Washington, Aug 5


llinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has issued a new mask mandate for schools and staff across the US state, effective immediately.

The requirement will apply to all indoor athletic activities in schools. Masks won't be required for outdoor sports and activities, Xinhua news agency reported.

Masking will also be required in long-term care facilities statewide, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Pritzker simultaneously signed on Wednesday a vaccine mandate for employees in state prisons, veterans home and other congregate settings, which will take effect on October 4.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended last week that everyone wear masks in schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Chicago Public Schools, the state's largest district, had already made the decision to require masks, but other districts have made it optional.

Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery said on Wednesday that the mask mandate is a "prudent course of action".

The Illinois Education Association, a union representing more than 135,000 educators in Illinois, said in a statement that it is thankful for the mask mandate.

It also encouraged everyone to get vaccinated.

According to the state Department of Public Health, a little less than 59 per cent of the eligible population in Illinois has been fully vaccinated.

Illinois state health officials on Wednesday reported another 2,364 new confirmed cases of Covid-19, pushing the average number of daily cases over the past week to 2,099, the highest level since the week ending May 9, when the state was averaging 2,177 cases per day.

The number of people in the hospital with Covid-19 rose to 1,165 statewide, bringing the seven-day average to 982, more than double the level a month earlier.

In all, Covid-19 has claimed 23,476 lives in Illinois since the pandemic began.

Illinois Governor issues mask mandate for schools

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