Kane Co. health official asks business leaders to welcome masks after mandate
The looming end of COVID-19 mandates in Illinois means it's time for Kane County residents and local businesses to take a hard look at what level of risk they are comfortable with and determine safety measures on their own.
Michael Isaacson, the county's assistant director of community health, met with a dozen representatives from area chambers of commerce on Friday. He said people who continue wearing masks and social distancing when the mandates expire shouldn't face ridicule.
"Look at what's happening in the community and assess the risk based on what you see," Isaacson said. "If people choose to wear masks, how are we supporting and not ostracizing that? Masking, social distancing, we know that reduces transmission of this illness. Let's not abandon everything. There's simple things we can do to keep people safe."
COVID-19 infections are dropping in the county. Hospital beds are reopening. And the county recorded six COVID-19 deaths as of Thursday, a noticeable drop from the 20 deaths per day that was the recent norm.
Isaacson said there are 185,000 unvaccinated Kane County residents. Those unvaccinated residents are the people who continue to fill up the most hospital beds with severe illness from COVID-19, he added.
"We are not out of the woods yet," Isaacson told the chambers.
In answers to questions, Isaacson said cloth masks are not as effective of a safety measure with the omicron variant as they were with previous strains. He advised people to upgrade to N95 masks if they want to keep using masks as a precaution.
If there is a massive turn away from masking, Isaacson does not expect to see a huge spike in COVID-19 case numbers. That's due in large part to the two-thirs of local residents who are vaccinated, as well as the number of people who have been infected and will have some natural immunity for an as yet unknown length of time, he said.
"If people aren't wearing masks, that increases risk," Isaacson said. "From a public health perspective, that's safe to say. I don't expect a surge. That doesn't mean there won't be additional folks exposed to COVID now because we are being less careful."