Pritzker orders statewide mask mandate, vaccines for college students, employees


Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times | Associated Press

In this Aug. 2, 2021, file photo, Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at East Aurora High School in Aurora, Ill. Illinois health care workers and educators from kindergarten through college will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Pritzker said Thursday, Aug.26, 2021, in announcing new safety protocols that also include a fresh statewide mandate for masks to be worn indoors.

Northern Star Staff

DeKALB Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday a statewide mask mandate, effective Monday, for all residents two and older to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The mandate will require all residents, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask while indoors in all public settings. Pritzker also announced that all K-12 and higher education employees and students must also get at least the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 5 or submit to regular testing.

The mask mandate requires residents to wear a face covering in gyms, restaurants, bars, grocery stores and other indoor venues.

Pritzker cited the rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations and low vaccination rates in the state for implementing the mask mandate again. The mask mandate will not be lifted until hospitalization numbers go down, Pritzker said at a Thursday news conference. 

“We are running out of time as our hospitals run out of beds. Vaccination remains our strongest tool to protect ourselves and our loved ones, to restore post-pandemic life to our communities, and most crucially, to maintain our healthcare system’s ability to care for anyone who walks through their doors in need of help – and Illinois is taking action to keep our communities safe,” Pritzker said in a Thursday news release

NIU announced five new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with 19 total positive cases since the fall semester started on Monday, according to the NIU COVID-19 dashboard.

As of Wednesday, DeKalb has 25 new COVID-19 cases and 11,055 cases since the pandemic started, according to county data. Around 47,791 DeKalb County residents are fully vaccinated, which is 45.9% of the county. 

On Monday, NIU announced that students who received a personal exemption while COVID-19 vaccinations were under Emergency Use Authorization status would be required to get vaccinated by Nov. 1.