The Illinois State Board of Education voted to adopt a resolution requiring schools to resume in-person learning for the fall school year, with few exceptions.

Meanwhile, Chicago will no longer require masks for fully vaccinated people in most settings following similar changes from the state of Illinois and new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Plus, Chicago has updated its emergency travel order, with seven states now on the list requiring a quarantine or negative test for people coming to the city who are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

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

Illinois School Board Votes to Adopt Resolution Requiring In-Person Learning in the Fall

The Illinois State Board of Education voted to adopt a resolution requiring schools to resume in-person learning for the fall school year, with few exceptions.

The resolution, which was opposed by many parents who offered public comment ahead of the board's Wednesday vote, was passed unanimously.

The daily in-person learning requirement is "subject to favorable public health conditions" and would begin at the start of the 2021-22 school year, under the guidelines.

The resolution supports a declaration made by State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala, a spokesperson for ISBE said in a statement. It includes one exception to in-person learning, however, stating that remote learning "would still be required for students who are both not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and also under a quarantine order." It also states that students who don't meet that criteria "may be eligible for home/hospital instruction."

Read more here.

The Power of Perfume: Helping COVID Patients Regain Their Sense of Smell

Sahil Shah was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early November, and a remarkable treatment may have resolved one of the COVID long hauler's worst symptoms.

"I lost my taste and smell around Nov. 5," said Shah, who turns 14 this month.

He's what many consider a "COVID long hauler," defined by scientists as an individual who has experienced symptoms of the virus for more than six weeks.

"We met with neurosurgeons, doctors. We did everything from cupping to acupuncture, MRI’s. We did everything any parent would do," said Pratik Shah, Sahil's dad.

After six months, Sahil's parents became extremely concerned their son's loss of taste and smell might never come back.

"What’s his life going to be when two of his five senses are not there? We were looking at it that way," said Shah.

But they never gave up hope. Self-proclaimed, "over-Googlers," Sahil's parents got to work researching. His mom came across an article about a perfume designer in New York helping COVID patients regain their sense of smell.

Read more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,633 New COVID Cases, 28 Deaths, 117K Vaccinations

Illinois health officials reported 1,633 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 28 additional deaths in the last day, along with more than 117,000 vaccinations administered over recent days.

The newly reported coronavirus cases bring the state total to 1,370,342 cases since the pandemic began and lift the total death toll to 22,494, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The statewide positivity rate remained at 2.3% of all tests returning positive results, and the positivity rate for individuals tested in the last seven days went down to 2.7%, according to IDPH data.

The state reported 117,381 vaccinations administered in the last day, according to the latest data, bringing the seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered to 62,884 doses. But a server issue may have lowered vaccination data earlier this week.

Read more here.

What If People Lie About Vaccination Status as Mask Guidelines Change? Chicago's Top Doc Weighs In

Chicago will no longer require masks for fully vaccinated people in most settings, but questions on how such guidelines will be enforced remain.

Among the concerns are questions regarding people who may lie about their vaccination status.

Chicago's top health official said additional guidance is expected this summer, particularly as major festivals and events, like Lollapalooza, resume at full capacity with a vaccination or negative test requirement.

"Certainly people have their cards, but that card is linked to a registry sort of at the state level," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "And the state and other states have been working around ways where people want to request their vaccine status themselves to be able to have some proof of that available electronically. And that's just technology that is evolving, so I don't want to speak to it. For sure, one way or another, we'll have some updated information."

More here.

Do Children Still Need to Wear Masks Under Illinois' and Chicago's New Guidelines?

As Illinois and Chicago lift mask restrictions for fully vaccinated people in most settings, many parents are wondering what the news means for children too young to get vaccinated.

Under Illinois' new order, "any individual who is not fully vaccinated and who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face covering (a mask or cloth face covering) shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a face covering when in a public place and unable to maintain a six-foot social distance."

A spokesperson for the governor's office also confirmed that unvaccinated children should continue wearing masks in most settings. Masks will also still be required in schools and daycares across the city and state. But what about outside of public spaces?

Read more here.

Chicago Advises Businesses to Keep Mask Requirements Until City Reaches Phase 5

Chicago will no longer require masks for fully vaccinated people in most settings, but as businesses continue to sort out what that will look like, the city said mask requirements are still advised.

The city's new guidelines no longer mandate face coverings for fully vaccinated people, except for in certain places like schools and health care settings and on public transportation. Businesses and buildings, however, will have the option of still requiring them.

The city encouraged businesses unable to check vaccination status to continue requiring masks until capacity limits are lifted and the city reaches Phase 5 of its reopening plan.

"We strongly advise businesses to verify that individuals are fully vaccinated in order to follow the new mask guidance," the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a release. "However, we know that many businesses and other settings may not have the capacity to check people’s vaccination status. Therefore, we continue to strongly advise—though not require—masking policies for all indoor settings in Chicago until COVID-19 capacity restrictions are lifted and we enter phase five."

