(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered Illinoisans to “shelter-in-place” to slow the spread of COVID-19 pandemic starting at 5 p.m. Saturday and going through the end of April 7.
The governor made the announcement Friday afternoon at a news conference, making Illinois the third state to impose a “shelter-in-place” directive. California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a similar order on Thursday night. New York also has a similar order set to take place over the weekend.
“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,” Pritzker said. “So that is the action that I’m announcing today. We have looked closely at the trajectory of this virus in countries like Italy and China. Left unchecked, cases in Illinois will rise rapidly.”
He said coronavirus threatened to quickly overwhelm hospitals in the state.
People in Illinois will still be able to go to grocery stores, gas stations and pharmacies to buy essentials. They can also go outside to walk pets and get exercise.
Businesses deemed “non-essential” will be closed statewide.
“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. Of all the obligations that weigh on me as governor, this is the greatest. If there are actions that I can take that will save lives in the midst of this pandemic, no matter how difficult, then I have an obligation to take these actions.”
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said education would be the primary method of getting people to comply with the order.
“What we are hoping to do in Chicago and I am assuming this will happen in other communities across the state … we are going to try to educate people into compliance,” said Lightfoot.
U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth said Pritzker made the right decision.
“Gov. Pritzker’s shelter-in-place order is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19,” they said in a joint statement. “This pandemic will continue to disrupt our daily lives, but it is more important than ever for all Illinoisans to follow official health and safety guidance, practice social distancing, and do everything in their power to avoid infecting themselves and others in their community. Our actions today will save lives tomorrow.”
Suburban Oak Park has been under a shelter-in-place order since midnight after a number of local doctors tested positive for COVID-19.
The Bay Area has been under a similar order since Tuesday, though residents there have still been able to leave their homes to patronize certain businesses and get exercise outdoors as long as they’re maintaining social distancing.
The governor closed all public and private K-12 schools in Illinois on March 13. Two days later, the governor ordered restaurants and bars to stop offering dine-in service. Some have since closed entirely, others continue to offer delivery, take out and drive-thru service. The governor has also banned gatherings of more than 50 people for eight weeks.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
State health officials said 585 people in 25 counties in Illinois had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Friday. Five people have died as of Friday. Worldwide, 266,082 confirmed cased and 11,147 deaths have been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University.