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IL beefs up defensive measures amid virus surge

Illinois is boosting free COVID testing, adopting changing CDC guidelines and urging personal prevention measures like vaccines and masks for Illinoisans.

CHICAGO — As of Monday, Jan. 3, the state of Illinois has reported over 2.2 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 28,000 deaths due to the virus.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, during a COVID-19 briefing Monday, offered four pieces of advice to Illinoisans as the state grapples with the highly infectious omicron variant.

  1. Stay home if you're sick. And if someone you know is sick, take extra precautions to prevent getting sick or unknowingly infecting others.
  2. Get your COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shot.
  3. Wear a mask. N95 and surgical masks are more effective than cloth ones, but any mask is better than no mask at all for reducing virus transmission.
  4. If you know someone who is hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine, reach out to them in kindness and tell them you want them to be safe and healthy.

"It is frustrating and tragic years into the pandemic, with multiple widely available and free life-saving vaccines, that we are once again in this horrible situation," Pritzker said during the Monday briefing.

Amid the COVID-19 case influx and rising omicron variant nationwide, Pritzker shared Illinois has implemented the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's newly shortened 5-day asymptomatic isolation guidelines for health care workers and expanded testing at the state's free community testing sites to six days a week.

RELATED: Illinois expanding COVID-19 testing access

Pritzker also acknowledged the FDA's Monday announcement that 12- to 15-year-olds are now eligible to receive Pfizer booster shots and that those who received the Pfizer and Moderna shots will be able to get their booster five months after their second dose. He said the state will begin administering booster shots under the new recommendations upon CDC approval.

Other COVID-19 precautions were implemented Monday across the state.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday, Dec. 21 that Chicago would require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for everyone age 5 and older starting Monday at all restaurants, bars, gyms and other indoor venues.

The vax mandate comes in addition to Chicago's mask requirement for all public indoor settings.

On Wednesday, Dec. 29, Secretary of State Jesse White announced all Secretary of State departments and Driver Services facilities would be closed Jan. 3-17 to in-person interactions due to a notable increase in COVID-19 cases. 

Although face-to-face operations have been suspended until Jan. 18, services like driver's license renewal; ID card and license plate stickers; obtaining copies of licenses, ID cards and driving record abstracts; and filing Business Services documents are still available online at ilsos.gov.

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