Illinois' new mask mandate takes effect after Gov. J.B. Pritzker reinstated restrictions last week.
Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools students return to the classrooms, but could an employee vaccine mandate be causing complications for some students?
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Illinois Mask Mandate: New Indoor Mask Requirements Take Effect Monday
Illinois' reinstated mask mandate takes effect Monday, requiring residents over the age of 2 to wear face coverings in indoor settings.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker re-issued the mask mandate for the state Thursday, saying the state is "running out of time as our hospitals run out of beds."
The new indoor mask guidelines, similar to mandates already handed down in Cook County and Chicago, will require facial coverings in indoor settings, regardless of COVID vaccination status.
"Illinois will join several other states that have reinstituted statewide indoor mask requirements, regardless of vaccination status, effective on Monday," Pritzker said in his announcement. "Masks work. Period."
He noted that while face coverings are not required outdoors, "masks are strongly encouraged in crowded outdoor settings like festivals and concerts as well as for activities that require close contact with people who are not vaccinated."
Thousands of CPS Students Return to Classrooms Monday
More than 300,000 students who attend Chicago Public Schools are set to return to classrooms Monday for the start of the school year.
The return comes as the district and the Chicago Teachers Union remain at odds over whether enough safety measures have been put in place.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has insisted the district's 644 schools will be safe as students are welcomed back Monday, but with the delta variant surging, the teachers' union claims CPS isn't ready and its members are concerned.
"We don't have baseline or surveillance testing mandated in any way, shape or form," CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said Friday.
Furthermore, the union contends the school district is stripping some COVID safety measures that were put in place last year.
CPS Families Affected by Bus Driver Shortage Offered Stipends of Up to $1000
While classes are set to resume Monday for the more than 300,000 students who attend Chicago Public Schools, some children and families are already facing a predicament before the academic year begins - a lack of transportation.
Due to "a rush of" bus driver resignations within the past week, CPS says it's not able to accommodate transportation for approximately 2,100 students during the beginning of the school year.
"“We are saddened and extremely frustrated by this situation, and we express our sincerest apologies to the impacted families for the inconvenience this has caused — especially with such short notice," the district said in a statement.
In turn, CPS is offering affected families stipends of $1,000 for the first two weeks and $500 the following months, but notes the payments "will not completely alleviate the predicament."
In regard to CPS, approximately 10% of drivers resigned during the week of Aug. 23, with 73 submitting their resignations alone on Friday, Aug. 27. The sharp increase in resignations was likely driven by the district's vaccinations requirements, the school district said.
Read more here.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 25,636 New COVID Cases, 176 Deaths, 168K Vaccinations in the Past Week
Illinois health officials on Friday reported 25,636 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, along with 176 additional deaths and over 168,000 new vaccine doses administered as the state continues to see a surge fueled by the delta variant.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate on all tests dropped to 5.7% from 6.1% last week, which was up from 5.9% the week before, officials said. The rolling average seven-day positivity rate for cases as a percentage of total tests decreased slightly to 5.2% from 5.3% the week before, which was up from 5.1% two weeks prior.
More than 13.9 million vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois since vaccinations began in December. More than 61% of adult residents in the state are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with more than 78% receiving at least one dose.
As of midnight Thursday, 2,240 patients were hospitalized due to COVID in the state. Of those patients, 500 are in ICU beds, and 253 are on ventilators. All metrics are a reported increase since last Friday.
Read more here.