Even before the entire state of Illinois was placed under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order last week, local governments began to invoke their own emergency powers to stem the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.

Just west of Chicago, the village of Oak Park became the first municipality in the state to declare a shelter-at-home order on March 19, an action made possible by invoking a state of emergency.

Steven M. Elrod, a partner at Elrod Friedman LLP who represents more than a dozen suburban municipalities, explained that city governments have the ability under state law to declare a state of emergency within their incorporated areas.