Illinois is a little more than a week away from the end of the current stay-at-home order, but Gov. Pritzker on Wednesday indicated an extension could be coming. The question is: for how long?
"We're looking at an extension, but I don't know - I can't tell you right now how long that extension should run," Pritzker said during his daily coronavirus press briefing.
Pritzker, responding to a question about whether summer camps will be able to go forward this year, said "an extension of the stay-at-home order into June would directly impact it."
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday suggested the order could be extended well into May and possibly even June.
Already, some Chicago suburbs have canceled Memorial Day and even Fourth of July celebrations. Meanwhile major summer festivals like Chicago Pride Fest and those celebrating blues and gospel music in the city are also postponed or canceled.
The statewide stay-at-home order first took effect on March 21. The order was later extended through April 30, a deadline that is quickly approaching with few answers from Pritzker.
Pritzker said Tuesday that officials are looking to make changes to the order as the peak of the virus continues to drift further into the future. Among those changes could be a mandate for residents to cover their faces in public spaces.
New modeling released this week indicates that Illinois may not hit its peak level of coronavirus spread until mid-May.
“We will be making some changes to the stay-at-home order,” Pritzker said. “It is true that (the order) is working.”
The governor says he has been in consultation with scientists and business leaders about how to proceed if the state's coronavirus peak doesn't come until May.
"The peak is still yet to come, we need to be careful, but I wanted to give our staff and you know, and myself enough time to have conversations with the epidemiologists and the experts and people in different industries to try to understand what we could do not just in the very near term, about changing the stay-at-home order, in some ways, tweaking at the edges and trying to make it easier on people," he said.
Pritzker did not elaborate on the kinds of changes the state is considering making, but emphasized again that the state could consider a region-by-region change to restrictions in place due to COVID-19.
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“I absolutely think that we need to look at where (healthcare) capacity exists,” Pritzker said during Monday’s availability. “If the hospital capacity in a certain area is quite large and very available, even with coronavirus in existence, then that might be a place where you can do more than some other place. The idea of people going outside and wearing a mask on a property of theirs that might be 100 acres in size is much different than the prospect of somebody on the North or West Side of Chicago going outside and walking on a sidewalk with hundreds of other people.”
With some states like Georgia reopening businesses beginning this weekend, Pritzker warned that doing so would have dire consequences in a state where the peak rate of coronavirus cases has yet to be reached.
“It seems to me to remove it as some other governors may want to do is to simply open everything back up to infection,” Pritzker said. “We’ve heard Dr. Ngozi Ezike saying the last couple of days that the number of people being infected by a single person who is COVID-19 positive has gone down significantly since we’ve put the stay-at-home order in place. That will go right back up again if you remove all the restrictions.”
The governor also said that he will continue to proceed with patience and care as he considers changes to the stay-at-home order, and will continue to consult with doctors.
“We are planning on what we will do going forward if the peak comes in mid-May,” Pritzker said. “We need to have 14 days after that, according to many experts, where the cases are going down (before we can reopen the state).”