CHICAGO (CBS) – Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday he hopes to be able to lift the state’s indoor mask mandate “as we approach the holidays,” but declined to provide specific metrics that would prompt him to do so.
Pritzker reinstated the statewide indoor mask mandate at the end of August, and new COVID-19 cases in Illinois have been steadily declining since early September, with the statewide case positivity rate down to 2%, the lowest it’s been since mid-July.READ MORE: COVID Test Confusion After Suburban Family Gets False Result from University Of Illinois SHIELD Program
However, the governor has not provided any specific benchmark for when he will lift the state’s mask mandate.
“We’re continuing, again, to watch the numbers,” Pritzker said Friday. “But we want to make sure that we’re keeping people healthy and safe, following the guidelines that doctors are offering for us, and so we’ll continue to do that. Obviously, we want to remove the mitigations as we approach the holidays. That’s an important marker for us. We want to make sure these numbers keep going down.”
Pritzker also urged anyone who is eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster shot to do so as soon as they can.
“Get your booster shots so that you can get even more protected than you are today. Get your flu shot so you can make this flu season as non-existent as the last, and let’s get out of this pandemic. We can do it by continuing to work together for the common good,” the governor said.
The FDA and CDC already have authorized Pfizer booster shots for seniors 65 and over, and adults with underlying medical conditions or who work in high-risk settings that make them more vulnerable to the virus – such as teachers, first responders, and nursing home residents and staff.READ MORE: Chicago God Star Families Memorial Lights Tree For Those Who Fallen Military And Their Families
Federal authorities are expected to authorize Moderna booster shots for the same groups as soon as this week, as well as Johnson & Johnson boosters for all of the 15 million Americans who got the one-dose vaccine.
Regulators also are expected to approve the mixing and matching of COVID-19 booster shots this week, to provide more flexibility for those seeking to maintain protection against the virus.
Meantime, Pritzker and Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike called on all nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Illinois to make booster shots available to all residents and staff by Thanksgiving.
“We do know that advanced age is one of the most significant risk factors in breakthrough hospitalizations and deaths, which is exactly why booster shots are being recommended for everyone 65 and over, as well as all people living in long-term care facilities,” Ezike said.
People who have already been fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine can get a booster at a pharmacy, local health department, their primary care provider, or other locations.
Ezike noted you do not have to get your booster at the same location where you got your initial vaccination.MORE NEWS: Jussie Smollett Trial: Defense Attorney Calls For Mistrial And Accuses Judge Of Lunging At Her; Judge Denies Claims And Motion
To find a vaccination location near you, visit vaccines.gov.