Governor Pritzker Announces COVID-19 vaccine requirement for education, healthcare workers to slow spread of Delta variant | NowDecatur.com
August 26, 2021 – As COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates across the state continue to increase, particularly in downstate communities with the lowest vaccination rates, Governor JB Pritzker and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike today announced vaccination requirements for individuals in high-risk settings. All healthcare workers, including nursing home employees, all pre-k-12 teachers, and staff, as well as higher education personnel and students will now be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Employees in all of these settings and higher education students who are unable or unwilling to receive the vaccine will be required to get tested for COVID-19 at least once per week, and DPH and ISBE may require increased testing in certain situations.
The Governor and Dr. Ezike also announced a statewide indoor mask mandate for all Illinois residents, regardless of vaccination status, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates continue to increase. The masking requirements are effective Monday, August 30th.
The public health requirements come as regions with low vaccination rates continue to see a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations. In IDPH region 5, Southern Illinois, with the lowest vaccination rate in the state at 44 percent, only 3% of ICU beds are available as the region experiences the highest case rate in the state. Since August 1st, local health departments across the state have reported 27 COVID-19 outbreaks at schools and currently hundreds of schools are being monitored for potential COVID-19 exposures.
“The quick spread of this disease in Illinois and across the country is holding us all back from the post-pandemic life we so desperately want to embrace, and it’s harming the most vulnerable among us,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We are running out of time as our hospitals run out of beds. Vaccination remains our strongest tool to protect ourselves and our loved ones, to restore post-pandemic life to our communities, and most crucially, to maintain our healthcare system’s ability to care for anyone who walks through their doors in need of help – and Illinois is taking action to keep our communities safe.”
“Unlike the wave of COVID-19 we saw earlier this Spring, we’re now seeing our hospital resources stretched thin with some areas of Illinois reduced to only a handful of available ICU beds,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “The vast majority of hospitalizations, as well as cases and deaths, are among those who are unvaccinated. This has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We have safe, proven, and effective tools to turn the tide and end this pandemic. But until more people are vaccinated, masks are the order of the day and will help us slow the spread of the virus.”
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