CHICAGO (WAND) - Illinois Governor JB Pritzker announced Tuesday the state's stay-at-home order will be extended as the state and much of the world continues fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The statewide stay-at-home order is now in place through April 30. It began on March 21, and was previously set to go through April 7.

“I have let the science guide our decisions and 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 second to none,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Illinois has one of the strongest public health systems in the nation – but even so, we aren’t immune to this virus’ ability to push our existing capacity beyond its limit. We need to maintain our course and keep working to flatten the curve.”

"I fully support the governor in his decision," U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) told WAND. "We need to have fewer people come down with infections and to slow down the rates of these infections."

Onsite learning for schools will also be suspended through the end of the month of April. Remote-learning will be available for students.

Schools will transition from Act of God Days to Remote Learning Days, with days counting toward the school year. Each school district will create and implement a Remote Learning Day Plan.

To prepare, the Illinois School Board of Education assembled an advisory group of more than 60 educators to make recommendations about instruction and grading during remote learning.

Schools can use up to five Remote Learning Planning Days at any time to prepare their approaches to remote learning.

Remote learning will look different for every district and every school. Most will use a mix of digital and non-digital methods of engaging students in learning.

The advisory group recommended grades be used only to increase students’ academic standing with a recommendation that any grades that schools give during this time be used as an opportunity for feedback only.

"It's ok to be sad," Pritzker said in a message to students, noting that some may miss major school events, gatherings like prom, time with classmates, and more.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 937 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 26 additional deaths on Tuesday.

The most recent deaths include: 

- Cook County: 2 male 50s, 1 male 60s, 2 female 60s, 5 males 70s, 2 females 70s, 3 male 80s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 90s

- DuPage County: 2 females 70s

- Kane County: 1 male 80s

- Lake County: 1 female 60s

- McLean County: 1 male 70s

- Morgan County: 1 male 80s

- St. Clair County: 1 female 30s

- Will County: 1 male 80s, 1 female 80

Ford, Ogle, and Vermilion counties are now reporting cases. 

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 5,994 cases, including 99 deaths, in 54 counties in Illinois. 35,255 people across the state have been tested.

Approximately 86% of fatalities are among patients 60 years of age and older.

It was announced Monday that 12 men who were incarcerated at Stateville are now hospitalized, including several requiring ventilators. There are 77 more incarcerated individuals with symptoms who are isolated at the facility. Eleven staff are also being isolated. For daily updates on IDOC cases, click here.

Governor Pritzker said Tuesday the jails in Illinois are overcrowded, and that is causing an exposure issue for COVID-19.

Residential evictions have been suspended across the state as many are out of work and are struggling to pay bills and make ends meet.

Governor Pritzker, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Monday plans to temporarily convert part of the McCormick Place Convention Center into an Alternate Care Facility for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms who do not require intensive care.

“Based on science, data, and the guidance of health experts, our approach to fighting this virus is two-pronged: suppress the spread and increase hospital capacity to meet the need,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “A critical component of increasing our capacity is identifying and building out additional facilities across the state to support our existing hospitals and healthcare system. In partnership with the City of Chicago and the U.S. Army Corps we are planning to increase capacity, so we’re prepared to treat patients and save lives.”

The State and City are working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA to build the temporary healthcare setting at McCormick Place to serve patients with low to mild acuity, but may still need medical attention prior to returning home.

Over the next several weeks, the McCormick Place campus will be transformed into an alternative medical facility treating those with COVID-

Up to 500 beds are expected to be assembled by the end of this week.

“Given the anticipated needs of Chicago’s healthcare system in the coming weeks, the City is proud to partner with Governor Pritzker and state officials to establish surge capacity facilities to relieve the hospital system so it can focus on acute care patients,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Chicago is committed to providing our residents and healthcare workers with the resources they need in the face of the rapidly escalating COVID-19 crisis.  The conversion of McCormick Place marks another step forward in our plan to provide safe, secure sites so that Chicagoans can return to health. We’re all in this together.”

Teams will be working to complete the conversion of several spaces on the McCormick Place Campus. Between three different locations the facility will have capacity to care for up to 3,000 patients and will be made fully operational in a series of phases.

To expedite construction, Governor Pritzker has also activated 30 Airmen from the Illinois National Guard to assist with the general labor associated with the project. The buildout of the facility will be supported by $15 million in federal funding from FEMA.

“This is an unprecedented global public health emergency.  We are grateful for the opportunity to work with the City of Chicago and State of Illinois in providing a coordinated response to this crisis” said Larita Clark, CEO of MPEA, which runs McCormick Place. “Our hope is that using McCormick Place as a temporary, alternative care site will create more capacity to support our healthcare system.”

Work is also underway to create temporary bed capacity at MetroSouth Hospital in Blue Island and temporarily create COVID-19 bed capacity at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin.

