What is the state of Illinois' mask mandate and will it remain in place for the Thanksgiving holiday?
Cases of coronavirus in the state and in Chicago have risen dramatically in the last week, but is that a sign of another surge?
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
‘Million Dollar Question': Chicago Doctor Weighs in on Future of Masks
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When can people in Illinois stop wearing masks? When will Illinois halt its indoor mask mandate?
"I think that's the million dollar question right now," said Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious disease expert at UChicago Medicine. "I think everyone's asking, right, when are we going to drop our masks? We get that question all the time."
Illinois' latest indoor mask mandate remains in effect, meaning everyone over the age of 2 must wear a mask in indoor settings, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said there are a mix of things he's looking at to determine the mandate's status, especially coronavirus hospitalization numbers and vaccination numbers.
Dr. Landon said people should see masks as a tool and not a hindrance, especially given previous coronavirus restrictions.
"I know a lot of people see masks as some sort of barrier," Dr. Landon said. "But compared to the restrictions and the closures of restaurants and the occupancy limits and not being able to go to the gym and not being able to go to theater and things like that, masks are a much better trade-off."
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Chicagoans Over Age 18 Will Not Be Turned Away from Getting COVID Booster Shot, Arwady Says
Chicago residents over the age of 18 won't be turned away from getting COVID-19 vaccine booster shots as health officials report "plenty of availability," the city's top doctor said Tuesday.
"You're not gonna get turned away from getting a booster if you're over the age of 18," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Facebook Live event. "We have plenty of availability here."
Arwady noted that those of any age who want to get a third vaccine shot must be six months out from the second dose of their Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. For those who initially received Johnson & Johnson, the wait period is two months.
Read more here.
COVID Cases Have Risen by Nearly 20% in Illinois, City of Chicago in Last Week, Officials Say
After decreasing for several months after a delta variant-driven surge over the summer, cases of coronavirus in the state of Illinois and in the city of Chicago have risen dramatically in the last week, increasing by nearly 20%, according to state metrics and city health officials.
According to the latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state is averaging 2,651 new cases of coronavirus each day over the last seven days. That is an increase of 19.7% over where the state was on Nov. 2, when 2,215 new cases per day were being averaged.
If one goes back to Oct. 24, when the state hit a low watermark in new cases, the number of new cases of the virus has increased by 27.7%, from 2,076 new cases per day.
While there has been an increase in testing in recent days, it doesn’t fully account for the increase in cases. According to state data, the average number of tests per day has risen to 120,627, an increase of 7.5% over the last week.
Read more here.
Here's When You Need to Get the COVID Vaccine to Be Fully Vaccinated by Thanksgiving
The deadline to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the Thanksgiving holiday, allowing more families to gather together this November, arrives this week.
Though Chicagoans will not be able to receive the two-shot Pfizer nor Moderna vaccines in time for Thanksgiving, the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine should provide protection from COVID if administered by Thursday.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady has given additional dates to receive the first and single vaccine doses in order to be fully vaccinated by Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa.
One More State Removed From Chicago's Travel Advisory This Week
One additional state was removed from Chicago’s travel advisory, dropping the list of places on the city’s warning list to 40 states and one territory.
Arkansas was the lone state to drop out of the city's "orange category" on the advisory this week, though officials noted that Alabama, Mississippi, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia are eligible to come off the advisory next week if their metrics remain below the city's threshold.
Currently, the only states and territories not on the travel advisory are Arkansas, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and the Virgin Islands.
Read more here.
More CPD Employees Comply With City's Vaccine Mandate, Vaccination Rate Drops
More Chicago Police Department employees have recorded their vaccination status on the city’s online portal but the response rate remains dismal, according to figures released by the city Monday.
The police department’s response rate climbed to 77.9%, which is up more than 4 percentage points from last week. The department remains the only agency to not be at least 80% in compliance.
Police Supt. David Brown said there are 35 police officers on a no-pay status for failing to comply with the city mandate to disclose whether they’ve been vaccinated. As many as 50 officers were placed on a no-pay status when the mandate went into effect last month.
“This means officers who were in no-pay status have come back and complied with the mandate,” Brown said during a news conference Monday.
Read more here.
Pritzker Signs Amendment Removing ‘Conscience' as Basis for Resisting COVID Vaccine Mandates
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed Senate Bill 1169 into law, which he says will “clarify the legislative intent” of a bill originally designed to allow medical professionals to refuse to refuse or participate in healthcare services that violated their personal beliefs, but had been used recently to allow individuals to “improperly” evade COVID-19 vaccination, testing and masking requirements in the state.
According to a press release, the bill alters the Health Care Right of Conscience Act, and will remove conscientious objections as a basis for refusing to adhere to COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates in the state of Illinois.
Religious and health exemptions are still permitted, according to the press release.
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.
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.