Illinois officials are calling on churches and other places of worship to stop holding in-person services as the state tries to fend off the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Thursday during Gov. J.B. Pritzker's daily press briefing that reports of in-person services continuing throughout the state.
"I understand the importance of communing with fellow believers but let's understand kids are home from school, people are some from work, schools and offices are closed, religious houses have to do the same," she said. "We all must make the sacrifice. Then on the other side of this pandemic, we can gather at the mosque, the synagogue, the church the museum, the library -- all of these places we love."
Ezike added that services could be held virtually on the web or over the phone. She also reminded that people in rural and southern parts of these state need to take COVID-19 seriously and stay at home.
"Even in the southern and the rural areas of the state the virus is present and they should join their fellow Illinoians in staying home so together we can get back to normal on the other side of this pandemic," Ezike said. "I may sound like a broken record but these are all things we have to do."
Ezike also reported 715 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 new virus-related deaths, bringing the state total to 7,695 cases and 157 deaths.
All In Illinois initiative launched to fight COVID-19
At the briefing, Pritzker announced a new state initiative dubbed All In Illinois, to promote staying inside for the health of the state. Pritzker said the initiative calls on everyone who can stay home to do so to protect those most at risk in the state.
"Our strongest weapon against COVID-19 is you," Pritzker said, calling on Illinoisans to stay at home and urging people to spread the word and visit the state initiative's new website at www.allin.illinois.gov.
On the site, East St. Louis Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee and other well-known Illinoisans call on Illinois residents to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
We want to protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors, Joyner-Kersee says in the video.
"That's why I'm all in for Illinois. I'm staying home so that grocery store clerks, the doctors, the nurses, the bus drivers and the police officers can do their job safely as possible."
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