coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: International Travel, Vaccine Mandates, School Outbreak

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International travel to the U.S. has resumed for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, but there will be some new guidelines in place as Chicago airports prepare for a new rush of travelers.

Meanwhile, debate over Illinois' change in law for vaccine exemptions grows.

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

Chicago Airports Prepare for Return of International Travelers as US Lifts Ban

Chicago airports will see the return of international tourists for the first time since the pandemic began as the U.S. lifts restrictions Monday on those from a long list of countries.

The lifting of the travel ban includes certain tourists from place like Mexico, Canada and most of Europe, allowing tourists to make long-delayed trips and family members to reconnect with loved ones after more than a year and a half apart because of the pandemic.

The rules that go into effect Monday allow air travel from a series of countries from which it has been restricted since the early days of the pandemic — as long as the traveler has proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test. Those crossing a land border from Mexico or Canada will require proof of vaccination but no test.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and United Airlines President Brett Hart are set to celebrate the lifting of the travel ban at 9:45 a.m. at O'Hare International Airport.

Watch live here.

Federal COVID Shot Opt-Out Not as Clear as Illinois Democrats Claim

Lawsuits against Illinois over required COVID-19 vaccination were accumulating and the reason was clear: the legal claims leverage of the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act in stating religious objections to the shot and in appealing sanctions, including losing a job, that come with refusal.

Democrats who control the General Assembly went to work last month to change that, but publicly sidestepped the lawsuits as the reason. They said their action had nothing to do with curtailing religious freedom. Anyone fired from a job after rejecting vaccination for religious reasons can file a lawsuit under one of at least four different federal statutes, they said.

“People will be able to claim a religious exemption well after the effective date of this law...,” Senate President Don Harmon, a sponsor of the change, contended in debate. “The religious exemption exists in federal law and is unaffected by this.”

Constitutional scholars contradict that claim. None of the laws cited by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office — prohibiting employment discrimination under the Civil Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, or those protecting age or genetic information — would likely recognize a religious objection to the COVID-19 vaccine, they say.

Read more here.

COVID Booster Eligibility: Who Can Get the Third Vaccine Dose Now?

COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available for millions across the U.S., but what qualifies you to receive the third dose?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed extra doses of all three of the nation’s vaccines last month, causing health departments across the Chicago area to create plans to put additional shots in arms.

For those eligible, patients should receive a booster dose of the COVID vaccine at least six months after their first series of shots, health officials noted.

Here's a complete breakdown of who is eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID vaccine booster shot, according to the CDC.

COVID Outbreak Closes Chicago Suburban Elementary School for Two Weeks

An elementary school located in Chicago's western suburbs will be closed for two weeks following a reported COVID-19 outbreak.

Nearly 600 students at Willow Bend Elementary School in Rolling Meadows will return to remote learning for two weeks after 40 coronavirus cases were recorded at the school.

"As you may be aware, over the last two weeks, there have been a growing number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Willow Bend," Principal Robert Harris wrote in a letter to parents and staff. "These cases were contact traced and communication occurred to close contacts and the impacted classrooms. We have diligently engaged in the contact tracing of each case and remained in close contact with the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) regarding each situation."

Students and staff will work remotely beginning Nov. 8 and continue through Nov. 19, according to the letter. Both students and staff will be able to return to the school after Thanksgiving break on Nov. 29.

Read more here.

What Are the First Symptoms of COVID-19?

When considering whether or not to be tested for COVID-19, people have been asking: what are the first symptoms at the onset of the virus?

Though COVID shows up in a myriad of forms depending on the person, the most common early symptoms reported include fatigue, headache, sore throat, fever or loss of taste and smell, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

"COVID-19 can cause symptoms that are mild at first, but then become more intense over five to seven days, with worsening cough and shortness of breath," Johns Hopkins said on their website. "Some people develop pneumonia with COVID-19."

Read more here.

Chicago Public Schools Won't Hold Classes Friday So Students, Parents Can Get COVID Vaccines

Chicago Public Schools will close its schools next Friday to mark “Vaccination Awareness Day,” giving students and parents the opportunity to receive coronavirus vaccinations.

The move was made after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11.

“To ensure all eligible students have the opportunity to receive the vaccine as quickly as possible, CPS schools will be closed on Friday, Nov. 12, for Vaccination Awareness Day,” CPS said in a statement.

Faculty and staff will be given paid days off, according to officials.

Read more here.

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