Pritzker advises people to avoid even small Easter gatherings to save lives as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

(The Center Square) – Illinois has surpassed 17,000 cases of COVID-19.

Illinois Department of Public Health officials on Friday reported more than 1,400 new cases of the coronavirus and 68 additional deaths.

At his daily briefing on Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the number of cases is beginning to flatten, but he warned that opening up the state too early could be devastating.

“Doctors will tell you if you look back at the Spanish Flu and other pandemics, and you look at other countries that have opened up after they peaked, you see a resurgence of cases because we don’t have a vaccine yet,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker also said his administration plans to take additional steps to protect African-Americans, who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The data accumulating over the last few weeks has shined a bright light on what seems like a uniquely American problem,” the governor said. “… Generations of systemic disadvantages in health care delivery and in health care access in communities of color, and black communities, in particular, are now amplified in this crisis.”

Pritzker said he was working with hospitals to make more testing available to regions that need it most, including communities in Chicago and the Metro East area.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced 1,465 new COVID-19 cases in Illinois, including 68 additional deaths.

Statewide, health officials have confirmed 17,887 cases, including 596 deaths related to COVID-19. Confirmed cases have been reported in 83 of the state’s 102 counties. Fulton and Greene counties were the latest to report cases.

The governor advised against even small family gatherings for the Easter holiday on Sunday.

“This is just one holiday where I think that teachings from the Bible will tell you it is our obligation to save a life if we have the opportunity to,” Pritzker said. “Staying home is saving a life.”

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