Illinois last state in Midwest to lift statewide mask mandate

Pritzker with mask

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Illinois will lift the statewide indoor mask mandate for most residents Feb. 28. | Photo courtesy of Illinois Policy

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Illinois will lift the statewide indoor mask mandate for most residents Feb. 28, joining nearly all other states nationwide that have rescinded emergency pandemic protocols as new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rapidly decline.

The growing push for the post-pandemic transition has seen 11 states announce expiration dates for their universal indoor masking requirements since Feb. 7, joining the 39 states that have already lifted COVID-19 restrictions on residents.

As of Feb. 11, 48 of these states reported that new coronavirus cases of the omicron variant were on the decline.

In the Midwest, Illinois is the final state to revoke emergency pandemic masking requirements – except in schools, hospitals, retirement homes and on public transit. The Land of Lincoln is also the only state in the region with a statewide school mask mandate still in effect.

Pritzker hinted that the mandate could be lifted “in the coming weeks” if rates continue their downward trajectory. However, the governor did not offer any specific threshold for COIVD-19 metrics under which he would rescind his executive order for schools.

A timeline detailing Midwest states’ repeal of pandemic protocols shows how other governors have already empowered local governments to make those decisions for themselves.

Illinois: Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Feb. 9, the universal indoor mask mandate will be lifted Feb. 28 if the state’s COVID-19 hospitalization numbers continue to decline. Illinois’ statewide school mask mandate remains in effect.

Indiana: Gov. Eric Holcomb lifted his statewide mask mandate April 6, 2021, still encouraging Hoosiers to wear masks in settings where they are unable to social distance. Local mask orders in Indianapolis and surrounding Marion County expiredJune 7, 2021.

Iowa: Gov. Kim Reynolds rescinded her statewide mask mandate Feb. 10, 2021. In May 2021, Reynolds signed legislation barring local governments from compelling businesses to require masks. Iowa City mandates masks for people aged 2 and older indoors and outdoors when not social distancing.

Kansas: A panel of top legislators given authority to overturn the Gov. Laura Kelly’s emergency orders revoked the state mask mandate April 1, 2021. Kansas City, Kansas, and Wyandotte County repealed their local indoor mask mandates Dec. 16, 2021.

Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lifted the statewide mask mandate for all residents June 22, 2021, along with all COVID-related capacity limits on gathers. Face-coverings are still required in long-term care facilities, prisons and housing for farm workers.

Minnesota: Gov. Tim Walz ended the statewide mask mandate May 14, 2021. Walz left the masking decision up to schools starting in January 2022. Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth have municipal orders requiring most people to mask up in indoor public spaces. Rochester’s mandate expired Feb. 7.

Missouri: Gov. Mike Parson revoked the statewide mask mandate Dec. 31, 2021, in addition to terminating all executive orders after letting the pandemic state of emergency expire. St. Louis County requires masking for all people age 5 and over in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Similar orders in Kansas City, Missouri and surrounding Jackson County ended in 2021 on Nov. 4 and 12, respectively.

Nebraska: Gov. Pete Ricketts did not introduce a statewide mask mandate for residents. The state health department has recommended people wear masks in public settings when unable to social distance. A local mask order has been issued in Omaha and Lincoln.

North Dakota: Gov. Doug Burgum allowed his statewide indoor mask mandate to expire Jan. 18, 2021. The state health department continues to recommend residents follow CDC masking guidelines.

Ohio: Gov. Mike DeWine lifted all COVID-19 health orders June 2, 2021, except in long-term care facilities. The city of Columbus continues to uphold its local indoor masking order for residents in public places.

South Dakota: Gov. Kristi Noem did not introduce a statewide mask mandate for residents. The state health department has recommended people wear masks in public settings when unable to social distance or in areas of significant transmission.

Wisconsin: A statewide mask mandate ordered by Gov. Tony Evers was struck down by a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling March 31, 2021. The court ruled the governor overstepped his authority by repeatedly extending pandemic emergency orders without lawmakers’ approval. Dane County requires masks in enclosed spaces unless all those present are fully vaccinated. Milwaukee recently adopted a local mask mandate Jan. 18, without any enforcement mechanism.

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