Gov. J.B. Pritzker Thursday announced new measures to respond to increasing COVID-19 Delta variant cases — including requiring vaccinations or weekly COVID testing for teachers and staff from pre-school through colleges.
The new rules will also create similar requirements for higher education students and healthcare workers in a variety of settings.
In justifying the new restrictions the governor said that six of the state’s 11 regions — including Chicago and suburban Cook County — have less than 20% of intensive care unit beds available — an indication of stressed capacity. In addition six regions have less than 60% of their population fully vaccinated.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that the full vaccination level in suburban Cook County is just over 58% while it’s under 55% in Chicago. Evanston’s full vaccination rate for persons 12 and older stands at just under 80%
Pritzker says current vaccination levels are not enough to blunt the ferocity of the hospitalization surge caused by the Delta variant.
“Hospital administrators are asking for more help to manage the sheer number of incoming patients – who are almost exclusively unvaccinated residents, the governor said, adding “Our new vaccination requirements and the reinstatement of our indoor mask mandate build on proactive measures we took earlier this month.”
The new rules also create a statewide indoor mask mandate which will apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people in indoor settings.