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Pritzker issues more warnings for businesses that open before COVID-19 restrictions expire

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued more warnings Wednesday for businesses that open before executive orders issued during the COVID-19 outbreak expire. Repeating that businesses that are regulated by the state could have their licensees suspended for opening too soon, the governor added a call for local leaders to step up and prevent citizens from defying the stay-at-home edict that expires at the end of this month and the restrictions in his "Restore Illinois"…

Pritzker may withhold federal funding from municipalities that flout reopening plan

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he is considering a number of penalties for those who do not follow his five-phase plan to reopen the state, including withholding federal funding. "These people do not follow science or data," Pritzker said Tuesday during his daily press briefing, referring to bars and restaurants in Quincy, which were open for business last weekend. "They’re just listening to partisan rhetoric perhaps, and following their own instincts, but not…

Pritzker staffer tests positive for coronavirus, employees work from home

Staff Report CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's staff will work remotely for the time being, after a senior staffer tested positive for COVID-19. The asymptomatic staff member tested positive late last week and was in close contact with the governor and other staff members. The governor and all other staff reporting to the office tested negative. Pritzker was tested again early Sunday and tested negative. Approximately 20 staff members have been regularly reporting in person to…

Cook County Jail runs out of electronic monitoring equipment

By The Associated Press CHICAGO (AP) — The effort to reduce the population at Cook County Jail to slow the spread of the coronavirus hit another snag when the sheriff announced that he has run out of electronic monitoring bracelets that defendants wear when they're placed on home confinement.  The sheriff's department said Thursday that the lack of the bracelets will mean that defendants who might otherwise have been sent home will have to remain in jail, where hundreds of detainees and…

Coronavirus drugs could fast-track Illinois restart plan

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Although the world is likely months, maybe a year or more, away from a coronavirus vaccine, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said an effective treatment to reduce hospitalizations and the number of COVID-19-related deaths could allow Illinois to fully reopen sooner than expected. Without proven treatment for coronavirus disease, Illinois' four regions will move through Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan starting May 29. The state is currently in Phase 2. And with each phase…

J.B. Pritzker: Prolonged pandemic restrictions not about federal bailouts

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker reiterated Wednesday that his gradual, five-phase plan to re-open the economy is driven by science and data, and chose not to discuss political boons that could potentially stem from the COVID-19 crisis. When asked about what he would say to those who believe Democratic governors are trying to keep their states closed for as long as possible to make a better case for federal bailouts, Pritzker said he could only speak for himself…

COVID-19: Illinois numbers steady, Cook County reports 81 deaths

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - State officials reported 136 COVID-19-related deaths Wednesday, 81 of which occurred in Cook County. The deaths also included two Winnebago County residents in their 70s. Labs processed 14,974 tests in last 24 hours, resulting in 2,270 new cases or coronavirus disease and a statewide total of 68,232--a number the includes those who've already recovered. It also includes presumptive positives. There were 4,832 people with confirmed cases of…

Pritzker announces 5-phase plan to re-open Illinois

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - The Illinois economy will re-opened in five phases, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday. Titled "Restore Illinois," the plan separates the state into four regions and will allow cities in those regions to move through the five phases as COVID-19 data permits. The regions are Northeast, North-Central, Central and Southern. Phase 1 - "Rapid Spread:" This phase was sparked by the arrival of coronavirus in Illinois, the governor's disaster proclamation…

Lawyer for Lena church fires back at J.B. Pritzker over comment about jailing stay-at-home violators

By Jim Hagerty Reporter LENA, Ill. - A Chicago lawyer who filed a civil lawsuit against Gov. J.B. Pritzker on behalf of a Lena pastor fired back at the governor Monday, claiming Pritzker threatened churchgoers with jail for defying Illinois' stay-at-home order. "Pritzker’s latest threat of jail for people of faith is outrageous, and we will seek immediate relief from the court of appeals to defend our clients," said Peter Breen, an attorney with the Thomas More Society. Breen, on…

Coronavirus infection rate, hospitalizations key to gauging curve

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Illinois officials announced 2,450 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, bringing the total number of infections to nearly 60,000. And while the number of cases continues to rise, it's not the figure that indicates where Illinois is on the curve. It's also not the number Gov. J.B. Pritzker will use to decide when to lift more stay-at-home restrictions. "I would look at the infection rate and not the total case numbers," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Saturday…

Illinois could see some regions re-open before June 1

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Although Illinois is expected to be under a modified stay-at-home executive order through the end of the month, some areas of the state could open sooner. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday regions "heading down the other side"of the COVID-19 curve could start opening up according to the plan presented by the White House last month. "If it's 14 days on a downslide of those numbers, then absolutely," Pritzker said during his daily press briefing as hundreds…

Attorney for Lena church responds to stay-at-home change; lawsuit continues

By Jim Hagerty Reporter LENA, Ill. - An attorney from the Thomas More Society, the law firm representing the Lena church that filed a lawsuit against Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, responded Friday to a change in the stay-at-home order extension. “Today, people of faith in Illinois stood up and secured a win for their first liberty: the free exercise of religion,” Thomas More Society Vice President and Senior Counsel Peter Breen said in an email. “Calling religious freedom ‘non-essential’…

Adam Kinzinger calls on Pritzker re-open state by region

Staff Report WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Illinois-16), along with four other Illinois Republicans, has sent a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, urging a him to consider a regional, phased re-opening of the economy. The letter, also written by Rodney Davis (13), John Shimkus (15), Darin LaHood (18), and Mike Bost (12), claims the coronavirus pandemic has impacted different parts of the state in different ways and that any re-opening plan must reflect those differences. The…

Illinois COVID-19 deaths steadying, cases climbs with increased testing

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - There were 92 COVID-19-related deaths in Illinois Tuesday, 63 of which occurred in Cook County. To date, 2,215 people in 96 Illinois counties have died from complications of the coronavirus disease. Officials have confirmed 50,355 cases of COVID-19 across the state as of Wednesday. That number includes people who tested positive for coronavirus, were presumed infected based on symptoms and those who have recovered. There were 14,478 COVID-19 tests…

Cook County accounts for 113 of Illinois’ 144 daily COVID-19 deaths

Staff Report CHICAGO - Cook County accounted for nearly 80% of the state's daily COVID-19 fatalities, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported Tuesday. Cook County deaths include a woman in her 20s, a man in his 20s, two men in their 30s, three men in their 40s, two women in their 50s, six men in the 50s, 10 women in their 60s, 11 women in their 70s, 17 men in their 70s, 17 women in their 80s, 15 men in their 80s, five women in there 90s and six men in their 90s. Tuesday's 144…