Broader Reopening To Begin Next Week

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Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday that Illinois will enter the “bridge” phase to full reopening on Friday, May 14, and barring any reversal of current trends, Phase 5, or full reopening, will begin on June 11.

Locally, the Montgomery County Health Department announced that vaccinations for 12-15-year-olds may be available soon if Pfizer receives FDA approval.  Those with a child in that age range who would like to have them vaccinated can get their name of a list by calling 217-532-2001 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or emailing the child’s name, date of birth, and town to mchdpublichealth@gmail.com.

On Thursday the governor also announced that residents can now obtain COVID-19 vaccines from their physicians’ offices, rather than just designated vaccine sites, as public health officials continue to confront hesitancy within many communities to accept the vaccines.

Thursday’s announcement came as the state reached a new benchmark of having 55 percent of adults age 16 and over, and 80 percent of people age 65 and over, having received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Meanwhile, the daily number of new cases, hospitalization rates and intensive care unit usage have all been falling or leveling off.

“This good news comes with a caveat,” Pritzker said. “We have all seen throughout this pandemic that this virus and its variants have proven to be unpredictable. Metrics that look strong today are far from a guarantee of how things will look a week, two weeks, a month from now. We saw that last August, and again last March.”

Under the bridge phase–a transition phase between the current Phase 4 mitigations and the virtually complete reopening of Phase 5–certain capacity limits will be eased at various kinds of events. Restaurants, for example, will be allowed to increase from 25 to 30 percent of capacity, as long as people maintain six feet of distance from one another, while offices, personal care facilities and retail service counters can increase from 50 to 60 percent of capacity.

When the state reaches Phase 5, Pritzker said, virtually all mitigation restrictions will be lifted, although the state will still follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding wearing masks in large, crowded situations and maintaining safe social distancing.

Although Illinois has succeeded in getting a large percentage of its adult population vaccinated, IDPH reports that the daily rate of vaccinations has been declining as large segments of the population have been reluctant to receive their shots.

Although the rate of spread of the virus has been declining, IDPH continues to report a steady stream of new cases each day.

After the quarantine list reached zero in the Hillsboro School District at the end of April, positives in the last week in the high school, junior high, and Beckemeyer brought the quarantine count to 77 on Friday, according to Superintendent David Powell.

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