Illinois Governor Issues Stay-at-Home Order, the Latest State to Do So, Joining California

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered a "shelter in place" directive on Friday, making Illinois the state the take the preventative measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Pritzker announced the action during an afternoon press conference, calling the order a "difficult decision." The order takes effect on Saturday at 5 p.m. and remains in place until April 7. Residents will still be able to leave their homes for essential services like getting groceries or visiting pharmacies.

"To avoid the loss of potentially tens of thousands of lives, we must enact an immediate stay-at-home order for the state of Illinois," said Pritzker. "Left unchecked, cases in Illinois will rise rapidly. Hospital systems will be overwhelmed, protective equipment will become scarce. And we will not have enough health care workers or hospital beds, or ventilators for the overwhelming influx of sick patients."

"The only strategy available to us to limit the increase in cases and ensure our health care system has capacity to treat those who become ill is to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the most robust manner," he added.

J.B. Pritzker
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order intended to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the state on March 20, 2020. Joshua Lott/Getty

Police could be used to enforce of the order, although Pritzker said that authorities would likely only become involved as a last resort.

"We anticipate that people will follow this order," Pritzker said. "In the end here, what we're really asking people to do is to do what they know they ought to, which is to stay at home."

The governor said that efforts would be made to ensure shelter is in place for the homeless population of Illinois, while also halting all evictions during the crisis.

Pritzker also vowed to focus efforts on providing care for those who do become infected, including ramping up COVID-19 testing availability in the state.

Although he do not predict when life would return to normal, Pritzker said that he expected the state would eventually recover from the impact of the pandemic, citing resiliency residents displayed after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

"Here's what I do know, about 150 years ago the city of Chicago burned to the ground. When the ashes cleared, we passed laws requiring buildings be built with fireproof materials, we invented skyscrapers," Pritzker said. "We built the Chicago fire academy on the very spot where the Great Chicago Fire started burning."

Newsweek reached out to Gov. Pritzker's office for comment.

California Governor Gavin Newsom was the first to order a statewide shelter in place directive on Thursday. Around 7 million Californians had already been under the order since Tuesday, when the directive went into effect for seven Northern California counties encompassing and surrounding San Francisco.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before; during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • If you feel unwell (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and call local health authorities in advance.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.