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Lightfoot Extends Chicago Public Schools Closure to April

The news comes as the state reported four fatalities associated with the coronavirus

CBS News

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday that Chicago Public Schools will remain closed for much of April.

The mayor, in an address to the city, extended the closure of city schools from March 30 to April 20, with classes set to resume on April 21.

“We need to give parents and guardians plenty of advance notice about this reality and the ability to plan,” she said. “CPS and the city will continue to support you in the ways that they have through these early days of the school closures.”

The announcement came just minutes after Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois health officials announced at least 134 new confirmed cases of the virus, lifting the state total to 422 with expectations that number will continue to rise “exponentially.”

There have been four fatalities associated with the virus so far in Illinois and the state’s health department said they anticipate additional deaths.

Statewide, the confirmed cases include people between the ages of 9 and 91 in at least 22 counties.

“As you test more, you will identify more,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said.

The governor has previously said he was “looking into” further restrictions for residents.

“Of course all of the things that we’ve heard, even the restrictions that have been put in place in France, Spain, Italy – those are all things that we’re looking at, maybe we need to do those sooner or right now,” Pritzker said Wednesday. “So of course we’re examining it, but I am also trying to be cognizant that the medical science the guidance that we’re getting isn’t quite there yet and I want to follow that. Being arbitrary about it doesn’t make sense to me.”

Health officials urged residents to stay in their homes, while restaurants, bars and schools all remained shut down during the pandemic.

In Oak Park, a shelter-in-place order takes effect Friday.

Chicago on Thursday announced a public health order requiring anyone who is showing symptoms or has been diagnosed with coronavirus to stay in their homes, with few exceptions.

“During this unprecedented crisis, we must move quickly and in the best interest of the public. Restricting the movements of those who have COVID-19 or who are symptomatic is the best way to prevent the virus from spreading further,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “We are implementing today’s order to ensure a precise and data-driven response to the trends of this illness and, following recommendations by our City’s public health experts, believe that these heightened measures are necessary to contain the virus and protect our residents. We must be all in this together, and people who are sick must stay home to protect themselves and the public.”

The latest statewide number marks a jump from the total of 288 cases reported as of Wednesday and health officials said they expect the number will continue to climb.

“Containment measures will not show up today or tomorrow…they are about bending the curve long term,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said.

Cases have so far been reported in Chicago as well as Champaign, Clinton, Cook, Cumberland, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, Madison, McHenry, Peoria, Sangamon, St. Clair, Whiteside, Winnebago, Will and Woodford counties.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday that mandatory gatherings of 50 people or more be canceled in accordance with new guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This was a difficult decision, but it’s what the medical experts and the scientists tell us we must do,” he said.

This article originally appeared on CBS News.

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