3-19-2020-6-48-03-PM-2751367

As coronavirus deaths climb to 4, Pritzker says grocery stores, interstates ‘will never’ shut down

Governor says testing increasing; orders tax relief for some restaurants, bars; signs telemedicine order

By JERRY NOWICKI

Capitol News Illinois

[email protected]

March 19, 2020

SPRINGFIELD – As Gov. JB Pritzker announced three more COVID-19-related deaths and 134 new confirmed cases Thursday, he also expressly asserted that interstate highways, gas stations, grocery stores and other essential services will not close as a response to the pandemic.

“I want to address some of the rumors that have been running around,” Pritzker said. “Essential services will not close. Interstates, highways and bridges will stay open. Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations – these sources of fundamental supplies will continue to operate.

“There is no need to run out and hoard food, gas or medicine,” he said. “Buy what you need, within reason. There is enough to go around as long as people do not hoard. We will never shut these services down.”

The governor made that statement at his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago, where he also announced the three deaths, – a Will County resident in his 50s, a Cook County resident in her 80s and an out-of-state resident in her 70s who was in Sangamon County – bringing the state’s confirmed death count to four.

He also announced temporary tax relief for some bar and restaurant owners and cautioned that a shutdown of schools could last longer than a March 31 scheduled reopen date.

“I also think that parents should be contemplating the possibility that that might be extended,” he said of the scheduled March 31 return date.

Pritzker also said the state is “evaluating every day” as to whether a shelter-in-place order might be necessary, as, he said, experts are advising, “this is going to take longer than people have expected.”

Pritzker said the effort is largely aimed at staying ahead of countries like Italy, where there are more than 40,000 confirmed cases and more than 3,400 deaths. Social distancing, or staying home, remains the most important preventative measure.

“So when I make decisions about this, this is about how do we operate faster and better than Italy and other countries that have seen this grow exponentially for a very long period of time,” he said, noting that lack of testing means an increased reliance on mathematicians extrapolating available data over the entire population.

“And I’m gonna continue to listen to the experts to do the right thing, that the triggers are really in what the experts are seeing,” he said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered Thursday that any city resident confirmed as having or showing symptoms of COVID-19 must stay home or risk a citation. The suburban village of Oak Park issued a shelter-in-place order which starts Friday, but it allowed for several exemptions, including obtaining essential services such as grocery shopping or medical care.

Pritzker also said the number of confirmed cases – now at 422 – will continue to grow as testing ramps up. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health’s new website, coronavirus.illinois.gov, a total of 3,151 people had been tested in the state as of Thursday.

The state’s capacity for testing has increased from about 200 people per day to more than 1,000 on Wednesday, Pritzker said, adding it will be “two-plus thousand in the next few days.”

But, he said, the expected increase in coronavirus cases is also due to the virus’ spread, not just the increase in testing. He said the virus can also be spread by people who have it but have not been tested or have not shown symptoms.

“So we know this is growing substantially. And until there are more and more tests, we will be in this situation of just seeing the numbers rise because the testing is rising,” Pritzker said. “We hope that there will be a cresting. É In some countries in Asia, there’s been a cresting because they’ve implemented some of the measures that we have implemented here. We’ve done it earlier here, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to see a lot of cases of COVID-19, and frankly more deaths.”

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, IDPH director, said expansion of private testing labs will allow the agency to continue to target its testing at the most vulnerable populations, such as nursing home patients and the staff that care for them.

Pritzker said he called up members of the National Guard to help set up drive-thru testing sites among other logistical and transportation efforts.

“The Guard is also doing critical work planning for the weeks and months ahead, including expanding our health care capacity by potentially refitting and reopening previously closed hospitals,” he said.

In terms of concrete action in response to the virus Thursday, Pritzker signed another executive order relaxing insurance rules for telemedicine, which allows patients to see a doctor remotely, such as through a video call.

For Medicaid plans and those regulated by the Illinois Department of Insurance, the executive order calls for providers to be reimbursed at the same rate at which they are reimbursed for in-person visits, among other regulatory changes.

“This order will allow more providers to get reimbursed for these services and allow patients more flexibility and safety in getting the medical guidance and care that they need,” he said.

Pritzker said his staff also worked with grocery stores and retail industry advocates to implement senior shopping hours.

In economic action, Pritzker said he directed the Department of Revenue to defer sales tax payments for small- and medium-sized bars and restaurants that paid less than $75,000 in sales tax last year. Those businesses will not be charged late payment penalties or interest on payments due in March, April or May.

He also announced that the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved the state’s eligibility in all 102 counties for disaster assistance loans up to $2 million for small businesses facing financial hardship.

Local News

Mary Stanek

Restaurant wall comes alive with art

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Soar up high with the beauty and grace of a butterfly–Unknown author. My favorite watering hole in years past, Andy’s, at 57th Place and Pulaski, has been a restaurant now for a few years. I recently noticed…

Peggy Zabicki

Something to be truly thankful for

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Thank you, one and all, for the texts and calls. I wasn’t feeling well last week and couldn’t write my column. I didn’t have COVID-19. I had that before there were vaccines for it. For me, COVID-19 was no big deal. On my worst day…

Jeanette Arteaga

Congratulations, Jeanette Arteaga

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Congratulations to Jeanette Arteaga, who has been chosen as a contributing author in a new book debuting this month. The title is Business Divas and focuses on Latinas in different stages of their business: some just starting out,…

marist logo

Boys Basketball: Marist stays unbeaten through two weeks

By Steve Millar Correspondent Marist came into the season with some question marks after losing a pair of key players to transfers and elevating several newcomers, including three freshmen, to the varsity roster. The young RedHawks are, however, off to a blazing 6-0 start. They held on for a 57-55 win on the road Nov.…

