COVID-19 Mitigation Plan
On July 15th, Governor Pritzker released a COVID-19 Mitigation plan due to the resurgence of cases both in Illinois and across the country. Among other things, the plan increases the number of reopening regions from 4 to 11, based on IDPH’s 11 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Regions. This expansion separates Chicago, Suburban Cook County, and the collar counties into their own regions to more accurately reflect regional dynamics and ensure healthcare availability. 

The governor’s plan also introduces metrics to measure the amount of COVID-19 cases that would require intervention and lays out stages of actions that will be taken. These metrics include: an increase in cases for the 7-day rolling average (7 days of an increasing positivity rate out of a 10 day period) as well as one of the following: a) 7 days of increased hospitalization for COVID-19 like illnesses or b) a reduction in ICU capacity. Alternatively, three consecutive days of an 8% positivity rate could trigger mitigation measures in a region. Although these are the benchmarks, the governor stated that rising trends in the wrong direction would also require intervention even if they are still below the posted metrics. Actions to combat a resurgence of COVID-19 at or above the criteria, ranging from least to most restrictive and varying by facility type, include: reducing or suspending operations of bars and restaurants, additional limits of meetings and other social gatherings, reducing or suspending elective surgeries, increasing emphasis on remote office work, suspending indoor and outdoor recreational activities, and suspending non-essential retail and personal care services.

During a press conference on July 15th, Governor Pritzker cited places, such as bars and youth sporting events, that have been linked to rising cases, especially among children and young adults. Wednesday saw over 1,200 new cases, bringing Illinois’ total to 156,693, and 8 additional deaths, for a total of 7,226 lost. The statewide positivity rate is currently 3.1%. Illinois also crossed the 2 million tests benchmark, with over 38,000 tests being performed daily. The age groups with the highest COVID-19 positivity rate are now 10-19 and 20-29, leading to increased concern about schools reopening in the fall.

Chicago's Stance
On Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned that Chicago may move back to Phase 3 from its current Phase 4, citing rising case numbers and non-compliance with guidelines. The city’s current 7-day average for new cases is 192, with a positivity rate of 5.3%. Lightfoot stated that she would likely begin to reverse reopening at 200 average daily cases. Since June 15th, 30% of new cases in Chicago have come from 18 to 29-year-olds. Wednesday also saw Iowa and Oklahoma added to Chicago’s quarantine list, bringing the total number of states to seventeen. Governor Pritzker voiced support for the mayor’s actions but does not believe a statewide quarantine is necessary.

Taking the School Mask Fight to Court
Late Thursday, the governor, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, and State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala filed a lawsuit against three schools that have pledged not to cooperate with the public health guidance issued for schools. Namely, these schools will not require their students and staff to wear masks. They plan to develop their own rules, as they believe Pritzker’s Executive Orders have been invalidated. The State’s case asks the judge to declare that Pritzker’s EOs and the guidance for schools are lawful and to enjoin the schools from refusing to comply.

Illinois Apprenticeship Program Expansion
State announces $4.7 million investment to expand Illinois Apprenticeship Program to support 17,000+ in 2020. To support this expansion, the State is awarding grants to 25 partner organizations who will expand training programs and employer partnerships, with an emphasis on growing capacity in underserved communities. New and expanded programming will include an array of training pathways that are high-demand and high-paying career fields, such as IT, manufacturing, construction, pharmaceuticals, and more.  [Press Release]  [Apprenticeship Illinois]

60% by 25 Initiative (by Advance Illinois, EdSystems, & ISAC)
Today, the majority of employers say they need employees with some post-secondary education. However, in 2020 only 52.2% of Illinois residents have a high-quality college degree or postsecondary credential. To address this disconnect, in 2009 the Illinois P-20 Council established a goal for Illinois to increase the number of adults with high-quality college degrees and postsecondary credentials to 60% by the year 2025.

While the P-20 Council and State agencies monitor this goal and focus on State policy to support it, State policy alone will not drive the local efforts needed to ensure students seamlessly progress to and through postsecondary education and into the workforce. [Impact Report]  [Website]