CHICAGO — Illinois reported 1,382 more confirmed coronavirus cases Sunday and eight deaths as Gov. JB Pritzker rallied support for a proposed rule allowing local officials to fine businesses where mask rules are not enforced.
There have been 7,635 people lost to COVID-19 in Illinois since the start of the pandemic and 194,080 confirmed cases.
Sunday was the first day since Wednesday when the number of new cases dropped below 2,000, but weekend numbers are often lower due to slower reporting.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said people need to continue to wash their hands, practice social distancing and wear masks. And they need to take it seriously, she said, as she announced the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state.
“That’s a cold, hard fact,” she said of the number. “Ask the doctors and nurses who fought to save their lives. Ask their families.”
Ezike was one of a host of medical experts Pritzker gathered at Northwestern Hospital to help him push for the proposed rule change, which allows local municipalities to issue warnings and fines to mask-flouting businesses. Those businesses could faces fines up to $2,500 under the proposal.
The order was filed as an emergency update to Illinois Department of Public Health rules. It must be approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, a bipartisan legislative oversight commission.
Pritzker said he had hoped the General Assembly would take action on a mask fine, but it has not, so he moved forward with proposing an administrative rule.
On Sunday, he urged the lawmakers on the committee, which is referred to as JCAR, to approve the rule when they meet Tuesday. He noted JCAR members are already being lobbied by people opposed to the rule.
The state has a mandate requiring people wear masks in public indoor places — like businesses — and in other places where they cannot maintain 6 feet of social distancing from other people.
Businesses also have strict occupancy limits: either 50 percent of their normal occupancy or 50 people, whichever is fewer.
Most people and businesses have complied with these restrictions, which are meant to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Pritzker said. But he wants to crack down on businesses that aren’t following those rules.
The fines would not apply to individual staff or customers. Rather, they are targeted at businesses that don’t enforce the state’s rules.
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