Chicago COIVD Mandates, School Masks Pushback – NBC Chicago

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The city of Chicago plans to end both its indoor mask mandate and its proof-of-vaccination mandate by the end of the month, should coronavirus metrics continue on a downward trend.

Meanwhile, one Chicago-area school has switched to remote learning to avoid pushback over the existing face covering requirement.

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

At Least One Chicago-Area School Switches to Remote Learning to Avoid Pushback Over Mask Policy

At least one Chicago-area school switched to remote learning Friday after hearing of possible protests planned by students and parents over a mask requirement in the classroom.

Hampshire High School in district 300, switched to e-learning to “avoid any disruptions” from protests urging schools to adopt a “mask optional” policy after a judge in downstate Illinois issued an order preventing enforcement of the statewide face covering requirement in the classroom.

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.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 29K New Cases, 499 Deaths in Last Week as Cases and Deaths Keep Dropping

Illinois health officials reported 29,939 new COVID-19 cases over the past week, along with 499 additional deaths and over 150,000 new vaccine doses administered, marking a continued drop in cases and deaths.

The previous week, the state reported 60,389 new cases and 608 deaths. The week before that, 123,812 new cases and 843 deaths were reported.

The state’s positivity rate on tests in the last week dropped to 4.5%, a decrease from the 5.8% reported last Friday. Meanwhile, the positivity rate on individuals tested dropped to 5.8%, from 8% the previous week.

As of midnight Wednesday, 2,380 patients were hospitalized due to COVID in the state. Of those patients, 432 are in ICU beds, and 238 are on ventilators, both of which have decreased in the last seven days.

Read more here.

Chicago to End Indoor COVID Vaccine, Mask Mandates Later This Month if Metrics Allow

The city of Chicago plans to end both its indoor mask mandate and its proof-of-vaccination mandate by the end of the month, in line with Illinois’ timeline to drop the statewide indoor mask mandate, if coronavirus metrics allow for it to happen, the mayor’s spokesman told NBC Chicago.

In an email, Chicago officials said that they anticipate being in a position to remove their mask mandate by the end of the month, but the fate of the city’s proof-of-vaccination mandate, which has been in effect in Chicago since the beginning of the year, remained unclear.

On Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office confirmed that the vaccine mandate also would end if COVID metrics keep falling.

Read more here.

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.

Read Pritzker’s Full Announcement on Plan to Lift Illinois’ Mask Mandate

Illinois will lift its indoor mask mandate beginning in late February, with the exception of schools, should COVID-19 metrics continue to decline, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday.

Read and watch his full remarks here.

Pritzker Aims to Lift Illinois Mask Mandate By Feb. 28, He Announces

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker revealed Wednesday that he hopes to lift the indoor mask mandate for the state by the end of this month.

Speaking during an unrelated press conference, the governor revealed he aims to lift the mandate for the state, with certain exceptions, by Feb. 28.

“My intention is as we’ve seen these numbers peak at about 7,400 hospitalizations, and heading downward significantly – we’re now I think under 2,500 hospitalizations, so that’s almost a third of where we were at the peak and heading even further downward – to lift the mask mandate in the indoor locations by Feb. 28. And that… of course, we still have the sensitive locations of K-12 schools, where we have lots of people who are, you know, joined together in smaller spaces, thousands of people interacting in one location at a time. And so that’s something that will come weeks hence. But very importantly, things are getting better across the state of Illinois.”

Read more here.

New York Lifts Indoor Mask Requirement as Pritzker Announces Plan to End Illinois’ Face Covering Mandate

New York will lift the state’s indoor mask mandate for businesses Thursday, the governor announced, as Gov. J.B. Pritzker says when Illinois’ face covering requirement will end.

In a press conference Wednesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the mask mandate will remain in schools, despite ending for businesses.

New York City health officials are encouraging residents to wear “high-quality” masks when indoors or in crowded areas, despite the absence of a mandate.

Read more here.

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.

