Illinois Gov. J.B. 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."
He called out state leaders not enforcing state guidance and "anti-maskers" who refuse to follow the guidelines.
"What will it take to make this real for you?" he asked. "Do we have to reach a positivity rate of 50 percent like we’re seeing in Iowa today? Are you waiting for your health care workers to get sick to a point where you don’t have enough staff in the local hospital to cover the next shift? What about if your hospitals become so overrun that your sick and your dying have nowhere left to turn? Because I promise you, while you fail to take responsibility in your city and your county, that day is coming closer – and it will be on you."
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."
The guidance also urges employers to have employees work from home as much as possible during that time period.
"We ask employers to make accommodation for this," a release from the department states. "Our goal is to reduce transmission as we head into the holidays so businesses and schools can remain open."
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.
Already, all of Illinois' healthcare regions were under increased mitigations from the state, shutting down indoor dining and bar service and limiting gathering sizes.
On Wednesday, three of those regions entered Tier 2 of the state's mitigation plan, limiting party sizes at tables for outdoor dining and further restricting gathering sizes. Only one other region was already under such restrictions.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said some Illinois regions have seen more than triple the number of coronavirus hospitalizations than they did during the first wave of the pandemic and a group of doctors warned that the state could "surpass its ICU bed capacity by Thanksgiving."
The state also saw its hospitalization numbers continue to increase on Thursday, with 5,258 residents currently in hospitals due to coronavirus-like illnesses. Of those patients, 956 are currently in intensive care units, and 438 are on ventilators.
All three statistics are the highest metrics the state has seen in their respective categories since the first peak in COVID-19 cases earlier this year.
"Our growth in new cases is now exponential," Pritzker said. "We are seeing current numbers and future projections worse than what we saw in the spring. We’re more practiced at responding to this virus now, so we have a significant stockpile of PPE, we have overflow capacity already planned by our hospitals, and we have much more testing. But that won’t slow the spread of the virus."