With more than 1,800 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Illinois today (thanks to one of the biggest days for testing in the state thus far), we're not out of the woods yet. In a press conference today, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that he will be extending the Illinois "stay-at-home" order through Saturday, May 30, acknowledging that while Illinois is bending the curve and increasing its testing capacity, it's important to maintain social distancing to preserve the progress the state has made.
Citing the most current models based on data collected in Illinois, Pritzker justified his extension of the "stay-at-home" order by noting that if restrictions were removed, a spike in cases in the coming months would be a near certainty. "This is the part where we have to dig in and understand that the sacrifices we've made as a state are working," Pritzker stated.
When it goes into effect on May 1, the latest "stay-at-home" order will boast some modifications. Surgicenters and hospitals will be able to start scheduling some elective surgeries; retail stores that are not essential businesses will be able to take orders online while offering items for pickup; and a phased reopening of some state parks will make it possible for residents to enjoy activities like hiking, boating and fishing while practicing social distancing.
Most notably, beginning on May 1 Illinois residents over the age of two will be required to wear face coverings when in public places where they cannot maintain a six-foot distance from other individuals. Falling in line with CDC guidance that recommends the use of a cloth face covering when in public, the order will make the recommendation that Pritzker issued in early April an enforceable rule.
During a press conference on Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot reassured Chicagoans that "we’re not gonna ticket and arrest people because they don’t have face coverings." Lightfoot stated that the city will work to ensure that all Chicagoans (particularly those in poorer neighborhoods) have access to face coverings so that they are able to comply with the order.
While Pritzker mentioned that there will be announcements in the coming weeks about the state's plan to reopen Illinois in phases, the renewal of the "stay-at-home" order likely means that the Chicago's lakefront, the 606 and the Chicago Riverwalk will remain closed to the public and that the Chicago Police will continue to enforce social-distancing guidelines throughout the city.
We're just as tired of staying inside our homes as you, but as major festivals and events are canceled and local businesses struggle to stay afloat, it's more important than ever to maintain the progress we've made so that we can return to normal life as soon as it's safe for every Chicagoan.
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