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Illinois became the latest state Friday to order its citizens to remain in their homes unless they have vital reasons to go outside, the latest dramatic step to counter the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on Friday that the state will enforce its own version of a "shelter-in-place" order beginning Saturday at 5 p.m. and continuing through April 7.

"I don’t come to this decision easily. I fully recognize in some cases I am choosing between saving people’s lives and saving people’s livelihoods," Pritzker told reporters. "But ultimately, you can’t have a livelihood if you don’t have a life."

"Of all the obligations that weigh on me as Governor, this is the greatest," Pritzker added. "If there are actions I can take that will save lives in this pandemic, no matter how difficult, then I have an obligation to take these actions.”

Pritzker clarified that Illinois residents can still leave their homes to perform essential jobs and errands and added that grocery stores, banks, and pharmacies will remain open. However, all "non-essential businesses" must close and the governor urged those who are able to work from home to do so.


According to Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Research Center, five people have died in Illinois from the coronavirus. Over 500 cases have been reported in the state.

Illinois joined California and New York state in ordering its citizens to stay inside unless absolutely necessary. The lockdowns encompass five of the 15 most populous cities in America — New York, Los Angeles and Chicago as well as No. 8 San Diego and No. 14 San Francisco -- and restrict the movement of more than 70 million people.

Other states will likely enact similar policies in the days ahead.