JB Pritzker

Pritzker Plans to Expand Vaccine Eligibility, Announce New COVID Reopening Phase: Sources

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he’s never felt “more optimistic” about where the state is heading in regards to the coronavirus pandemic, and he appears to be set to announce some big changes to the state’s plans on Thursday.

Sources tell NBC 5 that Pritzker plans to expand eligibility for coronavirus vaccines to all state residents age 16 or older beginning on April 12, a massive change from the current structure of the vaccination plan.

Currently, the state is in Phase 1B-Plus of its vaccination plan, with all state residents over the age of 65 and all residents over the age of 16 with certain comorbidities being eligible.

That’s set to change in the coming weeks, as all residents 16 and older will be eligible to book vaccine appointments.

That isn’t the only change Pritzker is expected to announce. According to sources, the governor will also announce a new phase of the state’s reopening plan, bridging the gap between Phase Four, where the state currently is, and Phase Five, where the state will fully reopen after an appropriate number of individuals have been vaccinated and “herd immunity” is achieved.

The phase is expected to include larger capacity limits for bars and restaurants, as well as social gatherings. Museums and zoos are also expected to be part of the new phase, according to sources.

This news comes the day that Pritzker expressed optimism about the state’s progress in fighting the virus, as positivity rates remain low and more than 100,000 people per day receive doses of the coronavirus.

“I am more optimistic today than I have ever been about where we are going and how we’re getting to the end of the pandemic,” he said.

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