ILLINOIS (IRN) — As Illinois enters the next reopening phase with continued COVID-19 restrictions in public places, the state’s public health director said Illinoisans not wanting to wear a mask are risking the lives of everyone else. The governor called businesses not following his orders “scofflaws.”
A state representative suing the governor calls the orders “hollow.”
“Many other states are now seeing significant increases in cases, hospitalizations, and intensive care bed usage and they’re being forced to move backward and stay at home – that’s not the story in Illinois,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement announcing all four regions of his five-phase plan can enter Phase 4.
The new phase still has various restrictions, including limits on gatherings to 50 or fewer people and restrictions on how many people a business can serve at one time. There are also continued face-covering recommendations.
Pritzker’s administration touted a 75.8 percent decrease in daily confirmed COVID-19 cases from it’s peak weeks ago. The case positive rate, or the number of positive cases per total tests conducted, peaked at 23.6 percent in early April. That dropped nearly 90 percent to around 2 or 3 percent this week as the number of tests increased. COVID-19 hospitalizations also have decreased 65 percent from eight weeks ago, according to charts the governor released Thursday.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Illinois should get “comfy” with COVID-restrictions. She said to follow the three W’s: Wash hands, watch your distance with others, and wear a mask. To those not wearing masks, she said they’re playing “Russian Roulette”.
“This game of Russkaya ruletka is a game that is very risky,” she said. “The stakes are high. It’s potentially fatal. Let’s not gamble with coronavirus.”
State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, who’s suing Gov. J.B. Pritzker over the continued unilateral restrictions, said that kind of rhetoric tells him something.
“[Pritzker] does not trust the people,” Bailey said. “He uses the fact that ‘I’m saving your life, you just don’t know it’ at the detriment of ruining our economy.”
Pritzker said he trusts the public.
“And many have been very, very responsible I might add,” Pritzker said. “There are some scofflaws that have just thrown caution to the wind and unfortunately made it much riskier for people.”
Bailey said what Pritzker calls scofflaws are actually independent businesses across the state, desperate to survive.
“They’re standing up and they’re being Americans and they’re saying ‘we’ve had enough,’” Bailey said. “And they’re shrugging off this bondage and they’re saying ‘no more, we’ll take our chances and we’ll move forward,’ and when they do take their chance they all find the same thing – that the governor’s orders, and his threats, are hollow.”
Pritzker said it would be terrible for businesses to reopen fully and then have to shut down again if there’s an outbreak. Bailey says Pritzker’s unilateral orders are unconstitutional. His case is pending in federal court.
Illinois won’t enter Phase 5 with all restrictions lifted until there is a vaccine, widely available treatment or widespread immunity, according to Pritzker.
The state released a new website that has county specific risk indicators. There also are increased numbers of contract tracers and the launching of twelve mobile community testing teams.