coronavirus illinois

Gov. Pritzker on Thanksgiving: ‘We All Need to Celebrate a Bit Differently This Year'

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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker urged residents to take extra precautions when celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday this year.

In addition to previous guidance surrounding the holidays released by the state's health department, Pritzker said the state has launched a new awareness campaign to highlight ways of celebrating the holiday safely.

"Keeping gatherings small and virtual, maintaining 6 feet of distance from others and wearing a mask, whether you’re indoors or out," Pritzker said. "We want to show people some of the best ways to reduce risk, as determined by epidemiologists, researchers, and modelers. At the end of the day, traditions are so important to all of us – but this year we all need to celebrate a bit differently."

Pritzker warned Thursday a "mandatory" stay-at-home order is possible "if things don't take a turn in the coming days."

Speaking for the first time since the state's health department released new guidance urging residents to stay home and work from home where possible, Pritzker said "we are running out of time, and we are running out of options."

"The numbers don’t lie," Pritzker said. "If things don’t take a turn in the coming days, we will quickly reach the point when some form of a mandatory stay-at-home order is all that will be left. With every fiber of my being, I do not want us to get there, but right now that seems to be where we are heading."

Illinois health officials again reported more than 12,000 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a record for the highest single-day report of new cases for the third consecutive day.

The Illinois Department of Public Health issued new guidance Wednesday urging residents to stay home and only leave for "essential activities."

The guidelines, which come just before the the Thanksgiving holiday, recommend that for the next three weeks, residents "stay home as much as possible, leaving only for necessary and essential activities, such as work that must be performed outside the home, COVID-19 testing, visiting the pharmacy, and buying groceries."

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike talks about the latest coronavirus metrics for Illinois.

The guidance also urges employers to have employees work from home as much as possible during that time period. In addition, health officials suggest limiting travel and gatherings.

"In our current situation, with a rising prevalence of the virus, attending even small gatherings that mix households, or traveling to areas that are experiencing high rates of positivity, is not advised and is potentially dangerous," the release states, "Please, travel only if necessary."

Similarly, Chicago issued a stay-at-home advisory, which takes effect Monday, urging residents to stay home and implementing new gathering restrictions in the city.

"You must cancel the normal Thanksgiving plans," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday. "Particularly if they include guests that do not live in your immediate household."

City officials warned that at their current rate, cases are doubling every 12 days. With the current average of 2,000 cases per day, that would mean that by Thanksgiving, the city could see 4,000 new cases coming in each day.

"We're not set up for this level of outbreak," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "And if you look at that curve, there's been no sign yet of it slowing down."

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