Illinois to temporarily ban all large public gatherings
Illinois and the city of Chicago have mandated the cancellation of all public events of more than 1,000 individuals to limit the spread of new coronavirus.
The policy is among new guidelines announced during a press conference Thursday in Chicago. Gov. JB Pritzker said the mandatory ban will be enforced for at least 30 days.
In addition, Pritzker said he has spoken with the owners of the state’s major pro sports teams and they have all agreed to either cancel games or play without spectators through May 1.
“I am not going to hesitate to take the most aggressive measures possible to protect the people of our state,” Pritzker said. He added that the state is also recommending that organizers of any events of 250 or more people should either cancel or postpone.
The restriction does not apply to airports or mass transit.
Other closures will include Chicago’s James R. Thompson Center to all non-state employees as of Monday. All non-essential Cook County board meetings through April have been canceled.
Pritzker said the state is not recommending schools close, and officials said they will monitor the situation on a “day-to-day basis.” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said they have put new restrictions in place to protect students, such as a ban on assembly or any other large gatherings.
“We would never put our children in danger,” she said.
Tuesday’s primary election will continue as scheduled. Along with recommending residents vote by mail, Pritzker has asked all local election officials to extend early voting hours to prevent a larger gathering of residents on election day.
Lightfoot said the Chicago City Council and its meetings will go on as scheduled next week.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced Thursday that seven new individuals have been diagnosed with coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to 32. Of the new cases, one patient is being identified as a “young child.”
“The young child in Chicago is a reminder that anyone can be infected with this virus,” Ezike said.
The child is currently being treated at home and is in good condition, said Chicago Public Health Director Dr. Allison Arwady. The individual did not require hospitalization.
The other new cases include a Chicago woman in her 40s, a Kane County man in his 70s, three Cook County residents in their 50s and 70s, and a McHenry man in his 60s.
A total of 418 Illinoisans have been tested for coronavirus as of Thursday, including the 32 confirmed cases. Of those, 294 came back negative and another 92 are pending results.
The CDC reported 1,215 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of the disease as of Thursday.
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