coronavirus illinois

Watch Live: Pritzker to Expand Illinois COVID Vaccine Eligibility and Announce New Reopening Phase

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to make the announcements during a COVID-19 update at 11:30 a.m.

Note: Gov. Pritzker's COVID-19 update can be watched live in the video player above beginning at around 11:30 a.m.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is set to announce on Thursday a major expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility across Illinois as well as a new phase in the state's reopening plan, sources said.

Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike are expected to deliver a COVID-19 update at 11:30 a.m. from the Thompson Center in Chicago, according to his public schedule. That news conference can be watched live in the video player above.

Sources said Wednesday that the update will include an expansion of eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine to all Illinois residents age 16 and older beginning on April 12, though that plan will not apply to Chicago residents.

Pritzker said last week that he felt "confident" in vaccine supply moving forward and that he believed the state could make all adults eligible for the vaccine ahead of the May 1 deadline that President Joe Biden laid out earlier this month.

Illinois entered what's called Phase 1B Plus of its vaccine rollout plan late last month, expanding eligibility to individuals with certain high-risk medical conditions and comorbidities. That's in addition to the already-eligible health care workers and long-term care facility staff and residents who qualified in Phase 1A, plus the frontline essential workers as well as residents age 65 and older who became eligible in the earlier iteration of Phase 1B.

For a full look at who's eligible to get vaccinated in Phase 1B Plus, click here.

But when the state entered Phase 1B Plus, several jurisdictions, including the city of Chicago, suburban Cook County and several other counties in the area, announced that they would not expand eligibility along with the rest of Illinois, citing low vaccine supply.

Chicago officials announced Wednesday that the city will move into Phase 1C, which includes all remaining essential workers as well as all adults with qualifying health conditions, as planned on March 29. Because Chicago receives its supply of vaccine from the federal government allocated separately from the state, the city operates on its own framework and timetable and will not expand eligibility to all adults with the rest of the state on April 12.

For a complete look at where and how you can make an appointment in Illinois or where you can receive vaccine information for your area, click here.

Sources said the governor will also announce on Thursday 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 new 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.

Pritzker hinted at the new phase of the reopening plan on Wednesday.

"Let me just say, you know, we're working with industry leaders, working with our doctors at IDPH as well as other experts in the state to make sure that the phased opening reopening is not only healthy for everybody, but also good for the economy, as we're moving forward," Pritzker said at a news conference.

Pritzker also expressed optimism Wednesday about the state’s progress in fighting the coronavirus, as positivity rates remain below 3% and more than 100,000 people per day are now receiving doses of the vaccine on average.

“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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