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SUNDAY UPDATE: Pritzker closes bars, restaurants across Illinois

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CHICAGO — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Sunday said all dine-in bars and restaurants will be closed Monday night to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"I know how difficult this will be on small businesses around the state," he said during a press conference. 

"We must do everything we can to safeguard the health and safety of the citizens of Illinois and that requires urgent action," Pritzker said. "... The time for action is here. This is not a joke. No one is immune to this and you have an obligation to act in the best interest of all the people of this state."

Delivery and pick-up will be available. 

Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Assocation, said the two-week shutdown was "necessary to mitigate" the spread.

"Safety and health of customers and team members" are the priority, he said. 

The Illinois Department of Public Health also announced 29 new cases of coronavirus disease across Illinois.  Five additional counties are now reporting cases – Champaign, Clinton, Sangamon, Whiteside, and Winnebago counties.  Other locations with cases include Chicago and Cook, Cumberland, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, St. Clair, and Woodford counties.  

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Currently, IDPH is reporting 93 cases in 13 counties in Illinois.  Cases have occurred in all age ranges and the number of cases that do not have a clear connection to travel or a known COVID-19 case is increasing.

The state Department of Public Health on Saturday said a Cumberland County man in his 70s tested positive for COVID-19, as well as a Woodford County resident also in his 70s. Two cases in St. Clair County, near St. Louis, also were reported.

Later on Saturday, the Sangamon County Department of Public Health also said a patient tested positive at Memorial Hospital and was in intensive care, and a second patient tested positive at an outpatient facility.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.

The worldwide outbreak has sickened more than 156,000 people and left more than 5,800 dead, with thousands of new cases confirmed each day. The death toll in the United States climbed to 61, while infections neared 3,000.

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Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, both Democrats, on Saturday criticized the Trump administration for allowing about 3,000 Americans returning from Europe to be stuck for hours inside the customs area at O'Hare International Airport on Saturday, violating federal recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that people practice “social distancing."

But Pritzker predicted Sunday would “be even worse” on NBC's “Meet the Press.” He said that the administration should have bolstered staffing at the receiving airports in anticipation of long lines. But instead, he said, passengers “were stuck in a small area, hundreds and hundreds of people, and that’s exactly what you don’t want in this pandemic.”

"If getting mad on Twitter is what it takes to get federal officials to act, I'm absolutely going to do that," Pritzker said in the Sunday press conference.

Directing her comments to Vice President Pence, who is leading a federal task force on the coronavirus, Lightfoot said officials need to coordinate with governors and mayors to ensure safety. When they don’t listen to local officials, Lightfoot warned, “You risk causing serious illness and death.”

President Donald Trump defended the administration's actions in a tweet Sunday.

“We are doing very precise Medical Screenings at our airports. Pardon the interruptions and delays, we are moving as quickly as possible, but it is very important that we be vigilant and careful. We must get it right. Safety first!” he wrote.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the state health department, on Saturday said the number of Illinois cases should “increase dramatically” as results come in from private labs.

“It is vitally important that we implement social distancing measures, such as staying home and canceling large events,” Ezike said.

The Cumberland County patient prompted officials there to declare a state of emergency. Events, including church services, have been canceled for the next week, as officials seek to determine who may have come into contact with the man and prevent the further spread of the virus.

The Associated Press and Chicago Tribune contributed to this report. 


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