Illinois’ Shelter in Place Order Could Extend Beyond April By Marc Supreme, Program Director of 90.7FM

Marc Supreme

The return to normalcy is scheduled for the end of April; but that may not be the scenario.

Jehan Gordon-Booth

Less than a week after Gov. Pritzker extended the shelter-in-place order until April 30th, Illinois State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth warns that, while she is hopeful for the immediate future, another extension should come as no surprise.

“The data points out that once we hit the apex, you have to continue to practice social distancing to continue that downward trend until you have a negligible amount circulating in the community,” says Gordon-Booth. “The data points to the fact that that is about 5 weeks after you hit your apex.”

Currently, 41 states have issued some degree of shut down; and Illinois is not the only state that could go past April. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has already set his shelter-in-place order until June 10th.

But states having the right to make their own decisions could be a part of the problem. Since the entire country is not under the same shelter-in-place guidelines, this has the potential to have a significant lag over time, Gordon-Booth said.

So far, COVID-19 has tallied 399,929 cases and has topped, 12,911 deaths in the United States alone, according to Johns Hopkins University and Medicine. Illinois has reported 13,549 cases and 380 deaths with 68,732 tests performed, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

On the bright side, there have been 22,539 recoveries in the United States.

However, African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a considerably higher rate than other groups. And while the world’s latest pandemic continues to crush economies and put a strain on the U.S. healthcare system, Gordon-Booth says COVID-19 has also exposed the cracks in our social contract with one another, and the disparities that exist within communities.

“We talked about closing schools, but now we have to make sure children have nutrition through schools because there’s so many people living in poverty. So, you couldn’t close the schools without making sure that 70% of students had access to quality nutrition on a daily basis.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, nearly 660,000 Illinois children live in poverty. Furthermore, of Illinois’ 4.8 million households, 36% cannot afford basic needs, according to a financial hardship study by the United Way. So, just because a family lives above the federal poverty level (defined as $24,600 for a family of four or $12,060 for a single individual), doesn’t mean the family is not struggling to make ends meet.

Gordon-Booth, who lost a relative to COVID-19, says she feels the federal response is inadequate for the size of the problem. She says government is supposed to come together to do the things people can’t do on their own; that’s the function of government.

Robert Johnson

Peoria Park District President-At Large, Robert Johnson, has since responded with his own initiative to help curb the virus count. After riding around a couple park neighborhoods, Johnson noticed there were small groups of people playing on the basketball courts, despite the shelter-in-place order. Since then, the Peoria Park District has pulled the basketball rims down from the backboards at all the parks.

“We want the kids to know and understand they are our future; we want them around. Also, a lot of the youth may spend lots of time with their grandparents; so, we don’t want them at risk because their grandchildren are out playing,” Johnson said.

The parks do remain open, but use of the playground equipment is not encouraged. Golf courses remain closed.

Both elected officials agree that too much is at stake for citizens to buck the system and be non-compliant with Gov. Pritzker’s Stay Home order.

“The sooner we can shut it down,” says Gordon-Booth “the quicker we can come back.”