Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Wednesday issued an order requiring masks for students, teachers and staff at pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools and day cares across the state.

Officials at Evanston’s two public school districts — District 65 and District 202 — had already issued similar requirements for the fall.

The new statewide requirement follows guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control issued last month calling for universal masking for both unvaccinated and vaccinated people in schools to improve classroom safety.

The governor also said he plans to require all state employees working in congregate facilities to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 4 and is rrquiring universal masking in private long-term care facilities and encouraging owners of private facilities to adopt vaccination requirements.

The governor says COVID-19 cases have soared by a factor of nearly 10 since reaching their lowest points earlier this summer and hospitalizations and ICU rates have more than doubled in a month.

Evanston reported 11 new COVID-19 cases today, the first time new cases have been in double-digits here since early May.

More Americans favor vaccine mandates

The surge in infections driven by the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus seems to be changing some minds about vaccinations.

A poll released Wednesday by the COVID States Project, a consortium of schools including Northwestern University, shows 65% of Americans support vaccine mandates now, up from 58% in April.

Research James Druckman says the shift likely is due “to the spread of the delta variant and anxiety about school starting this fall.”

The latest wave of the survey was conducted between June 9 and July 7. The partisan gap in approval of mandates has declined, but Democrats are still nearly twice as likely to approve of mandates than Republicans.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.