Testing Site to Open at Stephen’s Family YMCA

Stephens Family YMCA in Champaign, Illinois has announced it will offer free COVID-19 testing to the general public through a partnership with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and SHIELD Illinois.

Members of the community, whether they are showing symptoms or not, can go to portal.shieldillinois.com to make an appointment. The testing site is set to open Sept. 20. Hours will be 6-8 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday outside at the north pavilion on the YMCA property, 2501 Fields South Drive. Walk-ins are welcome.

Instead of an invasive nasal swab, the covidSHIELD test uses saliva and takes just minutes to collect. Confidential results are known within 24 hours.

“When Covid-19 entered our lives 18 months ago, the Stephens Family YMCA was prepared to do our part to support our community and keep people safe. Two pillars of the YMCA are healthy living and social responsibility. We feel it is our social responsibility to step up when times are tough and when our community needs us the most,” said Jeff Dobrik, the agency’s chief operating officer.

“With kids returning to school and many employees returning to their places of work, the chance of potential exposure increases. So, when we were approached about expanding the University of Illinois’ COVID-19 testing program to a site at the YMCA, we jumped at the chance to partner with SHIELD Illinois and provide quick, free, reliable testing to the public. Our site will operate during times that are convenient for individuals and families to get tested before and after the school or workday. We are committed to this initiative and opportunity to do our part in keeping the Champaign-Urbana community and the public as a whole safe.”

IDPH is using federal funds from the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan to offer free, rapid PCR testing for members of the community through SHIELD Illinois, a nonprofit of the University of Illinois System.

The effort is part of an agreement between the U of I System and the state to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The innovative saliva-based covidSHIELD test detects three genes of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, allowing it to quickly detect the virus that causes COVID-19 and its variants, including among people who do not have symptoms.

Stephens Family YMCA is among more than 1,600 SHIELD Illinois testing sites across Illinois, including K-12 schools, universities, community colleges, businesses and more than a dozen community testing locations.

For more information, contact Jeff Dobrik, Stephens Family YMCA’s COO, at jeff@ccymca.net; 217-239-2803, or Alex Quigley, SHIELD assistant director of marketing, at aquigley@uillinois.com or 217-333-0387.

To learn more about becoming a community testing site, contact Anna Pinsoneault, SHIELD’s director of Public Health Relationships at annap@uillinois.edu.

COVID-19 Testing Locations in Champaign County

As we continue to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and the variants that are increasing cases, it’s important to test after an exposure or if you’re experiencing symptoms. Here’s a handy graphic on all the testing options available by the day in Champaign County.

The best way to combat the pandemic is to get vaccinated. All vaccines are available to anyone 12+ in Champaign County. Visit CUPHD’s website for local vaccination clinics or go to vaccines.gov to find a location.

Mask Mandate Updates + COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements

Governor Pritzker Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Requirement for Healthcare Workers, Pre-K-12 Teachers and Staff, Higher Education Personnel and Students 

All Illinois Residents Required to Wear Masks Indoors, Regardless of Vaccination Status

As COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates across the state continue to increase, particularly in downstate communities with the lowest vaccination rates, Governor JB Pritzker and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike today announced vaccination requirements for individuals in high risk settings. All healthcare workers, including nursing home employees, all pre-k-12 teachers and staff, as well as higher education personnel and students will now be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  Employees in all of these settings and higher education students who are unable or unwilling to receive the vaccine will be required to get tested for COVID-19 at least once per week, and DPH and ISBE may require increased testing in certain situations. 

The Governor and Dr. Ezike also announced a statewide indoor mask mandate for all Illinois residents, regardless of vaccination status, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates continue to increase. The masking requirements are effective Monday, August 30th.  

The public health requirements come as regions with low vaccination rates continue to see a surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations. In IDPH region 5, Southern Illinois, with the lowest vaccination rate in the state at 44 percent, only 3% of ICU beds are available as the region experiences the highest case rate in the state. Since August 1st, local health departments across the state have reported 27 COVID-19 outbreaks at schools and currently hundreds of schools are being monitored for potential COVID-19 exposures.  

“The quick spread of this disease in Illinois and across the country is holding us all back from the post-pandemic life we so desperately want to embrace, and it’s harming the most vulnerable among us,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “We are running out of time as our hospitals run out of beds. Vaccination remains our strongest tool to protect ourselves and our loved ones, to restore post-pandemic life to our communities, and most crucially, to maintain our healthcare system’s ability to care for anyone who walks through their doors in need of help – and Illinois is taking action to keep our communities safe.” 

