Gov. Pritzker hopeful mask mandates will be lifted before holiday season; southern Ill. residents react

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 4:43 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 19, 2021 at 5:33 PM CDT
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CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - Governor JB Pritzker said on Tuesday that he and state leaders are watching COVID-19 case numbers every day to determine when they can loosen restrictions.

“We want to make sure these numbers keep going down. We’d like very much to head into, you know, we have three holidays coming up, but especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, where people spend extended amounts of time together, so we’d like very much to get to a place where we can remove certain mask mandates,” Governor Pritzker said.

He said the goal can only be reached if case numbers continue to go down.

Folks in southern Illinois are optimistic that when the holiday season rolls around, they will be able to celebrate safely with family and friends.

“I’m super excited for everything to start going back to normal,” said Jorja Baquedano, a Carbondale resident.

Baquedano said a normal holiday season means actually spending time with her loved ones.

“My family is actually from Virginia, so we didn’t get to go see them for Christmas,” said Baquedano.

After COVID-19 canceled her trip last year, she said her family is ready to get back together this holiday season.

“We do plan to go to Virginia and see my nephew and my sister,” said Baquedano.

Governor Pritzker echoed that goal, announcing Tuesday, October 19, if COVID-19 case numbers continue dropping, he hopes to lift some of regulations in his state.

Right now, Illinois still has an indoor mask mandate in all public spaces.

“Personally, I think it should have been lifted several, several months ago,” said Jacob Kerrigan, Herrin resident.

Kerrigan is ready for the mandates to go.

He said the pandemic did not stop his holiday plans last year and he expects this year will be no different.

“It’s going to be the exact same thing if not even better than it was last year,” said Kerrigan.

Right now, Illinois reports more than a million active COVID-19 cases.

In Jackson County, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health website, numbers are on the decline.

“This year, we’ll just have to wait and see. See how things are looking. Well maybe be more cautious than we would otherwise, but who knows,” said Tom Imboden, a Carbondale resident.

Imboden said he’s still waiting to decide if a trip to Chicago for the holidays makes sense.

“I think everybody’s hopeful that mask mandates will be lifted, but still want to be cautious and make sure it’s the right decision based on all the evidence that we’ve got,” said Imboden.

Governor Pritzker also spoke on Tuesday about booster shots.

He mentioned those who are eligible should get one as soon as possible.

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