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Illinois loosens mask mandates for healthcare facilities

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Illinois Mask WEB

BENTON (WSIL) - Healthcare workers can now breathe a little easier because the Illinois mask mandates have loosened for healthcare facilities. Governor JB Pritzker has signed an order aligning Illinois guidelines with the CDC.

For almost 3 years, health care professionals have spent their time on the clock, behind a mask. On October 17th, Governor JB Pritzker loosened those guidelines.

"We're moving to under the CDC guidelines which will require us to not mask up in the hallways if we're at the lower levels," said Franklin Hospital CEO Jim Johnson.

The CDC posts those levels, by county, every Thursday. It will now be the guidelines for hospitals across the state.

Johnson said, the implementation of the new standard will vary hospital to hospital, including Franklin.

"We want to update all of our policies to make sure we're in compliance with the CDC guidelines and have our policies in place, so at that time we will drop our masks," Johnson explained.

And after nearly 1,000 days, Johnson said, everyone's ready.

"It's been a long road. We stuck with it and followed the guidance for all these years, but there's a little bit of excitement that we're going to be able to drop that masking requirement," Johnson said.

Lawana Gay, the hospital's infection control specialist said, the last few years have been trying, and the staff is ready for the masks to come off.

"Oh, they're ready," Gay said of the hospital staff. "They ask all the time, when are we going to get rid of the masks, so they're ready."

Gay said, as long as the county is at a moderate or low level, the masks can stay off for both staff and guests with some exceptions. Weekly updates will be posted.

"It will be posted up front for the public, that we are at this level, so masks are required or not required," Gay explained. "So, I think communication will be a big thing with it."

The levels will be based on a county's transmission rate using the CDC COVID-19 data tracker. Masking will vary from hospital to hospital depending on its location.

If you have something you'd like me to look into or a story idea, please send me an email at: rgartner@wsiltv.com

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