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COVID-19 roundup

Tuesday, Sep 28, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller


A month ago, Pritzker said that while also announcing an indoor mask mandate along with vaccine requirements for P-12 teachers, healthcare workers, and higher education students.

Since that announcement, Illinois COVID-19 cases have significantly declined from a high of nearly 6,000 on September 3 to just a little more than 2,000 on September 27. […]

“It’s a combination of vaccination, masking and the mitigation strategies that we have,” Dr. Vidya Sundareshan, SIU school of Medicine infectious disease doctor, said. […]

Statewide, a massive spike in administered vaccine doses happened in the days following Pritzker’s announcement.


[Ameri Klafeta, director of the ACLU of Illinois’ Women’s and Reproductive Rights Project] says workers relying on the [Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act] is a stretch.

“The way this act was written, it was always intended to apply to health care professionals, people who are delivering health care services,” Klafeta said. “What we’re seeing now is a really unprecedented expansion, or attempt to expand, the protections of the law and really turning it on its head.”

She thinks this expansion of the right of conscience law will face legal challenges.

“It seems like the people who are really these mandates that Gov. Pritzker has issued are relying heavily on this law and I wouldn’t be surprised if they proceed through the court and I think that would be up to the courts to determine how broadly to interpret this,” Klafeta said. “It’s always possible that in the meantime the legislature could come back and amend the law, potentially to narrow some of the terms that people are relying on to bring the law back to its original scope.”

* More on the HCRCA from Fox Illinois

Carl Draper, an employment attorney with Feldman, Wasser, Draper & Cox, says it may be unfortunate from a public health perspective, but from a legal perspective, the timing of this law could challenge the governor’s emergency powers.

“This law was adopted in 1998 after most of that emergency authorization power was already on the books, so the courts will interpret this as modifying and superseding the other emergency preparedness laws,” Draper explained.

Draper says there haven’t been many lawsuits applying vaccination debates to the HCRCA, but there was one in March of 2020, and the decision puts more power in teachers’ hands.

“The appellate court sided with the employee on every argument about the breadth of this,” Draper said. “That’s very powerful for individuals who object to the vaccination requirement, and even so much as the testing.”


Much of Illinois is also seeing signs the summer surge in cases is behind us. New hospital admissions for COVID-related illness have been declining for nearly three weeks and now fewer than 2,000 people are hospitalized with the virus.

In a state with a population of 12.7 million people, COVID-related hospitalizations represent .015 percent of the population. Yet, Governor JB Pritzker’s administration has not said how close we are to lifting the statewide indoor mask mandate that went into effect August 30.

If history repeats itself, we’ll see another surge in the fall and winter as people go back inside.

* Sun-Times

The mother of a Chicago Public Schools student at Jensen Elementary has passed away after battling COVID-19, according to her family, while hundreds of students, including her own, were ordered to quarantine because they were exposed to several confirmed cases of the virus at the school.

The district, which has faced criticism from the Chicago Teachers Union and some parents over its safety plan as it reopens full-time this fall, has claimed since the start of the pandemic that there has been little, if any, in-school transmission of the virus, and again Monday denied finding any evidence that the eight cases at Jensen were passed on to others in the building or at home.

Before she died late last week, Shenitha “Angel” Curry — described by family as “vibrant and outspoken” — said she was frustrated and angry with the school system’s COVID-19 protocols, particularly the contract tracing program which she said never reached her for an interview. Curry’s sister said Monday that Curry, who was unvaccinated, told her in her final days that she was sure her illness stemmed from the school. Curry’s 44th birthday would have been later this week.

Anxiety was already high at Jensen before parents learned of Curry’s death from teachers and union organizers as they brought their kids to school Monday. Over the past two weeks, 205 students have been sent home after they were identified as close contacts to at least one of eight children or educators who contracted the virus, according to district records. That left 11 of the school’s 17 classrooms in quarantine, with eight classes due to return Monday from their two-week remote learning period. The Lawndale school enrolls 297 students, most of whom are too young to be vaccinated.

Get your shots, folks.

* Sun-Times

Former Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo Sr., was in an intensive care unit Monday night due to COVID-19 complications.

Angelo’s son, Dean Angelo Jr., a sergeant with the Chicago Police Department, confirmed Monday evening that his father was taken to the intensive care unit at a local hospital on Sunday and remained there as of Monday night.

COVID-19 has killed more police officers than anything else this year and last.

