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Illinois Stay At Home Order To Be Extended Through May, Reports Say

Gov. JB Pritzker is expected to announce an extension of the order during his Thursday press conference, reports say.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker delivers a press release at the McCormick Place Convention Center in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago, Ill., April 3, 2020. Approximately 30 members of the Illinois Air National Guard were activated to support the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to temporarily convert part of the McCormick Place Convention Center into an Alternate Care Facility (ACF) for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms who do not require intensive care in the Chicago area. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Jay Grabiec)
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CHICAGO — Gov. JB Pritzker will announce an extension of his stay at home order during Thursday’s press conference, according to multiple reports.

The order could be extended through May 30, and it could include a requirement people wear face coverings when in public and unable to social distance, sources told NBC 5.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the extension is “appropriate” because officials don’t yet know when Illinois will see a decline in its curve.

The order had been set to expire April 30, though Pritzker and Lightfoot have hinted heavily it would need to go longer. Pritzker has said he was looking at “tweaking” the order, including adding the requirement for face coverings, so he could see if some businesses could reopen their workplaces.

But Pritzker has warned the easing-up of restrictions will be slow. He’s said he doesn’t think there should be large events held this summer. On Wednesday, he said restaurants and entertainment venues, in particular, will be hard to reopen because it can be difficult to practice social distancing in those settings.

More testing, more personal protective equipment, the ability to trace people a patient has come into contact with and treatments are needed for the state and city to loosen up on restrictions — and none of those things are available yet, Pritzker and Lightfoot have said.

They also want to see a decline in coronavirus growth here, which hasn’t happened yet. While the state has “flattened” its curve and seen a slowdown in the growth of confirmed cases here, coronavirus is still spreading, Pritzker has said.

So far, 35,108 people in Illinois have tested positive for coronavirus and 1,565 people have died.

During a Tuesday press conference, Pritzker said Illinois’ peak is now expected for mid-May — and the state will likely need to see declining cases for 14 days after that before it can start easing up on restrictions. That would mean Illinois wouldn’t “reopen” until late May or early June.

Lightfoot also said the order could go to June.

“But I’ve made no secret of the fact that April 30 is, I think, no longer a viable date,” Lightfoot said during a Tuesday call with reporters. “I would expect an extension of the stay at home order and the other orders that were put in place … to go through sometime in May. It certainly could go into June, but June 30 is just kinda an outside marker.”

Lightfoot said Chicago needs multiple things to be ready to reopen: new cases need to drop dramatically, the number of people requiring ICU beds needs to fall, there needs to be more widespread testing and there needs to be contact tracing.

“Those are the bare minimum, and we’re not there yet on any of those metrics,” Lightfoot said. “We’re still not even close to being out of the woods.”

Pritzker has also said he thinks there needs to be a vaccine, which is “months and months” away, before people can be allowed to gather in large groups and life can return to normal in Illinois.

The order went into effect March 21 and was originally set to expire April 7, but Pritzker extended it to April 30.

This weekend, the governor suggested the state could reopen in stages — which could mean Chicago, with its higher population density and cluster of coronavirus cases, would face closures and stricter social distancing measures for longer than other parts of the state.

Some states are already emerging from their stay at home orders, a controversial move Pritzker said will reverse progress already made.

“I think I’ve foreshadowed for everybody, and I think it’s widely understood, that the things you need and things you need to reopen the economy are things we don’t have in place, nor does any state,” Pritzker said Wednesday. “Some states are reopening anyway. … Many people might get sick.”

Symptoms

Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.

Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People with no symptoms may have the virus and spread it to others.

The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The most common symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

People have also experienced body aches, nasal congestion, runny nose and sore throat, according to Harvard Medical School.

If you or someone else has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, become confused, cannot be roused or develop a bluish face or lips, get immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.

How To Protect Yourself

Here’s what you can actually do to prevent getting ill:

  • The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you have to sneeze or cough with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.

What To Do If You Think You’re Sick

Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where COVID-19 is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been ordered to stay home or risk getting a $500 fine.

Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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