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Gov. Pritzker says he’s “ruled out” opening businesses on May 1

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and state officials speak at a press conference in Chicago on April 21, 2020. | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he has ruled out opening up businesses on May 1, strongly hinting that the Illinois stay-at-home order will be extended as he said the state is “weeks away from its peak.”

The comment came during Pritzker’s daily press conference Tuesday afternoon after he was asked if he would follow states like Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee in reopening most businesses.

“I have ruled out what they’re doing in Georgia, and I’m not sure about the other states, but if they’re all doing the same thing, which is essentially opening everything up, yes I have ruled that out for the time being,” Pritzker said.

“In order for us to truly open things back up, we need tracing, testing, a treatment available, and widespread availability of PPE,” he added.

“Remember, Illinois is not even close to its peak. We’re weeks away now. You won’t even know you hit the peak until you’re on the other side of it,” Pritzker said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced 1,551 new coronavirus cases and 119 new deaths on Tuesday. The state’s COVID-19 total has reached 33,059 cases and 1,468 deaths. The number of people tested so far is at 154,997, data shows.

4,776 people in Illinois were hospitalized as of late Monday evening with either a confirmed or presumed case of coronavirus.

Projections in mid-March showed that the state would have exceeded its existing hospital capacity by 25,000 beds on April 6 if the stay-at-home order had not been put in place, Pritzker said on Monday.

Pritzker said that more testing is needed. “On the testing front, I would ask you this question: What would make you feel comfortable going back into your place of work?”

“I would suggest to you that no, we don’t need to test everybody every day in every workplace, but it’s a lot more than one test per person. We need a lot more testing across the country before I think everybody’s gonna feel comfortable,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said during an interview Tuesday morning on Washington Post Live that COVID-19 cases in Illinois likely won’t peak until mid-May.

Illinois was the second state to implement the stay-at-home rule and Pritzker said people have been abiding by it for the most part. He said that has caused the peak to be pushed out from the middle to end of April until mid-May.

“So it’s been pushed out now, according to the models, to maybe mid-May, but at a lower level, and so we’re moving, inching toward that date,” Pritzker said.

He noted that people are staying indoors, wearing masks outside and washing their hands.

“We’ve had many fewer deaths than we anticipated, our hospitalization rate is somewhat stable, climbing a little bit but somewhat stabilizing, and of course our ventilator needs have gone down,” Pritzker said.

He attributes that to the state bending the curve and doctors using alternative therapies to try and keep patients off ventilators.


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