Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a stern warning to counties and businesses who are looking to defy his stay-at-home executive order. Pritzker says he has no sympathy for leaders and businesses intent on disregarding the science and the logic behind the orders. Pritzker said he would use multiple avenues of enforcement in his press conference on Wednesday: “There are no easy decisions in a pandemic. Every choice [has] consequences. I know leaders across the state are struggling with these choices. I have sympathy for them in that struggle. But what I don’t have sympathy for is those so intent on disregarding science and logic, so afraid to tell their constituents what they may not want to hear, they put more people’s lives at risk. Here’s what I want to say to those leaders who weren’t elected to do what’s easy. We’re elected to do what’s right.”
Pritzker says there will be consequences for business owners as well: “For the small minority of businesses that choose to ignore the medical doctors and the data and to ignore your legal obligations for the residents of your communities, there will be consequences. Businesses and individual professionals that are licensed by state agencies will be held accountable for breaching public health orders. Counties that try to reopen in defiance may not be reimbursed by FEMA for damages they cause because they ignored the law. Local law enforcement and the Illinois State Police can and will take action. But there is no consequence the state could impose that is greater than the harm that you will do to your own communities.”
The warnings come after Madison, Shelby, and Adams Counties have authorized their own reopening plans. Pritzker says one of the mechanisms he may use is the Department of Licensure and Professional Regulation. “I just said the businesses that ignore the executive orders that ignore the law will be held accountable by our department of Professional Regulation. They will be held accountable by any licensing body, liquor commission Liquor Control Commission, the others. There are enforcement mechanisms here that we will be using against them. And again [I implore the leaders] of these communities not to give into a minority of residents who are clamoring to ignore the science and the data, but instead to follow the rules to follow the law and most importantly to keep residents of your community safe.
Pritzker said during his Q&A session on Thursday with the press that all of the state’s regions are trending in the right direction: “Every region is so far meeting all the metrics. Remember that they need to go through a time period and there needs to be an averaging of those metrics during that time period. You can see all the metrics on the IDPH website, but that is true and that on the website you can see that Chicago and the region surrounding Chicago has now dropped dropped below 20%, in terms of positivity rate and that’s a gating factor for moving into the next phase.”
Pritzker also outlined why the state was drawn into 4 regions instead of the 11 EMS regions: “If the downward trend of cases maintains the metrics, [we will] attempt now to move into phase three in a few short days. I mean literally we’re talking about 14 days, so I think it’s useful though to note that – look, you could have drawn regions in virtually any which way; and I’ve said it before, but I want you to pay attention to the reason that we drew the regions, as we did. Start with the fact that people who live in one area don’t necessarily stay in that one area the entire time. They travel outside of the county that they’re in or the city that they’re in and the immediate area and they do that frequently; and so we had to account for that as we were drawing regions. Secondly, IDPH uses 11 EMS regions. We asked our medical teams to kind of give us their feedback about how the regions interact with one another and, when they need to move around resources and how do those regions interact. They came back to us and told us that these are the pairings of regions and that worked well together. And then finally, there’s almost any way to draw this map. There are people you know who live in one area who say, ‘Gee, I don’t know anybody who’s contracted COVID-19, and therefore, you know, my little area should be led out of some region.’ The reality is this is about healthcare resources and making sure that if something bad happens like a surge that the regions will have enough to take care of people.”
Pritzker said yesterday that business leaders and groups are currently providing input on how to safely reopen the state at the end of the month, and directives will possibly be released in the next two weeks.