Pritzker Extends Stay At Home Order, Halts Prison Transfers, Says Schools Are Now on Remote Learning

By Benjamin Cox on March 31, 2020 at 6:00pm

Governor J.B. Pritzker announced today that he would be extending the stay at home order for all of Illinois. “My priority through each and every one of these decisions has been, and continues to be, saving as many people’s lives as possible. That’s the one goal that I will put above all others, every time. Most critically, I have let the science guide our decisions. I’ve relied upon the top medical experts scientists, public health researchers, epidemiologists, mathematicians, and modelers from the greatest institutions in the world whose guidance on infection rates and potential mortalities and protective measures is frankly second to none. It is based upon that advice that tomorrow I will be signing an executive order to extend Illinois’ disaster proclamation, our stay at home order, and our suspension of on site learning at schools through the end of the month of April. If we can end these orders earlier, I’ll be the first one to tell you when we can start to make strides toward normalcy again. But that time is not today.”

Pritzker said that he is worried that if the order were not extended the state’s healthcare infrastructure would be overrun with COVID-19 patients and hospitals around the state would be faced with dire choices. According to Pritzker’s website, the state currently has 1,525 ICU beds in use with 1,053 beds available. Of the ICU beds in use, 889 are occupied by COVID-19 patients. Pritzker said the greatest risk of hitting capacity around the state is weeks from now. Pritzker said its not a time for half measures in the state. “I’ll remind everyone that these interventions don’t work if they’re piecemeal across the state. It was only a few weeks back when we had just a handful of cases, all in one county. That’s up to 5,994 across 54 counties. And we know that there are even more people out there who have contracted COVID-19 and already recovered without realizing it, or recovered at home and never qualified for a test. That’s true in all 50 states. And that’s the price that we will continue to pay for the lack of early, robust national testing. So, we have to stick to the knowledge that we have. No community is immune.”

Pritzker went on to say that incarcerated prisoners will not be made less of a priority to be treated for COVID-19 than those who are currently free citizens. He said he would call out hospitals by name if they refused to treat prisoners.

Pritzker said that 300 low-level, non-violent offenders were released from the Department of Corrections today as a part of putting less of a strain on prisons who are combating the virus. Pritzker also detailed a new order that has stopped the flow of prisoners for the time being. “With regard to our prison population, we should solve an existing problem and not create a new one. I signed an executive order to suspend the daily flow of convicted inmate transfers from county jails into IDOC facilities. My office is working with the Department of Corrections to review the histories of all our inmates to prioritize the release of older and more vulnerable residents while ensuring the public’s safety. Under the order, the director of [the facility] still has discretion to accept transfers from county jails when necessary and he or she will exercise that discretion.”

Pritzker says that schools will now be transitioned from Act of God days to remote learning days through April 30th. All of these days count toward the school year, and absolutely no days need to be made up. He said that the Illinois State Board of Education and local school districts will be formulating individual plans on how grades, matriculation, and resources for students will work in the coming weeks.

IDPH reports today that there are 937 new positive cases including 26 additional deaths, bringing the states overall positive test total to 5,994 including 99 deaths across 54 counties in the state.