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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Wednesday that the state would institute a mask mandate for preschool through high school students and staff and a vaccine mandate for some state employees.

Why it matters: The move comes as surging COVID-19 cases driven by the Delta variant in Illinois have led to rising hospitalization, ICU occupancy and ventilator use rates, per the governor's press release.

State of play: All students, teachers and staff in preschool through the 12th grade will be required to wear face masks regardless of vaccination status. The order is effective immediately, according to the press release.

  • Face masks will be required for all indoor extracurricular activities and sports but will not be mandatory outdoors in areas where transmission rates are lower.
  • In addition, state workers in high-contact settings will be required to get vaccinated by Oct. 4. This would apply to employees in places such as state prisons, veterans' homes, and care facilities, among others.

What they're saying: “Given the CDC’s strong recommendation, I had hoped that a state mask requirement in schools wouldn’t be necessary. But it is," Pritzker said in Chicago Wednesday.

  • "As your governor, it's my duty to say that we must all take immediate and urgent action to slow the spread of the Delta variant," he said, per NBC Chicago. "People are dying who don't have to die."
  • "We’re so thankful to have leadership in this state that won’t let the virus fester and grow," Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union, said in a statement praising the announcement.

The big picture: Illinois is just the latest state to implement mandatory measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

However, some states, like Florida, remain resistant to such measures.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Mix-and-matching gains momentum — Boosters overtake first doses in U.S. — Pfizer to vaccinate Brazilian cityPanel endorses J&J booster.
  2. Health: Age is still a huge coronavirus risk factor — Unvaccinated 11x more likely to die from COVID — 5x more police officers died from COVID than guns.
  3. Politics: Over 30 states limited public health powers — Pope Francis calls on companies to release vaccine patents — Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
20 hours ago - Axios Twin Cities

Minnesota offers cash and chance at $100K scholarship as vaccine incentive for teens

Expand chart
Data: Minnesota COVID-19 Response; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Minnesota is offering new incentives to shot-wary teens in an effort to boost the state's COVID-19 vaccination rates.

Driving the news: 12 to 17 year olds who get both doses over the next six weeks will receive a $200 Visa gift card, Gov. Tim Walz's administration announced Monday.

  • Kids vaccinated during this period can also enter a lottery for one of five $100,000 scholarships to attend any of the state's public or private colleges or universities.

Why it matters: Public health officials say increasing vaccination rates among young Minnesotans is key to curbing spread of the virus, especially in schools.

Best schools in Illinois

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Chicago scored big with both high schools and grade schools in this year's rankings of the top 10 schools in the state, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Why it matters: The Chicago Public School system is often maligned for its failures but also runs the best schools in the state.