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Modified stay-at-home order goes into effect as Pritzker highlights new testing sites

Modified stay-at-home order goes into effect as Pritzker highlights new testing sites

As his extended stay-at-home order goes into effect, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday an additional 65 COVID-19 testing sites, bringing the state’s total to 177.

Pritzker said the new sites are spread across every region of the state.

Two new drive-thru sites in Waukegan and East St. Louis will be opened by the end of next week, bringing the state’s total number of drive-thru sites to seven. Pritzker said they are looking at adding more sites in the near future.

“Testing is vital to our efforts to reduce social restrictions, get our economy going and protect our residents,” he said.

There were 13,200 tests completed over the past 24 hours, which Pritzker said is roughly where they have been for the past week. The state first passed its goal of 10,000 daily tests last week.

Along with the increase in testing sites, Pritzker said there has also been a steady increase in the procurement and production of raw materials for testing, such as swabs and viral transport media and reagents.

A total of 269,867 tests have been completed.

There were 141 COVID-19 deaths reported on Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 2,355. Officials announced 2,563 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s total to 52,918 cases in 97 counties. Brown County reported its first case.

Pritzker also reiterated the extended stay-at-home order is set to go into effect Friday, despite pending litigation looking to halt the plan. The order, which runs through the end of May, will require all individuals over the age of two who are medically able to wear a face covering or a mask when in a public place where they cannot maintain social distance.

He said Thursday that Illinoisans will need to wear one when they “encounter a crowded public space with a lot of people in it.”

The order will also allow certain businesses and state parks to reopen.

“All these changes represent a shift in our approach to COVID-19, a shift made possible by the millions of Illinoisans who have stepped up by staying home and keeping each other safe,” Pritzker said.

Healthcare groups sided with Pritzker on his extension of the stay-at-homer order, arguing in an amicus brief that a circuit court temporary restraining order preventing the state from enforcing the order against Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, “puts millions of Illinois residents, thousands of front-line healthcare workers, and plaintiff’s own constituents at serious risk.”

The brief was filed by the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, the American Nurses Association – Illinois and the Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing.

Pritzker also addressed a new lawsuit filed Thursday by the Beloved Church in Lena, which alleges the order restricts their First Amendment right to congregate. Church leaders say they will disobey the order and hold an in-person service this Sunday.

Pritzker said the vast majority of faith leaders have partnered with the state to ensure Illinoisans stay safe and at home and he urged them to continue to do so to protect their congregations from the virus.

When asked about repercussions for defying the order, Pritzker said that law enforcement is not going to “run in and break up a gathering of churchgoers.” He warned there would be consequences, though he did not go into specifics.

“The state has the ability to enforce orders, but we’ve been looking to people to do the right thing and they should do the right thing,” Pritzker said.

The order issued Thursday evening allows Illinoisans to leave their homes to “engage in the free exercise of religion.” Such services must meet social distancing guidelines and limit the gathering to no more than 10 people. Religious organizations and houses of worship are encouraged to use online or drive-in services.

In response to some downstate law enforcement officials and state’s attorneys who have said they will not enforce the stay-at-home order, Pritzker said they need to listen to the medical experts and look at the science behind the virus.

“I would just suggest to anyone that is considering breaking those rules that they’re really putting their citizenry in danger,” he said.

Pritzker also asked residents to use common sense if they plan to travel. While Missouri is set to reopen businesses next week, Indiana’s current stay-at-home order has yet to be extended into May.

“I would just say that people need to use the common sense that… God gave them to not gather in those places, to wear masks, to keep six-foot distancing, to not participate in the activities that will put themselves and, very importantly, their families when they come back from those places in danger,” he said.


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