ILLINOIS — A state Senator from a region slated for additional COVID-19 restrictions from the Pritzker administration says the governor has too much power flipping the COVID-19 restriction switch. The governor says taxpayer funds will cover lost business.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office on Tuesday announced that starting Saturday, Region 1, which includes counties in the northwestern-most part of the state, will have added COVID-19 restrictions such as limits on restaurants and bars. Schools are not impacted by the new mitigations. That’s similar to measures still in place for Region 4 and what was put in place but repealed weeks later in Region 7.
The move comes after the region exceeded a threshold of 8 percent COVID-19 positivity rate. That’s the rate of positive tests per total samples taken.
Pritzker said the restrictions are temporary, but the region’s positivity rate must decline.
State Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford, said the state should be looking at hospitalizations, not the positivity rate he said was flawed.
“Just not too long ago they were telling people ‘if you’re healthy, don’t bog down the system by going and getting tested,’ now they’re saying because there aren’t enough healthy people getting tested, we’re going to shut you down,” Syverson said. “I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous.”
In a different region, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike Wednesday said because mass testing is keeping the positivity rate at two percent in Champaign County, the administration is separating that out.
“We want to ensure that the large volume of tests at Urbana-Champaign does not overshadow the trends that we’re seeing in the broader region,” Ezike said.
But she said if Region 6 without Champaign County goes above the 8 percent threshold, the entire region including the university gets restrictions.
Syverson said the positivity rate shouldn’t be the trigger.
“The state with this new power, they can shut any community down anytime they want just by adjusting the positivity rate,” Syverson said. “It makes no sense. These are bureaucrats making bureaucratic decisions.”
Syverson said limiting bars and restaurants will bring thousands of layoffs and businesses have a right to sue the state.
Pritzker said taxpayer-funded Business Interruption Grants are available to help businesses.
“Many of those resources by the way do come from the federal government and we’ve made sure to allocate them properly,” Pritzker said.
Others around the state have been critical that the grants aren’t distributed fairly across the state when the shutdowns have had a broad negative impact.
The Democratic-controlled state legislature has largely let the governor manage the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic unilaterally.
A number of lawsuits challenging the governor’s orders on businesses, schools and sports remain pending.
The Center Square – Greg Bishop