* NY Magazine

As we head into the fall, debate over vaccine policy has coalesced around two anchors: the matter of juvenile vaccination and the matter of boosters. On September 22, the FDA authorized booster doses of the Pfizer vaccine for the elderly, high-risk individuals, and those with frequent exposure but not the population as a whole; later in the same week, the CDC director overruled internal advisers to make the same recommendation. To this point, much of the debate around boosters has focused on waning immunity — and it is clear now, in study after study, both that protection does wane and that boosters, already delivered abroad in more than a dozen countries, help significantly. The waning is most visible among the elderly, as many of the studies have shown. But just as important, and much less discussed, is what it would mean to restore that immunity to that group. Because of the age skew, the social impact of elevating protection among the most vulnerable by even a few percentage points would be absolutely enormous. That’s because if vulnerability is hundreds of times higher in one group than another, the impact of that boost is going to be much, much larger too.

* More…

* Childhood COVID-19 cases fall for second week, as experts say student quarantines, testing are curbing virus spread

* Limited childcare options causing problems for Effingham County parents

* Southwestern Illinois teachers file lawsuit over state vaccine, masking requirements

* Six Naperville firefighters suing city, health system, Pritzker over vaccine, testing mandate

* Religious freedom group says Southern Illinois Healthcare is being unlawful

* Teacher placed on unpaid leave after defying COVID-19 vaccination card or testing mandate

* The Nonsensical Loophole in Biden’s Vaccine Mandate: A weather report can’t replace an umbrella, and a coronavirus test can’t replace a shot.

* Unvaccinated United Airlines’ Staff Faces Firings as Early as Today as Deadline for Covid Shots Passes

* COVID Booster Shots: What Illinois Residents Should Know as Extra Doses Begin

* Traveling nurses help rural hospitals during the pandemic, but they come with a high price tag

* Kankakee earmarks $1.35 million in federal COVID funding


  1. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:26 pm:

    I’m well under 65 but was able to secure my booster shot in Sangamon County for next week. Due to taking medicines for underlying health conditions which I’m confident will make me one of the “compromised” people where a booster at younger ages is recommended.

  2. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:28 pm:

    “If history repeats itself, we’ll see another surge in the fall and winter as people go back inside”

    Perhaps, but NRP just reported on a more optimistic model from experts that advise CDC

    “The delta surge appears to be peaking nationally, and cases and deaths will likely decline steadily now through the spring without a significant winter surge, according to a new analysis shared with NPR by a consortium of researchers advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”

  3. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:31 pm:

    There’s a list of conditions that makes you eligible for a booster shot. Look at the list. If your condition isn’t on the list you shouldn’t be getting a booster shot yet.

  4. - Norseman - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:42 pm:

    I hope courts see the absurd breadth of HCRCA and finds for the vaccine mandates. Traditionally the GA has been too lazy when it came to religious exemption. When Bob Johnson came around with his Christian Science amendment, adoption was basically automatic. Now that we see this exemption and others being used as a fraud to thwart important pandemic mitigation measures, it has to stop.

  5. - pc - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:44 pm:

    “The appellate court sided with the employee on every argument about the breadth of this,” Draper said. “That’s very powerful for individuals who object to the vaccination requirement, and even so much as the testing.”

    Does anyone know the name of the appellate court decision referred to here?

  6. - Magic Dragon - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:45 pm:

    If it is so important for folks to be vaccinated or submit for weekly testing, then why hasn’t the Gov mandated for the employees under his supervision? Time to get those state employees back to work and the vaccinated/testing mandate is a perfect avenue to get employees back in their offices.

  7. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 12:46 pm:

    -fixing the HCRCA-

    Hear that General Assembly? Looks like it is time to engage.

  8. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 1:13 pm:

    Magic Dragon,

    If those employees are able to do their jobs remotely, why the rush? Seems like limiting the number of people seeking testing and sharing air in the caf/eating area would still be useful.

  9. - Suburban Mom - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 1:25 pm:

    The executive orders relating to Tom Devore’s lawsuits have been a BIG topic in local parents’ groups, with a lot of concern around why they’re changing the quarantine rules. I was like, “this is actually in response to stuff happening downstate, with this guy who keeps filing lawsuits?”

    Nobody had ever heard of him, or his cockamamie lawsuits. And these are people who pore over school board minutes and IDPH rules and proposed bills. I was kind-of amazed.

  10. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 1:31 pm:

    -I hope courts see the absurd breadth of HCRCA and finds for the vaccine mandates.-

    Unfortunately based on maxims of legal and legislative construction, courts would be perfectly within their discretion here to hold the fact that the act may be overbroad and vague against the drafters. I think that is a valid position based on the language - thus the need for a legislative fix - and no they should not wait until they lose in court.

