Pritzker holds press conference on COVID-19 updates

Rey+Guzman+hangs+a+sign+at+the+Emporium+bar+in+the+West+Loop+on+March+15%2C+2020%2C+soon+after+Gov.+J.B.+Pritzker+announced+all+bars+and+restaurants+would+be+closed+to+dine-in+customers+beginning+March+16.

Photo Courtesy of Tribune News Service

Rey Guzman hangs a sign at the Emporium bar in the West Loop on March 15, 2020, soon after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced all bars and restaurants would be closed to dine-in customers beginning March 16.

By Diana Anghel, Assistant News Editor

On Monday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker held a press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield to update the public on state decisions regarding COVID-19.

Pritzker announced Sunday afternoon that state restaurants and bars will close Monday through at least March 30 as a pandemic preventive measure. Monday is also the last day that K-12 Illinois schools will be open until March 30. 

“We must protect our children and their parents,” Pritzker said during the conference. 

The governor said distribution of meals to all children who qualify for free and reduced lunch will continue, with more Illinois schools to soon jump on board with this protocol. 

Additionally, the governor mandated that any gathering of 50 people or more will be canceled. 

“Together, our state lab and hospital partners are ramping testing to the levels necessary for us to better understand the presence and patterns of the spread of the virus in Illinois,” Pritzker said. 

Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health Ngozi Ezike stated in the press conference there are 105 current confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois, spread throughout 15 different counties. 

“The number of cases is increasing each day,” Ezike said. 

Ezike advised that people should assume the virus is within their community. However, she said testing supplies need to be reserved for “those that need them most.” 

“We want to make sure we have available beds for those that are the sickest in our community,” Ezike said.

When asked what will be done if communities are not complying with orders to isolate, Pritzker said, “You can’t police everything.”

“We obviously want communities to understand what the limitations are,” he said. “We’re going to do our best to have our communities managing themselves. The vast majority of the public understands what needs to be done here.” 

The governor was also questioned about Tuesday’s Illinois primary, namely how the state will discourage public interaction while encouraging voters to go to the polls.  

“We do believe it’s safe; we’ve certainly confided experts, and we believe the election will go on just fine,” Pritzker said. 

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