coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Chicago Mask Mandate, Latest COVID Protocols

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has refused to name a date for lifting the city's mask and vaccine requirements, despite making "tremendous progress" amid the omicron surge.

Meanwhile, suburban Cook County plans to remove its indoor mask mandate by the end of the month, in line with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's timeline.

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Chicago's Top Doctor Details What City is Watching for to Lift Mask Mandate

Chicago may or may not join Illinois in lifting its mask mandate at the end of the month, the city's top doctor said Tuesday, declining to offer a specific date but instead saying she is relying on a set of metrics to determine when restrictions can be lifted.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city is watching four metrics, three of which need to drop to "low transmission risk" for the city to move forward with lifting restrictions.

The four metrics include test positivity, hospital beds occupied by COVID patients, ICU beds occupied by COVID patients and daily COVID cases. The seven-day rolling averages for each category need to be at a "low transmission" level, which is set by the CDC.

Read more here.

COVID Metrics Rivaling Those of Thanksgiving Show Illinois ‘Exiting the Omicron Surge'

Illinoisans are being infected, hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 at levels not seen since last autumn.

Just eight deaths were reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday, the state’s lowest daily death toll since late November. Cases, too, were at their lowest point in nearly three months, with 2,734 reported.

Read more here.

Here's Where Chicago Stands in 4 Key COVID Statistics Amid Mask, Vaccine Mandate Debate

While the state of Illinois says it plans to drop its mask mandate if COVID metrics continue to improve, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the city is “not there yet,” and is closely monitoring statistics to determine when to remove its mitigations.

According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, the decision on whether to terminate those mitigations will come down to four key risk metrics: new COVID cases per day, COVID test positivity rates, hospital bed occupancy and ICU bed occupancy.

If three of those four metrics are at a “lower transmission” level or below, and then remain there for at least two weeks, then the city would move to remove COVID-19 mitigation rules that are in place.

As of Monday, here's where the metrics stand.

‘Not There Yet:' Lightfoot Refuses to Specify Date for Lifting Chicago's Mask Mandate

Even as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker remains hopeful to lift the state's mask mandate by the end of February, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has refused to name a date for rescinding mask and vaccine restrictions, saying the latest COVID-19 data still shows some "danger signs."

Speaking to reporters Monday, Lightfoot said the city has made "tremendous progress" in its fight against COVID-19 and continues to climb down the back slope of a surge in cases brought on by the omicron variant.

During the last few weeks, cases have declined by at least 50% week-over-week, she stated. However, with an average number of 500 new COVID cases reported daily, Lightfoot said "it's not where we want to be."

"...I don't want to put an artificial date on when this is going to happen when we still see some danger signs in the data," the mayor said.

Cook County Poised to Lift Mask Mandate as COVID Cases Decline

Suburban Cook County plans on rescinding its indoor mask requirements if key COVID-19 metrics continue to improve throughout the month of February, according to health officials.

In a statement issued Feb. 9, the Cook County Department of Public Health announced its vaccination and masking orders can be lifted in consistent with Illinois' Gov. J.B. Pritzker's timeframe for ending mask requirements as long as improvements occur.

Read more here.

Heading to the United Center? Here Are the COVID Policies You Need to Know

Whether you're planning to attend a Blackhawks game, cheer on the Bulls or see a concert at the United Center, several COVID-related procedures and precautions have been put in place.

In an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, providing proof of vaccination and wearing face coverings are both required for those who wish to enter the venue.

Here's what else you need to know about the COVID policies and procedures.

Schools Continue to Grapple With Masking Decisions After Judge's Ruling

More than a week after the ruling first came down, districts continue to grapple with how to respond to a downstate judge's temporary restraining order on mask mandates in Illinois schools as a requirement remains in effect across the state.

The debate over whether or not to abide by the state mandate or make masks optional has sparked concerns on both sides, but the threat of demonstrations has left some schools switching remote.

Read more here.

Suburban Catholic School Principal Placed on Leave After Making Masks Optional

Parents at a south suburban Catholic school called for the principal's reinstatement Sunday after he was placed on leave for making masks optional in defiance of the Archdiocese of Chicago's policies.

Gathered outside Queen of Martyrs Catholic School in Evergreen Park, parents and children rallied in support of Doc Mathius, who was removed as principal last week.

Mathius announced masks would be optional in his school, saying mandates were starting to negatively affect children.

However, at the time, a mask requirement at schools remained in place by the Archdiocese.

Read more here.

Here's Why Mask Mandates Are Falling Across the US

As the omicron wave of the coronavirus subsides, several U.S. states including Nevada, New York and Illinois ended mask mandates this week for indoor settings, while others lifted requirements at schools.

Here’s a look at what happened with mask rules this week.

Where Will You Still Need a Face Covering After Illinois' Mask Mandate Ends Later This Month?

Though Gov. J.B. Pritzker plans to lift Illinois' indoor mask mandate by the end of the month, some places will still require face coverings until further notice.

Where will the exceptions to the rule be?

Here’s what we know so far.

Archdiocese of Chicago Switches to Make Masks Optional Inside Some Schools

The Archdiocese of Chicago announced late Tuesday night that masks will be optional in some school settings, citing low coronavirus cases over the past few weeks.

In a letter to families late Tuesday, archdiocese Supt. Greg Richmond wrote that students will no longer be required to wear a face covering in schools located in areas where the local health department does not have a mask mandate.

In Lake County and most of suburban Cook County, the diocese wrote that masks will be optional beginning Thursday. However, masks will still be required in classrooms in the city of Chicago, Oak Park and Evanston to align with local health departments.

Read more here.

Northwestern Experts Say Lifting Mask Mandates ‘Is Clearly Not a Decision Based on Data'

As more schools across Illinois decide to lift mask requirements in the classroom following a downstate judge's decision, experts at Northwestern said removing face-covering mandates "is clearly not a decision based on data."

Dr. Tina Tan, professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, called lifting existing mask mandates "a little bit premature."

“Yes, there are many places that have gotten over the omicron surge, but there are still some places in the U.S. where the peak hasn’t happened yet," Tan said.

The timing also plays a major role in removing masks inside schools, according to Mercedes Carnethon, vice chair of preventive medicine at Feinberg.

“The timing of this is very poor because in Illinois, it’s still very cold so our kids are forced to spend most of their days indoors,” Carnethon said. “It would be one thing in the summer or the late spring when more things can be done outside where transmission rates are lower.” 

Read more here.

What If You Test Positive for COVID After Quarantining? Here's What Health Officials Say

If you test positive for COVID-19 after quarantining and no longer showing symptoms, do you still have to remain in isolation?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person is encouraged, but not required to take a coronavirus test after quarantining for five days post-diagnosis.

After five full days, a person can end the isolation period should they be fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication and other symptoms have improved, the CDC wrote online.

However, the CDC said the best approach would be to find an antigen test towards the end of the five-day isolation period.

Read more here.

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