“Unlike the wave of COVID-19 we saw earlier this Spring, we’re now seeing our hospital resources stretched thin with some areas of Illinois reduced to only a handful of available ICU beds,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “The vast majority of hospitalizations, as well as cases and deaths, are among those who are unvaccinated.  This has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated. We have safe, proven, and effective tools to turn the tide and end this pandemic.  But until more people are vaccinated, masks are the order of the day and will help us slow the spread of the virus.”


To lower the number of breakthrough cases that require hospital admission, the majority of whom are 65 and over or immunocompromised, all healthcare workers, including workers at public and private nursing homes, must get vaccinated. Teachers and staff at pre-k-12 schools as well as personnel and students at higher education institutions are required to receive the vaccine. Workers and students in applicable settings must receive the first dose of a two-dose vaccination series or a single-dose vaccination by September 5, 2021. Second doses of the vaccine must be received by 30 days after the first dose. 

Workers who do not receive the vaccine or those who opt out for medical reasons or based on a sincerely held religious belief must follow a routine testing schedule to detect cases early and prevent further spread. Testing will be required a minimum of once per week in schools and healthcare facilities. The frequency of testing may be required to increase in the event of positive cases. 

Healthcare, school workers, and higher education personnel and students attending in-person classes who do not provide proof of vaccination will be prevented from entering healthcare and educational facilities unless they follow the required testing protocol. 


To slow the spread of the highly transmissible COVID-19 Delta variant, all Illinois residents over the age of two will be required to wear a mask in all indoor settings, effective Monday, August 30th. The requirement is applicable to both vaccinated and unvaccinated residents statewide. Countless studies have demonstrated the efficacy of masks at preventing the spread of COVID-19, with the CDC identifying at least 10 that confirm the benefit of universal masking via community level analyses – including two U.S. states – in addition to observational, economic, epidemiological, and cross-sectional survey studies. A small sampling can be found below: 

While face coverings are not required outdoors, masks are strongly encouraged in crowded outdoor settings like festivals and concerts as well as for activities that require close contact with people who are not vaccinated. 

These latest vaccine, testing, and mask requirements are a floor in the state’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Employers, schools, and other organizations can take additional health and safety steps to help bring an end to the ongoing pandemic. Governor Pritzker previously announced more stringent requirements regarding vaccination and testing for state employees at state run 24-7 congregate living facilities to protect the state’s most vulnerable residents. Leaders in the private sector are encouraged to follow suit. Vaccination is the key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic and returning to normal life. All Illinois residents over the age of 12 are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost and proof of immigration status is not required to receive the vaccine. To find a vaccination center near you, go to vaccines.gov or visit c-uphd.org.

Activities During COVID-19, Delta Variant Surge

Guidance provided by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District

This advice is for those who are planning to host or attend events or gatherings (for exampleweddings, funerals, family gatherings, etc.) during this time. Our community is fortunate to be hometo the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which pioneered the SHIELD ecosystem, developed thesaliva test and expanded free and available testing through SHIELD CU. This guidance is meant fororganizations who want to adopt an approach that aligns with these best practices. The COVID-19situation is constantly evolving, so this guidance may change at any time.

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself and those unable to be vaccinated is to get vaccinated. Your vaccine will also help protect those who are unable to vaccinate. Vaccines are available throughout our community, seven days a week. The vaccines are safe, effective and free. Anyone age 12 and older may come to Champaign-Urbana Public Health District on Monday-Friday, 8:30-4:30 for a choice of either Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The process takes about 20 minutes — five minutes toc omplete the paperwork and get the vaccine and 15 minutes to wait post-vaccine. Other vaccine locations iny our local area can be located at www.vaccine.gov.

Free COVID-19 testing is also available seven days a week in our county. Options can be found here or by searching online: https://www.c-uphd.org/covid-testing.html. We recommend those who cannot vaccinate to test regularly. Even if you are vaccinated, you can test at any of these sites if you experience any symptoms or if you were in a situation that concerns you. 


Recommendations for outdoor gatherings:

  • Recommend everyone is vaccinated if they are able to do so. Consider having cards checked. 
  • Masks optional. When there will be crowded and sustained close contact, consider encouraging masks. 
  • Kids under 12 should be masked. 
  • Immune-compromised individuals should be masked, even if vaccinated, while in crowds. 
  • Hand sanitizing stations should be available for all. 
  • If possible, consider expanding the venue space to allow for more spacing and social distancing. 

