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By Peter Hancock
Capitol News Illinois 

    Gov. JB Pritzker said May 6 that Illinois will enter the “bridge” phase to full reopening this Friday. And barring any reversal of current trends, Phase 5, or full reopening, will begin on June 11.
    He also announced that residents can now obtain COVID-19 vaccines from their physicians’ offices, rather than just designated vaccine sites, as public health officials continue to confront hesitancy within many communities to accept the vaccines.
    Last week’s announcement came as the state reached a new benchmark of having 55 percent of adults age 16 and over, and 80 percent of people age 65 and over, having received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. 
    Meanwhile, the daily number of new cases, hospitalization rates and intensive care unit usage have all been falling or leveling off.
    “This good news comes with a caveat,” Pritzker said. “We have all seen throughout this pandemic that this virus and its variants have proven to be unpredictable. Metrics that look strong today are far from a guarantee of how things will look a week, two weeks, a month from now. We saw that last August, and again last March.”
    Under the bridge phase — a transition phase between the current Phase 4 mitigations and the virtually complete reopening of Phase 5 — certain capacity limits will be eased at various kinds of events. 
    Restaurants, for example, will be allowed to increase from 25 to 30 percent of capacity, as long as people maintain six feet of distance from one another, while offices, personal care facilities and retail service counters can increase from 50 to 60 percent of capacity.
    When the state reaches Phase 5, Pritzker said, virtually all mitigation restrictions will be lifted, although the state will still follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding wearing masks in large, crowded situations and maintaining safe social distancing.

grapperhausdoyleLeft: Dave "Whitey" Grapperhaus talks about the steps needed to get Breese's Larry Doyle into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, during the April 28 meeting of the Breese Historical Society. (Photo by Bryan Hunt); Right: Baseball card depicting Larry Doyle, of Breese and the New York Nationals.    One man's dream — to see major leaguer Larry Doyle make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame — has been taken up by another in earnest.
    Dave "Whitey" Grapperhaus visited with the Breese Historical Society on April 28, sharing his efforts, and that of the late Mark "Sparky" Niemann, to get  "Laughing Larry" enshrined in Cooperstown, New York.
    Grapperhaus talked about his work at the society's first in-person meeting over the past year, put off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Doyle was born in Caseyville in 1886, but the family moved to Breese in the 1890s. Doyle and his two brothers worked at Consolidated Coal west mine in Breese.
    At the time, Doyle was playing baseball for the Breese Merchants.
    When his brothers got hurt working in the coal mines, Doyle put down his hard hat and picked up a baseball bat, playing in the minor leagues in Springfield and Mattoon.
    After one year in the minors, Doyle was signed to play for the New York Giants in 1907, Grapperhaus said.
    Niemann was known as an amateur historian, especially when it came to sports.
    "That's how this all started," Grapperhaus said, adding that Niemann wrote a lot of articles about Doyle.
    Through his research and compilation of facts and figures, Niemann came to the conclusion that Doyle belonged in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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