Illinois will enter the ‘Bridge Phase” of the state’s COVID-19 reopening plan next week prior to fully reopening in June, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday.
The Bridge Phase will loosen restrictions further and increase capacity limits before the final Phase 5. Here’s Pritzker’s full statement:
“Because of our state’s incredible workforce of healthcare professionals and our exemplary National Guard, Illinois is continuing to run ahead of the national average for vaccinations: 60 percent of our adult residents have already received at least a first dose. That includes 85 percent of our Illinois residents 65 and older.
Most of those millions of shots took place at mass vax sites, local health department clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals.
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These shots largely went to people who were immediately eager to get vaccinated. Many refreshed pharmacy web sites, made calls on behalf of elderly relatives, or drove to another county nearby or even much further.
The days of vaccine scarcity are over. Today we are in a new phase of our Vaccine Administration Plan: of meeting people where they are and making sure they can get their shots at their doctor’s office.
So today, we are initiating the expansion of vaccine administration to physicians’ offices across the state, allowing them to become COVID-19 vaccine providers for their patients right there in the doctor’s office.
Already as of this afternoon, over 1,000 offices have signed up to do this, and I’m encouraging all interested providers to do the same. We have the vaccine, all we need is the doctors. Dr. Ezike will talk more about how physicians can sign up to distribute, and the physician leaders joining us today will echo this call.
This is about making it as easy as possible for those who have not yet gotten vaccinated to protect themselves from COVID-19.
For some people, that’s a matter of comfort. They’d rather get a vaccine from a doctor they know and trust.
For others, it’s about convenience. If you’re already visiting a healthcare provider for another treatment or checkup, it’s easier to get vaccinated on the spot rather than having to make a second, extra trip.
Whatever the reason: Illinois is doing everything we can to make this vaccine as easy and accessible as possible, for all who want it.
This call ALSO applies to pediatric offices. Already, dozens have signed up to be prepped and ready for when vaccines become available to young people ages 12 to 15 perhaps as early as next week, and we encourage every provider who can offer vaccinations to do so. For doctors, this is not only a great way to educate and vaccinate your patients – it’s also an opportunity to offer the vaccine to their family members as well.
I also want to provide an update today on the next phase of our COVID-19 public health mitigations.
Each day people in Illinois and across the nation are still getting sick and being admitted to the hospital with this deadly virus. And each day, our doctors and nurses and healthcare professionals do everything in their power to save every life they can, one patient at a time.
But the light we can see at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter as more people get vaccinated.
As a testament to the lifesaving, community-protecting power of vaccinations, I’m pleased to announce this morning that the concerning upward movement of cases and hospitalizations we were seeing a few weeks ago have stabilized.
The number of people going into the hospital each day with COVID-19 has dropped, the total number of patients fighting COVID-19 in the hospital is beginning to level off, and our statewide ICU bed availability is above 20 percent.
As a result, on Friday, May 14th, the State of Illinois will move into the Bridge Phase of our mitigation plan – one step closer to removing nearly all of the remaining mitigations. For restaurants and bars and retail and weddings and public gatherings, this means higher capacity limits and a very hopeful move toward fully reopening.
And barring any significant reversals in our key COVID-19 statewide indicators, Illinois will move to Phase 5 – normal business operations free of pandemic-related mitigations – as soon as Friday, June 11th. Whenever we reach Phase 5, we will continue to follow CDC guidelines on masking to keep this pandemic at bay.
This good news comes with a caveat. 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 in March.
But what we do know is that we have tools in our arsenal like vaccinations and wearing masks that, if we all use them, have proven extremely effective.
I want to thank people across Illinois who are continuing to do their part to make your friends and family safer and your communities healthier.
Folks, this pandemic is not over, but if we’re going to truly end it, we have to make sure we don’t see another surge of the virus – and the best way to do that is for everyone to get vaccinated.
Already, millions of Illinoisans have done their part to get protected and help our state. But we need millions more to get vaccinated, and the best time to do that is now. If you haven’t gotten vaccinated, we can help you find a shot near you.
Visit coronavirus.illinois.gov, check Walgreens or CVS or Jewel or your local pharmacy or just call our vaccine hotline at (833) 621-1284. If you don’t want to make an appointment, you don’t need to. You can visit one of our Illinois National Guard mass vaccination sites, all of which are now taking walk-ins.
And if you’re the pastor or lay leader of a religious group or head of a community organization, a mutual aid program, or a neighborhood association, you can host a vaccination clinic for your community and we will provide the resources and staff. You can sign up at dph.illinois.gov/covid19/vaccinationclinics.
Or just call the IDPH vaccine hotline at 833-621-1284.
And if you can, talk to someone in your life about why you got vaccinated – and then help them do the same. We’ll get through this the same way we have from the very beginning: helping each other and working together.”