U.S.|Illinois will require masks indoors for everyone and educators must get shots or face testing.
CHICAGO — Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois announced on Thursday a new, stricter set of coronavirus restrictions, ordering a statewide indoor mask mandate and requiring that all educators be vaccinated or face regular testing.
The mask mandate applies to all Illinois residents age 2 and older and begins on Monday. The vaccine rule, effective Sept. 5, affects all teachers and staff in schools from kindergarten through college.
“Unfortunately, we are running out of time as our hospitals run out of beds,” Mr. Pritzker said at a news conference on Thursday. “Hospital staff are becoming overwhelmed and overburdened. People are dying who don’t have to die.”
Mr. Pritzker, a Democrat, has taken an aggressive approach to restrictions intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has spiked in Illinois in recent weeks, particularly in the downstate region, where intensive-care beds are scarce. Illinois reported a seven-day average of 3,547 cases on Wednesday, more than three times the average cases reported one month ago.
Earlier this month, Mr. Pritzker issued a mask mandate for students, faculty and staff in preschools, elementary and high schools throughout the state. He has also mandated masks in state-run nursing homes and similar facilities, and required vaccinations of people who work there. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended masking for everyone in schools, regardless of vaccination status, and several states, including California and Connecticut, have school mask mandates in place.
Under the new vaccine rule in Illinois, educators who decline to be vaccinated will be required to submit to testing at least once a week.
The move comes as other states and cities weigh vaccine mandates after the Food and Drug Administration this week granted full approval to Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 and older, making it the first to move beyond emergency-use status in the United States.
Earlier this week, Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey said that all teachers in that state would have to either be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing. California and Hawaii have similar mandates in place. And the cities of Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as Washington State and Oregon, have also recently announced full vaccine mandates for teachers.
On Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago said she would require all city employees, including police officers, sanitation workers and park employees, to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15. Chicago and Cook County already have indoor mask mandates in place.