The graph shows the 7-day positivity rate for tests performed from June 1. Data from the Illinois Department of Public Health was used to calculate the averages. (Credit: Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois)
University of Illinois, other schools have already issued warrants
By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – State higher education agencies have released an update COVID-19 Tips Monday, encouraging all public and private higher education institutions in Illinois to issue mandatory vaccination policies.
“Vaccination against COVID-19 is now widely available and all people over 12 are eligible,” the guidance document says. “Vaccination is the primary prevention strategy against COVID-19 and all public and private universities are strongly encouraged to require vaccination (with appropriate exemptions) to protect campus populations and slow the transmission of COVID-19 in communities. surrounding communities. “
Some schools, including Northwestern University, Northern Illinois University, University of Illinois System, Loyola University Chicago, and DePaul University, among others, have already announced that they will need vaccinations for in-person learning.
This guidance, imposed by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board, came as the state’s COVID-19 case positivity rate rose to 2.4% on a moving average of seven. days Monday, more than quadrupled from what it was on June 26. The 1,151 cases reported on Sunday are the highest single-day number since May 26.
Hospitalizations for the virus have also increased, with 537 hospital beds used by COVID-19 patients on Sunday evening, the highest number since June 19. On an average of seven days from Monday to Sunday, there were 499 beds used by patients with COVID-19, a 14% increase from the same period a week earlier.
There was an average of 100 intensive care beds used during that same seven-day period, an 11% increase from the previous week. Fan usage remained stable with 35 in use on average for the week.
All numbers, while rising amid a nationwide wave triggered by a more contagious variant of the virus, were well below pandemic highs when the positivity rate surpassed 13% last winter and hospitalizations for COVID- 19 peaked above 6,000, with intensive care bed utilization exceeding 1,200.
Vaccinations, meanwhile, have slowed, with about 58% of the state’s population aged 18 and over fully vaccinated and 73% having received a dose. The seven-day moving average for vaccine doses administered was 20,628 on Monday, down from a peak of over 130,000 in April.
As the numbers rise, Gov. JB Pritzker’s office said on Friday that the administration currently has “no plans to implement additional mitigation measures now that there is an abundance of vaccines available and accessible throughout. Illinois. We encourage all Illinois residents aged 12 and over to get immunized as soon as possible. “
But Pritzker, speaking at an infrastructure press conference later Friday, said his administration was “always open to making policy changes in order to keep people safe and healthy.”
“Obviously, we have rising infection rates in parts of the state, and decisions will be made whether those areas continue to have rising infection rates, as to whether or not we should impose a different standard for these areas, ”he said. said, speaking of counties on the Missouri border, which have one of the worst infection rates in the country.
He said he would currently advise even vaccinated Illinois people to wear a mask in a setting where many people are gathered inside. State guidelines currently state that unvaccinated people should wear face coverings indoors, but that’s not a mandate.
State guidelines for higher education are also consistent with guidelines from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health on masking.
“Unvaccinated people and those who may need to take extra precautions should wear a face covering and, if possible, maintain a physical distance indoors,” the guide says. “Institutions should use space wisely to allow physical distancing where possible.”
Higher education institutions are also “strongly encouraged to continue testing COVID-19 on unvaccinated people to identify and slow transmission of the virus,” and should follow CDC guidelines on safe hygiene practices and health equity.
Capitol News Illinois is a non-profit, non-partisan news service covering state government and distributed to over 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.