After what feels like an eternity of dining in the cold after indoor dining and drinking was shut down in November, Illinois can expect fewer restrictions this month, some of which may include allowing guests to dine inside again, at a limited capacity, of course.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday that as soon as Jan. 15, these restrictions, implemented to help stop the spread of COVID-19, can lessen on a region-to-region basis.
For restrictions to lift, a region must have a less than 12 percent positivity rate for three consecutive days, along with a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations, with more than 20 percent of its ICU and hospital beds available.
According to IDPH regional data, Chicago (10.2 percent positivity rate) and Cook County (10 percent) are meeting these requirements, although there has been an increase in cases since the holidays.
Pritzker says nothing is yet certain until Jan. 15, but he remains optimistic, according to a local news source.
Vaccine age lowered to 65
Pritzker also announced Wednesday that despite the federal age requirement for the COVID-19 vaccine being 75 and older, Illinois will lower the age to 65 years of age due to disparity and inequity in the community.
Black and Latino Illinois residents are more at risk of severe illness and death from the coronavirus, Pritzker explains; therefore, lowering the age for access to the vaccine carries hope to “more strongly pursue equity.”
According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, 81 is the average age of death for white residents in the state, compared to 72 for Black residents and 68 for Latino residents.
Pritzker joins the rest of the state in eagerly awaiting the second round of vaccines and says once the second-round arrives, he would instruct the Illinois National Guard to set up mass vaccination sites for efficient distribution.