Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and state officials speak at a press conference Friday afternoon in Chicago | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday 1,842 new coronavirus cases and 62 additional deaths since yesterday, and school closures in the state have been extended through the rest of the academic year.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said the state’s COVID-19 total has reached 27,575 cases and 1,134 deaths. The number of people tested so far is at 130,163, data shows.

Pritzker said that remote learning across all schools in the state will continue through the end of the 2019-2020 academic year.

“I’ve said time and time again, our decisions must follow the science and the science says our students can’t go back to their normal routine this school year,” Pritzker said.

“Over the last month, Illinois’ schools have stepped up and faced the many challenges of COVID-19 with generosity, creativity, and a resolute focus on caring for students, parents and communities. I am confident that our schools will manage and expand the learning opportunities for all our children who will be working from home over the coming weeks,” he added.

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Illinois will receive approximately $569 million in federal funding for K-12 schools, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Each public school district will receive CARES Act funding proportional to the number of low-income students they serve.

The funding can help provide students with technology and internet access to enhance remote learning, support teachers in developing their remote instruction skills, and assist schools in continuing to provide meals to children and communities, the governor’s office.

“Our school buildings may be closed, but the hearts and minds of our teachers and students are wide open,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala.

“This pandemic has altered the fabric of how we teach, learn, and connect, but it has not shaken the core of what our schools do, which is take care of Illinois’ children and prepare them for what’s next,” Ayala said.

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Previously, state officials encouraged those with mild symptoms to stay at home and isolate due to lack of testing. Pritzker said on Thursday the state has increased testing capabilities and now anyone with symptoms can be tested without a doctor’s order.

“We are utilizing our incredible statewide network of Federally Qualified Health Centers to launch new testing locations in communities across Illinois”, Pritzker said.

“These new sites will feed specimens to our network of expanded laboratory capacity. We have sites coming online across Chicago, the Collar Counties, Peoria, and Southern Illinois with many more centers expressing interest and working to get their operations up and running,” he added.

Pritzker and six other governors are working together to figure out when to reopen the Midwest economy.

Pritzker will work with Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, the governor’s office said.

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