Gov. J.B. Pritzker continues to praise the state’s COVID-19 efforts, now opening up eligibility to all residents over 16 on April 12. Likewise, the Cook County Department of Health has announced the same revised eligibility. The Illinois Department of Public Health website shows that, of residents 65 and up, 2,049,000 have received the first dose. That would be nearly the entire population of that age group, according to census data.
I find the governor’s optimism and the state’s statistics interesting in that I am in the 65 and up age group. I have been patient and have followed the directions of the state and local health authorities in seeking a vaccine. In early February I signed up for notification of available vaccine, through Zocdoc.com as instructed by the Chicago Department of Health as well as through the Cook County Department of Health.
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To date, I have received NO notification of vaccine availability. Checking frequently, this morning Zocdoc indicated “No upcoming appointments available” at its 14 listed sites. As of today, the Cook County Department of Health listed 12 sites with “No Appointments Available.” The county’s “partners,” including Walgreens and Mariano’s, have no appointments available.
There are others in this 1B category who have received no access to the vaccine, either. The reality of the situation makes the claims by our health departments and their statistics highly questionable.
Jeffrey Mark, Uptown
Make voting easier, not harder
When voting is made easier, more people vote. In 2020, voter turnout in Illinois was the highest since 1992. Voting by mail, the safest and most convenient method, jumped from 9% in 2016 to 33% in 2020. In-person early voting went from 27% to 33%.
These numbers reflect the impact of election reforms adopted in Illinois on a temporary basis last year due to COVID-19. These reforms included voting by mail, expanded early voting hours, curb-side voting and drop boxes. If we make these reforms permanent, we will encourage more Illinois citizens to take part in the democratic process.
On the opposite side of the coin, we are seeing an unprecedented effort to make voting harder. Legislators in 43 states have introduced more than 250 bills to restrict voting access, especially among people of color. This is clearly a backlash to the historic high voter turnout in 2020.
The many efforts to restrict voting access in other states is a clear indication of the seriousness of the situation. We must do all we can to expand voting access, to allow all citizens a voice in our democracy. Please contact your state legislators and ask them to support permanent voting reforms in Illinois. And ask your senators to support HR1/S1, the For the People Act, to increase voter access nationwide.
Bob Chimis, Elmwood Park