Woodford County state’s attorney will not enforce stay-at-home extension

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EUREKA, Ill. (WMBD) — The Woodford County state’s attorney said he will not enforce Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order extension at the county level.

UPDATE: The Woodford County Sheriff’s Office is in complete agreement.

Sheriff Matt Smith told WMBD his officers have not, and will not, take any enforcement action regarding the Governor’s executive orders.

“I feel that accurate information, proper community education, and guidance to business owners regarding the COVID-19 virus would be beneficial in getting local businesses open while staying safe. I am in no way attempting to minimize the concerns or effects of the COVID-19 virus and I encourage voluntary use of the recommended CDC precautions for the general public and businesses,” Smith told WMBD.  

Protecting liberty, and freedom for all. That’s what Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger says he’s doing by refusing to prosecute violators of Governor Pritzker’s Stay-at-Home Order extension.

But Minger isn’t the first to stand against Governor Pritzker’s revised Order. It only allows a few businesses to open. As well as state parks, golf courses, greenhouses, and nurseries.

House Republican Darren Bailey filed a lawsuit last week claiming immunity from Governor Pritzker’s Order.

“My freedoms were being trampled on,” Bailey said.

Now State’s Attorneys across downstate Illinois are navigating how to prosecute violations starting May 1.

“I’m not saying like some of my colleagues have, that it’s a blanket statement of I am going to enforce it, or I’m not going to enforce it,” said Marshall County State’s Attorney Paul Bauer.

In an attempt to stop the spread of Coronavirus, leaders with the Illinois Department of Corrections say they released almost 4,000 inmates from prisons, 64 of them convicted of murder.

“Our government is currently letting murderers out of prison. I don’t think if somebody who’s trying to make a living by opening their shop and trying to make a living, I don’t think we’re going to start putting people in prison for that,” Bauer said.

LaSalle County State’s Attorney Karen Donnelly also weighing in, saying her office believes those who disregard the Order potentially are endangering others. She adds on a case by case basis, they can be prosecuted for disorderly conduct or reckless conduct.

State’s attorney Greg Minger sent an email to chief deputy of the Woodford County Sheriff’s Office Dennis Tipsword this week, essentially saying he will not prosecute those who violate the governor’s order. He said the people should determine what is best and safest for them and their community, whether that means staying home or going back to work and opening nonessential businesses.

“I cannot let the powers that be continue to impose their will on the people in violation of separation of powers, due process, and our most basic concepts of liberty and freedom for all,” Minger wrote. “We need to live in a world with COVID-19…no doubt about it. But the basic ideals our country were established on and that people have fought so hard for over the past more than 200 years cannot be eroded in this way.”

When asked about the decision on Wednesday, Minger said the statement speaks for itself.

Pritzker’s original order was to run from March 21 through April 7. He then extended the order through April 30, and then again through May 30.

The full email can be read below:

Dennis,

I sent the following to the Sheriff, Hillary, Kent, and John Krug earlier today. This can be forwarded on to the mayors if it has not already been done. But please add the last paragraph which I did not send, but is highly relevant.

“I just want this group to know that I have been receiving daily questions from citizens of my opinion of the constitutional issues with Governor Pritzker’s extension of the stay-at-home order. I plan on responding with it is not enforceable and will not be enforced at the county level due to statutory issues (beyond the 30 days) as well as improper taking of property interests and pecuniary interests without just compensation. There are certainly due process issues with a continued stay-at-home order. The law does not provide for a quarantine of the state, only individuals that have a contagious illness.

Every four years I swear an oath that in part states ”…do solemnly swear that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Illinois…”. I cannot let the powers that be continue to impose their will on the people in violation of separation of powers, due process, and our most basic concepts of liberty and freedom for all. We need to live in a world with COVID-19…no doubt about it. But the basic ideals our country were established on and that people have fought so hard for over the past more than 200 years cannot be eroded in this way.”

New paragraph:

In addition, the Illinois Department of Public Health in 2015 published their emergency plans when dealing with contagious diseases such as influenza. Of particular importance to our present day discussion is the following excerpt in the IDPH’s own words:

“Quarantine (a period of isolation to prevent disease spread) is not effective in controlling multiple influenza outbreaks in large, immunologically naïve populations, because the disease spreads too rapidly to identify and to control chains of transmission. Even if quarantine were somewhat effective in controlling influenza in large populations, it would not be feasible to implement and enforce with available resources, and would damage the economy by reducing the workforce. Most people will voluntarily quarantine themselves in their home.”

I confirmed that is on the IDPH website and downloaded it as well.

Bottom line is as it stands at this moment, the extension of the stay-at-home order will not be prosecuted or enforced in Woodford County. People, not government, need to determine what is best and safest for them, their loved ones, and the community around them. If that means staying at home, then they should. If that means going back to work and opening restaurants and bars and stores, then they should.”

Gregory M. Minger

On Friday, Gov. Pritzker’s extended Order says people must wear face coverings when going inside public buildings or when a person cannot maintain the 6-foot social distance.

Also with boating season right around the corner, if you’re looking to get in your boat over the next month, you can only have two people maximum inside of it.

The Metamora Police Department also taking to Facebook, letting residents know not to call if they see someone in public who is not wearing a mask.

The Woodford County Health Department sent a statement in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday, recommending people follow the Governor’s ‘Stay-at-Home’ Order.

“The mission of the Woodford County Health Department (WCHD) is to improve the health and
well-being of our community through health education, health promotion and preventive health
services. WCHD highly recommends the public to continue to follow Governor Pritzker’s
Executive Order,” said Andrea Ingwersen from WCHD.

“There are many challenges and unknowns with the COVID-19 pandemic. WCHD urges the
public to use precautions such as proper hand hygiene, social distancing (at least 6 feet) and
wearing a mask,” Ingwersen added.

“WCHD, and other local health departments, follow the guidance directed by Illinois Department
of Public Health to protect our communities against infectious disease. Historically, WCHD has
worked to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and continues to do so during this time.
WCHD will continue to work with our community partners and surrounding local health
departments to protect the health and well-being of all,” Ingwesen said.

Please check our website at www.woodfordhealth.org for further information about our services
or our response to COVID-19.

This story will be updated.

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