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Metro East eases restrictions, prepares for group 1B vaccinations Monday

Walgreens has been administering the vaccine to people 65 and older for days

FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS, Ill. — Things are looking up in the Metro East. COVID restrictions eased Friday for seven counties in Illinois Region IV due to a decline in the number of COVID patients and a decline in the positivity rate.

Meanwhile, COVID vaccine distribution plan 1B gets underway Monday.

Jim Herndon walked out of Walgreens in Fairview Heights Sunday, but he had not just received the vaccine. He won’t, though he does meet the minimum age requirement of 65.

He said his decision comes down to who needs the shot most.

“Basically, because I’m in good health,” he replied, “and not at high risk. Though I work in an industry that is in the supply chain, I will leave my place in line for someone who is needy for it.”

On Monday, Illinois COVID vaccine distribution phase 1B gets underway, making people 65 and older eligible for their shots. But Walgreens has been administering those shots for days.

Terry and Judy Booth got vaccinated Sunday.

“We saw the link on Channel 5 the other day and went online and it was smooth and quick,” Terry said.

They said it was just a matter of days to go from signing up to sitting down for the shot.

Group 1B members, age 65 and older, must register in advance at www.walgreens.com/covid19vac.

Susan Marsh learned you do have to register on the Walgreens website. And that’s a problem, for her.

“I’m meeting my cousins for a birthday lunch,” said Marsh, “and I’ll tell them while they sign up my Aunt Mary, who is 93, please sign me up, too.”

Also, in Illinois, on Friday several Metro-East counties’ COVID restrictions relaxed from tier 3 to tier 2, affecting facilities like libraries, movie theaters and gyms.

At Planet Fitness in Fairview Heights, members say protocols have eased inside.

“Before you get on a piece of equipment you have to clean it with the sanitizer and towels, and you also have to clean it when you get off,” Jeff Johns said.

Gym-goers said it was nice to get back to taking care of their health amid the ongoing pandemic.

“It makes me feel good to be back in the gym, knowing they make my health as much of a priority as theirs," Susan Hicks said. "Because I needed it for my mental health since I’ve been working every day in this.”