• Gov. J.B. Pritzker Extends Stay-at-Home Order through May 30th.

    After much anticipation, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that a stay-at-home order meant to curb the spread of the new coronavirus across Illinois will not be lifted at the end of the month.

    Instead, a modified version of the order that strengthens social distancing requirements will remain in place through May 30 as the state continues its battle against COVID-19.

    “The projections are clear. If we lifted the stay-at-home 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,” Pritzker said during a press briefing Thursday. “Our hospitals would be full and very sick people would have nowhere to go. People who might have otherwise won their fight against COVID would die because we wouldn’t be able to help them through.”

    But “May will look somewhat different than March and April,” Pritzker said. 

    Among the changes taking effect May 1: new rules on face masks and coverings, which will be required in public places where a 6-foot social distance can’t be maintained, according to the governor’s office.

    Enforcement of the new requirement, which applies to people over age 2 who are medically able to tolerate a face covering, will be left to local municipalities, according to Pritzker. “We are not encouraging arrests,” he said. 

    Also, garden stores, nurseries and greenhouses will be allowed to operate as essential businesses starting May 1, while nonessential retail stores can reopen in a limited capacity to fill orders made online or by phone and facilitate pickup.

    The Illinois Department of Public Health will also begin issuing guidance to hospitals and other surgical centers to allow for certain elective surgeries for non-life-threatening conditions, starting May 1. And educational institutions will be allowed to create procedures for students to pick up any necessary supplies or belongings, including dorm move-outs, according to the governor’s office.

    Health officials announced 1,826 new cases of the virus Thursday, and 123 new deaths. A day earlier, Illinois reached a grim milestone: 2,049 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in a 24-hour period, a single-day record.

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