Pritzker lifts public transportation face covering requirement
Gov. JB Pritzker is pictured in a Capitol News Illinois file photo.
Decision followed a federal court ruling striking down CDC mandate
By GRACE KINNICUTT
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker officially lifted the state requirement that face coverings be worn on public transportation Wednesday after a federal judge overturned the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mask mandate.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle of the Middle District of Florida ruled on Monday that the federal mask mandate was unlawful since it exceeds the authority of the CDC. The ruling comes about a week after the CDC extended the mask mandate through May 3.
Masks are no longer required on public transit, in public transit hubs or at airports, but local governments still have the right to maintain their own face covering requirements on public transportation.
Pritzker’s order now only requires masks where they are federally mandated, as well as in congregate facilities and health care settings.
“I’m proud of the work our state has done to fight COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable,” Pritzker said in a news release. “I continue to urge Illinoisans to follow CDC guidelines and, most importantly, get vaccinated to protect yourself and others.”
Following Pritzker’s announcement on Tuesday about revising mask requirements, the Chicago Metra and CTA announced that masks will no longer be required, effective immediately. The Chicago Department of Aviation, which oversees O’Hare and Midway International Airports, also announced that masks are no longer required.
A number of major U.S. airlines such as Delta, United and Southwest immediately dropped the requirement following the court ruling as well.
The CDC continues to recommend face coverings for those who are immunocompromised, people who can’t be vaccinated and in areas of high transmission.
Amaal Tokars, acting director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said in a news release that the department continues to closely monitor COVID-19 cases throughout the state and is working with local public health partners to keep the public informed.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,931 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths on Wednesday, the highest one-day case count since Feb. 11. There were 568 individuals hospitalized for COVID-19 as of Tuesday night, 61 in intensive care beds and 29 on ventilators, all of which remained near pandemic lows.
More than 21 million vaccine doses have been administered with about 73 percent of Illinois residents age 5 and over fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to remain up-to-date on your vaccinations, and that includes booster shots, especially for those who are at risk for more severe health outcomes,” Tokars said.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.