  11. - thechampaignlife - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 1:47 pm:

    ===Time to get those state employees back to work===

    Narrator: They have been working the entire time.

    ===why hasn’t the Gov mandated for the employees under his supervision===

    Narrator: He has.

  12. - AC - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 1:49 pm:

    ==There’s a list of conditions that makes you eligible for a booster shot. Look at the list. If your condition isn’t on the list you shouldn’t be getting a booster shot yet.==

    For individuals at least 6 months out from their second dose of Pfizer, people under 18-49 who qualify after an assessment of individual risk, and those 50-64 and over who are encouraged to get a booster, the list is long and extensive. And for people 65+ and 6 months out from their second dose of Pfizer, there no special conditions required. Merely being overweight, a current or former smoker, or having exposure in the workplace are one of many, many, qualifiers.

  13. - thechampaignlife - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 1:52 pm:

    ===This law was adopted in 1998 after most of that emergency authorization power was already on the books===

    But the emergency management agency act, which grants the governor the emergency powers, has been amended as recently as last month, restoring its primacy in superseding the HCRCA.

    Also, as I said yesterday, the HCRCA only affects patient care. This is public health, not patient care. The result of a negative test is a quarantine for the risk to the public, not medical treatment for the health of an individual.

    A legislative fix may still be desirable to make it crystal clear, but my read is that the HCRCA does not impact a vaccine, mask, or drool test mandate. The TRO should be overturned on appeal.

  14. - Charlie Wheeler - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 2:35 pm:

    Point of Information re health care right of conscience act

    The law was first enacted in 1977 as the Right of Conscience Act, signed by Gov. Thompson on September 13, 1977. (Source: P.A. 80-616.)

    The 1998 measure revised the title and some definitions, but left unchanged the act’s major provisions:
    “(745 ILCS 70/1) (from Ch. 111 1/2, par. 5301)
    Sec. 1. Short title. This Act shall be known and may be
    cited as the Health Care “Right of Conscience Act”.
    (Source: P.A. 80-616.)

    Amends the Right of Conscience Act. Changes the short title of
    the Act to the Health Care Right of Conscience Act. Changes defined terms “medical care”, “medical personnel”, and “medical facility” to “health care”, “health care personnel”, and “health care facility”,
    respectively and makes other changes in definitions, including changes in definition of “physician”. Adds definition of “health care payer”; provides that a health care payer is not civilly or criminally liable by reason of a refusal to pay or arrange for payment of any particular form of health care services that violate the payer’s conscience as documented in its ethical guidelines or other governing documents.
    Prohibits discrimination against a health care payer in matters of licensing and other privileges and prohibits denial of grants or
    benefits to a health care payer for similar reasons. Makes other changes.”

    The legislation (HB 725) was not controversial, passing the House 113-1, the Senate with an amendment adding revisions to the Health Care Surrogate Act , 114-3, and the House concurring 114-3. Gov. Edgar signed the bill July 29, 1997, effective January 1, 1998.

    Like the 1977 law, the 1998 law forbids discrimination in hiring and other areas against anyone because of the person’s conscientious refusal to receive health care services (745 ILCS 70/5) (from Ch. 111 1/2, par. 5305). But in the preceding paragraph ((745 ILCS 70/3) (from Ch. 111 1/2, par. 5303), the law defines health care to mean “any phase of patient care, including but not limited to, testing; diagnosis; prognosis; ancillary research; instructions…”

    So the question would appear to be, Does asking a teacher or any other employee to take a Covid test constitute patient care?


    Charlie Wheeler

  15. - skutt - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 2:45 pm:

    I feel really terrible for the family of that mother who lost her life to Covid. Yes CPS could be handling things better, but by choosing to not be vaccinated, what could have been a frustrating and sad situation was turned into a tragic situation. Get your shots.

  16. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 3:35 pm:

    Bingo Charlie Wheeler: there is no “patient” here.

    === “He was taken to the ICU Sunday with complications from COVID, and the family would appreciate any and all prayers people want to send his way,” said Angelo Jr., who declined to comment on his father’s vaccination status. ===

    Declined to comment?

    Get your shots, folks.

  17. - Amalia - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 3:44 pm:

    thanks for posting that covid booster shot link. so far the place I got my first two…large hospital…has not said anything and one source just told me to go to a cvs or Walgreens. gotta boost.

  18. - Bourbon Street - Tuesday, Sep 28, 21 @ 4:53 pm:


    My guess would be that the case is Rojas v. Martell, 2020 IL App (2d) 190215 as it was decided in March 2020.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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