Spring of 2020 began one of the most difficult periods of time any of us have lived through. The global pandemic caused losses to people all over the world, the economy has suffered and we have all been subject to enormous stress as we have struggled to adapt to the challenges of working or going to school at home, being socially isolated or worst, the loss of a loved one. To put it lightly, it has been a rough year.
But the Spring of 2021 seems to be bringing with it a ray of hope – and maybe even excitement for Chicagoans. Have you noticed the atmosphere around the city is beginning to shift? Chicago feels far more alive than it has at any time during the pandemic. Bars and restaurants are back open and the streets are filled with shoppers, diners, and people living their lives.
This energy is in large part due to the successful vaccine rollout in Illinois. What began in mid-December with a small number of medical professionals being vaccinated against Covid-19 has opened up so much that on April 19, all Chicagoans over the age of 16 became eligible for the vaccine. As of April 29, 32.53% of the population in Cook County and 31.14% of the population in Illinois are fully vaccinated. And last Thursday Chicago further eased Covid Restrictions to increase indoor capacity at restaurants, bars, and churches, to allow fans at indoor sporting events for the first time and to allow limited capacity at outdoor festivals.
As you can see from the infographic (below) from the CDC, those of us who are vaccinated also have more freedom to safely engage in more normal social activities. And, on April 27, the CDC announced that those who are fully vaccinated may safely, “participate in outdoor activities and recreation without a mask, except in certain crowded settings and venues”.
As a fully vaccinated person, I have taken this message with cautious excitement. This week I have started to walk my dog in my neighborhood without a mask! I have to admit I feel a little like a scofflaw, but at the same time, it makes sense to me; I feel safe and it feels great! If you are vaccinated it might be time to step outside of the safety and comfort of your home to experience the liveliness of this summer.
If you are not vaccinated, help us continue to move forward to fully re-opening and getting back to normal by getting your vaccine. You can register for the community vaccination program at https://vaccine.cookcountyil.gov/.