Pritzker: COVID-19 peak “still to come”

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker responds to a question after announcing that three more people have died in the state from from Covid-19 virus, two Illinois residents and one woman visiting from Florida, during a news conference Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHICAGO, Ill. (WCIA) — Changes could be coming to Illinois’ Stay-At-Home order if it extends into the month of May, Gov. JB Pritzker suggested Tuesday.

The Stay-At-Home order, which bans nonessential work and travel in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, is set to expire on April 30.

“We will be making some changes to the Stay-At-Home order as it is,” he said. “…And so, to pull it off…to remove it, as I see some other governors may want to do, to remove it entirely is to simply open everything back up to infection. We heard (Illinois Department of Public Health director) Dr. (Ngozi) Ezike saying in the last couple of days that the…number of people that are getting infected by a single person who is infected has gone down significantly since we put the Stay-At-Home order in place. That will go right back up if you remove all the restrictions.”

The changes are a sort of “tweaking at the edges (of the executive order) and trying to make it easier on people,” he said, but what those changes will look like won’t be announced immediately.

Earlier Tuesday, Pritzker told the Washington Post that the epidemiological models his administration is using as guidance indicate that Illinois won’t hit a “peak” number of COVID-19 cases until mid-May.

During Tuesday’s press conference, he added that officials might not know when Illinois reaches its peak until “we’re on the other side” of it. Experts advised him that full lifting of the Stay-At-Home order shouldn’t happen until 14 days after the peak is reached, he said.

In suggesting he could modify the executive order, Pritzker appeared to be heeding calls from Republican lawmakers who have urged him to reopen parts of the economy sooner rather than later.

“In terms of the different effects in different parts of the state… it’s correct to say that in more rural areas, there have been fewer cases,” he said. “And it’s true that in some areas of the state, there’s been a lower infection rate and a lower doubling time. And that needs to be taken into consideration as we make changes.”

Last week, Illinois joined a coalition of other, Midwestern states in a regional pact to coordinate when to re-open specific sectors of the economy that were closed down in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

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