By Greg Bishop | The Center Square
(The Center Square) – Illinois could be on the verge of entering Phase 5 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 reopening plan, if the statewide plan remains in place and a vaccine is approved by the federal government.
On May 5, Pritzker revealed his five-phase reopening plan called “Restore Illinois.” That was after nearly two months of stay-at-home orders. His plan four months ago laid out what would relax all restrictions.
“The only way that we can cross into Phase 5, Illinois Restored, with all the sectors of the economy running with completely normal operations is with a vaccine,” Pritzker said.
He also said Phase 5 of the plan could come about with a widely available COVID-19 treatment or the elimination of new cases over time.
The White House said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent notices to states to start preparing for a vaccine.
The Illinois Department of Public Health didn’t return messages seeking comment about the notices the CDC sent to states.
State Sen. Laura Murphy, D-Des Plaines, said she had concerns about the notices.
“Just personally, watching the news, I’m concerned with what’s coming out from the CDC right now,” Murphy said. “It seems like a lot of conflicting information.”
Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, said news that doses of the vaccine could be ready by November before Election Day “only increased public skepticism about the safety and efficacy” and “undermined credibility in the vaccine approval process.”
Durbin is asking companies involved in Operation Warp Speed, the president’s initiative to find vaccine candidates, to respond to a series of questions by Sept. 17.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said reports that the Trump administration is pressuring officials to move the COVID-19 vaccine along were just theories spun by some media outlets.
“This president wants to break through regulatory barriers to get a vaccine to the American people as quickly as possible because lives are at stake,” McEnany said. “But he will not in any way sacrifice safety in making sure that this is 100 percent airtight.”
Pritzker last month said when a vaccine is ready, he doesn’t expect it to be required to attend school.
“No, I can’t imagine that,” Pritzker said. “What I do think is that once a vaccine is available I think many, many people will want to get vaccinated. We obviously want to get to herd immunity.”
A WebMD poll released Wednesday suggests even with the growing acceptance of the idea of a COVID-19 vaccine, less than a third of people would actually take it right away.