ST. LOUIS — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday announced that all residents age 16 and older will become eligible for COVID-19 vaccines beginning on April 12.
Pritzker said that other groups may be made eligible before that point. At the same time, the governor also announced a plan to gradually roll back COVID-19 restrictions.
"I'm more optimistic today than I have been at any time over the last year," Pritzker said. "It's time to begin to cautiously move toward normalcy."
Pritzker said the state could soon move into what he referred to as a "bridge phase," between Phase 4 and the more relaxed Phase 5 of the state's COVID-19 mitigation plan. In order to do so, 70% of the state's residents age 65 and older must receive at least one dose of vaccine — up from 58%, as of Thursday. Case and hospitalization rates also must stay steady or decline over a 28-day period.
Pritzker said that the state's mask mandate will remain in place until the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend otherwise.