As expected, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has extended his stay-at-home order to April 30 as the number of novel coronavirus cases in Illinois rose to 5,994 on Tuesday.
“I know that this journey is an extraordinarily difficult one personally, financially, emotionally,” Pritzker said Tuesday afternoon.
Under the guidance of science, Pritzker said he’s extending the various measures he’s taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the stay-at-home order and the suspension of on-site learning for schools. “My priority through each and every one of these decisions has been saving lives – that’s the one goal I will put above all others.”
The original stay-at-home order, announced March 20, was set to expire on April 7. The new executive order aligns with President Donald Trump’s decision to extend social distancing guidelines to April 30.
“If we can end these orders earlier, I’ll be the first one to tell you when we can start to make strides toward normalcy again. But that time is not today, and it’s not April 7,” Pritzker said. “Illinois has one of the strongest public health systems in the nation but even so, we’re not immune to this virus’s ability to push our existing capacity beyond its limits. We need to maintain our course and keep working to flatten the curve.”
While the state is within its capacity to care for COVID-19, Pritker said his administration continues to work toward acquiring additional medical supplies.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who appeared with Pritzker on Tuesday afternoon, said she supported the order’s extension.
“This may not be what residents want but this is what is needed,” Lightfoot said. “To pretend this crisis is anything less than dangerous is not only irresponsible, but deadly, and here’s a reality that we all know: the number of cases continues to rise and it’ll get worse before it gets better.”
The number of COVID-19 cases throughout the state continues to grow as more people are tested and the virus spreads.
“From all of the modeling that we’ve seen, our greatest risk of hitting capacity isn’t right now, but weeks from now. The virus’s spread is growing; so are its risks,” Pritzker said. “We must not let up now. I’ll remind everyone these interventions don’t work if they’re piecemeal across the state.”
Cases of COVID-19 are now being reported in 54 of Illinois’ 102 counties. Since January, nearly 6,000 people in Illinois have tested positive for the virus and 99 have died, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“Our focus right now is preventing infections and the need for hospitalization, and science has shown physical distancing will help, so please stay at home,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said during Tuesday’s press conference.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced people could transmit the virus up to 48 hours before showing symptoms of COVID-19, according to Ezike. “That’s even further evidence we need to stay home,” she said. “You can’t eyeball someone and think you know if they are sick or not.”
The updated stay-at-home order means schools will remain closed through the end of the month. “Under this extended order, schools will transition from act of God days to remote learning days – all which will count toward the school year and absolutely no days need to be made up,” Pritzker said.
During the press briefing, Pritzker also discussed the state’s efforts to prevent and minimize the spread of COVID-19 within state prisons, which includes suspending detainee visits, providing access to cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer to detainees and staff, and releasing certain low-level offenders early – all of whom have been thoroughly vetted and have somewhere to go upon release.
“We’re working hard to balance the needs to free up as much space in our prisons as possible with making sure were not releasing those who may pose a risk to those in their communities,” Pritzker said.
“We’re using every mechanism available to us to prevent and contain the virus’s spread in our department of corrections facilities. … But I want to be clear: despite these measures, any and every one of our DOC residents who falls seriously ill with COVID-19 will receive available medical assistance to get through it, including an ICU bed and ventilator if necessary,” Pritzker said. “An incarcerated person is still a person, and my administration will not be in the business of claiming one life is worth more than another.”
Coronavirus Prevention Tips and Resources
Officials advise taking preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus, including:
—Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
—Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
—Sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then disposing of the tissue
—Limiting contact with people regardless of how you feel
—Staying home when you are sick
Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:
—New onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath
—Congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs
—Sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue
If you think you have COVID-19:
Call you doctor before showing up at their office. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the operator that you think you have COVID-19. If possible, wear a mask before medical help arrives or presenting at a doctor’s office. More advice for those who think they have COVID-19.
—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
—Illinois’ COVID-19 website
—Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website
—IDPH COVID-19 hotline: 800-889-3931
—IPDH COVID-19 email link
—City of Chicago COVID-19 website
—City of Chicago COVID-19 hotline: 312-746-4835
—City of Chicago COVID-19 email link