Regional Web banner January
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White wore a mask when he toured a driver’s license facility last fall. Mask regulations, which had been relaxed in recent months, were re-imposed earlier this week at all driver’s license offices. --Supplied photo

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White wore a mask when he toured a driver’s license facility last fall. Mask regulations, which had been relaxed in recent months, were re-imposed earlier this week at all driver’s license offices. --Supplied photo

‘Here we go again’

Mask regs return as pandemic strikes back

By Tim Hadac and

Jerry Nowicki
Capitol News Illinois

As the COVID-19 delta variant continues to sweep across Chicago and the rest of the state, mask mandates began to return last week, causing what appeared to be a collective groan among some in Clearing and Garfield Ridge.

“Here we go again,” sighed John Bavaro, one of several customers offering opinions outside Fair Share Foods, 6422 W. 63rd St.—where shoppers have not been required to wear masks for a couple of months, although employees still do. “Just when we think we’re out of this mess, we’re right back in the slop.”

CRRNH JesseWhiteMask 080421

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White wore a mask when he toured a driver’s license facility last fall. Mask regulations, which had been relaxed in recent months, were re-imposed earlier this week at all driver’s license offices. –Supplied photo

Kris Rybczyk said he stopped wearing a mask months ago and has “no plans to start up again. No one I know has this disease. I think this whole [pandemic] has been exaggerated. It’s like they want us to be afraid or something. I don’t know why.”

Esther Rangel was one of the few customers wearing a mask.

“I got vaccinated as soon as I could, back in April,” she said. “But now I’m hearing that even if you’re vaccinated, you could get infected. My relatives wanted me to go a family reunion last month in Missouri. But I didn’t go. Then I hear that three of my relatives got COVID after attending the reunion. That told me all I need to know. People should put their masks back on. We’re not done with this yet.”

Case numbers drive mask regs

Just a few minutes away from Clearing and Garfield Ridge, at the state driver’s license facility in Bridgeview, customers started wearing masks earlier this week, as Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced new mask regulations.

White was not alone.

Gov. JB Pritzker said he is “looking at all the possible mitigations” amid another surge of COVID-19 infections.

The secretary of state’s announcement came one day after the Illinois Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated guidance to recommend individuals in areas with “substantial risk” or greater for the spread of COVID-19 should wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status.

“Substantial” risk occurs when new cases are between 50 to 99 per 100,000 people over a 7-day period, while “high” risk occurs when cases exceed that amount. A CDC county map, viewable at covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view, shows much of the state’s western half along the Missouri border is at high or substantial risk, as is most of southern Illinois.

The CDC also recommended masks be worn by all individuals in K-12 schools, and IDPH announced it “fully aligns” with the federal guidance. The governor warned that districts disobeying guidance could face civil liability.

White’s new mask requirement will also apply to the Illinois State Capitol and all secretary of state offices. The announcement came as the state reported 2,082 new COVID-19 cases, the most since May 7, and the case positivity rate rose to 4 percent, the highest since April 19.

The guidance that all people in school buildings should wear face coverings comes just 18 days after the CDC released guidance saying masks were suggested only for those who had not been vaccinated.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky of the CDC said in a briefing the main reason for the change in guidance is the fact that the COVID-19 delta variant – which makes up “8 in 10” of the COVID-19 cases that have had been sequenced in laboratories – is less predictable and more transmissible than previous versions of the virus. It’s also due to the fact that fewer people than expected have chosen to become vaccinated nationwide.

“When we released our school guidance on July 9, we had less delta variant in this country, we had fewer cases in this country, and importantly, we were really hopeful that we would have more people vaccinated, especially in the demographic between 12 to 17 years old,” Walensky said according to an audio recording posted to the CDC website.

She said the guidance is aimed at protecting those who cannot be vaccinated, such as children 11 years of age and younger and those who are immune-compromised.

While Pritzker said the state has “wanted school districts to make decisions for themselves throughout the last year to keep their districts safe,” school districts face the risk of being held liable in civil courts “if they don’t live up to the standard that is set by the CDC.”

The Illinois State Board of Education echoed those comments in a statement Wednesday.

“Illinois fully adopted the CDC’s updated guidance for K-12 schools on July 27, which recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status,” an ISBE spokesperson said in an email. “School boards that choose not to implement public health guidance are putting their students and staff at risk and should consult with their insurers as to potential liability.”

Other than that, ISBE’s most recent guidance, encouraging school boards to work with local health departments on mitigations, remains in place.

Pandemic of the unvaccinated

Walensky characterized current spread of COVID-19 as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” She said while the vast majority of disease transmission is happening between unvaccinated individuals, there are “rare occasions” in which vaccinated people have been spreading the virus to others, which necessitated the guidance for vaccinated individuals to wear face coverings.

