Coronavirus Illinois: COVID-19 cases top 87K with over 3.9K deaths; All IL regions poised to move to next phase of reopening, Pritzker says

Gov. Pritzker defends reopening plan after another lawsuit

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Thursday, May 14, 2020
Illinois poised to move to next phase of reopening
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Gov. JB Pritzker said every region of the state is meeting an important benchmark in his reopening plan, and that includes the Chicago area.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois appears to be moving closer to the next phase in the plan to reopen, but the pressure continues to mount from counties that want to reopen now.

Coronavirus in Illinois: Latest news on COVID-19 cases, Chicago area impact

Illinois health officials announced 138 additional deaths and 3,239 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. That brings the statewide total to 87,937, including 3,928 deaths.

Within the past 24 hours, state health officials said laboratories have tested 22,678 specimens in the last 24 hours for a total of 512,037.

WATCH: Illinois COVID-19 update on May 14

Facing multiple lawsuits and growing defiance, Gov. JB Pritzker announcing some good news on Thursday. He said every region of the state is meeting an important benchmark, and that includes the Chicago area.

The positivity rate, or rate of positive COVID-19 tests, is a critical metric in Gov. Pritzker's "Restore Illinois" plan - and now the northeast region is hitting its mark. Dipping just below 20 percent over a 14-day average is a requirement for getting to the next phase of reopening.

"Every region is poised, if it maintains the metrics that it's at now, to move into Phase 3 in a few short days," Pritzker said. "I mean, literally we're talking about 14 days."

Coronavirus testing: Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Illinois, Chicago area

WATCH: Unemployment claims starting to slow in Illinois

With joblessness worsening, Illinois is reporting more than 70,000 unemployment claims last week. That's in addition to more than 1 million claims since March, though a snapshot of the last several weeks shows the number of claims starting to slow.

The state announced Get Hired Illinois, a new job placement and training website with free online courses and certificate programs.

The governor said with so many people working from home, there's a need for hiring in the IT industry, and some of the certificate programs offered on that portal can help people enter that field.

WATCH: Gov. JB Pritzker defends reopening plan after another lawsuit

Gov. Pritzker is defending his plan to reopen Illinois after residents and business owners in Will County filed a lawsuit demanding lost compensation.

Samantha Palya, the owner of Absolutely Pawfect Pet Styling in Palos Hills, is a Will County resident and plaintiff in the lawsuit. Her business is open, but she said she's now fighting for other businesses as well.

"I think small businesses need to get back to work, not only from a financial stand point, but from a mental health standpoint as well," said Palya.

Palya's business lost $45,000 when it closed between mid-March and May 1st, according to the lawsuit.

Will County GOP Chairman George Pearson is also a plaintiff on the lawsuit, saying it's because the number of COVID-19 cases does not reflect the experiences in Chicago or Cook County.

"Our numbers are completely different, our death toll has been a lot less - hundreds less than anywhere in the City of Chicago," Pearson said.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Will County has 231 COVID deaths, and 4,090 positive cases. But Will County saw a deadly last 24 hours with 17 new fatalities reported.

ZIP CODE TRACKER: Where is coronavirus in Illinois?

"Everyone is at risk of contracting this virus, no matter what county you live in, what municipality you live in," said Illinois Dept. of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. "COVID-19 does not care about the color of your skin or your political affiliation."

Restore Illinois: 5-phase reopening plan by Governor Pritzker splits IL into 4 regions

Gov. Pritzker once again responded to criticism about his regional map and plan.

"There's almost any way to draw this map," Gov. JB Pritzker said at his daily briefing. "There are people who, you know, live in one area and say, 'Gee, I don't know anybody who has contracted COVID-19, and therefore, you know, my little area should be out of some region.' But the reality is this is about healthcare resources."

With businesses closed, Will County's Board will vote on a proposed resolution next week. Some Will County leaders do not want to be grouped with Cook County in the governor's plan. Some board members say they would rather work with the collar counties.

"We really want to move forward. We are not like the City of Chicago. We are Will County," said Board Member Judy Ogalla, who represents Will County District 1. "We are not Chicago."

The Will County Board will consider the proposed resolution at a meeting next Thursday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has created a hotline at 1-800-889-3931. More information can be found at the IDPH website and the Chicago Department of Public Health website