As some easing in Illinois begins Friday, the daily death toll stays near a record

  • Gov. J.B. Pritzker gives his daily briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Gov. J.B. Pritzker gives his daily briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak. Associated Press

  • Gov. J.B. Pritzker

    Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Updated 5/1/2020 5:40 AM

Leaving your home Friday? Bring a mask to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned Illinoisans Thursday on the eve of a revised stay-at-home order.

The changes will ease restrictions for retail stores and open up recreational facilities like golf courses and state parks.


But they also extend the governor's previous stay-at-home mandate from midnight Thursday through May 30, and that has ignited pushback from some Republican legislators and lawsuits questioning the governor's authority.

The changes come as Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike reported a record single-day increase in COVID-19 cases and a near-record single-day increase in deaths.

The latest lawsuit by a northwestern Illinois church that wants to restart worship services was filed in federal court Thursday.

The modified policy effective Friday mandates that people wear masks inside public spaces like grocery stores and outside in locations where a 6-foot social distance cannot be maintained.

Asked about mask rules outdoors, Pritzker advised all residents to "have one on hand." He added high-tech versions aren't necessary and that face coverings can be made from a T-shirt.

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"You don't have to wear it at all times if you go running, jogging or bicycling, but if you encounter a crowd at a public space with a lot of people, that's when you need or are required to put on a face covering," Pritzker said.

Previously, just businesses considered essential such as grocery stores and pharmacies were allowed to be open.

The new order allows nonessential retail stores to take online or phone orders and offer curbside pickup and delivery.

Greenhouses and garden centers will be open to the public as will many state parks and golf courses, but stringent social distancing requirements will be in place, Pritzker said.

Also, elective surgeries can now be scheduled under the guidance of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

But even as some restrictions ease, Ezike reported an additional 2,563 COVID-19 cases -- the highest single-day tally to date. The number of Illinoisans dying from COVID-19 climbed by 141 on Thursday, just shy of the single-day record of 144 announced Tuesday.


Total infections statewide are 52,918, and fatalities from the respiratory disease reached 2,355.

Of those cases, more than 90% are in Chicago, suburban Cook and the collar counties, according to state and county data.

Officials announced two more drive-through testing sites will open next week, one in Waukegan and another in East St. Louis, bringing the total to seven, but details were not yet available.

As resistance to the stay-at-home order brews in less populated counties with fewer cases of COVID-19, Pritzker said, "I don't disagree that different areas of the state require different rules during this time. That's why we made some changes.

"The state parks are not in Cook County and Chicago," Pritzker said. "Many of things that opened up in this executive order that just lasts a month is an indication of our recognition that it's different from one area to another, and we'll talk about that more as we put forward plans for reopening."

Republican state Reps. Darren Bailey of Xenia and John Cabello of Machesney Park both have filed lawsuits stating Pritzker overstepped his authority in extending the stay-at-home executive order.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul has appealed a Clay County's judge's temporary restraining order that essentially exempts Bailey, and Bailey alone, from the order.

The Beloved Church of Lena in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday states the executive order violates its freedom religion.

"In these dark times, Illinoisans need the spirit of almighty God," the lawsuit claims, "but Pritzker's orders have left them to settle for the lesser spirits dispensed out of the state's liquor stores," which were allowed to stay open as essential services.

Pritzker said allowing people to congregate is risky and will spread COVID-19.

"I try to follow the science and I ask those who think of breaking the rules to follow the science," he said.

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