CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has decided to extend the state's stay-at-home order through May 30. The new order also requires people who are over the age of 2 and medically able to wear face coverings in public.
Pritzker said he will sign the official extension next week and it will take effect on May 1.
"The projections are clear," Pritzker said during his daily briefing on Thursday. "If we lift the order tomorrow, we would see our deaths per day shoot into the thousands by the end of May, and that would last well into the summer. Our hospitals would be full, and very sick people would have nowhere to go."
The state is projected to see a peak or plateau of deaths per day between late April and early May, Pritzker said.
Pritzker said the projections are formed by a team of researchers from the University of Illinois, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago and other consultants. They estimate the impact of lifting the order — on deaths and on the health care system — would be nearly as bad as never putting one in place at all.
"I'm asking you to hold on just a little while longer," he said.
There have been 39,934 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and 1,688 people have died, as of April 23. A total of 173,316 tests have been performed, according to data on the state's website.
The new executive order will include the following modifications effective May 1, according to a news release:
- Outdoor Recreation: State parks will begin a phased re-opening under guidance from the Department of Natural Resources. Fishing and boating in groups of no more than two people will be permitted. A list of parks that will be open on May 1 and additional guidelines can be found on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website. Golf will be permitted under strict safety guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and when ensuring that social distancing is followed.
- New Essential Businesses: Greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries may re-open as essential businesses. These stores must follow social distancing requirements and must require that employees and customers wear a face covering. Animal grooming services may also re-open.
- Non-essential Retail: Retail stores not designated as non-essential businesses and operations may re-open to fulfill telephone and online orders through pick-up outside the store and delivery.
- Face Coverings: Beginning on May 1, individuals will be required to wear a face-covering or a mask when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance. Face-coverings will be required in public indoor spaces, such as stores. This new requirement applies to all individuals over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask.
- Essential Businesses and Manufacturing: Essential businesses and manufacturers will be required to provide face-coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain six-feet of social distancing, as well as follow new requirements that maximize social distancing and prioritize the well-being of employees and customers. This will include occupancy limits for essential businesses and precautions such as staggering shifts and operating only essential lines for manufacturers.
- Schools: Educational institutions may allow and establish procedures for pick-up of necessary supplies or student belongings. Dormitory move-outs must follow public health guidelines, including social distancing.
Pritzker also said some hospitals may allow some elective procedures to resume. The health department will give guidance to surgi-centers and hospitals to allow for certain surgeries for non-life-threatening conditions beginning May 1. Gov. Pritzker said hospital systems must preserve bed capacity for COVID-19 patients and test elective surgery patients to make sure they're negative before undergoing any procedure.
The owner of dog groomer Canine Classic Cuts in Belleville was relieved to hear her business will now be considered essential.
"It's been a long wait for all of us, and we're just glad to see some wagging tails come through the door," Bethany Emrich said.
Emrich said her staff and customers will be required to wear masks, and customers will need to wait in their cars so there aren't too many people in the lobby. She said they'll take baby steps to figure out their new operation, keeping in mind there's still risk of spreading the coronavirus.
"Being allowed to come back in, even if it's on an altered schedule or with different protocols, it's definitely a blessing because people need to be able to work to live."