CHICAGO (WCIA/WTVO) — While a Clay County judge was weighing the merits of a lawsuit filed by a Southern Illinois lawmaker against Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week following a modified extension of the state’s Stay-At-Home order, the governor used part of Monday’s briefing to address downstate residents skeptical of the order.
“I want to stop and take a moment, now, to address those who think that coronavirus is ‘just a Chicago or Cook County problem’ and that downstate Illinois is immune or doesn’t need restrictions,” Pritzker said. “Folks, that’s just now how this virus operates. COVID-19 knows no county or regional boundaries.”
The governor went on to say part of the issue could stem from whether people are “simply looking at the number of cases in a county and not looking at the infection rate.”
“Of the top five counties by infection rate, two of them are downstate,” he said. “In order, that’s Cook County, Jasper, Lake, Will and Randolph.”
The state’s top two rates of deaths-per-capita are Jasper and Monroe counties.
“That means you’re more likely to die of COVID-19 if you live in either of those two counties than if you live in Chicago or in Cook County,” the governor said. “When these factors are taken into account, the overall picture around COVID-19 in Illinois is quite different than many have assumed. […] It’s also true that there are areas of the state that have lower infection rates, and I’ve already begun opening those areas up more, with allowance for more elective surgeries and recreational activity there, than in other regions.”
During Monday’s briefing, Pritzker also responded to a reporter asking for a reaction to a Clay County judge who ruled against the governor’s stay-at-home order set to take place on May 1. Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) filed the suit last week, arguing the governor had exceeded his executive authority.
Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney granted a restraining order to temporarily block the governor’s latest executive order Monday afternoon. The ruling technically only releases Bailey from the executive order, but it opens the door for anyone else in the state to file a suit.
“My lawsuit asks the court to find that Gov. Pritzker overextended his power by issuing additional ‘stay at home’ orders after his original disaster proclamation, which expired on April 9th, 2020,” said Rep. Bailey. “Enough is enough! I filed this lawsuit on behalf of myself and my constituents who are ready to go back to work and resume a normal life.”
The state argued the law allows the governor to renew his emergency powers every thirty days, “If he declares a disaster.”
“Representative Darren Bailey’s decision to take to the courts to try and dismantle public health directives, designed to keep people safe is an insult to all Illinoisans who have been lost during this COVID-19 crisis and it’s a danger to millions of people who may get ill, because of his recklessness. No one is better off because of this ruling and at worst people’s health and safety will suffer tremendously. In Illinois, and nationally, we are operating on decades of precedent in terms of how disaster proclamations work from floods to tornadoes and now a global pandemic. Disasters don’t necessarily evaporate on a 30-day timeframe. […] This ruling has put the people of Illinois at risk.”Gov. Pritzker
Overall, Illinois has 45,882 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across 96 counties, as of Monday. The state’s current executive order, which is slated to end on April 30, remains in place.
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