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Gov. Pritzker to consider loosening COVID-19 restrictions after holidays

File Photo – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to loosen virus mitigations sometime after the holidays after moving the state to tier 3 mitigations in November, which closed indoor service at restaurants and bars.

Most areas of the state apparently avoided a post-Thanksgiving surge that Pritzker warned about, and a couple of regions have met the requirements to move back to Tier 2 mitigations, which would reopen many businesses. Pritzker says he continues to follow the science.

“Not just Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, but the whole wrath of doctors that we rely upon for their good advice as we move forward with this novel coronavirus,” Pritzker said.

“We need to be deeply concerned about the gatherings that people may have around the holidays,” he added.

Before Thanksgiving, the Pritzker administration asked Illinoisans to skip family gatherings, saying the events could be super-spreaders of the virus. Most areas of the state apparently avoided a post-Thanksgiving surge that Pritzker warned about, ” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Only one area of the state, Region 5, which is in far southern Illinois, saw an overall increase in its new case rate after the Thanksgiving holiday,” she said.

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Ezike said this week that “they haven’t seen something significant to talk about now.”

Many areas of the country are experiencing a post-holiday surge with rising hospitalization rates. Illinois and its neighbors are among the minority of states to see hospitalization rates decline since Thanksgiving.

A couple of regions, 6 and 9, have met the requirements to move back to Tier 2 mitigations, which would reopen many businesses, including indoor service at bars and restaurants.

The governor was asked if he would loosen restrictions after the holidays.

“That’s my hope,” Pritzker said. “There’s no date here but suffice to say I want as much as anybody else to open up as many things as we possibly can.”

Health officials caution about the upcoming holidays, which could have case numbers trending upward.

“We are starting to head in the right direction,” Ezike said. “We still do have many more months to go, but let’s continue toward that light at the end of the tunnel.”


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