Pritzker lifts COVID testing, masking requirements for most healthcare, long-term care workers

Gov. JB Pritzker (D-Illinois) speaks during a press conference in Chicago on September 27, 2022.
Gov. JB Pritzker (D-Illinois) speaks during a press conference in Chicago on September 27, 2022.(Mike Miletich)
Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 2:56 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The Pritzker administration is lifting several COVID-19 safety measures for healthcare and long-term care facilities following updated recommendations from the CDC.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday that Illinois no longer requires weekly COVID testing for unvaccinated healthcare and long-term care workers. Face coverings are also no longer required in healthcare facilities, but it is recommended in areas with high community transmission. The governor’s latest executive order also removes the state’s vaccine mandate for long-term care and healthcare employees, consistent with the CDC guidance. State officials said the new guidelines for testing and mask requirements took effect immediately.

“Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our health care workers and residents, Illinois has done better at keeping our people safe with vaccines, boosters, and masking, which puts us in a position to continue to scale back health care requirements in line with the CDC,” Pritzker said. “COVID-19 is on its way to becoming endemic, like the flu, but it still poses a real threat to our immunocompromised and disabled communities.”

While the state’s vaccine mandate has been removed, a federal rule still requires vaccination for workers at Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities. The Pritzker administration says the governor’s announcement does not impact the federal vaccine requirement and many Illinois healthcare and long-term care facilities will continue to have a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place under the federal rule.

The administration noted that employers are still encouraged to put appropriate testing, vaccination, and masking regulations in place if they choose. The latest executive order also does not impact vaccination or testing requirements for state employees at state-owned congregate facilities.

Pritzker said that people still need to look out for one another. The governor encouraged people to get tested and mask up if they have COVID-19 symptoms. He also said Illinoisans should get COVID-19 booster shots to be better protected. Pritzker noted that he recently received the bivalent booster shot as well.

“The Department continues to monitor COVID-19 closely,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra. “And we are working without health care and long-term care partners to promote staying up-to-date with vaccinations, make treatments available, and protect our health care workforce. The updated Executive Order demonstrates our state’s ability to effectively combat COVID-19 with the many advanced tools at our disposal that can both prevent and treat this disease.”

Dr. Vohra said Monday that he continues to encourage residents to take advantage of COVID-19 vaccinations and treatments available to protect themselves, especially if they are most at risk of severe outcomes.

5,094 vaccines were given over the last 24 hours. 85.9% of Illinoisans 12 and older have received at least one shot. 77.8% of those people are fully vaccinated. The 7-day rolling average for shots given is 27,852.

Vaccines continue to be the strongest protection against COVID-19 for all ages. Healthcare and LTC workers are all strongly encouraged to stay up to date on vaccines and boosters to prevent severe illness and even death. You can find information about vaccines and booster shots by clicking here.

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