Illinois Coronavirus Updates: School Closings, Stay-at-Home Order, Testing for All

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today

(NOTE: Daily press conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be streamed live in the player above. Check back for updates.)

Will Illinois' stay-at-home order be extended?

It's a question many have been asking as the state prepares to enter its fourth week of restrictions and closures, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker says a decision is coming.

Meanwhile, schools across the state will remain closed for in-classroom instruction for the rest of the school year.

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (April 17):

Illinois Hasn't Hit Its Peak Yet, Health Officials Say

Illinois on Friday saw its biggest daily spike in cases since the coronavirus began in the state this year, but that doesn't mean the state has reached its peak, health officials said.

Both Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike and Gov. J.B. Pritzker said they do not believe the state has reached its peak number of cases, despite the spike.

The rise in cases was expected as health officials believe the state is "flattening the curve," Ezike said. She also noted an increase in testing played a role in the increase.

"If you have this kind of curve, but you flattened it, it means it takes longer to get to the lower peak, but it takes longer to get there," Ezike said. "So one of the byproducts of being able to flatten the curve is that you will delay a peak and maybe it's not a peak where you go straight up and down. But maybe, if I can use a term, plateau, where you're kind of flattened for a while."  

1,842 New Coronavirus Cases Reported in Illinois- State's Largest Single-Day Spike So Far

As Illinois prepares to enter its fourth week of a stay-at-home order, the state saw its highest single-day spike in cases of the pandemic so far.

As of Friday, the total number of cases sat at 27,575, an increase of 1,842 in the last 24 hours. An additional 62 deaths were also reported, bring the statewide death toll to 1,134.

The news comes one after Illinois saw its deadliest day of the coronavirus crisis so far.

Pritzker Announces Illinois Schools Will Remain Closed for Rest of School Year

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that all Illinois schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.

The announcement was made during the governor's daily coronavirus press briefing, where he revealed in-class instruction will be suspended.

"I know that many have felt this was inevitable – but trust me when I say, this was not a decision I made lightly," Pritzker said. "The importance of our schools and our in-person school days is not just a question of tradition and sentimentality, as essential as those things are – the shutting of in-person classroom time also risks a drop in instructional time, an extended window in which students can potentially experience summer learning loss, and an educational landscape in which some districts have more experience with remote learning than others.These challenges weighed heavily on me as we came to this decision – but my priority remains unchanged: how do we save the most lives during this difficult time? The answer to that question leaves us only with the path forward."

3rd Chicago Police Officer Dies From Coronavirus, Department Announces

A third Chicago police officer has died due to complications from coronavirus, the department announced Friday.

"We are again heartbroken to share that another one of Chicago's finest has passed away from complications of #COVID19," spokesman Tom Ahern tweeted.

21 Employees at South Side Meat Packing Facility Test Positive for Coronavirus

More than 20 employees at a Chicago meat packing facility have tested positive for coronavirus, the company confirmed.

An anonymous employee contacted NBC 5 and said she and other employees at Rose Packing Company on Chicago’s South Side were informed of the 21 confirmed coronavirus cases by plant managers Thursday at a town hall-style meeting.

The whistleblower said the company is now distributing personal protective equipment.

Lightfoot, Pritzker to Tour McCormick Place

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will tour Chicago's McCormick Place, which has transformed into an alternate care center to help treat coronavirus patients.

The tour is expected to take place at 10:30 a.m.

Thousands More Coronavirus Tests Available Daily in Illinois

As experts say widespread coronavirus testing is key to reopening the economy, thousands of more tests will be available every day in Illinois with quicker results within a day or so.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker also announced expanded guidelines of who can get a test.

"The state of Illinois has expanded those eligible to get a test to include anyone who has COVID-like symptoms, even if you have not been given a doctor’s order," Gov. Pritzker said during Thursday's daily briefing.

April 16 briefing: Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers an update on coronavirus testing in Illinois.

Will Illinois' stay-at-home order be extended?

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has indicated a decision is coming on whether or not the state's stay-at-home order will be extended.

The order currently remains in effect until April 30, but Pritzker said a decision on a potential extension will be made in "the coming days" and within the next week.

Some Midwest states are preparing to lift their orders in early May. Meanwhile, Wisconsin extended its order until May 26.

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