Illinois Lockdown Starts Saturday Amid Virus Crisis


Illinois governor to issue lockdown order requiring residents 'shelter in place' starting Saturday, sources say

By Dan Petrella, Gregory Pratt, Stacy St. Clair And Jamie Munks, Chicago

CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker plans to issue a “shelter-in-place” order for the entire state starting Saturday, essentially commanding residents to stay in their homes as the officials take drastic measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, sources told the Chicago Tribune.


© John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/TNS A shopper looks at almost empty shelves for frozen pizzas at a Jewel-Osco store in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on March 16, 2020, in Chicago. Concerns about COVID-19, or coronavirus, has led to high-volume purchases of certain food items, resulting in a shortage at area grocery stores.

Pritzker is expected to announce the directive at a 3 p.m. Friday news conference along with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Details are still being worked out, sources said.

Residents can still go to the grocery stores, put gas in their cars, take walks outside and make pharmacy runs. All local roads, including the interstate highways and tollways, will remain open to traffic, as well.

Illinois will be the second state to impose a shelter-in-place directive, after California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued one Thursday night. The San Francisco area was placed under one Tuesday.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also has told his residents to prepare for a possible order, though New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo dismissed the idea, saying his previous edicts are akin to a lockdown without the panic-inciting language.

Suburban Oak Park also issued a “shelter-in-place” order as of 12:01 a.m. Friday, after two emergency room physicians at Rush Oak Park Hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Residents have been ordered to stay in their homes except for “essential” travel as outlined by village ordinance. They can go to work, for example, if their businesses remain open, especially if they have essential jobs such as first responders, sanitation workers or health-care providers.

Pritzker laid down the groundwork for a potential order Thursday, telling parents to prepare for the statewide school closure to extend past March 30. Though the governor acknowledged he has discussed imposing more stringent rules on the general public, he said that no matter what he decides, interstate highways, gas stations, grocery stores and pharmacies would remain open.

“There is no need to run out and hoard food, gas and medicine,” the governor said Thursday. “Buy what you need within reason. There is enough to go around, as long as you do not hoard.”

Though the governor activated the Illinois National Guard earlier this week to help combat the virus, the service members will have no role in enforcing any potential order. Instead, 60 service members will be deployed to establish drive-up testing sites, help with food delivery to disadvantaged families impacted by school closures and possibly prepare closed hospitals to reopen.

The vast majority of currently activated troops are health care professionals — doctors, nurses, medical technicians — who would not be tapped for a law enforcement assignment.

“We have never even discussed a quarantine mission for the Illinois National Guard,” Leighton said. “It’s never come up.”

Leighton said he understands anxieties are high amid the pandemic, but the Guard is not the boogeyman.

“We are your friends, neighbors and co-workers,” he said. “We’re fellow worshippers at your church, synagogue, mosque or wherever you worship. We are part of the community. We are you. We are not going to invade Chicago. We are here to help.”

While the specifics for a shelter-in-place order might be different if one is issued here, San Francisco provides an idea of what the rules could look like.

In the San Francisco area, six counties are on lockdown until at least April 7, with only people with essential jobs or government functions allowed to work outside their homes.

Jobs deemed essential there include: Health-care workers, grocery store employees, pharmacists, hardware store workers, plumbers, electricians, day care providers, bank tellers and roles that are essential to a business’ operations such as payroll and security. Police, firefighters, paramedics and sanitation workers also are be quarantined.

Like Illinois, San Francisco has shut down schools and bars, moving all restaurants to take-out or delivery only. Gyms and theaters have been closed, but gas stations, laundromats, dry cleaners, banks, supermarkets, pharmacies and convenience stores have remained opened per the order.

Bay Area residents are allowed to leave their homes to care for elderly, minors, dependents, persons with disabilities or other vulnerable persons. People also can engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, running or walking as long as they maintain a social distance of 6 feet.

They also may venture out to get food for both their families and their pets.

“These measures will be disruptive to day-to-day life, but there is no need to panic,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said at a news conference Monday.

There were 412 confirmed coronavirus cases in the San Francisco area as of Thursday, including four deaths in Santa Clara County attributed to the virus.

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