Pritzker extends Stay at Home order through May 30

One of the prediction models shared by Governor Pritzker during the April 23 press conference claims that there would be 14 times more deaths if the executive orders were lifted.

By Angela Simmons, Weekly Editor

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has extended the stay at home order through Saturday, May 30. A new, modified order will go into effect on May 1 that will allow for some changes to the existing order.

“I know how badly we all want our normal lives back. But this is the part where we have to dig in and understand that the sacrifices we’ve made as a state to avoid a worst-case scenario are working — and we need to keep going a little while longer to finish the job,” he said.

Pritzker continued “On an optimistic note, May will look somewhat different than March and April. My intention as always is to put your health and safety first as we make some practical adjustments based on what we’ve learned the first five weeks of the stay at home order.

Because we are bending the curve, surgi-centers and hospitals can begin non-life-threatening surgeries. Retail stores can offer pick-up and delivery. Some of our state parks can reopen for hiking, fishing & boating with no more than two people. All these changes begin on May 1.”

Pritzker’s decision is based on modeling and predictions made by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern Medicine, The University of Chicago, Chicago Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), along with outside consulting groups.

He said that Illinois will hit their peak in late April or early May.

“Pushing out our estimated ‘peak’ is a natural consequence and the best indicator of flattening the curve. That’s what you’re aiming to do: slow down the rate of transmission, which leads to a slower rate of increase over a longer period of time – hence, a later and lower peak. Make no mistake, Illinois has saved lives. By staying home and social distancing, we have kept our infection and death rates for the months of March and April thousands below the rates projected had we not implemented these mitigation strategies,” said Pritzker.

He cautioned “While we’ve built up our hospital capacity significantly, if we let up now, we wouldn’t have the capacity we would need. If we lifted the Stay at Home order tomorrow, we’d see our deaths-per-day shoot into the thousands by the end of May and that would last well into the summer.”

State hospital bed capacity is over 31,000 beds. This model, shared by Governor Pritzker, shows the predicted impact on hospitalizations, ICU bed counts, and ventilator usage.

The new executive order will include the following modifications effective May 1:

• 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 HERE . 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 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 said “Understand that these are not choices made arbitrarily – these changes are what the data says we can offer the people of Illinois without risking so much viral transmission that our hospitals become overrun. That said, if we start to see crowds and people violating the order or breaking the rules, I will need to bring back these restrictions. I’m hopeful we won’t need to do that.”

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced that Illinois state totals are 36,934 cases and 1,688 deaths. In the past 24 hours, there has been an increase of 1,826 new cases and 123 fatalities where a COVID positive diagnosis was present at the time of death.

This second model of death predictions, shared by Gov. Pritzker, also includes predicted peaks.

Statewide, there are 4877 hospitalized COVID positive and PUI patients, 1,268 COVID positive and PUI patients in ICU beds, and 766 patients on ventilators.

“We continue to encourage everyone to stay at home, wear masks when outside, clean frequently used surfaces,” said Dr. Ezike.

“We have the opportunity to prevent the pain of loss from touching the lives of thousands. I’ve said all along that I will fight like hell for you. I’m asking you to hold on for a little while longer, to help make sure we ALL see it to the other side of this struggle,” Pritzker said.

When asked about the possibility of opening some downstate counties that have few cases of the virus, Pritzker said he listened to those those residents and leaders from those counties, and took that information into account when making his decision.

St. Clair County Update

The county announced that 342 residents have tested positive or COVID-19, an increase of 15 from yesterday. 1,432 residents have been tested, and 999 tests were negative. There are 91 test results pending. Zip code 62269 has 28 confirmed cases out of 119 tests, 62221 has 31 cases out of 101 tests, 62220 has 30 cases out of 81 tests, 62226 has 52 cases out of 93 tests, and 62208 has 22 cases out of 74 tests.

There are three testing centers in St. Clair County that residents can call ahead to be screened to see if they need to be tested.:

Swansea: 4100 North Illinois Street, patients must present doctor authorization to be seen

West Belleville: 7210 West Main Street (618) 646-2596

East St. Louis: 100 North 8th Street (618) 646-2596

“Testing is the key to getting to the end of the road with this virus,” said St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern, and he announced that the state would be adding additional testing centers in the county.

In local hospitals, Memorial BJC in Belleville has 29 COVID positive patients and six PUI hospitalized, and has discharged four medically stable COVID patients in the past 24 hours, HSHS St. Elizabeth’s has 16 COVID positive patients and eight PUI hospitalized, and Touchette Regional Hospital has two patients under investigation.

Kern also spoke about the Skyview Drive-In theater, which had stated in a social media post that they were reopening as of May 1 with the blessing of the St. Clair County Health Department, which Kern said “is not true.” The drive-in is not an essential business, and would not allow for counts of ten people or less to gather, so it will remain closed.