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Metro East legislators urge governor to reopen region

Based on the Metro East’s success in lowering coronavirus cases and positivity rates, five Democrat leaders wrote the governor this week urging reopening of the region.

State Sens. Rachelle Crowe, D-Glen Carbon, and Christopher Belt, D-Centreville, and state Reps. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, and LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, delivered a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker urging his administration to move the Metro East to the next tier as defined in the Restore Illinois plan.

The move would allow restaurants and bars to reopen for indoor dining at a limited capacity and school sports practices to resume.

The legislators issued the following statement Thursday:

“After months of uncertainty, financial distress and the devastating loss of many lives, a vaccine for COVID-19 provides some light at the end of the tunnel. As we move forward, the health and wellbeing of residents of our districts and across Illinois remain our top priority. We have been able to maintain a declining number of cases of COVID-19, however, our region remains the only in the state of Illinois to not move forward to Tier 1 mitigation efforts.

“We wrote to the Governor today to share our strong concern on the criteria being used that is holding our region back from moving to the next tier of mitigation, and effectively keeping many businesses, especially restaurants and bars in business. As of today, our region has met two out of the three required criteria to move forward a tier – including both a lower positivity rate of COVID-19 and hospitalizations. However, our region remains to be held back due to the number of available ICU beds – despite that number not being truly reflective of the actual situation for our region.

“As a border region in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States, the truth is many of our health care systems are located in Missouri, and residents utilize both hospitals and healthcare providers there, particularly in St. Louis. Therefore, there are many more hospital beds available regionally than reflected in the count of beds when limited to just Illinois, and the ICU hospital bed availability number fails to take this larger regional number into account.

“We ask that the governor immediately reconsider this situation, and to move our region into the Tier 1 mitigation efforts, which would allow our school sports practices to resume and our restaurants and bars to reopen and put more people back to work. Small businesses are the backbone of our local economy and employ our family, friends and neighbors. It is unfair to business owners, employees and local residents to remain in a tier of mitigation efforts based on a number that does not accurately show the whole picture of our communities and the availability of healthcare resources that exist regionally.”

PHOTO: Senators Rachelle Crowe, left and Christopher Belt.



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