Amid an increase in COVID-19 cases in Oak Park, the Oak Park Department of Public Health is requiring all individuals over the age of 2, to wear masks in indoor, public spaces, regardless of their vaccination status, according to a press release issued early this morning by the department.
The new directive takes effect immediately and comes from Theresa Chapple-McGruder, director of Oak Park’s public health department. Chapple-McGruder’s order comes just days after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a statewide school mask mandate.
At an Aug. 4 press conference, Pritzker declared that all students, from preschool through high school, staff and visitors, are required to wear masks inside the buildings. Pritzker’s mandate impacts public and private schools statewide, as well as daycare centers.
In Oak Park, Chapple-McGruder’s mask mandate applies to businesses, multi-family residential buildings, health care settings, nursing homes, long-term facilities, shelters, congregate settings, government buildings and all forms of public transportation, including transportation stations and hubs, the release stated.
“The village has experienced a 750% increase in COVID-19 cases in July 2021 as compared to June 2021,” said Chapple-McGruder in the announcement of the order. “Therefore, I have determined that additional mitigation measures are necessary under Phase 5 to protect the public health pursuant to my authority.”
Last month, Oak Park reported 83 confirmed cases of COVID-19, a drastic increase from the 11 cases reported in June. At this rate, local health officials say that Oak Park “has substantial transmissions of COVID-19,” the release explained.
“The rate per 100,000 cases currently is 71 in Oak Park, which officials say indicates the need to take actions such as masking in public indoor spaces to limit further spread,” the news release also stated.
In the release, Chapple-McGruder also recommended people wear masks outdoors if they are unable to practice social distancing and stay six feet away from people who are “not from the same household.”
Aside from masking, the public health department continues to encourage Oak Park residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help slow the spread of the virus. Oak Park’s vaccination rate is 58%, a “slight increase” from last week’s report of 56%.
The health department’s mobile response van will be dispensing vaccinations at Oak Park and River Forest High School from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 9, and in downtown Oak Park from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12, during the Thursday Night Out dining event.
COVID-19 vaccines are free and available to individuals aged 12 and older.
For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the public health department’s site at www.oak-park.us/covid19vaccine. Those who have any questions about the upcoming vaccination events are encouraged to email the health department at firstname.lastname@example.org.