Recommendations for indoor gatherings:

  • Recommend everyone is vaccinated if they are able to do so. Consider having cards checked. 
  • Require masks for all. 
  • When possible, follow CDC guidance for ventilation systems or open windows. 
  • Have hand sanitizing stations at entrances and throughout the venue.

Recommendations for events where not everyone is vaccinated or testing frequently:

  • For non-vaccinated individuals, recommend a negative COVID-19 test done within 72 hours of the event. 
  • Require masks for all. 
  • If possible, follow social distancing of 3 ft (6 ft preferred) between non-households. 
  • When possible, follow CDC guidance for ventilation systems or open windows. 
  • Non-Vaccinated individuals may test 3-5 days after the event. Anyone should test immediately if experiencing symptoms. 


People who travel for the gatherings should follow CDC guidance for Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Please note the date of this guidance as August 17, 2021. It is subject to change due to the evolving situation. For moreinformation and resources, please go to www.c-uphd.org frequently.

Third Dose of COVID-19 Vaccination Available to Individuals Meeting Certain Criteria

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and Community Healthcare Partners Encourage Individuals to Consult with a Healthcare Provider for Third COVID Vaccination Dose

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD), in partnership with Carle Health, OSF HealthCare, Christie Clinic, and Promise Healthcare want to encourage those who are eligible for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to consult with their medical provider to discuss additional protection as Delta variant cases continue to rise. 

Eligibility criteria for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is based on the following recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Emergency Use Authorization: 

  • At least 28 days have passed after a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna (does not apply to Johnson & Johnson)
  • Same dose of the vaccine should be used for the third dose (unless information about the first two doses is unknown)
  • Self-attest to having one of the following immunocompromised conditions:
    • Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
    • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
    • Received a stem cell transplant within the last 2 years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
    • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
    • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
    • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress your immune response

According to Awais Vaid, Deputy Administrator and Epidemiologist at CUPHD, “Eligible individuals should receive their third dose at their provider’s office. In addition, the third dose of Pfizer or Moderna is not a booster shot and not intended for the general community member. What is available now is a third dose of the original shot, specifically recommended for people with compromised immune systems.”

No other conditions or criteria are eligible for the third dose at this time. Caretakers are not included in the eligibility but are encourage to get their first series of vaccinations if they have not already done so. It is anticipated that less than 3 percent of patients will be eligible for a third dose of an mRNA vaccination.

Additional information can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/immuno.html.

Illinois Launches ‘Vax Verify’ System

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is launching a new immunization portal, Vax Verify, that will allow Illinois residents 18 years and older to check their COVID-19 vaccination record.  Vax Verify can be accessed at  https://idphportal.illinois.gov.

“As more businesses, events, organizations, and others require proof of vaccination, Illinois residents will be able to confirm using Vax Verify that they have been vaccinated for COVID-19,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “With the current surge in cases, more people are making the decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine and this new tool will aid residents in confirming their vaccination where needed.”

Illinois State Fair concert goers with tickets for the grandstand track area (also known as Standing Room Only) are required to provide a print or digital copy of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 72 hours.  Ticket holders can register in Vax Verify to check their immunization record for documentation of COVID-19 vaccination.  

More and more companies, such as United, Google, Netflix, Morgan Stanley, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ascension Health, and Lyft, are instituting vaccine requirements for at least some of their employees.

The verification system follows best practices to protect confidential health information.  In order to download proof of vaccination, residents will go through a brief, one-time identity verification process to gain access to their immunization history.  The State of Illinois utilizes Experian® as its identity verification service provider.  Individuals who have placed a freeze on their credit will need to unfreeze their credit with Experian® and wait 24 hours before completing the registration process.  After completing registrations, individuals can re-freeze their credit by contacting Experian®.  

After the verification process, individuals can see their own record in the Illinois Comprehensive Automated Immunization Registry Exchange (I-CARE).  

Immunization records are kept confidential and only the individual can access their vaccination history.  Parents should talk with their child’s provider to confirm their vaccination status.  Some individuals with very common names will need to take additional steps to securely prove their identities.  

Go to vaccines.gov or call 1-800-232-0233 to find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you.

