Cook County Health is reminding residents that face masks continue to be required in hospitals, health centers and other health care facilities, per the State of Illinois. This requirement remains in place even as local and state mask mandates are being lifted for other indoor locations. Other areas where masks continue to be required include day care centers, long-term care and congregate settings, as well as public transportation (buses, airplanes, trains, taxis and ride share vehicles, and all transportation hubs) as dictated by the CDC.

Masking remains important to curbing the spread of COVID-19, according to physicians with Cook County Health.

“Masks work. Period,” said Dr. Sharon Welbel, Director of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control, Cook County Health. “Until we have significantly higher vaccination and booster rates, we should not let our guard down. Wearing masks indoors helps protect those who remain at-risk for serious illness due to COVID, including those who are unvaccinated by choice or due to their age, or underlying health conditions.”

“Wearing a mask remains an effective layer of protection during this pandemic, which we must realize is not yet over. Indoor spaces continue to be a higher risk of viral transmission,” said Dr. Michael Hoffman, lead physician for Cook County Health’s COVID-19 units. “Many people will choose to continue masking. If you see someone wearing a mask, please consider that they may be at high risk or may live with a loved one at high risk of severe or even fatal consequences of contracting COVID-19, through no fault of their own. Should you choose not to wear a mask, consider having one available if you notice someone near you wearing one. This pandemic has shown even more so that we need to be a community and be kind to one another. Wearing a mask is a simple and effective way to show respect to your fellow community members.”

“While the mask mandates may no longer be in effect, I am going to continue wearing a mask in indoor spaces and I strongly encourage others to as well,” said Dr. Mark Loafman, Chair of Family and Community Medicine, Cook County Health. “Masks protect us and those around us. Like wearing a seatbelt when we get in a car, wearing a mask is a simple choice that can be lifesaving.”

“Masks do prevent the spread of COVID 19 and decrease the likelihood of an infection. If you want to use all the available resources to prevent an infection, you should use a mask. Children are resilient and many can tolerate wearing a mask with no issues.” said Dr. Rosibell Arcia-Diaz, Director of Inpatient Pediatrics, Cook County Health. “I recommend that parents include their children in family discussions about masking. Explain the rationale for both adults and children wearing masks indoors. I also recommend that parents talk with their children about tolerance, understanding and respect towards other families’ choices that may not align with theirs.”

Individuals can pick up high-quality KN95 masks or receive a COVID-19 vaccine at any Cook County Health community health center during business hours.  For more information, visit