We’ve all been living with the COVID-19 pandemic for more than a year now, but with vaccines flowing into arms – the recent Johnson & Johnson hiccup notwithstanding – and nice weather pushing people outdoors and states beginning to relax restrictions it has felt like we’re getting the upper hand.

But that complacency, much like the vaccines themselves, can have its own side effects. Right now, the principal side effect has been a troubling increase in the number of people testing positive on a weekly basis in our villages. 

The seven-day rolling positivity rate as of April 11 in Brookfield surpassed 8 percent, while in Riverside and North Riverside it was north of 6 percent. Compared to where those rates were a month ago – in Riverside’s case the seven-day rolling rate was below 1 percent on March 15 – that’s a worrying trend, and one that’s playing out across the state.

This week the state opened up vaccinations to all residents over the age of 16 and Cook County is opening up tens of thousands of appointments each week at its mass sites, run with precision by the Illinois National Guard.

There’s one at a former big-box store location at the Forest Park Mall, just up the street at Desplaines and Roosevelt. If you haven’t gotten your vaccination yet, please consider scheduling an appointment to do so.

About 22 percent of the state’s residents had been fully vaccinated as of April 12, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health and the state has been on a record-setting roll for vaccinating people daily.

With contagious variants of COVID-19 increasing the rate of infection, getting those vaccines is the way we get this pandemic under control for good.

We all need to keep doing our parts.

Finding solutions

One lesson we’ve learned through the years is that when local government agencies collaborate, they can accomplish things they can’t by trying to find a solution on their own.

The consolidated emergency dispatch center brought local police agencies closer together and during the past year they have operated on a “no boundaries” basis, allowing the closest free officer to respond to an incident in any of the towns.

That same kind of collaboration led to the construction of the First Avenue bike path and was key to initiating further study of continuing that path south and west.

Now another positive outcome looks probable due to collaboration by Riverside-Brookfield High School and Riverside School District 96. 

RBHS looked to have lost a popular orchestra teacher when they cut the position to half time last month. It turns out, however, that District 96 is looking for a part-time orchestra teacher itself and now the two school districts are working out details to share an orchestra teacher.

If they can pull it off, that’s a win for both school districts, the students and the employee. More of that, please.