CHICAGO — Gov. JB Pritzker slammed a downstate lawmaker who sued the state to avoid the coronavirus stay at home order, saying the legislator is “irresponsible” and noting his home county has the highest death rate in the state.
On Monday, a Clay County judge granted State Rep. Darren Bailey, a Xenia Republican, a temporary injunction blocking Pritzker’s stay at home order from impacting him.
“This ruling only applies to one person because it was only ever about one person,” Pritzker said Tuesday. “This was a cheap political stunt designed so that the representative could see his name in headlines — and, unfortunately, he has briefly been successful in that most callous of feats.”
While the ruling only applies to Bailey and Pritzker’s administration is challenging it in court, it sets a “dangerous precedent” for others who don’t want to follow the stay at home order, the governor said.
Pritzker said the order is aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus so hospitals can keep pace with incoming patients, as overwhelming the health care system would lead to more deaths. Notably, Illinois saw the most deaths in one day yet on Tuesday, with 144 more people dying. That means 2,125 people have died here.
“For those unfamiliar, the 109th 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 said of Bailey’s district. “The district is also home to the county experiencing Illinois’ highest death rate per capita from COVID-19.”
Pritzker said he understands the economic pressure people and businesses are under in the state, but the “danger has not yet passed.”
While the disaster proclamation has a 30-day limit, Pritzker said “pandemics don’t live by a 30-day timeframe” and the state is trying to save people through the stay at home order.
People following the stay at home order also means the virus’s spread will slow more quickly here, which ultimately means the order can be lifted sooner, Pritzker said.
“We are making much progress, and much of the progress that we had hoped to make,” Pritzker said. “We will not let one irresponsible state representative deter us from success.”
The governor also noted he thinks the vast majority of people support the stay at home order regardless of their personal politics — but some people are trying to gain celebrity through things like the suit.
“I don’t think there’s a partisan divide” in Illinois, he said. “I do think there are a few people who are trying to take political advantage at the moment. In the middle of the pandemic that is killing people, they’re politicizing it.”
Pritzker said his administration has appealed the ruling and he is “reasonably confident” it will be overturned.
“My hope is we can move swiftly just to move this out of the way. We have so much to do to keep people safe,” he said. “Wasting our time and effort on these ridiculous efforts, it’s something we shouldn’t have to do and a shameful act on the part of these partisan actors.”
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