ROCKFORD (WREX) -- Rockford is reopening and reinventing itself, on Friday the state of Illinois entered its "Bridge Phase" of reopening. That phase is the final step before the state fully reopens, which could happen as early as June 11.
Right now, most businesses can have 60% capacity and Governor JB Pritzker just adjusted his mask mandate to follow CDC guidance. That guidance says people who are vaccinated can skip wearing a mask in most settings.
Rockford and Illinois are paving a new path to not a new normal, but a new way of life. Summer in the Stateline will look closer to the way it did in 2019 than it did in 2020.
"We want to have parades, our Fourth of July celebrations, we want to visit our loved ones in congregate care facilities, young people want to go to college on campuses, people want to have proms and graduation events, these will become important, and we will begin to see those return," Dr. Sandra Martell, Winnebago County Public Health Administrator said.
Those events will all happen thanks to three COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines that, at this time last year, we didn't even know were possible.
"Already millions of Illinoisans have done their part to get protected and help our state," said Gov. JB Pritzker in a recent press conference. "But, we need millions more to get vaccinated and to help our state. The time to do that is now."
Dr. Martell agrees.
"We've been in this pandemic for close to 18 moths, by the time we get to June," she said. "We want to get beyond this, the most effective tool against it, other than social mitigations, is vaccination. It's been a game changer."
With that tiny little vile, in the arms of millions of Illinoisans, Rockford will reinvent itself.
Mayor Tom McNamara points to new development and redevelopment across the city. In the last year, Rockford has approved a fiber optic network that will span the city, giving high-speed internet to those who want it. He pointed to Amazon taking over part of the former Bon-Ton warehouse, AAR receiving a contract to work on United's 737 jets and more.
"We are trying to do things differently so that every person that calls Rockford home has opportunities to succeed and loves where they live," he said.