Pritzker blasts lawmaker exempted from stay-at-home order by court
State reports record 144 coronavirus deaths in past 24 hours
Last updated 4/29/2020 at 6:25pm
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday denounced a state representative from southern Illinois, calling the lawsuit that defeated his stay-at-home order in court “a cheap political stunt.”
Referring to state Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, only as “the state representative from the 109th district,” Pritzker said Bailey’s successful lawsuit in Clay County circuit court on Monday was “designed so that the representative can see his name in headlines.”
“This ruling only applies to one person because it was only ever about one person,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago.
A judge ruled Monday that the governor’s extended 30-day stay-at-home order cannot apply to Bailey. Pritzker said that decision sets “a dangerous precedent.”
“Slowing the spread of this virus is critical to saving lives by insuring our health care system has the resources to treat patients who get sick,” he said. “And we will not stop this virus if, because of this ruling, any resident can petition to be exempted from aspects of the orders that rely on collective action to keep us all safe.”
Pritzker, via Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, will appeal that ruling because “the state has acted well within its legal authority to protect the health of the public,” he said.
The governor added later in the briefing that “it is the history of the state of Illinois that we have sometimes successive declarations of disaster,” such as after floods.
“Pandemics don’t live by a 30-day timeframe,” he said.
Bailey’s district includes Jasper County, which has the third-highest COVID-19 infection rate in the state — 44 cases among 9,610 residents, according to a Capitol News Illinois calculation using 2019 U.S. Census Bureau population estimates.
Pritzker also said Bailey’s House district “happens to have among the lowest hospital bed availability and ventilators in the state, making it uniquely ill equipped to respond to a surge in cases.”
Pritzker cited a poll published by Illinois political blog Capitol Fax that found 77 percent of people at least somewhat approve of the current stay-at-home order and 71 percent at least somewhat approve of how the governor has handled the outbreak.
“I don’t think there’s a partisan divide. I do think that there are a few people who are trying to take political advantage at the moment,” Pritzker said. “In the middle of the pandemic that is killing people, they’re politicizing it.”
State Rep. John Cabello, a Republican from Machesney Park, said Tuesday that he intends to challenge Pritzker’s stay-at-home order but is “trying to make it for everyone.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health Tuesday reported 144 new deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, the state’s highest one-day total. Those deaths push the state’s total over 2,000 to 2,125.
IDPH also reported 2,219 new cases of the disease, bringing that total to 48,102. Many of those patients have recovered, IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.
Ezike said 49 percent of people surveyed who tested positive reported they were symptom-free two weeks after their positive test. For people between two and four weeks removed from their positive test, 61 percent felt recovered, while 74 percent who were more than four weeks from testing positive felt recovered.
“I hope that’s seen as encouraging news, that people do recover,” Ezike said.
Ezike added that as of Monday, 4,738 people in Illinois were hospitalized for COVID-19. Of those, 1,245 were in intensive care and 778 of those are on a ventilator.
Tuesday was also the fourth straight day that the state reported more than 10,000 tests over a 24-hour period after first reaching that daily milestone on Saturday. IDPH reported 14,561 newly completed tests on Tuesday, bringing that total to 242,189, which is about 2 percent of Illinois’ population.
Poland works with National Guard
A team of medical experts from Poland is assisting the Illinois National Guard with the state’s COVID-19 response, an extension of Illinois’ long-standing cultural and political relationship with the European nation.
The nine-member team of four doctors, three nurses, an EMT and a logistical coordinator will assist the 1,120 deployed Guard members. Soldiers’ tasks have included running drive-through testing sites, distributing personal protective equipment to hospitals and local health departments and supporting medical operations at two correctional centers.
“I am incredibly humbled by the gracious spirit of these citizen soldiers who have left their families and their civilian jobs to assist their fellow Illinoisans,” Pritzker said.
Illinois’ partnership with the Polish military dates back to 1993. Since then, Polish forces and the Illinois National Guard have fought together in Iraq and Afghanistan, and leaders have made multiple trips to each other’s nations.
The Polish team will be able to bring to Illinois their experience of fighting COVID-19 in their native country, as well as in Italy, one of the nations hardest hit by the novel coronavirus.
“We have fought side-by-side for many years, and now we fight the pandemic together,” said Adjutant General Richard Neely, head of the Guard.
Piotr Janicki, Poland’s consul general for Chicago said the city is the most Polish city in America and that 8 percent of Illinoisans are of Polish descent.
“We have to fight coronavirus, and I cannot imagine a better place for military personnel from Poland than Chicago to come and help,” he said.
— by Ben Orner