Deputy Governor Jesse Ruiz has left the Governor’s Administration and returned to the private sector. Ruiz oversaw the state’s education agencies for the past two and half years. No word yet on Ruiz’s replacement.
Executive Order: Executive Order 2021-19 reaffirms the Governor’s Disaster Proclamation and reissues most previous Executive Orders through September 18, 2021.
COVID-19 Update: Saying the current vaccination rate in Illinois is not enough to stave off the Delta variant, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2021-20 reinstating the statewide indoor mask mandate for everyone 2 and older in public settings regardless of vaccination status beginning Monday, August 30th. In addition, the Governor is mandating vaccines for all for all healthcare workers, Pre-K-12 employees and higher education students and employees beginning September 5th. Employees in all of these settings and higher education students who are unable or unwilling to receive the vaccine will be required to get tested for COVID-19 at least once per week under the new order. The Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Board of Education may require increased testing in certain situations. Read the Governor’s announcement here.
Pritzker called Illinois’ situation a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” — noting that to date, unvaccinated individuals in Illinois account for 98% of new cases, 96% of hospitalizations and 95% of deaths. At this point in the pandemic, Pritzker said health care staff are in short supply and those who are available face burn out. Regions in Illinois with the lowest vaccination rates also have the least ICU bed availability. Region 5, which encompasses 20 southern Illinois counties, had one ICU bed available in the entire region on Tuesday. Other regions in central Illinois are also facing shortages in ICU beds although not yet to the degree of Region 5.
On Thursday, 2,184 individuals in Illinois were hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 489 were in the ICU and 241 on ventilators.
This week the FDA gave full approval to the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine continues to be available under emergency use authorization for persons 12 – 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.This action opened the door for more Illinois employers to require employees to be vaccinated. All City of Chicago and Cook County employees are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 15th under new policies adopted by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
The Archdiocese of Chicago is now requiring all employees and clergy to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Medical exemptions will be allowed but religious objections will not be considered.
Northern Illinois University announced that students who received a “personal exemption” while COVID-19 vaccinations were under Emergency Use Authorization status will now be required to get vaccinated. This announcement was made prior to the Governor’s latest Executive Order.
Some Illinois schools still refuse to follow the Governor’s mask mandate. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, as of Tuesday 45 of Illinois’ 859 public school districts have been placed on probation for not following the state mask mandate. Eight have since complied and 37 remain on probation. Ten non-public schools have had their state resignation revoked – four of those have complied with the mandate and their recognition has been restored. The IHSA warned schools that athletic teams will not be able to participate in play-offs if they are not in compliance with the Governor’s mask mandate at the time of the seeding.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson and his wife, Jacqueline, are recovering in the hospital from COVID-19. Reverend Jackson was vaccinated earlier in the year; his wife was not vaccinated. Senate Republican Leader Dan McConchie is also recovering from a “breakthrough” case of COVID-19. McConchie, who was also vaccinated, reports his symptoms are mild.
Unemployment Offices Begin Reopening: The Illinois Department of Employment Security is beginning a phased reopening to in person services. The wave of openings includes offices in Rockford, Chicago, Harvey and Mt. Vernon. Appointments are required.
Nikki Budzinski announced she is running for congress against Congressman Rodney Davis. Budzinski served as chief of staff for the US Office of Management and Budge and was a former senior advisor to Governor Pritzker. Davis has not formally announced his reelection bid. Illinois is scheduled to lose one Congressional seat as a result of the census. The state Legislature has not yet approved new congressional districts.
102nd GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
The Illinois General Assembly will reconvene in a one-day special session on Tuesday, August 31st. Speaker Welch and President Harmon called the Legislature into special session for the purposes of considering changes to the legislative maps passed during the spring session.
As you will recall, the Democrats used American Community Survey data to draw new legislative boundaries for the 118 state house and 59 state senate districts for the next decade. The latest census data was released August 12th, and analysis of the districts appears to show population deviations exceeding the 10% threshold allowed under Supreme Court precedent. This week, a federal court ruled not to dismiss the redistricting challenge filed by Republicans and instead granted a stay until September 1st.
No word yet if the Senate plans to convene in regular session on Tuesday to tackle clean energy legislation. Negotiations on that topic remain ongoing.
This week the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and Governor Pritzker publicly reaffirmed their position to require decarbonization by a date certain. Meanwhile, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, R – Channahon, asked the Biden Administration this week to use executive authority to keep the Byron and Dresden nuclear power stations operation until there is a solution either from legislative process in Illinois or at the federal level.
The House Appropriations-Higher Education, Higher Education, and Mental Health Committees will hold a hearing on September 1st at 10 am in Virtual Room 1 to discuss mental health on campus