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Ask The Newsroom: Enforcing Mask Mandates, Churches Closing, Reinfection, COVID In Prisons

The Illinois Newsroom team is answering questions from listeners about the pandemic. Have a question you want answered? Ask here.

In today’s edition of “Ask the Newsroom,” we covered how to report businesses that are uncooperative with social distancing mandates, how churches are operating, why you should still take precautions even if you’ve contracted and recovered from the virus and what is being done about rising cases in prisons. 

Please note, the information is accurate as of Dec. 3, 2020.

“How do I report a business for not enforcing mask mandate?”

Masks worn in Illinois businesses were required after an executive order was enforced on May 1. As COVID-19 cases multiply, residents can report businesses for not enforcing social distancing guidelines. In order to report an Illinois business for not following mandated social distancing guidelines, contact the Workplace Rights Bureau within the Illinois Attorney General’s office. Citizens can call the Workplace Rights Hotline at 1-844-740-5076 or fill out the Workplace Rights Complaint Form (PDF). With cases climbing in the state, the Illinois Department of Health is urging businesses to operate at limited capacity, offer curbside assistance and enforce face covering and social distancing guidelines. —Farrah Anderson

“Will churches be forced to roll back any reopening done over the last few months?”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is urging Illinois residents to hold religious services outside or online after announcing stricter guidelines following a spike of COVID-19 cases throughout the U.S. —Farrah Anderson

“If I already had COVID do I still need to get tested all the time? Also why do I still have to wear a mask?”

Even if you’ve already had and recovered from COVID-19, it’s possible that you could still get reinfected and spread the virus to others, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC says it’s vital to wear a mask in public places, keep six feet of distance from other people, wash hands and avoid crowds.

Businesses require masks upon entry for all customers including those who have been infected and recovered. While the likeliness and severity of reinfection is still being researched, the CDC guidelines state that people who have symptoms of COVID-19, have come in close contact with someone with confirmed COVID-19, or have been referred for testing by a healthcare provider should get tested. This applies to anyone who has already had the virus. —Gwyn Skiles

“Can someone ask the governor what he is doing about the rising COVID cases in minimum security prisons in Illinois since social distancing is not possible?”

Jails and prisons across Illinois have various safety guidelines to follow to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Champaign County Jail is working with the CUPHD regularly to assess health and safety concerns. The facility has reduced the number of intakes and has issued Notice to Appear citations for non-violent offenses instead of making physical arrests.

A press release from the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office states that the number of necessary employees has been reduced. Employees considered essential are regularly screened. Symptom and temperature checks are being implemented. All new inmates are quarantined for 14 days before entering the general population, and all are required to wear a mask if leaving the housing unit. According to the Illinois Department of Corrections, all facility-to-facility transfers will not involve stop-off or exchange points. All transfer offenders will receive a saliva PCR test and quarantine per IDPH guidelines with daily temperature checks. A full list of confirmed cases, among both staff and inmates, can be found on IDOC’s website. —Vivian La

Stories by IPM student newsroom staff.

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