Pritzker: ‘Think seriously about canceling large summer events’

ILLINOIS — Illinois public health officials reported Thursday the state was getting closer to “bending the curve” when it comes to new cases of COVID-19.

But as far as lifting lifting the statewide stay at home order before summer, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said even when it is lifted, other restrictions likely will remain in place for some time to avoid another spike in COVID-19 cases.

He said  lifting the stay-at-home order before April 30 was unlikely.

“We need you to stay at home. We need this curve to bend and then we can begin to talk about how we can open things up a little bit more,” Pritzker said.

The governor was asked if summer events, including festivals, could go on as planned.

“I think everybody needs to think seriously about canceling large summer events,” Pritzker said. “From my perspective today, I do not see how we are going to have large gatherings of people until we have a vaccine, which is months away.”

Several towns have canceled spring events because of the coronavirus outbreak, but organizers of summer events have been biding their time so far. The economic impact of such cancellations would hit some towns hard.

In Freeport, the annual 4th of July celebration for 2020 was cancelled. Organizers said that with the economic condition the way it is, and expected to be worse, sponsors just wouldn’t be available to celebrate freedom this year. In 2016 the city broke ties with the once sponsored annual event, deciding to longer be involved at all.

“Unlike what some have said at the federal level, it isn’t going to be that all of a sudden you’re going to drop the stay at home and every other restriction,” Gov. Pritzker said about lifting the statewide order . “If you do that, we’re going to see a big spike upward; and once again hospitalizations.”

On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,344 new cases and 66 additional deaths.

Statewide, 16,422 cases, including 528 deaths, had been reported as of Thursday.

Hancock, Pulaski, and Schuyler counties have been added to the list of counties with COVID-19 cases. Cases had been reported in 81 of the state’s 102 counties as of Thursday.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the new coronavirus that emerged from China in late 2019.

Portions The Center Square – Kevin Bessler, Brett Rowland

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