CHICAGO - Governor JB Pritzker hinted Tuesday that "certain mask mandates" may be removed in time for the holidays, as Illinois COVID metrics continue to trend in the right direction over recent weeks.
But Pritzker stopped short of making a commitment or specifying what threshold Illinois would have to hit for the state-wide mask mandate to be lifted.
"Obviously we want to remove the mitigations as we approach the holidays," Pritzker said. "Those are important markers for us."
Just over 1,400 Illinoisans are hospitalized with COVID right now and 21 new deaths were reported Tuesday — both of those numbers are down significantly from the peak of the Delta variant in early September.
"We have three holidays coming up, but especially Thanksgiving and Christmas where people spend extended amounts of time together, so we'd like very much to get to a place where we can remove certain mask mandates," Pritzker said.
As for whether to get your hopes up for Thanksgiving or Christmas, "I'm cautiously optimistic that we're looking in the immediate future – possibly in the next month or two – there could be some really significant conversations on loosening up these restrictions," said Dr. Chris Colbert with UI Health.
In the City of Chicago, COVID numbers are down as well, but when Dr. Alison Arwady was asked about plans to drop the city's mask mandate, she did not sound optimistic about that happening by Thanksgiving. The milestone Chicago needs to hit is a rolling average of fewer than 200 new cases per day. Right now, Chicago's daily average is 287 daily new cases.
Pritzker is also encouraging those who are eligible to get their booster shots.
In addition, Chicago has cited eight businesses for violating the city's COVID-19 mask mandate.