Illinois face mask rules take effect: What you should know

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The rule changes regarding face masks in Illinois are now in effect.

Starting Friday a new mandate requires all residents to wear a mask in public when social distancing is not an option. For example: at work, grocery stores and on public transit.

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You do not have to wear a mask when running or walking outside, during outdoor activities or on your own property.

Health officials say the masks are not just about protecting yourself, but the people around you.

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"You may be infected with COVID and not have any symptoms, and we have no other way of knowing," said Dr. Allison Bartlett, Associate Hospital Epidemiologist at the University of Chicago.
If you do not have a mask, any face covering will do. Make sure your hands are clean when you put your mask on and take it off. If you have a cloth mask, it should be washed every day you use it.

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The masks are not required for children under 2. Bartlett, who is also a practicing pediatrician, cautions parents with children that young they should first avoid taking them out on essential errands where masks would be required.

However, if you must take your child or infant out, it's not safe for them to be wearing a face mask, and parents should look for other, safer alternatives.

"It's not safe for infants or really anyone under the age of two to be wearing a mask, and so we need to think about other ways to hopefully keep those kids home and not have to take them with you on essential trips," Bartlett said. "But again, you know, covering a stroller or covering a car seat is probably a better way to protect them than putting a mask on."

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Sharon Preston, the founder of a non-profit that serves veterans and the homeless, switched gears and handed out over 8,000 free masks to anyone who needed one.



Woman gives out more than 8K free masks in Hillside

In Hillside, there was a big effort Friday to make sure residents get masks.

"I just want to make sure everybody has a mask and be safe out here, I want to help save lives," said Sharon Preston, the founder of Flags of Heart, a non-profit that serves veterans and the homeless.

She switched gears Friday and handed out over 8,000 free masks to anyone who needed one. Each person in a car got a pack of three.

The mask giveaway was a welcome relief for some who say their mask orders never arrived or for others whose employers ran out.

State Rep. Chris Welch said his predominantly African American district has been hit hard by COVID. He said as long as there is a need, there will be more mask giveaways.

"We need this curve to go down. We haven't peaked yet, and what we are hoping is the face covering will help the curve go down," Welch said.
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