Governor JB Pritzker on Monday continued to push for more personal protective equipment (PPE) for those on the front lines of COVID-19. 

Gov. Pritzker asked Friday that all health care providers sign up for new emergency alert system that will allow public health officials to reach out to them when there is an urgent need for help. You can sign up for those alerts HERE.

"Your fellow Illinoisans need you. Your state needs you," Pritzker said to registered nurses, practitioners and all others in the medical field. Anyone in this field who is retired asked to consider returning to work.

Illinois received another shipment of state-procured N-95 masks Friday, but Pritzker stressed more help from the federal government is necessary.

On Saturday, Pritzker expressed his gratitude for those working on the front lines, including those companies who have stepped up to provided essential PPE items. 

Pritzker also addressed making shopping safety changes for stores. He said stores will begin adding signage to entrances alerting customers to follow the six foot separation rules. Staff will be announcing the social distancing standards over the PA system as needed, at the check out there will six foot marks for people to stand in. 

Stores are also working to increase the speed at checkout. Staff members will also walk the floors to make sure social distancing is being followed. 

All stores are also working to add shield guards for those bagging groceries and cashiers. Stores are also discontinuing the use of reusable bags. 

Online and curbside pick up orders, along with using the self check out lanes are encouraged. 

Pritzker said this should be nothing new for customers, except to be vigilant on social distancing requirements. 

He also asked that you be respectful with the workers, always, but especially as they go to work everyday.

SNAP benefits that were set to expire have been expanded for six months. Monthly SNAP benefits will increase.

Through the passage of the Family First Prevention Services Act and the state of Illinois, requests for special waivers from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Illinois Department of Human Services is increasing monthly benefit amounts, expanding SNAP access, and expediting process and flexibility.

For many people, this will mean almost doubling their existing benefits.

The expansion will result in almost $80 million more for Illinois families.

Pritzker gave a fiery update Thursday telling people if they choose to attend parties, gather in groups, or go out unnecessarily they are "spitting in the face," of health care workers and those working to fight the pandemic. "This virus doesn't care that you're bored."

He continued, "We are in the middle of a battle to save lives... I tell you this to save your life. We all have to chose our actions right now. I have one job and one job only, to save as many lives as possible... Please follow instructions and stay at home."

>>Public reminded to take social distancing seriously

He said doctors are facing horrible decisions trying to decide who will live and who will die based on the limited resources and ventilators they have available.

Also on Thursday, President Donald Trump declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Illinois and ordered Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local recovery efforts.

>>Trump approves Illinois disaster declaration

>>Illinois unemployment rate increases 950% following closer of bars, restaurants

The President’s action makes Federal funding available for Crisis Counseling for affected individuals in all areas in the State of Illinois.

Federal funding is also available to State, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations for emergency protective measures, including direct Federal assistance, for all areas in the State of Illinois impacted by COVID-19.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin joined Governor Pritzker for his daily press conference Friday. He said something, "miraculous has happened in Washington. We've actually done something in a timely manner... The cost of the rescue package is about $2.2 trillion. That is larger than the federal budget for an entire year in domestic and discretionary spending."

>>Trump, Congress agree on $2 trillion virus rescue bill

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He said politicians are understanding the need to put party lines aside to face this crisis and make decisions.

The House approved the stimulus package Friday and sent it to President Trump's desk for his signature.

Sen. Durbin said more phases of the relief package are likely to come out.

A new initiative to support non profits was announced Thursday. The Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund was established to support community organizations that are working to fight the outbreak and offer resources to those who need it most. Nearly $23 million have already been raised by the fund. Penny Pritzker is spear-heading the fund. Governor Pritzker donated $2 million personally. His foundation donated another $2 million.

For information on how to donate or help, click HERE.

Pritzker announced Wednesday Illinois will delay the state tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15. Refunds will continue to be distributed in a timely fashion, he said.

>>How to get unemployment benefits during COVID-19 outbreak

By Friday, small businesses will be eligible for a share of $90 million in state emergency assistance through three new programs. This is called the Small Business Emergency Loan Fund.

Small businesses outside of Chicago with less than 50 employees that made less than $3 million in 2019 revenue in every industry are elligible to apply. Loans of up to $50,000 with five-year low intrest repayment terms are available. Required loan payments would not begin for six months, allowing businesses time to recover. Applications will be available by the end of the week by clicking HERE.

$14 million in grants will be available to bars, hotels, and restaurants to support their payroll, rent, and technology to further delivery service. Applications are available now by clicking HERE.

Officials said the economic impact of COVID-19 on hotels is already worse than the 2008 recession and 9/11 terrorist attacks combined.

Nearly 20,000 hotel rooms state-wide have been offered up as temporary housing for first responders, health care workers, and those in need of being isolated.

