CHICAGO (AP) – Governor JB Pritzker on Thursday officially reinstated an indoor mask mandate that the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and Illinois Manufacturers’ Association both say they support.
While face coverings are not required outdoors, masks are strongly encouraged in crowded outdoor settings like festivals and concerts as well as for activities that require close contact with people who are not vaccinated.
The updated mandate comes as hospitals are running out of space. Pritzker said during Thursday’s press conference that hospital ICU beds are once again filling up and that hospital staff are becoming overwhelmed and overburdened.
According to Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the head of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), 2,184 people in Illinois were reported to be the in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Wednesday night. Of those hospitalizations, 489 were in the ICU and 241 were on ventilators.
Dr. Ezike said 220 people are being admitted to the hospital every day with COVID-19.
Only 3% of ICU hospital beds are available in IDPH Region 5. It currently has the lowest vaccination rate in the state at 44 percent, and has the highest case rate in the state.
Ezike explained those numbers mean there’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.