(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday said his administration is working with faith leaders to expand in-person services as President Trump demanded that state governments allow churches to fully reopen.
Trump’s remarks seemed designed to agitate state goverments that have been more cautious in easing restrictions on social-distancing requirements. The president said churches, mosques and synagogues provide “essential” services and should not face restrictions.
Pritkzer, at his daily coronavirus briefing, said he is having discussions with religious leaders in Illinois about ways to minister to more people when the state moves into Phase 3 of reopening next week. Strategies could include outdoor offerings, such as drive-in services, he said.
Currently, under the Illinois stay-at-home order, church services cannot have more than 10 people present in a sanctuary. Pritzker said his restrictions are based on science and recommendations from health experts.
“We do not want parishioners to get ill because their faith leaders bring them together,” the governor said.
Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot have faced challenges from some churches over limits on the number of parishioners they may have on-site. Many churches have adapted to the pandemic by offering services online.
Also Friday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,758 new coronavirus cases, for a statewide total to date of 105,444 confirmed cases. That includes 110 deaths. Some 4,715 Illinoisans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic.