Pritzker promises legal challenge after judge rules against new stay-at-home order
Gov. JB Pritzker promised a legal fight after a downstate judge ruled Monday afternoon against his extended stay-at-home order set to take effect May 1.
A Clay County judge ruled in favor of Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, who filed a lawsuit last week to block the order from going into effect, alleging the newly proposed stay-at-home order exceeds the governor’s authority.
Bailey told reporters outside the courthouse after the ruling that Illinois “needs to let government and our processes function” and reiterated his belief that the executive order was government overreach.
“We continue now to do as we do, live as we live and do what we do best,” he said outside the courthouse, adding, “and live safely, respectfully and essentially do… as county health departments deem so necessary to take certain precautions.”
As Bailey is the lone plaintiff in the suit, Monday’s ruling only allows him not to follow the stay-at-home order, his attorney Thomas DeVore told reporters. Other individuals could either join Bailey’s suit or file their own lawsuits.
Pritzker ripped into Bailey during his Monday press conference, calling the lawsuit an “insult to all Illinoisans who have been lost during the COVID-19 crisis.” The administration will work with Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office to take the case to the “furthest court possible” to protect the health of Illinoisans.
“My team and I will fight this legal battle to the furthest extent possible to ensure public health and common sense, and that those prevail,” Pritzker said.
Anne Caprara, Pritzker’s chief of staff, tweeted Monday afternoon the state will immediately appeal.
Pritzker said the state will issue new public health directives to respond to the pandemic and he encouraged municipalities to listen to the advice of health professionals and other officials and follow the guidelines of the stay-at-home order.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said in a statement that he expects the court to expedite the matter.
“We will be following the case closely as it progresses,” he said.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, echoed Pritzker’s sentiments in his statement, calling the lawsuit “extremely reckless” at a crucial moment in the pandemic.
“The governor’s actions have consistently reflected an understanding that, as we face this crisis, we must be guided by what is right – not what is easy, comfortable or expedient,” Madigan said. “Clearly, we cannot say the same for all the leaders of our state.”
Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said the ruling does not change the fact that nearly 2,000 Illinoisans have died from the virus.
“I would appeal to everyone’s common sense. A dangerous, highly infectious virus is loose in our communities,” he said in a statement. “You have stayed inside and practiced social distancing because you know it’s the right thing to do. You’ve done it because you care about your family, friends and neighbors.”
The ruling came as Pritzker used his Monday press conference to defend the state’s decision to cover the entire state with the order rather than go with a regionalized approach.
“COVID-19 knows no county or regional boundaries,” he said.
While the majority of cases and deaths have been in the Chicagoland area, Pritzker said it is important to focus on the infection rate and the deaths per capita.
Along with Cook, Will and Lake counties, Pritzker said downstate Jasper and Randolph counties are in the state’s top five for infection rates.
Jasper and Monroe counties are the top two counties in the rate of deaths per capita.
“That means you’re more likely to die of COVID-19 if you live in either of those two counties than if you live in Chicago or in Cook County,” Pritzker said.
There were 50 COVID-19 deaths reported on Monday, bringing the state’s total to 1,983. Officials announced 1,980 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state’s total to 45,883 cases in 96 counties.
A total of 227,628 tests have been completed.
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