Gov. Pritzker urges people to wear masks in public

Local News

CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Gov. JB Pritzker urged Illinoisans to wear masks when going out in public on Friday, saying “Wearing a mask is another way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health has announced 1,029 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, including 53 additional deaths in the last 24 hours. There are currently 8,904 positive cases in Illinois.

“The research is still evolving and will continue to evolve,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said it is “a good idea” to wear something to cover your face when you go outside, according to how the data on how the virus spreads is trending.

The Governor held his daily coronavirus briefing from Chicago’s McCormick Place, which is being used as a temporary care facility for COVID-19 patients.

Officials said it was not designed to function as an emergency room, but rather as a place to isolate those who have mild to moderate illness.

“I just want to share how important this day is for Chicago and the state of Illinois,” Pritzker said of the facility’s transformation, which was set up in 5 days.

Phase One of the project provided 500 10’ X 10’ patient rooms furnished with beds and basic healthcare items, 14 nursing stations and fully built out support rooms for medical supply storage, pharmacy and housekeeping services. Medical personnel are already prepared to staff these first 500 beds, with nearly 140 contracted individuals and counting from around Illinois and the nation. By the end of April, the full site will bring an additional 3,000 patient rooms online.

“Monumental, round-the-clock dedication got this done before we need it – preparing for saving lives in the event things become as bad as some have predicted,” said Pritzker. “From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the Army Corps of Engineers, the Illinois National Guard, FEMA and all of our hardworking union trades-people. In one week’s time, the heroes who came together to make this possible built us a facility larger than the largest hospital in Illinois.”

McCormick Place, and Vibra Hospital in Springfield, will be used to handle an expected surge in patients over the coming weeks, in the hopes that the new cases will not overwhelm the state’s hospitals.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said 200 rooms in London House and the Godfrey Hotel will be made available to healthcare workers. She also said the State will be offering temporary licenses to nursing students who are a few months away from graduation.

Gov. Pritzker said Illinois is doing 5,000 tests a day, and hopes to get to 10,000.

“We do not have enough tests,” Pritzker said. “We are taking it upon ourselves when it comes to testing,” stating again that the state has not received thousands of tests promised by the federal government.

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