Pritzker orders “Stay At Home” for Illinois starting Saturday

Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune: Last Updated 3/20/2020 3:48PM

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker today issued a “stay at home” order for the entire state starting Saturday at 5 p.m. through April 7.

Pritzker said his latest decision was based on conversations with “some of the best medical experts, epidemiologists, mathematicians and modelers.”

“I’ve asked every one of these experts, What action can I take to save the most lives?’” he said. “Well, they’ve come back to me with one inescapable conclusion: To avoid the loss of potentially tens of thousands of lives, we must enact an immediate stay-at-home order for the state of Illinois.”

Residents can still go to the grocery stores, put gas in their cars, take walks outside and make pharmacy runs, the governor said at a Friday afternoon news conference. All local roads, including the interstate highways and tollways, will remain open to traffic, as well.

“For the vast majority of you already taking precautions, your lives will not change very much,” Pritzker said of the shelter-in-place directive.

As to how the order would be enforced, Pritzker said, “to be honest, we don’t have the resources, the capacity, or the desire to police every individual’s behavior.

“Enforcement comes in many forms, and our first and best option is to rely on Illinoisans to be good members of their communities and good citizens, working together to keep each other safe. I’ve instructed law enforcement to monitor for violations and take action when necessary, but that is not an option that anyone prefers,” he said.

The reopening date for schools statewide has been tentatively postponed until April 8, Pritzker said. It had been the end of March. In addition, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Chicago parks and libraries will be closed as of 5 p.m. Saturday.

Lightfoot said “now is not the time for half measures” and urged people to follow the order.

“You must stay home,” she said. “This is not a lockdown, or martial law.”

Lightfoot also urged people not to run to grocery stores and wipe them out. “Be mindful of your neighbors and do not hoard supplies,” she said.

Dr. Emily Landon, from University of Chicago medicine, has been consulting with the governor and said the “stay at home” order was the only way forward.

“(The virus) spreads before you even know you have it,” she said. “Our health care system does not have any slack.”

“A successful shelter in place means you’re going to feel like it was all for nothing,” she added.

The governor said Friday’s “stay at home” order wasn’t an easy decision.

“I fully recognize, in some cases, I am choosing between saving people’s lives and saving people’s livelihoods. But ultimately you can’t have a livelihood if you don’t have your life,” he said. “Of all the obligations that weigh on me as governor, this is the greatest. If there are actions that I can take to save lives in the midst of this pandemic, no matter how difficult, then I have an obligation to take these actions.”

Pritzker also urged patience in the fast-evolving health crisis.

“We don’t know yet all the steps we’re going to have to take to get this virus under control,” he said.


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