IL Coronavirus: Pritzker Extends Order, Says 'It's OK To Be Sad'

ILLINOIS — Days after saying he feared he would have to extend the state’s stay-at-home order, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is doing just that. He plans to sign an executive order Wednesday to extend the state’s disaster proclamation, the stay-at-home order and the suspension of on-site learning at schools until April 30 at the earliest.

“Each step we have been forced to take by this pandemic has made things more challenging for our residents,” Pritzker said Tuesday, saying the “cascading consequences” for residents weigh on him.

“If we can suspend these orders earlier, I’ll be the first one to tell you,” Pritzker said. “That time is not today, and it’s not April 7” — the date the stay-at-home order was originally set to expire, he added.

Pritzker said his goal is “saving as many people’s lives as possible — that’s the one goal that I will put above all others every time.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot previously said she believed the order would extend “deep into April.”

Pritzker said that as the father of two teenagers, he knows how hard it is for students to miss milestones, especially for seniors missing prom and possibly graduation.

“Texting and calling is not the same as hanging out,” he said. “I won’t try to tell you that a Zoom prom is the same as a real prom.”

He also had a message for those, young and old, who are distressed about missing special events and important plans.

“It’s OK to be sad, and if you do feel sad or frustrated or angry, whatever you feel, let yourself feel that way,” he said. “Don’t beat yourself up for being human.”

Pritzker urged those feeling anxious or depressed to reach out for help, saying counseling and other resources are available online.

“But when you’re ready, take a look around,” the governor said, noting that there are examples of individuals and businesses helping others across the state.

“If you’re looking for a lesson in the fundamental goodness of your community, it’s right there in front of you,” Pritzker said, giving a shoutout to schools collecting donations for hospitals and to Orland Park native Michael Arundel. A University of Alabama student, Arundel has created a Facebook page and a website called “Leave It To Us,” providing grocery shopping and delivery for senior citizens.


Illinois Coronavirus Update March 31: Cases Near 6,000; 99 Deaths

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The news of the extended stay-at-home order came as Illinois’ coronavirus case count hit 5,994 and the death toll reached 99.

Pritzker said that as of Monday, preliminary reports from hospitals statewide showed that 41 percent of intensive care unit beds remain empty and 68 percent of ventilators are still available, but that doesn’t mean all patients will get one.

“It doesn’t mean every hospital has that ability,” he said. “Our greatest risk of hitting capacity isn’t now, it’s weeks from now. We must not let up now.”

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