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(WTTW News)

It was early August, just before most students returned to their classrooms for the new school year, that Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order requiring students, teachers and staff to wear masks in school, regardless of their vaccination status — or face the consequences.

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Governor: “We are running out of time as our hospitals run out of beds”

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Diners wear face masks as they sit outside a restaurant in Chicago. (WTTW News)

After a weekslong surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday announced an indoor mask mandate for all Illinois residents and a vaccine requirement for pre-K through 12th grade teachers and staff, among others.

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A patient with COVID-19 on breathing support lies in a bed in an intensive care unit at the Willis-Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport, La., Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (AP Photo / Gerald Herbert)

The U.S. is projected to see nearly 100,000 more COVID-19 deaths between now and Dec. 1, according to the nation’s most closely watched forecasting model. But health experts say that toll could be cut in half if nearly everyone wore a mask in public spaces.

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In this file photo, a young student wears a mask indoors. (WTTW News)

A surge in COVID-19 infections prompts indoor mask mandates. Democrats and Republicans campaign at the Illinois State Fair. Officer Ella French is laid to rest. And a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has President Joe Biden on the defensive. 

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(WTTW News)

Starting Monday, everyone in suburban Cook County, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask indoors, officials announced Friday. 

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In this Feb. 18, 2021 file photo, a passenger wears a face mask to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus as he waits for a Delta Airlines flight at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. (AP Photo / Charlie Riedel, file)

Rowdy airline passengers have now racked up a record $1 million in potential fines this year, a toll of the tumult in the sky as travelers have returned after most were grounded by the pandemic in 2020.

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Dr. Robert Murphy is the director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. (WTTW News)

Chicago has once again implemented an indoor mask requirement as the Biden administration announces a COVID-19 booster shot will be available for Americans starting in September. We talk to infectious disease expert Dr. Robert Murphy about the latest guidelines.

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People dine out in Chicago on June 1, 2021. (WTTW News)

How do you ask someone to put on a face mask? And how do you tell them if they’re wearing it incorrectly? We asked a trio of experts for advice.

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A bartender mixes a drink at the Chicago restaurant 14 Parish. (WTTW News)

Everyone in Chicago, regardless of their vaccination status, must wear a mask indoors starting Friday, Chicago’s top doctor announced Tuesday. The mandate comes amid the city’s fourth surge in COVID-19 infections, driven by the more transmissible delta variant.

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Hy Vee pharmacist Tiffany Aljets fills a syringe for a COVID-19 vaccination, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo / Charlie Neibergall)

State fairs in Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin also are offering COVID-19 vaccinations as the delta variant spreads nationwide and relaxed masking leaves some public health officials concerned about another surge in infections.

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Students sit masked and socially distanced in a CPS classroom. (WTTW News)

Students and teachers at Chicago Public Schools head back to the classroom this month. We speak with the district’s interim CEO and an official from the health department about returning to school as COVID-19 cases rise.

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A young student wears a mask while working on a laptop. (WTTW News)

Masks must be worn in Illinois schools when students and staff return to the classroom in the coming weeks. But a just-filed lawsuit could void that statewide executive order. We talk with the attorney who filed it — and a local pediatrician. 

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a mask mandate for all pre-K through 12th grade students and staff at public and private schools, along with day cares, as the delta variant of COVID-19 continues to surge across the state and the country, Aug. 4, 2021. (WTTW News)

The governor institutes a full pre-K through 12 mask mandate. The city’s casino process gets delayed. The governor’s race could get a new entrant. And fire sale Cubs take on the surging Sox.

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In this file photo, restaurant patrons wear masks while dining indoors. (WTTW News)

Masking will be universally required in Illinois schools, and some state employees must get vaccinated for the coronavirus, according to mandates handed down Wednesday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker — a move that immediately drew rebuke from friends and foes alike.

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(WTTW News)

With classes for students in pre-K through 12th grade set to resume across Illinois in the coming weeks, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday announced a mask mandate for all students and staff at public and private schools.

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Fears spike that Lollapalooza will be a super-spreader event, with thousands of locals and tourists attending amid surging delta variant cases. (WTTW News)

Fears spike that Lollapalooza will be a super-spreader event, with thousands of locals and tourists attending amid surging delta variant cases. Meanwhile, masking mandates make a comeback. Illinois Republicans battle each other over the Jan. 6 committee hearings. And the Cubs shed their World Series stars.