Queen of Martyrs School Principal Placed On Administrative After Defying Mask Mandate

Parents and students held a rally outside Queen of Martyrs in Evergreen Park to support principal Doc Mathius, who is on leave after speaking out against mandatory wearing of masks in the school.

“I want the focus to be on the kids not me,” he told NBC 5 in a phone interview. “I happen to be the guy that was in charge that made this call.”

Mathius spoke out against the Archdiocese of Chicago’s policy on masking, and has since been placed on paid administrative leave. He sent a letter to parents on Monday letting them know that masking will be optional for students and staff at the private Catholic school and believes it was the right decision to make.

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.

All US States Remain on Chicago Travel Advisory for 6th Straight Week

For the sixth straight week, every U.S. state remained on Chicago’s travel advisory.

The city’s health department on Tuesday said no states were added or removed the city’s COVID warning list for travelers.

In order for a state or territory to be removed from the advisory, they must have a daily COVID-19 case rate of under 15 per 100,000 residents for two consecutive weeks.

“Although daily COVID-19 case rates have fallen steeply all over the country in the past few weeks, no state or territory has yet reached the sub-15 cases per 100,000 residents threshold,” the health department said in a release.

Pritzker School Mask Mandate: Judge’s Ruling Based on ‘Poor Legal Reasoning,’ Governor Says

The state of Illinois filed a notice of appeal Monday challenging a temporary restraining order issued by a downstate Sangamon County judge that prohibits school districts from enforcing a statewide mask requirement.

Speaking at a news conference, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker called the ruling by Judge Raylene Grischow “out of step with the vast majority of legal analysis,” saying it “cultivates chaos for parents, families, teachers and school administrators.”

The judge issued the order preventing enforcement of the statewide mask requirement in schools Friday, explaining Pritzker overstepped his legal authority by implementing such a mandate.

Read more here.

Ruling on Illinois School Mask Mandate Lawsuit: What to Know So Far

A downstate Illinois judge made a ruling late last week that effectively prohibits a statewide mask requirement in schools, sparking plenty of confusion from school districts across the state.

So what does it mean, how are schools responding and what’s next?

Here’s what we know so far.

CDC Guidance Shortens Time Between 3rd COVID Vaccine Dose, Booster for Immunocompromised Patients

According to revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommended wait time between booster shot does for “moderately-to-severely” immunocompromised patients has been shortened from five months to three months.

The new recommendation, released during a meeting of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization on Friday, is aiming to “clarify” the booster schedule for patients with underlying conditions that make them immunocompromised.

Currently, those patients are scheduled to receive three doses, rather than two, of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID vaccine. Those patients were then slated to receive a booster dose at least five months after that third dose.

Under the new guidance, those patients should now receive a booster dose at least three months after the third dose of their mRNA COVID vaccine, the CDC says.

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.

Illinois to Appeal Restraining Order Issued in School Mask Mandate Suit, Pritzker Says

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday asked that the state Attorney General’s office immediately appeal a decision by a downstate judge to implement a restraining order barring schools from enforcing mask mandates, school exclusion protocols and COVID-19 testing requirements.

The governor’s office issued a news release in which he referred to Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge Raylene Grischow’s decision as “misguided,” saying schools may be forced to go remote if they don’t have proper tools to keep students and staff safe.

Read more here.

Exclusive: Dr. Fauci Weighs in on Illinois’ COVID Metrics, Masks and More

As Chicago and Illinois’ COVID-19 metrics plummet, the doctor leading America’s war against the virus sees signs for hope. Dr. Anthony Fauci shared his message for Illinois residents in an exclusive interview NBC 5’s Phil Rogers.

As Chicago and Illinois’ COVID-19 metrics plummet from their all-time peaks just weeks ago, the doctor leading America’s war against the virus sees signs for hope.

“Illinois is actually doing well,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview Friday. “The upper northeast and the Midwest, represented by Chicago and Illinois, are doing better in general than the rest of the country.”

For more on the interview with NBC 5’s Phil Rogers, click here.



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