Illinois Government Responses to Covid-19 Updated 8/20/2020
Today’s update discusses:
- Region 4 facing tighter restrictions
- Some higher education institutions requiring students to sign liability waivers
- Chicago Public Schools releasing remote learning plan
- Congressman asking FDA to temporarily ban vaping
- Illinois among top seven states reporting rare childhood syndrome linked to COVID-19
- State launching new COVID-19 hotspots map
- State utilizing new saliva-based test
- School mask mandate being upheld in court
- As positive cases continue to grow in Illinois, the governor announced additional restrictions for Region 4, which includes Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair, and Washington counties. The restrictions, which took effect on Tuesday, include limiting gatherings to 25 people or 25% of a room’s capacity, banning party buses, and closing bars, restaurants and casinos by 11 p.m. If the numbers don’t improve within two weeks, the governor has said tighter restrictions will be put in place.
- As students prepare to return to college this fall, many are facing potential liability waivers from their schools. These forms are raising red flags for some students and faculty, while others appear unconcerned. Generally, the forms discuss COVID-19 safety protocols; however, they frequently include some type of statement that students are voluntarily assuming the risks related to COVID-19 exposure upon returning to in-person learning. Those who are concerned about the notices fear the institutions are trying to waive liability by presenting people’s exposure to COVID-19 as a voluntary choice. Others believe it is only a “fair and appropriate” way to notify students and faculty that there are risks to in-person learning right now “so that the members of the community can make their own risk assessment.” Either way, students are encouraged to carefully read these notices and make their own, individual determinations before committing to the agreements.
- Chicago Public Schools has released its remote learning plan for the upcoming school year. According to the CPS website, students will engage in real-time instruction with their teachers at least three hours a day, while the remainder of the school day will consist of independent learning and small group activities. In addition, CPS announced they will ensure that up to 36,000 students who need a computer will get one, and that more than 100,000 families from limited-income backgrounds will get high-speed internet at no cost to the families.
- Illinois Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi has once again asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban e-cigarettes until the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to several studies, vaping creates an increased risk of developing COVID-19. The congressman, who asked the FDA to respond by Tuesday, stated that the “youth vaping epidemic is colliding with the pandemic to create a very dangerous situation.” The president of the American Vaping Association, however, claims that the “data is not consistent across the study.”
- A recently released federal report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that Illinois has one of the highest number of cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in the country. (MIS-C is a rare but severe illness in children linked to COVID-19). According to the CDC, 40 state health departments have reported cases of MIS-C, with the highest number of cases being reported in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and California.
- Illinois has launched an online COVID-19 hotspot map to assist those traveling outside the state in assessing their risk. The map, provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health, identifies which of the 50 states are “high risk” and which are “lower risk.” (A state is considered “high risk” when its reported COVID-19 cases reaches15 or more per 100,000.) Visitors to the site can also view specific case rates for each state.
- On Wednesday, Governor Pritzker announced that Illinois will begin utilizing a new, “groundbreaking saliva-based test” for COVID-19 that was developed at the University of Illinois. The test is reportedly getting emergency use authorization by the FDA and will be faster and cheaper than traditional testing, with results available within three to six hours.
- As previously updated, Pritzker filed a preemptive lawsuit asking the Sangamon County Circuit Court to approve his order for a mask mandate in schools. This week the Court granted that injunction against school districts opposing the mandate. Therefore, any school in Illinois that elects to bring students and staff back into the building for in-person learning must comply with the guidelines.