CHICAGO - Governor JB Pritzker has announced another coronavirus death in Illinois -- a woman in her 70s from Cook County.
He also announced another 163 news cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, bringing the state total to 585, as well as a statewide “stay at home” order. The order by Pritzker will begin Saturday evening at 5 p.m. and last until April 7.
Residents will still be able to take care of essential tasks, such as going to the grocery store, gas stations, and pharmacies, as well as take walks outdoors; just practice social distancing. Roads and highways will also remain open to traffic.
“We are doing all that we can to maintain as much normalcy as possible while taking the steps we must to protect our residents,” Governor Pritzker said in a statement. “I fully recognize that in some cases I am choosing between saving people’s lives and saving their livelihoods. But ultimately, you can’t have a livelihood without a life. This will not last forever, but it's what we must do to support the people on the front lines of this fight, and the people most vulnerable to its consequences.”
The total number of coronavirus cases in Illinois is spread across 25 counties. Cases have occurred in ages 3 to 99.
The total number of deaths from COVID-19 in Illinois is now five.
At the press conference Friday afternoon, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced all Chicago parks and libraries will officially close Saturday at 5 p.m.
“Every action we’ve taken so far is based on the latest science and data from health officials as we combat the dynamic spread of COVID-19, and this is no exception,” Mayor Lightfoot said in a statement. “This decision was not an easy one, but Governor Pritzker’s order for Illinois residents to stay at home is the right thing to do to ensure we are protecting the health and wellbeing of our residents. We strongly encourage our residents to follow the guidelines and ensure the safety of their neighbors as we work to confront this crisis together.”
Gov. Pritzker said the growth in positive tests for COVID-19 in Illinois is tied to increased testing by state labs along with private labs and healthcare institutions. He also said more than 1,000 tests were administered statewide on Wednesday and officials hope to soon increase that to 2,000 tests per day.
Earlier Thursday, Chicago health officials announced that any resident with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or who is showing symptoms of the disease must stay indoors, formalizing advice they previously issued in the hopes of limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
Patients cannot leave their homes, go to work or visit any group setting except to seek medical care and “life sustaining needs,” including medicine or food, according to a statement from the Chicago Department of Public Health. Anyone who violates the order could be cited by health officials or the police department.
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Residents in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park were ordered to shelter in place starting Friday because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb says the shelter in place will last until Friday, April 3.
All residents are ordered to stay in their homes and maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from other people in shared or outdoor spaces, according to a copy of the order obtained from the village.
All “non-essential” businesses in the village are also ordered to close. However, there are exceptions to the mandate. According to a Facebook post, this includes: “businesses that provide essential services, including grocery stores, banks, convenience stores, pharmacies, restaurants for delivery and pick up only, laundromats, skilled trades essential to maintaining the safety and sanitation of residences, hardware stores, medical service providers, first responders, transportation providers, government activities and essential social service providers and shelters.”
Violating the Oak Park order will be treated as a violation of the Illinois Public Health Act, a Class A misdemeanor.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot also extended the closure of Chicago schools for several more weeks, using a televised primetime address to quell city residents’ concerns. The nation’s third-largest school district will remain closed through April 20. School officials elsewhere in the country have taken similar actions, with the Kansas governor shutting down schools for the rest of the school year and California officials signaling they’ll do the same.
“I know these restrictions are causing hardships, but we are doing this to save lives, pure and simple,” she said.
Lightfoot said restricting the movement of patients and people with symptoms of COVID-19 “is the best way to prevent the virus from spreading further.”
“This move may seem severe to some but in this highly evolving situation it’s absolutely what we need to do at this time as we work to contain this outbreak,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the health department.
The health department said symptoms of the acute respiratory disease include fever, cough, shortness of breath, nasal or lung congestion, sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said none of the four deaths in Illinois are linked to a nursing home or senior living facility.
Pritzker ordered schools statewide to be shut this week through at least the end of the month and limited the size of gatherings. Restaurants and bars also were ordered to stop serving dine-in customers and to stick to carryout or delivery options.
Even with those efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, “these numbers will get much worse in Illinois before they get better,” Pritzker said Wednesday at a daily update on the state’s response.
Pritzker has enlisted 60 members of the National Guard so far for various missions, including delivery of meals to children who received food through their schools.
They also could help hospitals prepare outdoor screening areas for people who want to be tested for the coronavirus, allowing separation from other patients headed to an emergency room, he said.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.
Social distancing measures everyone can take include:
-Staying home as much as possible
-If gatherings are necessary, limiting the number of people to 10
-Calling to check on family, neighbors, and older adults instead of visiting
-Checking with your provider about telehealth options