Illinois ‘ governor released a stay-at-home directive on Friday, making it the latest state to make such a sweeping mandate in combating the spread of the new corona-virus .The third U.S. state to do so, after California and New York.
Thursday, California released a stay-at-home order, and the governor of New York ordered all non-essential companies to keep employees at home. The governor of Pennsylvania has also ordered the close of all companies that are not “life-sustaining.”
At a press conference Friday afternoon, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker made a decision for his state.
New York, Illinois, and Calfiornia–including the three largest cities in the US, New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles respectively–have all told their residents to stay home unless they have urgent reasons to travel.
“I don’t come to this decision easily,” he said. “I fully recognize that 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 people should be able to leave their homes to perform daily tasks such as purchasing food, picking up a prescription at the pharmacy or going for a walk.
He said the stay-at-home order’s goal is for people to retain social isolation and for those who have already taken precautions their lives “will not change much.” Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago encouraged the city to take the order seriously.
“This is a make-or-break moment for our city and our state,” she said.
The order is expected to become effective Saturday 21 March at 5 pm and will remain in place until April 7 but could go longer, the governor said.
Agriculture and the press, veterinarians and plumbers, laundromats and banks, parks, bridges and transit–there will be no shutting down of essential building blocks that hold our community healthy and steady, “he said.
“You can also pick up dinner from your favorite restaurant, pick up your prescriptions and just spend time with your kids.” Many that are able to operate from home must.
Critical employees would have safe day care options, Pritzker said.
His office orders municipalities around the state to suspend all evictions. School districts are continuing to offer meals.
As of Friday evening, Illinois had 585 confirmed cases and five deaths, with a population of about 13 million. The first death was confirmed on Tuesday and, according to NBC Chicago, it was a woman in her 60s who had an underlying health problem.