CHICAGO – Governor Pritzker declared Illinois' Omicron emergency as subsiding during a press conference in Chicago Wednesday.
"If these trends continue, on February 28th, we will lift the indoor mask mandate," Pritzker said.
Despite his proposed mandate lift in two weeks, local authorities may still require masks – and their positions should be respected, he said. The lifting of the state requirement should not dissuade those not wearing masks from those that are wearing masks, he said.
And despite the Omicron variant attacking both vaccinated and unvaccinated over the last month, he emphasized, "Vaccines work. Masks work."
He applauded the 7000 Illinoisans that got COVID vaccines Tuesday for the first time.
Compassion for each other is a hallmark of being an Illinoisan, he said."Get boosted if you haven't been yet.
Throughout the pandemic, Governor Pritzker said, Illinoisans have shown a "willingness to look out for one another, and to rise above the loud minority of voices who have used this emergency to naysay, bicker, polarize and divide."
Pritzker's tone did come across as lecturing those parents that have been standing beside and behind their students that wanted to return to school sans masks.
"There are a whole lot more infections when districts are maskless," he said, not giving the scientific data to back up that statement. He said it is difficult to maintain social distancing in schools – so he wants to keep the school protocols going with masks, testing and vaccines.
It is Pritzker's hope that the state will be able to remove mask requirements in the next few weeks, but did not give a suggested date when that would happen.
Why the hesitation to lift the mandate in schools? One GOP gubernatorial candidate pointed to the teacher union effect: