ROCHELLE — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced during his daily COVID-19 briefing Thursday afternoon that he with sign an executive order to extend the current stay-at-home order through Saturday, May 30. The current order is scheduled to expire on April 30.
Pritzker said the new stay-at-home order will have modifications including a requirement that all residents must wear masks when entering the public. Additionally, essential businesses and manufacturers must provide masks or face covering for workers who cannot abide by social distancing guidelines. Pritzker said that elective surgeries will be allowed, with some restrictions, and retail stores will be allowed to reopen with pick-up and online services only.
Pritzker said the state will implement a step-by-step process of reopening state parks beginning May 1. Moreover, golf courses will be allowed to reopen under the modified stay-at-home order, and outdoor activities including fishing and boating with two-or-fewer people will be allowed.
Greenhouses, nurseries and garden centers will be allowed to reopen as essential businesses under the modified stay-at-home order. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,826 new cases Thursday, increasing the state’s total to 36,934 cases.
“The numbers present us with only one choice,” Pritzker said. “We are in possibly the most difficult part of this journey. I know how badly we want our normal lives back… This is the part where we have to dig in, and we have to understand that the sacrifices that we’ve made as a state are working. We have to keep going a little while longer to finish the journey.”
Pritzker said the state’s stay-at-home has resulted in a lower-but-later peak for coronavirus cases, which had originally been projected for mid-April but has been pushed back to mid-May. Since August 2019, Pritzker said the state has increased its bed count to over 3,100 and its ventilator count to over 3,200. Moreover, 5,000 out-of-state and former medical professionals have applied for licenses to enter the battle against COVID-19.
“If we let up now, we wouldn’t have anywhere near the hospital capacity we need,” Pritzker said. “The projections are clear. If we lifted the stay-at-home, we would see our deaths per day shoot into the thousands by the end of May. That would last well into the summer. Our hospitals would be full, and very sick people would have nowhere to go.”
Pritzker’s daily COVID-19 briefings can be streamed online at 2:30 p.m. at https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/coronavirus/media-publications/daily-press-briefings.