FILE - Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Gov. J.B. Pritzker addresses reporters at a news briefing in Chicago on Thursday, March 26, 2020.

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker, visibly frustrated, again urged Illinois to stay and home and employ social distancing practices when outside. 

"I want to begin today by reiterating, yet again, how vital it is to follow the guidelines of our stay-at-home order," the governor said. 

Pritzker said that most Illinoisans have been adhering to the order. However, he said some people forgot about the pandemic when temperatures rose above 50 degrees in many parts of the state. 

"Throwing all caution to the wind in the midst of a deadly pandemic is not acceptable," Pritzker said. "You are putting not just yourself, but your family and friends in danger. You are also putting strangers in danger."

He urged people not to gather in crowds and to think of the first responders.

"I am begging you. Please, if you don't have to be out, stay inside. If you go outside, please find a place to go that is not crowded," Pritzker said. " ... Right now, hosting a party, crowding down by the lake, playing a pickup basketball game in a public park – if you're doing these things, you're spitting in the face of the doctors, nurses and first responders who are risking everything."

Public health officials announced 673 new cases of COVID-19 and seven more deaths on Thursday

The deaths were a man in his 50s, two men and two women in their 60s, a man in his 70s, and a woman in her 90s. About 87 percent of fatalities have been among patients 60 or older, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Thursday's numbers bring the statewide total to 2,538 cases, including 26 deaths. Cases have been reported in 37 of the state's 102 counties. Both Franklin and Tazewell counties have reported cases, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Regional Editor

Brett Rowland has worked as a reporter in newsrooms in Illinois and Wisconsin. He most recently served as news editor of the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, Illinois. He previously held the same position at the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb.