Gov. Pritzker issues ‘stay-at-home’ order effective Saturday

March 20, 2020


Amid growing concern surrounding the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a stay-at-home order effective Saturday at 5 p.mIllinois becomes the third state to implement a stay-at-home measure, joining New York and California.

“My bedrock has been to rely upon science–real actual science–around infection rates and potential mortalities,” said Pritzker. “To avoid the loss of potentially tens of thousands of lives, we must enact an immediate stay at home order for the state of Illinois.

“Left unchecked, cases in Illinois will rise rapidly. Hospitals will be overwhelmed. Protective equipment will become scarce. We will not have enough healthcare workers or hospital beds or ventilators for the overwhelming influx of sick patients.”

Like other cities and states implementing similar restrictions, essential services such as banks, grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations will remain in operation with interstates and roads remaining open to traffic. Residents are also allowed to leave their homes to take walks outside.

“You’ll still be able to leave your house to go to the grocery store to get food, you’ll still be able to visit a pharmacy, visit a medical office or hospital or to gas up your car,” said Pritzker. “You’ll still be able to go running or hiking or walk your dog.”

However, the directive mandates all nonessential businesses cease operation.

Pritzker cautioned residents of Illinois against hoarding, citing that grocery stores and restaurants will continue providing services to consumers. “We’re doing our best to maintain as much normalcy as possible while taking the steps to protect you,” said Pritzker.

The measure follows three new coronavirus-related deaths in Illinois, raising the state’s casualty total to four. Pritzker also announced 133 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19, raising Illinois’ total from 289 to 422 across 22 counties.

The state’s most drastic measure to date, Pritzker began outlining his plan to close schools beyond the original March 30 date, qualifying all dates as “tentative.” On Thursday, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot extended school closures from March 30 to April 20, with classes scheduled to resume on April 21.

Joining Pritzker on stage, Mayor Lightfoot shared the city’s plan to depress the impact of the virus, including the establishment of quarantine and isolation locations, increasing hospital capacity and supporting first responders.

“We will continue to identify, residents who are sick and ensure they receive the treatment and resources they so rightfully deserve and put them on a path to recovery,” said Lightfoot. “Now is not the time for half-measures, but preventative and proactive plans rooted in science and data to mitigate the spread and ultimately save lives.”

“This is not a lockdown or martial law,” continued Lighfoot.

Thanking healthcare workers and other essential professions for “keeping us safe,” Pritzker pledged safe daycare for essential workers. The governor also halted all evictions, promised services for the homeless and outlined Illinois’ plan to stunt the progression of coronavirus COVID-19, including expanded coronavirus testing and continued research for a vaccine.

On Friday, the Chicago suburb of Oak Park issued a “stay in shelter” after two physicians at Rush Hospital contracted the novel strain of the virus. Oak Park representatives instructed residents to stay home barring “essential” travel. The Oak Park directive goes into effect on Friday.

Read more from Matthew Rago:

Northeastern Illinois University suspends face-to-face instruction through Spring

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