Illinois reports record 192 COVID-19 deaths in last 24 hours
By Jessica D’Onofrio, ABC7 News
Governor JB Pritzker had a stern warning for towns looking to defy his stay-at-home order as Illinois reported its deadliest day yet from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Illinois health officials announced 192 additional deaths and 1,677 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. That brings the statewide total to 84,698, including 3,792 deaths.
Within the past 24 hours, state health officials said laboratories have tested 17,668 specimens in the last 24 hours for a total of 489,359.
Governor Pritzker did not mince words in his warning to local officials looking to reopen and violate his order.
“Here’s what I want to say to those leaders: You weren’t elected to do what’s easy. You were elected to do what’s right,” he said.
He had a pointed message for business owners and local government officials who are choosing to go it alone as two downstate counties announce phased reopening plans allowing restaurants, bars, salons, and other businesses to operate with restrictions.
“Our numbers are just far better than they are up north and we feel like we are being punished because we’re all in this together,” said Kent Snider, Adams County Board chairman.
Pritzker said there will be consequences, suggesting state-regulated businesses could lose their licenses and local governments could have federal dollars withheld.
He said local law enforcement and the Illinois State Police can and will take action.
But in Kendall County Sheriff Dwight Baird said he won’t break up large gatherings, including weddings or tell businesses to close saying, “…the Governor’s Executive Order is not a law.”
The governor said there is no consequence the state could impost that is greater than the harm ignoring public health orders will do to their communities.
“One hundred and ninety-two Illinoisans lost their lives to this virus in the past 24 hours. One hundred and ninety-two. How is that not real to you?” Pritzker said. “More people will get sick and admitted to the hospital and die if we do not stay the course and follow the guidance the experts have provided.”
One of the key numbers that will be used in deciding when to reopen our communities is the test positivity rate. The lower the number, the better our efforts at slowing the spread of the virus are working.
Across Illinois, 17 percent of tests performed between May 3 and May 10 came back positive.
After repeated calls to return to Springfield, Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have called lawmakers back into session. A special legislative session will convene next Wednesday through Friday.
The House will meet at the Bank of Springfield Convention Center to allow for social distancing. The Senate will meet in the senate chamber.
The governor said it will be critical for them to pass a COVID-19 relief package and a balanced budget. But he warned without federal help, there may be critical cuts to higher education and other basic services.
The mayor in south suburban Frankfort has no intention for his community to go rogue on the governor’s reopening plan as some others have signaled. Instead, he’s pleading for the governor to come and see in person how struggling business owners say they could safely reopen.
“We’re going to lose our community that we’ve all worked so hard to build up,” said Nancy Cartolano, owner of This & That Gifts.
In Frankfort, there’s a plea for help from the governor to reconsider allowing some suburbs to be taken out of the Chicago region in the reopening plan. Three of the 40 businesses in this historic district have now closed and all the others are struggling.
“This is the time of year where we all make our money down here in Frankfort,” said Pauline Modjeski, owner of the White Street Café. “This is a community where there’s a lot of foot traffic and not being able to reopen at this timeframe is going to have a detrimental effect on overall business.”
“There’s not 100% safety, probably anywhere. So, it’s a question of do we open some of these business that realistically can keep people reasonably safe,” Frankfort Jim Holland said.
Business owners contend they can safely social distance just like grocery stores and others that are now open.
“I want this to end just as much as you do. If I could take away the pain and the loss that you’re feeling right now, I would do it in a heartbeat,” Pritzker said.
But there is frustration with what some see as platitudes from the governor and a plea for him to come visit.
“Come walk in our communities, governor,” Catalano said. “We would love for you to come down and see our, our small shops and see how we could make this work.”
This article originally appeared on ABC7 News.