Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued statewide "stay at home" orders in response to the spread of the coronavirus. The state's residents are ordered to remain in their homes, only going outside for essential activities such as grocery shopping, picking up restaurant food, or visiting the pharmacy. Residents may also continue to exercise outdoors so long as they adhere to protocols regarding social distancing. The new orders take effect on Saturday at 5 p.m local time and will remain in place until April 7th.
"To avoid the loss of potentially tens of thousands of lives, we must enact an immediate stay-at-home order for the state of Illinois," the governor said on Friday. "So that is the action that I'm announcing today."
"Left unchecked," Pritzker warned, "cases in Illinois will rise rapidly. Hospital systems will be overwhelmed, protective equipment will become scarce. And we will not have enough healthcare workers or hospital beds or ventilators for the overwhelming influx of sick patients. The only strategy available to us to limit the increase in cases and ensure our healthcare system has capacity to treat those who become ill is to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the most robust manner possible."
Pritzker said his decision was not made lightly and was only reached after the governor consulted with numerous "medical experts, epidemiologists, mathematicians and modelers" to better understand the progression of this disease in Illinois.
"I fully recognize that in some cases, I am choosing between saving people's lives and saving people's livelihoods," Pritzker admitted. "But ultimately, you can't have a livelihood if you don't have your life. Of all the obligations that weigh on me as governor, this is the greatest. If there are actions that I can take that will save lives in the midst of this pandemic, no matter how difficult, then I have an obligation to take these actions."
A number of states have taken the unprecedented action of ordering residents to stay at home in a drastic attempt to slow the spread of the Wuhan virus. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) made the order on Thursday after predicting 56% of Californians, around 25.5 million people, would be infected with the Wuhan virus in eight weeks. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered non-essential businesses to close and non-essential workers to remain home as the number of cases in New York continues to rise. Gov. Cuomo said the order will take effect on Sunday and warned that it will be "enforced."