STEPHENSON COUNTY, ILLINOIS — Stephenson County Board members announced in a press release that they have sent a letter to Governor JB Pritzker urging a different approach to combating COVID-19.
Fourteen (14) members of the Stephenson County Board who share common concerns over the financial ramifications of Illinois’ stay-at-home order have signed a letter imploring Governor JB Pritzker to change course immediately.
The letter that was sent to Governor Pritzker on Tuesday urges the replacement of the current one-size-fits-all approach with a new strategy that focuses on individual responsibility and decision making at the local level. According to the letter, if the economy is not reopened swiftly the financial damage will likely be “catastrophic”.
In the letter, the signing members of the Board stress that Stephenson County can be safely reopened by asking high-risk people who are vulnerable to infection to continue to stay at home while low risk people return to the work force. People can return to work and businesses can be reopened by continuing to stress good hygiene practices in combination with reasonable mitigation efforts.
“There is more than one way to protect people and we can save lives and livelihoods at the same time through the utilization of a measured reopening of our local economy”, Andy Schroeder of District G said.
The fourteen (14) members of the Stephenson County Board who signed the letter that was sent to Governor JB Pritzker today are; Rebecca Quiggle (District C), Dale Diddens (District E), Brad Hartog (District F), Andy Schroeder (District G), Anthony Kuhlemeier (District G), Alvin Wire (District H), Jerome (Jerry) Pardus (District H), Scott Helms (District I), Todd Welch (District I), Steve Fricke (District J), Paul Fosler (District J), Mark Diddens (District K), Jerry Clay (District L), and Jim Pinter (District L).
The letter sent to Governor Pritzker is shown below;
Dear Hon. Governor Pritzker:
As elected members of the Stephenson County Board we are writing to request the immediate rescission of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order that was extended until May 30th, because even with modifications it is simply not sustainable. The damage being done to the economy as the result of the stay-at-home order is causing extreme hardships for many people we represent, and if you fail to act swiftly to reopen our State’s economy the results will likely be catastrophic. There is a real cost to the stay-at-home order and continuing to ignore the financial ramifications is irresponsible at best.
In our region, small and local businesses along with agriculture are the backbone of our local economies and continuing to force some businesses to remain closed will likely cause many of them to shut their doors permanently. When these businesses close many hard-working people here in Northwest Illinois will lose their jobs, and the brave entrepreneurs who started those businesses will lose everything.
Illinois is a large and diverse State and the uniqueness of its 102 counties is why the current one-size-fits-all top down authoritarian approach to combating this health crisis is unrealistic. We believe the protection of public health can occur simultaneously with the preservation of freedom and liberty by focusing on personal responsibility, and by also allowing local officials to address the problem at a local level. The situation in Stephenson County is not the same as it is in Winnebago County, and the problems in Winnebago County are different than those being faced in Cook County.
The current approach of allowing some businesses to remain open while others are forced to remain closed is neither fair nor reasonable. There is simply no logic to allowing crowds of people to congregate in “big box” stores while at the same time telling other businesses that they cannot open and safely serve their customers in a manner consistent with reasonable mitigation efforts. All businesses are “essential” to those who rely on them for a living.
It is time to safely reopen Stephenson County by asking vulnerable people (elderly and immunocompromised) to stay at home until its safe while at the same time allowing everyone else to use informed common sense. Reasonable mitigation efforts such as social distancing, practicing good hygiene, and wearing masks can continue to be encouraged while businesses are reopened, and people return to the workforce. We passionately believe that the best person to make decisions for them and their family is the individual, not politicians in the State capitol.