Some COVID testing, mask requirements lifted for healthcare workers

Face coverings are no longer required in all Illinois healthcare facilities but are still recommended in healthcare facilities in areas of high community transmission, according to the new state orders that took effect on Oct. 17.

As part of an ongoing effort to roll back Illinois’s COVID-19 executive orders, Gov. J.B. Pritzker updated masking and testing requirements for healthcare facilities and long-term care centers.

These new guidelines, which went into effect Oct. 17, are in line with updated Center for Disease Control recommendations. Federal requirements remain in effect for those facilities.

“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,” said Pritzker. “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.”

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sameer Vohra added, “As we continue to learn how to live with COVID-19, it is important for the State of Illinois to adapt our policies to better align with federal guidelines. The department continues to monitor COVID-19 closely. And we are working with our 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. I continue to encourage of all our residents, but especially those most at-risk of severe outcomes, to take advantage of the vaccinations and treatments available to protect themselves and their families.”

The updated executive order removes the weekly testing requirements for unvaccinated healthcare and LTC workers.

The order will also trigger an update of IDPH policy on face coverings. Face coverings are no longer required in all healthcare facilities but are still recommended in healthcare facilities in areas of high community transmission, consistent with CDC guidance. Finally, the amended order removes the state-issued vaccine mandate for LTC and healthcare employees, consistent with the CDC’s guidance.

Although the vaccine mandate has been removed on the state level, a federal rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services requiring vaccination for workers at Medicare/Medicaid-certified facilities remains in effect.

The state’s amended executive order does not impact that requirement and many Illinois healthcare and LTC sites will continue to have a COVID-19 vaccine mandate under this federal rule. As always, employers are encouraged to put appropriate testing, vaccination, and masking regulations in place if they so choose.

The amended executive order does not impact vaccination and testing requirements for state employees at state-owned congregate facilities.