Jaeden King of St. Xavier gets ready to score one of his 39 points against Trinity Christian College on Nov. 30. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Local Hoops Wrap: Transfers shining for Saint Xavier in early going

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The transfer portal is turning college athletics upside down, and Saint Xavier men’s basketball coach Robert Ford is enjoying it. And taking advantage of it. Jaeden King came to SXU in 2021 after transferring from NCAA Division II Tiffin University. Prior to that he played at Western Illinois. He is…

SXU sophomore Kaleigh Ritter, shown in a match earlier this year, had 63 assists in a five-set loss to Cornerstone in the NAIA national tournament. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup: College of DuPage repeats as national football champ

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The College of DuPage, the only junior college in Illinois with a football program, won its second straight National Junior College Athletic Association national championship with a 14-12 victory over North Dakota State College of Science in Glen Ellyn. Former Richards’ standout Marquel Porter caught a 25-yard pass for the…

Mary Stanek

Hang out your socks for St. Nick

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Hang out those socks on the night of Monday, Dec. 5. St. Nicholas day is here on Tuesday, Dec. 6. St. Nick was known for selling all of his possessions and giving to the poor. He may…

Kathy Headley

Thanksgiving was fun, and delicious

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Hope your Thanksgiving was as fun and happy as ours. As always, the aroma and taste of home cooking and holiday desserts were a big part of the day. I feel comfortable telling you where we picked up…

CRRNH_SweetSaluteRhineVFW_112322

A sweet salute to veterans

Rhine VFW Post 2729 members William Haas and Jerry Dipasquale survey some of the bags of candy, pastries and other treats given to the post earlier this month by the students of Sahs School in Central Stickney. The Sahs boys and girls also wrote personal letters and made patriotic posters expressing their thanks and appreciation…

Runners get off to a fast start at the Orland Park Turkey Trot, where a record 1,000 runners signed up. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Orland Park man wins Turkey Trot; St. Laurence runner takes women’s title

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The number 19 meant good things on Thanksgiving morning. The top two finishers in the 34th running of the Orland Park Turkey Trot had “19” as part of the number on their bibs. Brandon Lukas, 25, of Orland Park, wore No. 7519 and took first place with a time of…

Neighbors

Nael Digital Ad2
Pension debt grows to $139.7 billion

Pension debt grows to $139.7 billion

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ unfunded pension liability grew by $9.8 billion, or 7.5 percent, in the fiscal year that ended June 30, due in large part to market losses in a volatile economy. The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability reported Thursday that the total unfunded liability in the…

ANALYSIS: Illinois’ high court makes history

ANALYSIS: Illinois’ high court makes history

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] While a crocheted serpent took its place on the Capitol rotunda this week and the governor signed a pair of major bills passed in the recent veto session, history was happening on the Illinois Supreme Court. For the first time in its history, the state’s high court is…

Pritzker signs changes to SAFE-T Act’s cash bail provisions

Pritzker signs changes to SAFE-T Act’s cash bail provisions

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday signed a follow-up measure to the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform, the third such amendment since the law’s initial passage in January 2021. The changes approved by lawmakers last week in the fall veto session center on the law’s provisions which…

State elections board certifies 2022 results

State elections board certifies 2022 results

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Elections certified its election results Monday, putting the final stamp on another Democratic sweep of statewide offices. The board reported that 4,142,642 out of 8,115,751 registered voters cast ballots in the election, a turnout of roughly 51 percent. That’s down from…

Holiday displays – including the Satanic Temple’s – return to Illinois Capitol

Holiday displays – including the Satanic Temple’s – return to Illinois Capitol

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Satanic Temple of Illinois debuted a new display in the Illinois Capitol rotunda Tuesday, taking its place next to the annual Christmas and Hanukkah displays. For Christmas, that means the Springfield Nativity Committee has once again placed a manger scene featuring Mary, Joseph and Jesus.…

State elections board certifies 2022 results

State elections board certifies 2022 results

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Elections certified its election results Monday, putting the final stamp on another Democratic sweep of statewide offices. The board reported that 4,142,642 out of 8,115,751 registered voters cast ballots in the election, a turnout of roughly 51 percent. That’s down from…

Tax credits, prison reform pass in veto session

Tax credits, prison reform pass in veto session

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawmakers last week passed significant legislation dealing with electric vehicle manufacturing incentives and the availability of hygiene products for prisoners in the state’s correctional system. But some weightier issues, including a possible assault weapons ban, will wait until a lame duck session scheduled for early…

CAPITOL RECAP: SAFE-T Act changes head to Pritzker; unemployment debt deal advances

CAPITOL RECAP: SAFE-T Act changes head to Pritzker; unemployment debt deal advances

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Thursday passed a long-awaited amendment to the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform’s provisions that will eliminate cash bail when the calendar hits 2023. The measure expands the list of crimes for which a judge can order pretrial detention, adds to what a judge can consider when determining…

Lawmakers advance $1.8 billion unemployment fund bailout

Lawmakers advance $1.8 billion unemployment fund bailout

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – On the final day of their fall veto session, Illinois lawmakers on Thursday advanced a pair of bills that would infuse $1.8 billion into the state’s unemployment trust fund, which was depleted during the economic shutdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bipartisan agreement came…

Pretrial detention changes to SAFE-T Act will head to governor

Pretrial detention changes to SAFE-T Act will head to governor

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Thursday passed a long-awaited amendment to the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform’s provisions that will eliminate cash bail when the calendar hits 2023. The measure expands the list of crimes for which a judge can order pretrial detention, adds to what a judge can…

DVN Damar Kaminski Funeral Home House Ad
CRR NH Uhlmann Improvement House Ad