Will Mask Mandates Return to Chicago as COVID-19 Cases Surge?

Consider wearing a mask indoors, even if you’re fully vaccinated.

That’s the newest recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which now says all individuals should mask up indoors in areas where there is substantial or high transmission of COVID-19.

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Read: Illinois Health Officials Recommend Masks Indoors, Even for Fully Vaccinated

The move comes as COVID-19 cases once again spike nationwide, and some experts say they expect mask mandates, not just recommendations, to return in Chicago and elsewhere.

“There’s going to be mandates. Mixed groups will have to wear masks indoors at least, maybe even sometimes outdoors, it really remains to be seen” said Dr. Robert Murphy, director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

Chicago is currently averaging 185 daily COVID-19 cases, a 62% increase from just a week ago.

Murphy says the surge is being driven almost exclusively by unvaccinated individuals who did not continue to follow public health guidelines in recent months.

“It’s basically restarted the pandemic, another big wave of infections. That’s really unfortunate, the voluntary system obviously failed,” Murphy said.

The surge comes as Lollapalooza prepares to open Thursday. The four-day music festival will go on as planned in Grant Park, despite widespread calls for its cancellation.

“This is going to be a spreader event,” Murphy said. “The question now is how many cases are going to come out based on this one event. It’s not if it’s going to happen, it’s how many.”

Read: Arwady ‘Hopeful’ Lollapalooza Won’t Turn into Superspreader Event

Officials say the increase in COVID-19 cases this summer is being driven by the contagious delta variant, which is also causing some vaccinated individuals to contract the virus.

“Delta is just so much more contagious compared to the other variants that have hit the United States, and just exposure to somebody for less than one minute puts you at risk. That’s just the big game changer here,” Murphy said.

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