Governor responds to reopen protesters: We are following CDC guidelines

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker responded Saturday to the people who are protesting against stay-at-home orders.

"There were people carrying signs with swastikas on them suggesting that they believe in Nazism or they think it's okay to throw the invective at people. What I can tell you for myself is that I have spent decades fighting against bigotry and hatred," Pritzker said. 

A rally on Friday in Chicago attracted about 300 people.

 "These were a few hundred demonstrators. There are millions of poeple who are doing the right thing and protecting each other during this crisis," Pritzker said.

He also noted that many of the protesters were not wearing masks or following proper social distancing guidelines.

"I am hopeful that no one got sick," he said.

He said the state is following CDC guidelines on when and how to reopen.

"The curve has has us increasing the number of hospitalzations and ICU beds filled in our state. It's true even in areas of southern and central Illinois as it is in Chicago," Pritzker said. "I want people to get back to wrok. Trying to find safe industries, save ways for people to get back into their jobs -- these are all things we are trying to weigh in the mix."

He also addressed the many people out and about without masks on Saturday, when the weather was beautiful.

"If everybody goes out and takes a mask with them and puts it on, then you are protecting other people," Pritzker said.


Illinois reported on Saturday that there are 2,450 new cases of coronavirus out of 15,208 samples tested. That brings the state to 58,505 total cases. Across Illinois, 4,417 are hospitalized with COVID-19, with 789 patients on ventilators. The virus has claimed the lives of 2,559 people.

Pritzker said Illinois is doing more tests than almost any other state in the country.

"More testing leads us to be able to keep more people at home so we can have fewer infections rather than more," Pritzker said.

Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block My Hood My City, was one of the other speakers at Saturday's press conference.

"This pandemic has shown such a bright light on so many injustices," Cole said. "You can have PTSD from coronavirus. It means that kids in Chicago don't feel safe. You can't be dope when you got no hope."

Cole also addressed the people who had the huge party in Galewood last weekend.

"You use your graphic design skills to make a beautiful flyer, you had hundreds of people show up. That demonstrates you got the skills. Why don't you do event planning somewhere?" Cole said. "Set some goals and do something with your life."

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker also talked Saturday about the increased risk of domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic, since many people are stuck at home in stressful situations.

"It's more important than ever to look out for neighbors," Pritzker said.

To report a domestic violence incident or to get help, you can call 877-863-6338.

"We are coming together with groups across the area to provide an intersectional response," said Neha Gill, Executive Director of Apna Ghar. Her group is providing safe housing options, hotel and apartments, financial assistance, food, counseling, and emotional support. The staff speaks more than 20 languages, Gill said.

"If someone you care about is hurting you emotionally or physically, please call the domestic violence hotline," Gill said.

Illinois Public Health Department Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike also spoke about how the epidemic is giving people cabin fever.

"I know it's been hard on everyone. This remains an unprecedented time, and the fight continues. Let's work together. We've done a tremendous job in this state," Dr. Ezike said.

Dr. Ezike had some suggestions about ways to keep busy: baking, gardening, learning a new language, or playing board games. 

"I know in my house learning the newest TikTok craze is definitely an item," Dr. Ezike said.