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Pritzker unveils mask awareness campaign, still working on statewide enforcement method

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Springfield, IL - Gov. JB Pritzker has introduced a new $5 million campaign to encourage more Illinoisans to wear masks. The push comes as the state's COVID-19 positivity rate continues to rise. The 7-day rolling positivity rate reported Monday was 4%.

It only works if you wear it. That's the new slogan you'll see through ads on TV, radio, and the Internet. While this is a statewide campaign, Pritzker says there will be strong emphasis across the state's 11 counties at warning level for COVID-19 spread.

Even though the state introduced a mask requirement on May 1, there are still people who refuse to cover up when they leave home. The Capitol Bureau asked Pritzker how he plans to enforce the mandate if there's no fine involved. He said some people never learn, similar to reckless drivers.

"You can ticket people who drive 100 miles an hour every time they drive 100 miles an hour, I suppose," Pritzker said. "But what I would say to those people is you're endangering the health and safety of your own family, of your neighbors, your friends, and everyone that lives in your community."

Still, the governor says it's up to local governments to enforce the mask mandate. But that can get tricky when some local leaders don't believe wearing masks can stop the spread.

Pritzker is looking into filing an emergency rule to allow the state to enforce the mandate. Still, it would have to be approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. However, the same legislative oversight committee rejected his emergency rule in May.

The General Assembly could have passed legislation to allow enforcement of the rules during the special session. Yet, they never put it up for a vote. Pritzker admits that's a major issue he'll have to address.

"I would say it's the legislature - it's true - that hasn't been willing to move forward on a mask mandate. But, I have one in place for the state. And cities and counties have been actually very good, for the most part, about suggesting to people that this is enforceable."

For now, the governor hopes local officials lead by example and enforce the state's mask mandate.

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Mike Miletich

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