But the vaccine is largely effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death in those who receive it.

“We continue to estimate that the risk of a breakthrough infection with symptoms upon exposure to the delta variant is reduced by seven fold. The reduction is 20 fold for hospitalizations and deaths,” Walensky said.

Walensky also said a major concern as the virus continues to spread and mutate is that it eventually evolves into a “very transmissible virus that has the potential to evade our vaccine in terms of how it protects us from severe disease and death.”

While “we’re not there yet,” she said, that mutation could be as few as “two mutations away” from the current circulating variants.

As of now, 99 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Illinois are occurring in unvaccinated individuals, Pritzker has said.

As of July 27, there were 857 people hospitalized for COVID-19 across the state, a high since June 4 and a 50 percent increase from exactly one week prior.

Intensive care bed usage by COVID-19 patients is up 56 percent from the previous week, with 184 beds in use by COVID-19 patients, including 74 on ventilators.

Another six deaths were attributed to the virus last Wednesday, bringing the confirmed death toll in Illinois to 23,420, with 2,473 probable COVID-19 deaths as well since the pandemic began.

The pace of vaccinations continued to slow last Wednesday, with 17,982 doses administered daily over the past week, down from a peak of 130,000 in April. About half of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated, according to IDPH.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Local News

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound PDF January 19, 2022

CRRNH_FrontPageStory_011922

‘These bruises won’t heal’

CPS kids back in school, but bitterness remains By Tim Hadac Teachers who walked off the job in the new year returned last week after the Chicago Teachers Union rank and file voted to accept Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s offer of increased safety measures at schools. But it was a divided vote, with just 55.5% in…

CRRNH_JohnShakerAnd Burt_011922

Smooch from a pooch

Mutts of the Midway volunteer John Shaker smiles as he gets a smooch from Burt, a 5-year-old American Pit Bull/Boston Terrier mix. Shaker works as a transporter, driving dogs to and from veterinarian appointments. The 37-pound Burt was rescued by the non-profit Mutts of the Midway from a shelter in Texas. For several months, he…

The Clear-Ridge Little League is scheduled to start its games in April, but signup is occurring now. --File photo

Here’s a sure sign of spring

By Joan Hadac Your correspondent in Clearing and Garfield Ridge (708) 496-0265 • [email protected] Hi everyone. How have you been surviving January? This is one month I always hope flies by. If the sun is out, the temperatures are, or feel like they are in the subzero range. If it’s cloudy, which is most of the…

Former Mother McAuley star Hannah Swiatek (right) smiles and walks off the court with Justene Charlesworth after a recent University of St. Francis victory over Cardinal Stritch. Photo by Jeff Vorva Former Mother McAuley star Hannah Swiatek (right) smiles and walks off the court with Justene Charlesworth after a recent University of St. Francis victory over Cardinal Stritch. Photo by Jeff Vorva

College Report: McAuley grad Swiatek plays hero for St. Francis

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Hannah Swiatek comes off the bench for the University of St. Francis and is averaging 3.1 points per game. But when called on for the biggest shot of her college career, the 5-foot-8 junior guard from Oak Lawn delivered. Swiatek scored the winning basket in a wild 99-97 overtime road…

Mother McAuley’s Bella Finnegan launches a 3-point attempt over St. Laurence’s Lilliana Magana as Vikings coach George Shimko looks on in a game on Jan. 11. Finnegan scored her 1,000th career point in the game. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Stagg’s Laila Barakat and McAuley’s Bella Finnegan hit 1K career points; Richards’ Kortz gets 300th win

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Look what Laila Barakat started. The Stagg senior basketball star hit a milestone when she scored her 1,000th career point against Richards on Jan. 8. That was the first of three notable career accomplishments achieved the following week. It was followed by Mother McAuley senior Bella Finnegan scoring her 1,000th…

Screen Shot 2022-01-16 at 9.42.00 PM

Tax exemptions will be automatic, Kaegi says

From staff reports In response to the ongoing pandemic, the Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s office will continue the automatic renewal of the Senior Freeze, Veterans with Disabilities and Persons with Disabilities Exemptions. The Homeowner and Senior Exemptions will continue to auto-renew every year. If a homeowner received any of these five exemptions last year…

CRRNH_EagleComplaint_011222

Ailing eagle on the mend

Several blocks northwest of Garfield Ridge—just west of 47th and Harlem–motorists late last month noticed an eagle flying low and acting erratically. The Villa Park-based Chicago Bird Collision Monitors was contacted, and its volunteers found and captured the majestic bird. It was transported to a facility owned and operated by Glen Ellyn-based Willowbrook Wildlife, where…

Joan Hadac

Can’t we just fast-forward to spring?

