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Illinois Schools To Close Over Coronavirus

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaking with reporters at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago
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Illinois Office of Communication and Information

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is closing all schools in Illinois — public and private — for two weeks. It’s the latest way the state is trying to prevent local spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Pritzker says closing schools is a way of keeping as many people as possible staying at home. And that, he says, is a critical way to help reduce or at least slow the spread of the coronavirus disease.

“I’m speaking in the very literal sense when I say that having the general public stay home, one day at a time, will have a massive effect on bending this curve, and that means lives saved,” Pritzker said Friday at Illinois now-daily COVID-19 press briefings.

Pritzker also encouraged Illinoisans to work from home, avoid travel, and stay inside this weekend.

“This isn’t forever,” Pritzker said. “This is a sacrifice in the short term to help our hospitals, our healthcare workers, our testing laboratories, and our elderly and vulnerable residents — we all have a duty to each of them.”

The school closures will start Tuesday, March 17, and go through at least March 30.

While schools are closing, Pritzker says day care centers will stay open and follow strict health guidelines.

He also says children who rely on school lunches will be able to get meals to-go — either through parent pick-up or, in some cases, delivery.

Meanwhile, state health officials reported another 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — all in the Chicago region. That brings Illinois' total to 46.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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