Pritzker extends stay-at-home order as COVID-19 cases continue to climb

(The Center Square) – To curb a continued rise in COVID-19 cases, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday he would extend the statewide stay-at-home order through the end of April.

The order restricts people to their homes, but includes broad exceptions for essential travel to grocery stores, pharmacies and medical appointments. People can also go outside, but must practice social distancing.

Pritzker’s announcement came as the Illinois Department of Health reported 937 new cases of COVID-19 along with 26 more deaths. Statewide, health officials have confirmed nearly 6,000 cases, including 99 deaths. Cases of been reported in 54 Illinois counties.

The governor said he was extending the order in part to avoid overwhelming health care facilities.

“Illinois has one of the strongest public health systems in the nation but even so, we aren’t immune to this virus’s ability to push our existing capacity beyond its limits,” Pritzker said.

Statewide, the governor said about 35 percent of the total intensive care unit beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients and about 24 percent of the total number of ventilators were being used by COVID-19 patients.

With the extension of the stay-at-home order, which shuttered nonessential businesses when it first went into effect March 21, many people who are out of work are concerned about being able to pay their bills. Some groups have advocated for rent strikes.

On Tuesday, the governor was asked if he had the power to overturn the state’s ban on rent control for those who will struggle to pay rent during the coronavirus outbreak.

“There is currently in state law a moratorium on rent control so that’s not something under executive order that I can overturn,” Pritzker said. “We have issued an executive order to ban evictions across the state.”

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