By Joan Hadac Your correspondent in Clearing and Garfield Ridge (708) 496-0265 • [email protected] Hi everyone. Is it spring yet? Is the pandemic over yet? Not that I’m impatient or anything. I want to move forward past all the negative COVID-19 has brought to my life and everyone else’s life. I want to see the rebirth…

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas

Scavenger Sale different this year, Pappas says

From staff reports Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas’ 2022 Scavenger Sale will look different, as the Treasurer’s Office takes steps to help small developers, homeowners and investors rebuild neighborhoods and create generational wealth. Under Illinois law, the Treasurer’s Office is required to conduct a Scavenger Sale every two years, offering at auction the taxes on…

Neighbors

AladdinsBanquets WebAd
USALiquidators WebAd
New law ends parental notification in Illinois

New law ends parental notification in Illinois

By BETH HUNDSDORFER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] Gov. JB Pritzker signed a law on Friday that ends parental notification, a requirement that doctors notify the parents of a minor seeking an abortion. “With reproductive rights under attack across the nation, Illinois is once again establishing itself as a leader in ensuring access to health care…

Illinois jobless rate falls to 5.7%

Illinois jobless rate falls to 5.7%

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The unemployment rate in Illinois fell three-tenths of a point in November to 5.7 percent as employers added 19,500 payroll jobs to the economy. Preliminary data released by the Department of Employment Security and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the biggest job gains during…

Illinois jobless rate falls to 5.7%

Illinois jobless rate falls to 5.7%

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The unemployment rate in Illinois fell three-tenths of a point in November to 5.7 percent as employers added 19,500 payroll jobs to the economy. Preliminary data released by the Department of Employment Security and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed the biggest job gains during…

Potential buyer identified for James R. Thompson Center

Potential buyer identified for James R. Thompson Center

By BETH HUNDSDORFER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Plans are moving ahead for the sale of the James R. Thompson Center at 100 West Randolph Street in Chicago. Gov. JB Pritzker announced on Wednesday plans to enter into exclusive negotiations with JRTC Holdings, LLC, for the purposes of acquiring and redeveloping the Thompson Center…

CAPITOL RECAP: JRTC Holdings will enter negotiations with state for $70 million purchase of Thompson Center

CAPITOL RECAP: JRTC Holdings will enter negotiations with state for $70 million purchase of Thompson Center

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS CHICAGO – Plans are moving ahead for the sale of the James R. Thompson Center at 100 West Randolph Street in Chicago. Gov. JB Pritzker announced on Wednesday, Dec. 15, plans to enter into exclusive negotiations with JRTC Holdings, LLC, for the purposes of acquiring and redeveloping the Thompson Center that…

Lawmakers push for nursing home reforms this spring

Lawmakers push for nursing home reforms this spring

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Several Illinois lawmakers said this week they are determined to pass a bill in the spring that would overhaul the way nursing homes are paid through the state’s Medicaid program to address critical staffing shortages, but the state’s largest nursing home industry group is still pushing…

New law provides for licensure path of certified professional midwives in Illinois

New law provides for licensure path of certified professional midwives in Illinois

By BETH HUNDSDORFER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] Colleen Marotta has delivered hundreds of babies. Marotta, 43, of Arlington Heights, became a nurse in 2001. Ten years later, she became a certified professional midwife, or CPM. When Marotta was a CPM the law barred her from delivering babies in Illinois, forcing her to drive to Wisconsin…

Edwardsville chief on Amazon warehouse: ‘It was definitely one of our worst days’

Edwardsville chief on Amazon warehouse: ‘It was definitely one of our worst days’

By BETH HUNDSDORFER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] In the wake of Friday night storms that left six dead at an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, a disaster proclamation was issued Monday for 28 counties in southern and central Illinois. The proclamation will bring personnel or equipment from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to assist with storm…

Reimagine Public Safety Act to drive violence intervention funds to state’s most dangerous areas

Reimagine Public Safety Act to drive violence intervention funds to state’s most dangerous areas

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – A state program aiming to take a “comprehensive approach to ending Illinois’ firearm violence epidemic” will be expanded under a law signed Friday by Gov. JB Pritzker. The Reimagine Public Safety Act became law in June, but the expansion signed Friday clarifies guidelines in the original…

CAPITOL RECAP: Oral arguments begin in state redistricting challenges

CAPITOL RECAP: Oral arguments begin in state redistricting challenges

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS CHICAGO – Oral arguments began Tuesday, Dec. 7, in three lawsuits challenging the new legislative district maps that lawmakers passed earlier this year with three federal judges asking detailed questions of all the parties in the cases. Each case centers on the question of whether Democrats in the General Assembly violated…

CRR NH Prime Time Restaurant House Ad
Regional Capri Restaurant House Ad