Pritzker downplays chief of staff comments about fully reopening this summer

Pritzker downplays chief of staff comments about fully reopening this summer

SPRINGFIELD, IL — Gov. J.B. Pritzker clarified statements from his chief of staff on Wednesday, a day after she said the state was headed for a full reopening this summer.

Illinois has been in Phase 4 of the governor’s 5-phased reopening plan for months. Restrictions include capacity limits for restaurants and sporting events.

On Tuesday, Anne Caprara told a Senate committee she and the governor hoped to have restrictions lifted soon.

“I think we both hope that we are going to be in a place to move to Phase 5 in the beginning of the summer,” Caprara said. “I always hesitate to say definitively where we are going to be because we have now ridden through several rises and falls of COVID cases.”

During a news conference Wednesday in Rockford, Pritzker said not so fast.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as saying that the reopening starts as the summer starts,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker once again said there are metrics to meet, including about 5 million Illinoisans, or 50% of the state’s population older than 16, need to be fully vaccinated. According to the New York Times Vaccine Tracker, 19% of people in Illinois are fully vaccinated.

The governor also has two other metrics that must be met before restrictions are lifted. For 28 days, hospitalizations and intensive care bed numbers have to be stable or decreasing.

“The number of hospitalizations is increasing, the number of cases of people going into ICU beds is increasing, and that is of great concern to us,” Pritzker said.

As of Tuesday night, 1,710 people were reported to be in an Illinois hospital with COVID-19, including 353 in the ICU.

On Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,790 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus, an increase from the day before.

The state has reported 21,423 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic started.

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