More details here.

Chicago Updates Mask Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Residents

Chicago will no longer require masks for fully vaccinated people in most settings following similar changes from the state of Illinois and new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"If you are not fully vaccinated, you need to continue to wear your mask in all indoor settings," the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a release Tuesday.

The city noted that masks will still be required for all residents, regardless of vaccination status, in health care settings, schools, correctional/congregate settings, and on public transportation.

City buildings will also continue requiring masks "at least until COVID-19 capacity restrictions are lifted."

The city encouraged businesses unable to check vaccination status to continue requiring masks until capacity limits are lifted and the city reaches Phase 5 of its reopening plan.

Read more here.

Chicago Travel Order Update: 7 States on List Requiring Quarantine or Negative COVID Test

Chicago updated its emergency travel order Tuesday, with seven states now on the "orange" list requiring a quarantine or negative test for people coming to the city who are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Here's where each state falls, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health:

  • 42 yellow states, Puerto Rico and District of Columbia: Oklahoma, Mississippi, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nevada, Kansas, Wisconsin, California, Wyoming, Missouri, Hawaii, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Kentucky, Idaho, Montana, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, South Dakota, Maryland, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont, Alaska, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Delaware,  Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Hampshire,  Indiana, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, North Carolina, and Oregon
  • 7 orange states: Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, West Virginia, and Washington

While health officials continue to urge residents to avoid travel if possible, the thresholds and the testing or quarantine requirements for each category are as follows:

  • Yellow: States with a rolling 7-day average less than 15 cases/day/100k residents.
    • No quarantine or pre-arrival test required. Maintain strict masking, social distancing and avoidance of in-person gatherings
  • Orange: States have a rolling 7-day average above 15 cases/day/100k residents 
    • 10-day quarantine OR negative test no earlier than 72 hours before arrival in Chicago with strict masking, social distancing and avoidance of in-person gatherings
      or
    • Be fully vaccinated, as defined as two weeks after the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or two weeks after one dose of a single-dose vaccine and not have symptoms

Read more here.

Lollapalooza Returning to Chicago This Summer, Organizers Announce

Lollapalooza is returning to Chicago this summer, organizers of the four-day music festival announced Tuesday.

Chicago's largest music festival will be held at Grant Park at full capacity from July 29 to August 1, organizers said. The lineup will be released at 10 a.m. Wednesday, with tickets going on sale at 12 p.m. Wednesday.

Organizers said a full COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results within 24 hours before attending the festival will be required for admission in accordance with current public health guidance. Details on the festival entry process will be available in early July.

Read more here.

Illinois Updates Mask Mandate Based on New CDC Guidance, Governor Announces

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the state's mask mandate is changing as officials rescind emergency rules enforcing masking and distancing following new guidance for fully vaccinated people from the CDC.

Pritzker said he is issuing an updated executive order that will remove the mask requirement for fully vaccinated residents in most settings and the Illinois Department of Public Health "is rescinding emergency rules in the Control of Communicable Disease Code that enforce masking and distancing for vaccinated people in business settings."

Officials said unvaccinated residents should continue wearing masks in most settings and residents should continue wearing masks on public transportation, in congregate facilities and in healthcare settings regardless of their vaccination status.

Find the full story here.

Where You Still Need to Wear Your Mask in Illinois – Even If You're Vaccinated

Illinois has new mask guidelines for fully vaccinated residents following guidance from the CDC. So what does that mean for you and when will you still need your mask? Here's a breakdown:

Fully vaccinated people can, per the CDC and IDPH:

  • Resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance
  • Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
  • Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States
  • Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
  • Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic
  • Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible

But fully vaccinated people should continue to:

  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations

Fully vaccinated people should also continue to wear a well-fitted mask in:

  • Crowded indoor settings like correctional facilities and homeless shelters
  • If you travel, you will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations
  • Schools and daycares

In Illinois, residents should continue wearing masks on public transportation, in congregate facilities and in healthcare settings regardless of their vaccination status, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office. Masks will also continue to be required in schools and daycares in the state.

If you are not fully vaccinated, you will need to wear a mask in most instances.

Illinois Rental Payment Program Offers Up to $25K for Tenants Struggling to Pay Rent

The Illinois Rental Payment Program opens Monday, with thousands of dollars available to Illinois residents who are struggling to pay rent due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Applications for the ILRPP will be accepted beginning Monday. Tenants and landlords could be eligible for up to 15 months of assistance in grant form to cover the past due rent from the last 12 months as well as future rental assistance for the next three months if necessary, the state says. The maximum grant amount is $25,000, provided by federal funding.

In order to be eligible, applicants must be behind on their rent for at least 30 days and renting the home as their primary residence and have experienced a financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.

Read more, including how to apply, here.



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