Pritzker

Gov. JB Pritzker takes questions on the stay-at-home order and other facets of his COVID-19 response Wednesday in Chicago.

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday said he would sign an order next week extending the state’s stay-at-home order until May 30, with slight modifications.

“For every person who wants to go to dinner or hang with friends in a park or swing open their salon doors, there is a family mourning the death of someone they love,” Pritzker said. “There is a parent, a child, a friend who would give anything to have their greatest strain be the difficulties of staying home – and not the unimaginable pain of a life lost too soon.”

The governor’s announcement came the day after Illinois health officials reported the state’s largest one-day increase of COVID-19 cases and tests results: 2,049 new cases by Wednesday and 98 additional deaths. Officials on Thursday reported 1,826 additional cases and 123 additional deaths. That brings the state’s total positive cases to 36,934 and 1,688 deaths.

The Shelby County Health Department on Thursday announced the fifth Shelby County resident to test positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The resident is an 87-year-old female and is currently self-isolating at her residence. The woman was tested at HSHS Good Shepherd Hospital and immediately ordered to self-isolate. Health Department officials are working to identify all close contacts with this individual. Federal privacy restrictions prohibit the release of any additional information.

Officials have set a goal of 10,000 tests per day, which they say will give them the most accurate picture of COVID-19’s spread in Illinois.

“Testing will help us know just how widespread the virus is and what communities are being impacted most and where we need to target our responses,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Wednesday at the briefing. “We already know some of this information through the testing that we have been able to do, but more is yet needed.”

She also said that more than 2,500 health workers have contracted COVID-19, including “potentially eight deaths” – the first time the state has released such numbers. She added that “health workers” can include people from hospital nurses to front desk attendants to nursing home workers.

Pritzker said that beginning May 1, anyone over the age of 2 and able to medically tolerate a mask will be required to wear one when in public places where they can’t maintain six feet of separation from others.

He said retail stores not currently deemed “essential” may take orders online and by phone and offer pickup and delivery. The new order will make more it more explicit that garden centers can be open with social distancing in place. State parks and lakes will also be allowed to open with proper social distancing guildlines.

“Folks, this is a battle that you never asked to fight – I know that,” the governor said. “I also know that our doctors and our nurses and our health care professionals never asked to lead us through a pandemic. Our essential workers never asked to man the front lines of society. Our small businesses never asked to sacrifice their bottom line to an invisible enemy.”

New testing

Pritzker on Wednesday announced two new state-run drive-thru testing sites in northern Illinois, where people can drive up to a medical professional, get swabbed for the disease and drive away.

The new sites are at the Chicago Premium Outlets shopping mall in Aurora and the University of Illinois College of Medicine campus in Rockford. The Aurora site, which opened Wednesday, can perform 600 tests a day, while the Rockford site, which opens Friday, will be able to test 500 a day, Pritzker said.

Along with the three drive-thru facilities already open in Markham, Harwood Heights and Bloomington, Pritzker expects the five combined sites to perform as many as 2,900 tests a day.

“More widespread testing is a key goal for combating COVID-19,” Pritzker said. “It’s a vital feature of our long-term path to building a new normal.”

Drive-thru testing is open to any person with COVID-19 symptoms who wants a test, even if he or she does not have a doctor’s order. Although testing is free, people are asked to show photo identification. They should also expect significant wait times.

Along with drive-thru sites, testing is available at many hospitals, health clinics, urgent care facilities and federally qualified health centers. A full list can be found here: https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/testing-sites.

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