Both the Mayor and School District Superintendent are urging residents in the Jacksonville area to stay the course and not let COVID-19 numbers again rise.
Yesterday the Illinois Department of Public Health announced Region 3 metrics allowed the area to move out of Tier Resurgence mitigations altogether and back to Phase 4 of the original Restore Illinois plan.
The move allows for events such as indoor dining to resume with some restrictions, after being cut off completely since November.
Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard said today he is hopeful area businesses can start to get back on track now that COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed.
Ezard is however urging caution to both residents and businesses alike.
“I think it’s fantastic news that our businesses can open up even though it’s limited. Their patience has been great, and now we have to all play our part and support them. But, when we support them we still need to be very cautious. Wear your masks and practice social distancing, because we certainly don’t want to have a spike again and have to go through this anymore. We all can see, kind of the light at the end of the tunnel. And no it’s time for all of us to do our part and support our local businesses and move forward and get going again.”
Ezard says is he proud of city leaders who helped find ways to support local businesses during the heavy restrictions after the most recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
Earlier this month the Jacksonville City Council voted to wave the first six months liquor license fee payment for those establishments who were all but shut down during Tier 3 restrictions. The city also partnered with the Illinois Department of Economic Opportunity to provide grants of up to $10,000 to any business that could show a qualifying loss due to the pandemic.
Ezard spent time over the last week and a half personally delivering the grant checks to Jacksonville business owners. He says the impact the extra funding had on business owners was clear and immediate.
“A lot of folks don’t really realize all the struggles these businesses have been through, and the businesses were really happy. I got to see a lot of smiles through masks. When I passed out the checks I kinda felt like Santa Claus last week.
They appreciated it, they appreciated that the city and the Aldermen took the step to relax the liquor license fees for the first six months, and for us to aggressively go out for a grant as we did and help these businesses. So it was a good week last week and certainly, there is a lot more we can do. Like I said earlier, now that they are opened up in a lesser capacity, we really need to support them and, just take that next step forward and end this virus.”
District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek released an updated COVID tracker report today which now includes district numbers as of Friday.
Ptacek says on Thursday there were only three cases of any kind reported in the district, and according to Nurse Cindy Weger it was the best day for cases in a long time.
Ptacek says he is concerned about complacency, however, citing that the district’s success in maintaining in-person learning has been due to the commitment to their mitigation protocols. And says we must maintain them to continue that success.