Officials Agree Now: Wear Masks In Public

WBBM Newsradio Staff
April 03, 2020 - 2:59 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Illinos Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday advised residents to go ahead and wear masks or cover their face when they go out in public, as a way to help stem the spread of COVID-19. 

His comments corresponded with a new recommendation from the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Pritzker said the medical and science communities have been studying whether average members of the public should take this extra precaution, which officials characterized as unnecessary. The governor now says because airborne droplets spread the novel coronavirus, it's a "good idea" for people who venture out to the store or other locations to cover their mouths and noses, even if it's simply with a home-made mask or piece of cloth. 

Some people, after all, could be carrying the virus and not show symptoms, Pritzker said.

"Wearing a mask is one more more way to help take care of one another in our state," he said at his administration's latest daily briefing COVID-19.

Officials still insist the best way to help bend the curve of infections is to stay at home. 

Medical professionals who come in contact with known infected people are considered the priority for medical- or surgical-grade masks and other "Personal Protective Equipment." President Trump on Friday said the federal guidance about mask-wearing for the public is "voluntary." 

Pritzker on Friday toured Chicago's McCormick Place convention center, which the Army Corps of Engineers has set up as a 500-bed "alternative care facility" that will handle coronavirus patients with mild and moderate symptoms. It's the first phase of a plan to build out 3,000 beds at the site to help hospitals from getting overwhelmed.

Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot praised organizers who built the makeshift hospital within days.

Also Friday, the state of Illinois reported 1,209 new cases of COVID-19, including 53 deaths. The state's death toll to date is 210. The overall Illinois tally of coronavirus cases has risen to 8,904 across 64 counties.