Upcoming Vaccination Clinics

As the Delta variant continues to spread, it’s critical to get vaccinated to protect the health of our community. Numerous vaccine clinics are upcoming including:

  • Saturday, July 31, 1:00–5:00 p.m. at Anita Purves Nature Center
  • Saturday, August 7, 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m., Douglass Park
  • Thursday, August 12, 6:00–8:00 p.m., Country Brook Apartments
  • Saturday, August 14, 12:00–4:00 p.m., New Hope Church
  • Friday, August 27, 5:00–9:00 p.m. and Saturday, August 28, 10:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m., Cornbelt Fire Protection District
  • Every Friday, 8:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m. at Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

Have questions about getting the vaccine? Find answers to the top asked questions below:

CDC Updates on Delta Variant & Masking

On July 27, the CDC updated their guidance surrounding prevention of COVID-19 and the Delta Variant. The top 5 things to know from the CDC include:

  1. Getting vaccinated prevents severe illness, hospitalization, and death; it also helps reduce the spread of the virus in communities. 
    • Unvaccinated individuals should get vaccinated and continue masking until they are fully vaccinated. 
    • With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. The highest spread of cases and severe outcomes is happening in places with low vaccination rates 
  2. Data show Delta is different than past versions of the virus: it is much more contagious. 
    • Some vaccinated people can get Delta in a breakthrough infection and may be contagious. 
    • Even so, vaccinated individuals represent a very small amount of transmission occurring around the country. 
    • Virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated. 
  3. In areas with substantial and high transmission, CDC recommends that everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent spread of Delta and protect others. 
  4. CDC recommends that community leaders encourage vaccination and masking to prevent further outbreaks in areas of substantial and high transmission. 
  5. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place. 

COVID-19 Delta Variant in Champaign County

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and Community Healthcare Partners Encourage Vaccination Against COVID-19

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD), in partnership with Carle Health, OSF HealthCare, Christie Clinic, and Promise Healthcare want to encourage those who are eligible and have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 to do so today. The vaccines are safe, effective, and widely available in Champaign County.

The Delta variant has now reached Champaign County and continues to increase across the country. This particular variant does appear to be more transmissible and is impacting younger patients in a way previous variants have not. In some regions, the Delta variant represents over 50 percent of cases reported. People who are fully vaccinated are protected from the Delta variant which is why it is more important than ever for people to get vaccinated. According to the CDC, preliminary data suggests that 99.5 percent of COVID deaths over the past several months were in unvaccinated people.

“With an increase in cases locally and schools reopening for in-person learning next month, now is the time to get vaccinated for protection against COVID-19 and its variants,” said Awais Vaid, Deputy Administrator and Epidemiologist at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

Anyone 12 years of age or older is able to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are available to individuals age 18 and older. The following clinics are currently available to those meeting age requirements based on the manufacturer’s guidance and who live or work in Champaign County. Parental consent is needed for anyone under the age of 18.

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, 201 W. Kenyon Road, Champaign. 

  • Walk-in appointments available each Friday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Walk-in clinic Saturday, July 17th from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • Individuals or families with special needs or disabilities who need support with vaccine clinics, please call (217) 531-5365 and a nurse will come to your vehicle to provide the vaccination.

Carle Health, Champaign and Urbana.

Vaccine appointments are available at two Champaign County locations by walk-in.

Starting July 19, Carle Champaign on Curtis and Carle Urbana on Windsor appointments should be scheduled by calling (217) 902-6100:

Promise Healthcare, 819 Bloomington Road, Champaign.

To register:

  • Call the COVID Care line at (217) 403-5402.
  • Walk-in vaccinations are available at 805 Bloomington Road. No appointment needed.
  • Individuals will need to register as a patient.

OSF HealthCare, Champaign, Urbana and Savoy.

  • Appointments are required and can be made at www.osfhealthcare.org/vaccine.
  • Vaccines are available at 1405 W. Park Street in Urbana, 1712 W. Springfield Ave in Champaign and 501 N. Dunlap Street in Savoy.


Additional notes:

In most cases, you will receive your second dose where you received your first. Follow instructions on scheduling your second dose from the site.

Patients will need to wear a face covering, practice social distancing, and plan to allow at least 15 minutes for observation after the vaccination. Please limit the number of individuals in your party that are not receiving the vaccine and wear clothing to allow easy access to the upper portion of the arm for the injection.

