CDPH Announces Updated Recommendations For Mask Guidance

July 30, 2021

Aligns with CDC guidelines for masking indoors while recommendations for outdoor settings remains unchanged

CHICAGO - Following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and based on Chicago’s current local COVID-19 data, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) now recommends that everyone over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks in public indoor settings. Masking remains optional in outdoor settings, where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is lower.

On July 27, the CDC issued updated guidance that everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) in areas with “substantial and high transmission” wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant. The CDC defined four levels of community transmission: low, moderate, substantial, and high. Based on Chicago’s population, more than 200 new COVID-19 case diagnoses per day moves the city into CDC’s “substantial” category of local transmission, while more than 400 new cases per day moves the city into CDC’s “high” transmission category. These are the same cutoffs Chicago has used to determine COVID-19 community risk for more than a year.

Today Chicago surpassed 200 new COVID-19 cases per day and has therefore moved into the CDC’s “substantial” category of local transmission. Chicago data is updated every weekday at

CDPH recommends businesses, employers, and event organizers require universal masking in all public indoor settings. In outdoor settings, masks remain optional, no changes are being made to the recommendations for social distancing. Vaccines have been essential in the fight against COVID-19. Last year, before safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines were widely available, Chicago only had 13 days between mid-March and the end of the year with fewer than 200 cases per day. In contrast, before today Chicago had consistently been below that benchmark since late May 2021. We thank all of the Chicagoans who have already made the choice to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to help protect themselves, their families, and Chicago.

The vaccines authorized in the U.S. are working as expected. They are overwhelmingly preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Since January 2021, 97% of Chicago’s COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have been in people who were not fully vaccinated. The CDC estimates that nationally, people who are unvaccinated are three to four times as likely to be infected with COVID-19, and 25 times more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 than people who are fully vaccinated. The great majority of COVID-19 cases in Chicago are in unvaccinated individuals.

“We are taking this step to prevent further spread of the very contagious Delta variant and to protect public health,” said Allison Arwady, M.D., Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health. “This isn’t forever, but it is necessary to help decrease the risk for all Chicagoans right now.”

Chicago Public Schools has already announced universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors when schools reopen on August 30, which is in line with CDC and CDPH guidance. Masks also remain mandated for all on all forms of public transportation nationwide, including ride shares, and in many high-risk settings, like health care.

Remember, the best protection against COVID-19 and the Delta variant continues to be vaccination, including getting both doses if you get a two-dose vaccine. CDPH strongly urges anyone age 12 and older who isn’t yet vaccinated to get vaccinated right away. Chicago residents should call 312-746-4835 or visit for help getting a vaccine.