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CDC endorses Illinois’ test-to-stay program

CDC endorses Illinois’ test-to-stay program

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week endorsed the test-to-stay program operating in Illinois as a tool to help students stay in the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The endorsement comes after a report published by the federal agency found the program allowed close contacts to remain in the classroom as an alternative to home quarantine. The study looked at how the program worked this fall at Lake County schools.

The system allows unvaccinated individuals exposed to COVID-19 while at school and masked to remain in school and participate in school-related activities as long as they do not have symptoms, wear a mask and undergo testing on the first, third, fifth and seventh day after exposure.

“Test-to-stay is another valuable tool in a layered prevention strategy that includes promoting vaccination of eligible students and staff, requiring everyone age 2 and older wear a mask inside schools and facilities, keeping at least three feet of distance between students, screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and staying home when sick,” the CDC said in a statement.

The program was created by the Illinois Department of Public Health and operated by the University of Illinois System’s SHIELD Illinois.

“SHIELD Illinois continues to work on the cutting edge of innovation, protecting teachers, students and their families,” University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen said in a statement. “Now test-to-stay is providing a new way to keep students in school and improve educational access and performance.”

Illinois on Monday saw new highs for 2021 in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

IDPH reported 12,328 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the highest single-day number since 12,542 cases were reported on Dec. 1, 2020. The new cases bring the state total to 1,975,515.

The 11 new deaths reported Monday brings the death toll to 27,228

The seven-day average for new cases is 10,179, up 3,026 from a week ago. The seven-day average for daily deaths is 46, up five from the prior week.

As of Sunday, 3,960 Illinoisans were in the hospital with COVID-19, up 89 from Saturday and up 447 from the prior week. It’s the highest number of hospitalizations since 3,992 were reported on Dec. 31, 2020.

Of the patients in the hospital, 811 were in the ICU, up 16 from Saturday and up 63 from the prior week. There were 432 patients on ventilators, up 33 from Saturday and up 80 from the prior week.

The seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of total tests is 5.5 percent. The seven-day statewide test positivity using the number of COVID-19 positive tests over total tests is 7.1 percent.

About 75.8 percent of eligible Illinoisans ages 5 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 67.7 percent are fully vaccinated.

Illinois vaccinators have administered 18,638,831 COVID-19 vaccines, per state data, as well as 2,711,478 booster doses. The seven-day average of doses administered is 65,382.

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