Governor J.B. Pritzker issues a statewide stay-at-home order
Photo: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

March 20, 2020

After revelers packed Wrigleyville bars on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day, the governor intoned, “This is not a joke.” Five days later, as Illinois COVID-19 cases neared 600, he drove the point home, becoming the second governor in the nation to order residents to shelter in place and, critically, getting a jump on flattening the infection-rate curve. Suddenly millions faced the prospect of indefinite confinement, ensuring that we’d forever look back on March 20 as the clear dividing line between the Before Times and the COVID era.