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Gov. Pritzker issues stay-at-home order starting at 5 p.m. Saturday

During a joint news conference Friday with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Gov. JB Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order for all Illinois residents beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“The only strategy available to us to limit the increase in cases and ensure our health care system has [the] capacity to treat those who become ill is to mitigate the spread of [the] coronavirus in the most robust manner possible,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said he wants to assure the public that essential businesses will remain open to the public.

“I don’t come to this decision easily,” Pritzker said. “I fully recognize that in some cases, I am choosing between saving people’s lives and saving people’s livelihoods. But, ultimately, you can’t have a livelihood if you don’t have your life.”

Illinois residents still will be able to leave their homes to do things such as go to the grocery store, visit pharmacies, put gas in their cars, go for walks and visit medical offices, Pritzker said.

For residents who already have been engaging in self-quarantining measures, “your lives will not change very much,” he said.

The stay-at-home order will remain in place until the end of the day April 7, but Pritzker said his administration will continue to monitor the spread of the coronavirus to determine whether this period should be extended.

That means all nonessential businesses must stop operating, and anyone who is able to work from home must do so, Pritzker said.

Illinois schools will remain closed until April 8, which Pritzker said also may be subject to change. However, he said the state would support school districts in continuing to provide daily meals to students.

Restaurants still will be open for pickup and delivery services, as well.

A full list of essential businesses that will remain open can be found in Pritzker’s latest executive order at coronavirus.illinois.gov.

“I have spoken with many of my colleagues across the city and the state, and we all acknowledge that this is the only way forward,” said Emily Landon, lead epidemiologist for the University of Chicago Medicine. “We can’t take care of everyone at once, and we can’t keep that low mortality promise if we can’t provide the support that our patients need. … All we have to slow the spread is distance – social distance.”

Lightfoot added, “The governor, local leaders and I are in full agreement that we need to act swiftly, and that this decision is necessary.”

As of Friday, a fifth person in Illinois had died because of the COVID-19 virus – a woman in her 70s from Cook County, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said.

There now are 585 confirmed cases of the virus in 25 counties across the state.

Illinois has significantly ramped up its testing ability and now is conducting about 1,000 COVID-19 tests a day, Ezike said. Confirmed cases are expected to rise with the increase in testing.

This is a number the state will work to increase through the use of mobile, “drive-thru” testing sites, she added.

“We want to strengthen the testing capacity in Illinois by helping hospitals and laboratories to develop their own testing abilities,” Ezike said. “And we expect to have these tests available within the health care system in the next few weeks.”

Pritzker has ordered all municipalities to halt evictions during the crisis and will dedicate additional resources to organizations that address homelessness, he said.

“For our essential workers, we’re going to make sure you have safe day care to take care of your children,” he said.

Law enforcement will monitor for violations of the stay-at-home order and will take action when necessary, Pritzker said.

There also may be consequences at the local level for nonessential businesses that refuse to comply with the order, he said.

“We here in Illinois have overcome obstacles before, and we’ll do so again,” he said. “And we will rise to this occasion.”

Illinois now is the second state to issue a shelter-in-place order after California put in a shelter-in-place order Thursday night.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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