implementing more mitigation measures. “Our goal is to remain open but careful,” she said.
At the time of writing, according to CDC’s Level of Community Transmission map, 97 of Illinois’ 102 counties are currently in the “high” Level of Community Transmission while Putnam County, Stark County, Lee County, Carroll County, and Jo Daviess County all remain at “substantial”.
[Featured image from Unsplash / @atoms]