coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Pets and COVID, Mask Mandate Latest

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

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mask mandate for schools hit another roadblock on when a bipartisan legislative committee rejected an attempt to reintroduce emergency COVID-19 protocols in classrooms.

Meanwhile, Chicago's top doctor said that as long as pets and other animals can contract COVID, the virus will likely never be completely eradicated.

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

Chicago's Top Doctor Says It's ‘Unlikely We Would Ever Eradicate' COVID While Animals Can Contract the Virus

As long as pets and other animals can contract COVID-19, the virus will likely never be completely eradicated, Chicago's top doctor said Tuesday.

"For me, the concern about seeing COVID not just in dogs and cats but in animals in general, it tells us that there's what we call an 'animal reservoir for COVID-19' and that means that it's one of the most important things that makes it very unlikely that we would ever eradicate completely -- get rid of COVID. Because as long as there are animals that are able to have it, there are, you know, that remains a risk," Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook live event.

Read more here.

Could There One Day Be a COVID Vaccine for Animals? Chicago's Top Doc Says It's Possible

Could there be a coronavirus vaccine created for animals one day?

"Yeah, there could be," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook live event Tuesday.

However, Arwady explained that health officials would want to see that COVID-19 infections were "serious" in animals or that pets were playing a large role in making humans seriously ill.

"One of the reasons we have rabies vaccines is that rabies is a really deadly human disease and can be a problem there," Arwady said.

Some animals have already been vaccinated against COVID, Arwady noted, although most of those cases were in zoo settings.

Read more here.

Bipartisan Panel Rejects Pritzker's Attempt to Reintroduce Emergency Mask Mandate for Schools

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mask mandate for schools hit another roadblock on Tuesday when a bipartisan legislative committee rejected the Illinois Department of Public Health’s attempt to reintroduce the governor’s emergency COVID-19 protocols for classrooms across the state.

The department’s emergency rules — which served as the state’s official guidance on masks, testing and exclusion for those exposed to the coronavirus in schools — expired on Sunday. The emergency rules re-filed on Monday became effective immediately.

Read more here.

Debates Rage Over Mask, Proof-of-Vax Mandates Amid Metric Declines and Court Challenges

Chicago is not on track to get rid of its mask and vaccine mandates when the state is expected to lift its mask mandate on Feb. 28, but the city may go ahead and do so anyway if metrics are still trending in the right direction.

According to city officials, Chicago must be within “lower transmission” rates of COVID in at least three of a group of four key metrics before it can move forward with removing its mask and proof-of-vaccination requirements. Those metrics include case numbers, positivity rates, hospital bed usage and ICU bed usage.

That discussion comes amid the ongoing dispute over mask requirements in public schools, which has been the subject of a slew of litigation and debate in recent months. On Tuesday, a bipartisan committee of state lawmakers voted not to extend Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mask requirement in schools.

Read more here.

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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