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The Mask Mandate has ended – but you still need to stay safe. Here’s why and how.

March 10, 2022

Dear friends,

The COVID Mask Mandate has ended in most of the U.S. and most of the states. But the pandemic is not over, and a new variant is circulating, and more are sure to come, and not all variants will be “mild”. So-called “mild” variants have still managed to sicken and kills thousands of people.

Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC) wants to urge you to still continue to practice safety measures to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from COVID. Also, we want to let you know of resources that can help keep you safe.

Mask mandates are over – but we at CCHCC are continuing to mask up. Here’s why.
Although the mask mandates are over, the virus is still circulating, and we are still in a pandemic. The pandemic is world-wide, and as long the virus continues to circulate (due to inadequate vaccination rates, etc.), there will be new variants, and new cycles of increases in infections.

The singular purpose of the virus is to replicate itself, and it can only do that by infecting people. It is a very determined virus, and we are not yet out of the woods with it.

The bottom line is that you can still get infected and sick from the virus, because it is still circulating. People who are at high-risk due to age, pre-existing conditions, autoimmune and autoinflammatory conditions, or unknown genetic conditions, can get very sick and die from this virus. Also, you might be at risk and not even know it – not everyone is aware of whether or not they have an underlying condition.

And, the medical and scientific communities are learning that even asymptomatic or “mild” infections can cause long-term lasting damage to the brain and cardiovascular system in a significant proportion of people who ever had the virus. The long-term impacts are no joke, and can be devastating.

The virus, in numbers – not a pretty picture.
As of today, the unofficial U.S. COVID toll is at 79,406,602 cases, and 963,819 deaths (we are nearing 1 million deaths!). This is up by 37,143 cases and 1,884 deaths in one day, from this time yesterday!

We should take a lesson from the UK, who dropped their mask mandates about a week ago. Within that week, there was a sharp increase of 46% in new cases, primarily among people aged 55 and older. There is now concern that the UK lifted its mask mandate too soon.

CCHCC recommends the following precautions.
Even though the federal and state governments have dropped masking mandates, we at CCHCC urge you to continue to mask up! These are our recommendations:

• Keep masking up! Wear a mask when you are indoors with other people – especially people who are not part of your “bubble”. This includes when you go to the grocery store, etc.

• Wash your hands frequently. Wash for 20 seconds with soap and water, rubbing the soap and water all over your hand, including between your fingers and thumbs and up to your wrist. Make sure to fully dry your hands. Viruses thrive in damp environments.

• Continue to socially distance when you are around others who are not in your “bubble”. Keep 6 feet from other people AND wear your mask!

Resources are available!
There are many tools available to fight this virus, including vaccines and boosters, as well as free masks and testing kits.

To find where you can go to get vaccinated or boosted, visit the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District website here:

To find where to go to get tested, visit the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District website.

To order FREE COVID home test kits from the federal government, you can go here.

Please note that the government is now allowing each household to place a SECOND order for home test kits, so that each household is eligible for up to 8 tests each!

Free masks are available at area pharmacies! You can simply go and pick them up from most local pharmacies (you might want to call ahead to make sure your pharmacy still has free masks available).

Other Pandemic benefits are still available, including SNAP and Medicaid!
Food Stamp (SNAP) benefits were increased during the pandemic, and access to Medicaid coverage was expanded. These benefits are STILL continuing, but the duration of the expanded benefits is unknown.

SNAP (food stamps) maximum benefits and Medicaid continuous coverage have been extended since the Public Health Emergency has also been extended through mid-April. The declaration has been extended month to month, so we do not know when it will end.

CCHCC is encouraging people who get these benefits to make sure their case addresses are correct, they can call 877-805-5312 or make changes online here.

As always, CCHCC is ready to help! If you need help with any of these resources, or help applying for health insurance, please contact CCHCC by email at or by phone at

Thank you for your support!
We appreciate your financial support for our services. Together, we are building a stronger, healthier community – together, we are giving the gift of health!



Claudia Lennhoff
Executive Director
Champaign County Health Care Consumers