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Illinois on track to loosen restrictions later this month

May 19, 2020 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — All parts of Illinois are on track to see coronavirus-related restrictions loosened and more businesses reopen before the end of the month, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday, while also warning that residents must remain diligent about stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Illinois recorded 1,545 new cases of COVID-19, including 146 additional deaths. That brings the state’s total cases to 98,030, with 4,379 deaths, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the numbers are evidence that Pritzker’s stay-at-home order and other measures such as wearing masks and frequent hand washing are working. She said that as Illinois meets measures required to move to the next phase of a multi-step reopening plan “we can’t undo all that we’ve done.”

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“Hear me clearly. The virus is still out there,” Ezike said.

To move to the next phase of Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan on May 29, areas must hit targets such as the rate of positive COVID-19 tests or hospitalizations. The next phase will allow more businesses, such as hair salons and some manufacturing, to reopen.

Critics say Pritzker’s plan is too strict and is devastating the economy and many people’s livelihoods. The Democratic governor insisted Illinois needs to stick with the timetable and metrics suggested by experts.

“I know some people don’t want to hear anymore that this is about keeping people safe, but it is,” he said.

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