CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday that he is mandating the cancellation or postponement of all events with more than 1,000 people until May 1, as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the world.
The governor also advised that events involving 250 or more people be postponed until May 1.
He added that even for events that involve crowds of fewer than 250, organizers need to think about who is likely to attend and whether attendees might include people in vulnerable populations – such as the elderly and the immunosuppressed – and consider canceling.
Seven new coronavirus cases were reported Thursday, bringing the total to 32.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said there are two more cases in the city of Chicago – a woman in her 40s and a child of an unspecified age.
There is also a new case in Kane County – a man in his 70s; a case in McHenry County – a man in his 60s; and three new cases in suburban Cook County – two women in their 70s and a man in his 50s.
Officials are addressing the travel history of the new patients and whether they have had contact with other patients.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the child, a boy, did not need to be hospitalized.
Arwady said the rise in coronavirus cases is comparable to the growth seen in other countries. She said the city is examining worst-case scenarios such as that of Italy, which is on lockdown as the death toll has surpassed 1,000, but also countries where measures involving social distancing have proven effective.
Meanwhile, at Pritzker’s request, all Illinois sports teams will also be canceling all games or playing without spectators until May 1. All owners completely understood and are more than willing to comply, Pritzker said.
On Wednesday night, the NBA suspended its season until further notice after a player, center Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, tested positive for coronavirus. Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has also tested positive for the virus.
The NHL followed Thursday with an announcement that it will pause the rest of its season, while Major League Soccer will suspend play for 30 days. Major League Baseball has suspended Spring Training and will delay opening day by at least two weeks, and the NCAA March Madness tournament has been canceled.
Illinois schools are not closing, but the state Board of Education is working with school districts to follow all guidance.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Chicago Public Schools specifically will also remain open, but will scale back on large events and put policies in place for short-term closures if needed.
Some school districts, including Winnetka, have decided to close. Winnetka schools will switch to remote learning indefinitely due to coronavirus concerns.
CPS will issue a specific set of guidance in the community on Thursday.
Pritzker also announced the Thompson Center will be closed to people who do not have business with the state effective Monday.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle also said all meetings involving boards, commissions, and advisory boards created by Cook County ordinance or resolution will be canceled in March and April if possible.
Cook County Board and committee and subcommittee meetings – except the Finance Committee – have been canceled. The March 26 County Board meeting will go on, but with a limited agenda.
Lightfoot also emphasized that everyone needs to practice social distancing, and, “If you do not feel well, for God’s sake, stay home.”