6 downstate Illinois counties sue over COVID-19 restrictions

State News

In this March 19, 2020 photo, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker listens to a question during a news conference in Chicago. Amid an unprecedented public health crisis, the nation’s governors are trying to get what they need from the federal government – and fast. But often that means navigating the disorienting politics of dealing with President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Residents in six central and southern Illinois counties, including the state capital’s home, filed lawsuits Thursday against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s restrictions on social interaction prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The actions taken in Bond, Clay, Clinton, Edgar, Richland and Sangamon counties seek court orders declaring there is no public health emergency as defined by Pritzker’s Public Health Department. Springfield, the state capital, is in Sangamon County.

Plaintiffs in each case seek injunctions against the disaster declaration Pritzker’s using to justify restrictions on public interaction to limit transmission of the virus. The state has reported 7,367 deaths among 167,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus — mostly in Chicago and Cook County.

“You can’t put a county that has had nine confirmed cases and no one pass away under the same rules and restrictions as counties like Cook,” said Thomas DeVore, a Greenville attorney respresenting the plaintiffs.

Richland County has had nine cases and no deaths. That’s also the case in Clay County, where Rep. Darren Bailey, a Republican from Xenia, continues to press his case filed last spring against Pritzker’s restrictions.

Pritzker general counsel Ann Spillane said DeVore is “playing a game.”

“It is unconscionable that as states around this country are grappling with a resurgence of COVID-19, there are those who continue to challenge science and data and fight against basic guidance from public health experts to prevent the spread of this deadly virus,” Spillane said.

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