Pritzker said letters have been sent to the National Credit Bureaus asking them not to let consequences of the coronavirus outbreak negatively impact the credit rating of Illinoisans.

Two correctional officers and one man incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center have tested positive as well as a contractual worker at Sheridan Correctional Center. 

The two Stateville correctional officers are recovering at home and person who is incarcerated is isolated and recovering in the hospital. 

Those who have been identified as being potentially exposed are being quarantined and the facility is on a 14-day lockdown. 

The Department of Corrections determined staff and men incarcerated at the Sheridan facility were at low to medium risk for potential exposure. The facility also was placed on a 14-day lockdown.

Cases have been reported in people younger than 1 to 99 years old.

As of Tuesday, hospital beds in the state are 51.6% occupied. ICU beds are 57.4% occupied. 28.4% of ventilators in the state are in use.

On Sunday and Monday, drive through testing was being done at four state and federal facilities.

Governor JB Pritzker said labs in Illinois are able to handle and process more tests than before and said the state is serving as a national model for COVID-19 testing. Each of the three state labs is able to process about 600 tests per day.

Within two weeks, Pritzker said with the help of other lab sites, the state will be able to process about 4,300 tests per day.

But, "We can't just test. We have to treat," Pritzker said Tuesday.

Pritzker said he spoke with President Donald Trump and was promised the state will shortly receive 300 more ventilators and 300,000 masks from FEMA.

Hundreds of nurses and doctors have reached out to the state to rejoin the workforce and help, he said.

IDPH said they will begin including numbers of people recovering or who are isolating at home. They say the majority of people will recover. 

The Illinois National Guard has been activated, but commanders insisted they are not there to restrict the rights of anyone, enforce quarantines, or police citizens.

The Illinois National Guard is assisting at test sites and assessing shuttered hospitals and hotels in the state that could potentially be reopened and used should the need should arise.

Governor Pritzker said that while not everyone who contracts the virus will require hospitalization, it is still important that they do not come in contact with anyone, including family while they recover. He said the state is considering providing overnight accommodations somewhere for people with mild symptoms while they recover.

A statewide stay-at-home order is in effect until April 30. All non-essential businesses had to close. People were told to stay home other than quick runs to the grocery store, gas stations, doctor's office, or pharmacy.

The closure of in-person learning at schools will be expanded through April 30.

Bars and restaurants are closed, but drive thru, delivery, and curb side pickup is allowed.

>>List of Businesses Open During the Coronavirus

Interstates, highways, roads, and tolls will remain open.

Pritzker said he made the decision after consulting with numerous medical and health experts to understand the progression of COVID-19, and determined that to avoid rapid spread of the virus in Illinois that has occurred in other countries, drastic action must be taken to contain it.

"I don't come to this decision easily," Pritzker said. "I fully recognize that in some cases, I am choosing between saving people's lives and saving people's livelihoods. But ultimately, you can't have a livelihood if you don't have your life."

Illinois health officials said they expect the number of confirmed cases to grow as more patients are able to be tested.

Governor JB Pritzker said he is working on having more protective masks manufactured in Illinois.

Pritzker said he asked the federal government for masks, surgical gowns, face shields, and supplies, but has only received a fraction of what was requested. The state was not sent any respirators.

Pritzker is asking the owners of businesses like nail salons, tattoo parlors, and others that are closed during the crisis to consider donating face masks.

For donations, email PPE.donations@illinois.gov.

Counties with positive COVID-19 cases include Bureau, Champaign, Christian, Clark, Clinton, Cook, Crawford, Cumberland, DeKalb, Douglas, DuPage, Ford, Franklin, Grundy, Henry, Iroquois, Jackson, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, Lake, LaSalle, Madison, Marion, Marshall, McHenry, McLean, Monroe, Morgan, Ogle, Peoria, Randolph, Saline, Sangamon, St. Clair, Tazwell, Vermilion, Washington, Whiteside, Will, Williamson, Winnebago, and Woodford.

To see the number of cases confirmed in each Illinois county, click HERE. These numbers are updated daily.

There are cases in all 50 states.

"To maximize the state’s availability of PPE, IDPH released guidance to limit non-essential adult elective surgery and medical and surgical procedures, including all dental procedures, until further notice. IDPH is now encouraging surgery centers, veterinarians, and anyone with unused PPE that is not immediately needed to donate it to assist health care providers, health care facilities, and first responders who are on the front line actively responding to COVID-19," the governor said.

Most cases of COVID-19 have been mild, but people including the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are considered most at risk. However, cases reported in Illinois have included all age ranges.

People are being asked to follow social distancing measures, including working from home when possible, limiting the amount of time spent in the community and avoiding public transportation.

The number of cases with no clear connection to travel or a known positive COVID-19 case is rising, IDPH officials said. 

Click here to learn more about how people, their school, workplace and community can prepare for COVID-19.

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