Saying Illinois needs to be ‘on lockdown,’ Pritzker contemplates closing bars, restaurants

After announcing limits on crowd sizes and schools closing for two weeks to help reduce community spread of the COVID-19 virus, Gov. J.B. Pritkzer is now thinking about shutting down bars and restaurants in Illinois. And he says the federal government isn’t doing enough.

Illinois has nearly 70 cases of COVID-19 with more cases being confirmed throughout the state, including two in Sangamon County announced Saturday evening. To date, no one has died and several have recovered, but there are several reports of cases of older individuals in severe condition.

Saturday, during his daily press conference to update the status and the state’s response to the coronavirus from China, Pritzker said he didn’t like the crowds he saw out and about the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day.

“If you are young and healthy, listen up, we need you to follow social distancing guidelines too,” Pritzker said. “You may only have mild symptoms for a few days and may think you’re just fine but you may have the unintended tragic effect of spreading COVID-19 to others who may be more vulnerable.”

Sunday, Pritzker was on NBC’s Meet The Press and reiterated his concern.

“COVID-19 is spreading because even healthy people can be walking around, giving it to other people. So we need to go on lockdown,” Pritzker said.

Show host Chuck Todd asked if he was going to close bars and restaurants.

“Well, what I’m telling you is that we’ve been on the trajectory now and planning for each of these steps because it’s not easy,” Pritzker said. “You can imagine each one of these decisions has consequences to them that are not just about the pandemic, they’re also about peoples’ livelihoods. So we’re actually looking hard at making that decision today.”

Pritzker continues his daily press briefings at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

The governor also took to Twitter to criticize the federal government’s response Saturday.

“The federal government needs to get its [email protected]#t together. NOW.,” Pritzker tweeted.

He said the crowds at Chicago’s O’Hare airport were the fault of the federal government after President Donald Trump announced travel bans last week.

“They should have increased the customs and border patrol numbers and they should have increased the number of CDC personnel on the ground doing those checks, they did neither of those,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said he got a call Saturday night from a White House staffer who yelled at him about his tweets.

“The federal government just has fallen down on this,” Pritzker said. “They didn’t advise us to shutdown major events, sporting events, parades, we made those decisions on our own. They’re not the ones that advised us to close schools, we made that decision on our own.”

“So we’re on our own out here.”

Illinois Rising Action criticized the governor’s statements directed at the White House.

“Instead of casting blame and finger pointing, now more than ever we need our state and federal governments to focus on working together to find solutions,” said Kayleen Carlson, executive director of Illinois Rising Action. “Illinoisans and Americans everywhere are anxious and this does nothing but stoke the flames of partisanship.”

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