coronavirus

Gov. Pritzker's Latest COVID Update: Here's What's Changing

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration on Wednesday announced a series of changes to the state’s COVID mitigation strategies.

Among the new guidelines was a decision to eliminate vaccine requirements for college students and faculty members. The new rules will also ease testing requirements at long-term care facilities and hospitals that are certified through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to a press release.

Vaccine mandates will remain in place for staff at K-12 schools, as well as at daycares, state-run congregate care facilities and other locations that are not CMS-certified, according to the press release.

“As we continue to move toward living with this virus, my administration will relax some requirements while continuing to protect the most vulnerable and ensuring we can get every federal dollar our residents are eligible to receive,” Pritzker said in a statement.

Here's a look at the changes:

Vaccine Requirements

Under the new changes, college students, faculty and staff members will no longer be required to show proof of COVID vaccination.

"Vaccine mandates for higher education employees and students and emergency medical service providers will not be reissued," the governor's office said. "Vaccination mandates will remain in place in K-12 schools, daycares, state-run 24/7 congregate care facilities, and any health care facilities not covered under the federal CMS vaccine mandate (including independent doctors’ offices, dental offices, urgent care facilities, and outpatient facilities)."

Testing Requirements

In addition, testing requirements for unvaccinated staff members at long-term care facilities and hospitals will also be eased. That testing, which was being conducted weekly, will now only be required once a week in areas where there is “moderate community level transmission” of COVID, per CDC guidelines.

If an area moves to “high community level transmission” of COVID, then staffers at the aforementioned facilities will be required to get tested twice a week if they are unvaccinated.

"Currently, Illinois requires at least weekly testing of health care staff who are unvaccinated. Under the updated requirements, long-term care facilities with the most vulnerable residents, including skilled nursing homes, will now test staff who are not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccine weekly if located in an area of moderate community level transmission and twice weekly in areas of substantial or high community level transmission, as recommended by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)," the governor's office said. "Unvaccinated staff at hospitals and other healthcare facilities that are certified by CMS will now be required to test weekly only if located in areas of high community level transmission."

Other Changes

Finally, the Pritzker administration says that it has made other changes in recent weeks, including restarting normal jail-to-prison inmate transfers and other mitigations.

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