Governor J.B. Pritzker says that the State of Illinois is outpacing all other states when it comes to vaccinations for the coronavirus. Despite having smaller populations than Texas and California, Pritzker says the statewide vaccination plan outpaced everyone with over 100,000 doses administered in the first week.
The state is continuing the Phase -1A roll out of the vaccines to healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents. With the approval of the Moderna vaccine by the FDA late last week, Pritzker says vaccinations will be available in more locations: “The Moderna vaccine does not require ultra-cold freezer storage and has a longer shelf life of 30 days if kept refrigerated after it’s thawed, which allows for more flexibility in its distribution.”
Pritzker says by Saturday the state is expected to receive 23,400 more doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 174,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine. Pritzker says by the end of the week, all 102 counties in the state will have seen shipments of each vaccine. IDPH officials say that the majority of the Pfizer shipment will be going towards the Walgreens/CVS federal government partnership to continue vaccinations of long-term care facility residents.
Despite the robust roll out of the vaccine and declining numbers of COVID-19, Pritzker says he has no immediate plans to lift the Tier 3 mitigations keeping places like bars & restaurants shut down: “The challenge that we have is that what we don’t want to do is swing back & forth between mitigations and not having mitigations within days or a week or two of one another. As we head into the Christmas holiday and New Year’s, my concern is that we might see – we are going to likely see some uptick from Christmas and New Year’s in hospitalizations as well as [COVID-19] cases. I’m concerned about that. Having said that, even if we brought the entire state or specific regions from Tier 3 to Tier 2, that would not open bars and restaurants for indoor service yet. We need to bring [positivity and transmission rates] down even further and for a longer period of time.”
The state was fortunate in that it did not see a massive surge of COVID-19 cases after the Thanksgiving holiday as previously predicted. Pritzker offered no timeline on when he believed the service industry would be allowed to fully reopen.