The vaccine itself is free but providers may seek appropriate reimbursement from the recipient’s plan or program (e.g., private health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid) for a vaccine administration fee. You will not be turned away if you do not have insurance or charged the balance of the bill for the vaccine. If you have questions about your specific coverage, please call the number on the back of your insurance card.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has compiled a comprehensive list of frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccination. Information can be found at: http://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/vaccine-faq

Additional information on COVID-19 vaccinations can be found at: https://www.c-uphd.org/covid-vaccinations.html.

Illinois Moves to Phase 5, Fully Re-Opens June 11

Illinois will move to a full reopening, also known as Phase 5, the final phase of the Restore Illinois plan, on Friday, June 11, 2021. On Friday, the state will eliminate all capacity limits on businesses, large-scale events, conventions, amusement parks, and all other venues. Mask requirements for vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals continue to align with CDC guidelines.
The state reaches this point as it records the lowest number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, the lowest test positivity rate, and more than 68% of Illinois residents age 18 and over who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

“A strong economy requires that people not only feel safe, but truly be safe, as they go about their lives as workers, neighbors, consumers, and friends – and thanks to the lifesaving power of vaccinations, that day is finally here for Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I invite all Illinoisans to feel the hope and joy of this moment while also recognizing that this pandemic is still very present for the world at large – not to mention those here at home who have not been or cannot be vaccinated. As we take this next step forward, let’s do so with a renewed commitment to empathy, to community, and to making each day together count. You did it, Illinois.” 

Today the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting 366 new confirmed and probable cases, 764 people in the hospital with COVID-19, and a test positivity rate of 1.3%.  These are some of the lowest COVID-19 statistics reported in Illinois to date. Additionally, IDPH is reporting 209 people with COVID-19 in the ICU and 103 people on ventilators.  These are also some of the lowest counts we’ve seen since the pandemic began. 

Currently, 11.9 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to Illinois residents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting more than 68% of residents age 18 and older in Illinois have received at least one dose of vaccine and 51% of adults are fully vaccinated. Additionally, more than 88% of Illinois seniors have received at least one dose of vaccine. 

“It is a very exciting time as we reach the point where businesses can operate without capacity limits and we are seeing the return of large events we’ve enjoyed in the past,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.  “However, it is important to remember that we are still in a world pandemic and not everyone has the protection of one of the safest and most effective vaccines ever.  Currently, there is not a vaccine authorized for children younger than 12 years and some adults have chosen not to be vaccinated.  For these reasons, it is important for unvaccinated people to continue to wear masks while in public and to socially distance.  The virus can continue to spread among unvaccinated individuals, which could lead to additional mutations and new, more virulent variants.”   

In accordance with guidance from the CDC, fully vaccinated people in Illinois can resume activities without wearing a mask except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.  

Consistent with CDC guidance, fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated persons are required to wear a face covering in certain situations including (1) on public transportation, planes, buses, trains, and in transportation hubs such as airports and train and bus stations; (2) in congregate facilities such as correctional facilities and homeless shelters; and (3) in health care settings.  Individuals in schools and day cares must also continue to wear face coverings per guidance issued by the Illinois State Board of EducationIllinois Department of Children and Family Services, and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

According to the CDC, it is critical that schools use and layer prevention strategies.  Schools providing in-person instruction should prioritize two prevention strategies:

1. Universal and correct use of masks should be required; and
2. Physical distancing should be maximized to the greatest extent possible.

Municipalities and businesses in most industries may choose to continue to implement public health mitigations as they deem appropriate, including requiring face coverings.  

To help businesses recover from the pandemic, the Governor, in partnership with the General Assembly, announced $1.5 billion in funding next year to support business grants, tourism, workforce, affordable housing, violence prevention, capital projects and other investments throughout Illinois.  This investment follows the $580 million invested last year for Business Interruption grants to aid businesses in pandemic impacted industries and childcare providers.

“Today’s advancement to Phase 5 is a significant milestone in our work to combat the virus and get the Illinois economy back on track. Through Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, we have continued to lead on testing, vaccines and providing economic relief programs that are essential to supporting the return of workers and businesses amid the pandemic,” said Acting DCEO Director Sylvia Garcia. “Now, as businesses are set to fully reopen across the state, DCEO remains committed to implementing key programs that will not only reinvigorate our small businesses, workforce, and tourism, but that will build back our state’s economy stronger than ever before.”

Businesses and communities can learn more about Phase 5 recommended public health practices by visiting IDPH’s website.