Pritzker says Illinois nearing ‘Bridge phase’ to full reopening as statewide COVID-19 infections dip

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(WGN) — More COVID restrictions will soon be loosened in Illinois due to the state’s improving metrics.

Governor Pritzker says the state is now on track for the long-awaited bridge phase, as COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to trend downward. 

“I think the common view is Illinois has weathered the storm well,” Pritzker said Monday.

The governor announced due to declining COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations and the state surpassing the 70% goal for seniors 65 and older, Illinois will move into the next phase of reopening, likely next week.

“I think everyone feels we’re in a decent position following the metrics we believe we’ll be able to move to the bridge phase,” Pritzker said.  

The bridge to Phase Five expands capacity to 60% for gyms, theaters, spectator events, zoos, offices, retail, museums and amusement parks.

“We’re seeing cases drop across all age groups which is important,” said Cook County Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

While she echoed the governor’s optimism, Dr. Arwady says there is still work to do when it comes to vaccinations. 

This past weekend, 44,600 people were vaccinated Saturday and 16,920 on Sunday. The numbers are the fewest given in a single day since the beginning of April. Additionally, the number of daily vaccinations continue to fall for the 11th straight day. 

Right now, four million Illinoisans have been fully vaccinated, about 32% of the state population. 
 
The United Center mass vaccination site is now scaling down after eight weeks, Dr. Arwady said. Starting Tuesday, the center will transition to one week of administering the Johnson and Johnson shots, and finishing up second doses. 

Despite the push for herd immunity, the city’s top doctor feels reopening is safe, when looking at declining hospitalizations. 
 
“Our occupancy is not threatened at this point,” Dr. Arwady said. “This is why we’re able to move ahead with reopening and expect over these weeks to come we will still be able to keep turning that dial on fairly aggressive reopening.”

Health officials say there will be a 28 -day monitoring period before moving to Phase Five, which is a full reopening of the economy. Phase Five requires 50% of all Illinois residents over 16 to have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and hospital admissions and death rates cannot increase significantly during that monitoring period.

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