Governor JB Pritzker announced a new statewide mask mandate and new COVID-19 requirements for all educators on Thursday morning, August 26.Gov. Pritzker said the reinstated indoor mask mandate for everyone 2-years-old and older would go into effect on Monday, Aug. 30.Just like the previous mandate, masks will be required in gyms, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, health clubs and other indoor venues. He also issued a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all PreK through12 teachers and staff, all college professors, higher education staff, higher education students and health care workers in a variety of settings in the state The deadline for educators to get the vaccine is Monday, September 5.Health care workers in hospitals, urgent care facilities, nursing homes and physician’s offices will also be required to be vaccinated by Sept. 5.Those choosing not to follow the mandate will be required to go through routine COVID-19 testing at least once a week, but multiple tests a week could be required. Leaders of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and Illinois Education Association both said they support the vaccine requirement for educators and school staff. The mandates come as the Illinois Department of Public Health reports a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. The Delta variant is to blame for the surge. The governor said the mandates would be lifted once the stress load of COVID-19 patients was lifted off of health care facilities. He stated that hospitals in Region 5, 20 counties in southern Illinois, had a 3 percent ICU availability due to the number of COVID-19 patients. Pritzker called the current surge is a pandemic of the unvaccinated and that southern Illinois has the lowest number of unvaccinated residents in the entire state.