by Todd Feurer, CBS Chicago web producer


CHICAGO (CBS) — Even if he is able to lift the statewide “stay at home” order before then, Gov. JB Pritzker said festival organizers need to seriously consider canceling large events this summer, because the risks of COVID-19 are not going away entirely anytime soon.

“I think everybody needs to think seriously about canceling large summer events. From my perspective today, I don’t see how we are going to have large gatherings of people, again, until we have a vaccine, which is months and months way. I would not risk having large groups of people getting together anywhere, and I think that’s hard for everybody to hear, but that’s just a fact,” Pritzker said Thursday at his daily coronavirus briefing.

While the governor left he door open to lifting the statewide stay at home order before summer, he said even when it is lifted, other restrictions likely will remain in place for some time to avoid another spike in COVID-19 cases.

“Unlike what some have said at the federal level, it isn’t going to be that all of a sudden you’re going to drop the stay at home and every other restriction,” he said. “If you do that, we’re going to see a big spike upward; and once again hospitalizations, ICU beds filled, [ventilators] filled, and more death.”

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Pritzker said, even if the stay at home order is lifted by summer, it’s possible the state could see a repeat of the current COVID-19 restrictions in fall or winter.

“The fact of the matter is that we are not going to be truly able to begin to move on until we have testing – much greater testing – contact tracing, and treatment; test, trace, and treat. We have to have those available; that’s even before there’s a vaccine, but you have to have all of those. You have testing widely available,” he said. “You have to be able to easily contact trace for anybody that tests positive, so we know all the people they’ve talked to, been in contact with in the last 14, perhaps 17 days. And then of course there needs to be some treatment to bring down the level of hospitalization, the level of ICU beds that are necessary, and of course the number of deaths,”

The governor said, while the rise in novel coronavirus cases in Illinois “is looking less and less exponential,” and the state appears to be flattening the curve, “the curve is still upward trajectory.”

“Just because we’re bending the curve doesn’t mean we’re bending down yet, and so people need to understand that it is unlikely that we will be able to lift this stay at home before April 30th. And, indeed, as we approach April 30th, we will be thinking about what are the restrictions or rules that we need to set going forward after April 30th,” Pritzker said.