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Illinois governor issues ‘stay home’ order starting Saturday to slow spread of virus

Illinois governor issues ‘stay home’ order starting Saturday to slow spread of virus

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CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday ordered all residents across the state to stay home, venturing outside only for essential jobs and errands. 

The order covering the state's 12.6 million people will take effect Saturday evening at 5 p.m. and last through April 7, banning residents leaving their homes for any social gathering or work for non-essential businesses.

Residents will still be allowed to leave their homes for some reasons, like exercise, walking the dog, picking up medicine, getting take-out orders from restaurants and shopping for groceries, Pritzker said. All roads in the state will also remain open. 

"I didn't come to this decision easily," Pritzker said in a Friday news conference. “I fully recognize, in some cases, I am choosing between saving people’s lives and saving people’s livelihoods. But ultimately you can't have a livelihood if you don’t have your life."

Pritzker said medical experts advised him that, if left unchecked, the pandemic would create the same disastrous effects on the Illinois healthcare system now seen in Italy, where 3,405 people had died from COVID-19 by Thursday afternoon.

The experts, Pritzker said, came to the conclusion: "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."

As of Friday afternoon, five people had died in Illinois and 585 people tested positive for COVID-19 in the state, up from 46 cases a week earlier. Those cases include three people in St. Clair County and one in Madison County in Metro East. 

Pritzker said Friday that essential jobs will continue during the "stay home" order, including healthcare workers, law enforcement, grocery store staff, farmers, the press, veterinarians, plumbers, bankers and people who work in transportation. 

Pritzker said childcare would also still be allowed for essential workers, but the state was working to define guidelines for how many children could be gathered together in a single daycare. 

Pritzker said enforcement of the order could include businesses could losing permits if they do not comply or local governments getting a court order for those that are not following the order.

"I've instructed law enforcement to monitor for violations and take action when necessary, but that is not an option that anyone prefers," Pritzker said. 

Pritzker's order Friday comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a similar statewide measure the day before, placing the state's 40 million residents in the biggest lockdown in the nation. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo followed suit Friday morning, banning gatherings statewide and ordering all workers in nonessential businesses to stay home.

At a news conference Friday, president Trump said he was not considering a similar national lockdown.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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