937 new cases of COVID-19, 26 more deaths as Pritzker extends stay-at-home order through April 30
Gov. J.B. Pritzker will extend Illinois' stay-at-home order through April 30 to reduce the spread of COVID-19, he said Tuesday.
The action coincides with 937 more cases of the respiratory disease confirmed in Illinois and 26 new deaths.
Illinois was rare in requiring residents to hunker down when Pritzker issued the stay-at-home mandate March 20, but now a majority of states have similar rules. The move echoes federal recommendations.
The state is recording 5,994 cases of COVID-19 in 54 of the 102 counties and a total of 99 fatalities.
"My priority has been and continues to be to save as many people's lives as necessary," Pritzker said.
Exceptions are allowed for people with essential jobs such as medical workers and for necessary errands like groceries.
Cook County and Chicago comprise about 75% of the cases, according to state data. There are 2,693 cases in Chicago and 22 deaths as of Tuesday; in Cook there are 1,803 cases and 39 deaths.
In the collar counties, Lake has the most confirmed cases, 389, and seven deaths. Elsewhere, there are: 356 cases in DuPage with 10 deaths; 228 cases in Will with eight deaths; and 63 cases in McHenry with two deaths, according to state public health officials.
One DuPage death announced Tuesday involves a woman in her 70s with underlying health conditions who lived at the Chateau Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook, where an outbreak occurred.
In Kane County, there are 128 cases with eight deaths. The most recent was a 92-year-old woman from the Aurora area who died Tuesday morning, according to the Kane County coroner's office.
The April 30 extension will affect thousands of students from kindergarten to grade 12 across the state, who have been out of school since March 17.
As a result, schools will switch from considering time off as "act of God days" to "remote learning days," meaning those days would not need to be made up, Pritzker said.
Pritzker, noting he has two teenage children at home, told students: "I know it's not the school year you bargained for. I'm sorry for that. But there's plenty of reason to hope.
"Once you're ready, take a look around and take in this incredible, unique moment. Yes, it's scary and difficult. But if you're looking for a lesson in the fundamental good of people and communities, it's right there."
The original stay-at-home order was to end April 7.
Currently, 41% of adult ICU beds are empty and 68% of ventilators are available at hospitals collectively across Illinois, Pritzker said. The state is locating a temporary hospital at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago and reopening closed facilities like the old Sherman Hospital in Elgin.
"Our greatest risk of hitting capacity isn't now but weeks from now," Pritzker said.
At the same time, unemployment insurance claims have hit the roof, with layoffs increasing as businesses from department stores to hair salons closed.
"We need to maintain our course and keep working to flatten the curve," Pritzker said. He noted that Illinois has a ban on evictions and turning off utilities for customers who cannot pay.
The governor also addressed concerns about drinking water. "People should know their water supply is safe," Pritzker said. "The disease cannot not travel through pipes and into your homes."
A number of counties have begun listing COVID-19 cases by municipality with interactive maps.
For example, the Cook County Department of Public Health reported 44 cases of COVID-19 in Des Plaines, 23 in Buffalo Grove, 22 in Palatine; 21 cases in Schaumburg, 17 in Wheeling, 16 in Mount Prospect, 13 in Arlington Heights and 12 in Hoffman Estates.
The DuPage County Health Department lists 37 cases of COVID-19 in Willowbrook, 28 in Naperville, 20 in Lombard, 18 in Addison, 17 in Elmhurst, 14 each in Carol Stream and Downers Grove, and 13 each in Wheaton and Bensenville.
Lake County Health Department reports 25 to 29 cases in Waukegan, 15 to 19 in Libertyville and Round Lake, 10 to 14 in Gurnee, and five to nine each in Grayslake, Lake Zurich, Mundelein and Vernon Hills.
Meanwhile, the village of East Dundee reported its first case Tuesday.
"The majority of those people that get infected do not suffer severe illness," IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said, but she warned that if people flaunt the stay-at-home order, cases will spiral.
• Daily Herald Staff Writer James Fuller contributed to this story.