Illinois governor issues ‘shelter in place’ order; Missouri governor criticized for lagging in response

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a “shelter in place” order for the entire state starting Saturday, March 21 at 5 p.m. through April 7.

Illinois has 585 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has had five deaths. Illinois has tested nearly 4,300 people, according to the state’s website.

“I’m acting in response to the facts and the science we have at hand,” Pritzker said during a 3 p.m. press conference. “I’m not going to tell you that the end of April 7 is, in fact, the end date. We believe that gives us time to see whether or not this social distancing is having the desired effect of bending the curve.”

The order means that everyone in the state must stay home, except for making essential trips or outdoor recreation. Everyone must abide by social distancing guidelines at all times, including staying six feet from other people outside of their households.

At 3 p.m., Missouri Gov. Mike Parson also held a press conference announcing that on Saturday, he will issue an order prohibiting people from gathering in groups of 10 people or more. However, he will not close restaurants, as leaders in Kansas City and St. Louis have already ordered.  

“This is about the gathering of people,” Parson said. “It is not about shutting businesses down in this state.”

When asked how he expects restaurants and other businesses to abide by this 10-person guideline, he said, “It comes down to personal responsibility.”

Parson has received criticism from both business and health groups for lagging behind other governors, including those of Kansas and Illinois, in taking precautionary measures. Parson has said repeatedly he will not order the closure of businesses, because the needs of rural and urban communities are much different. 

In Missouri, two people have died from COVID-19. Parson said on Friday afternoon that 400 people have been tested in Missouri, and 47 have tested positive. On Thursday, the number was 28, he said. 

“These numbers are going to rise,” Parson said. “As we continue to test, we will find more people who will test positive.” 

Like other media outlets, The St. Louis American has heard from a number of people who have been denied tests from the state, even when their doctors have ordered it. At the press conference, reporters asked about this concern. 

Dr. Randall W. Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services, said that they are ramping up testing and are now testing “hundreds if not thousands” of people.  

 Lab in MO says it has test

In related news, KCUR reported on March 18 that a clinical lab in Lee’s Summit said it has developed a test for the novel coronavirus that is more than 99 percent accurate. Viracor Eurofins claims it is capable of performing more than 1,000 tests per day and returning results the same day.

Officials said the test would allow for expanding testing to patients who don’t currently meet the eligibility criteria for public laboratory testing established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But patients must still contact their doctors first. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has given the go-ahead for testing to begin.

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