Aligning with the State of Illinois and City of Chicago, Cook County health officials will roll back their heaviest mitigation measures at the end of the month.
Starting Monday, Feb. 28, the county will not require that individuals wear masks inside public places or show proof of vaccination to patron certain businesses. Private businesses may independently opt to maintain either policy.
“We are glad to be able to move with the rest of the state to lift these measures,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, CCDPH co-lead and senior medical officer, in a statement. “We thank the residents for their cooperation, and the suburban Cook County business community for their support and compliance of the mask mandate and vaccination requirements. We urge those who have not been vaccinated to do so.”
The county’s indoor mask mandate has been in place for six months. It took effect Aug, 23, 2001, as transmission of the Delta variant surged across the country.
On Jan. 3, the county enacted a mandate that proof of vaccination was required to visit many county businesses (restaurants, bars, entertainment spaces and fitness facilities). At the time, the Delta was joined by the Omicron variant to accelerate the spread of the virus. Average ositivity rate on Jan. 3 across suburban Cook County was 7.8 percent and the case rate was more than 500 per 100,000 individuals. In New Trier Township, those numbers were 6.22 percent and 720, respectively.
The numbers climbed in early- to mid-January, but began to fall by the end of the month. As of Tuesday, Feb. 22, New Trier Township communities had a 2.86 percent positivity rate and 146.1 per 100,000 case rate.
The county’s decision to remove the mandates came the same day as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city’s plan to rollback the mandate, following a trend of the city and county syncing their mitigation decisions.
The county health department still, however, recommends wearing a face mask inside school buildings and “any public setting where physical distancing cannot be maintained”
“We will continue to monitor COVID-19 metrics in our suburban jurisdiction and may recommend additional mitigation measures in the future if the healthcare system is overwhelmed or if transmission rate increases warrant such action,” the county wrote in a press release.
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