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Question of the day

Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

* What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since the pandemic began?

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

First, get a handle on this virus

Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

* Wirepoints

Six months into COVID-19, the media and Illinois’ political elite continue to push cases and the case positivity rate as the key statistics of the pandemic. So much so, that Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot have threatened shut downs all over again if the case numbers continue to go up.

The persistent reporting of rising cases and high positivity rates invoke fear, but the public should know that cases alone don’t matter. What really matters are hospitalizations and deaths. And those have yet to rise in Illinois, even if cases have risen significantly for more than a month and a half. […]

We’re not implying that more hospitalizations and deaths won’t follow the increase in cases, as has happened in states like Texas, Florida and Arizona recently. A rise is inevitable in Illinois as the state loosens its strict and protracted shutdown.

What’s clear, however, is that cases in Illinois are currently decoupled from hospitalizations and deaths.


* First of all, case numbers have zero to do with the state’s phased mitigation plan (although Chicago does look at cases). The state’s regional plan is based on a sustained increase in positivity rates above 8 percent (which, despite what they’re claiming, is an all too real danger zone), or a sustained increase in positivity rates along with a sustained increase in hospitalizations or pending bed shortages.

Also, ignoring what happened in Illinois and now in Florida, etc. is kinda mind-boggling.

* Illinois Policy Institute headline today

Pritzker gets OK to treat businesses as criminals for failing to enforce his COVID-19 mask order

From mid-April

“As an owner of 2 small businesses, one essential (radon mitigation), one a restaurant … nothing I can say will express the absolute disdain I have for this man or his policies,” a commenter complained about Pritzker.

A Policy Institute staffer replied to her comment asking if she would be open to speaking to a member of the IPI team. “We’ve been doing our best to give our community a voice on our site and pressure JB to reopen the state’s economy.”

Another commenter predicted that Pritzker “and his boss lori lightfoot will kill Illinois.” An IPI staffer replied with the same request to speak with her about her story. “We’ve been featuring small business owners on our site to try to pressure the governor to reopen the state’s economy.”

I originally told subscribers about this on April 10th. On that day, Illinois reported 596 total deaths from COVID-19. Exactly a month later, Illinois reported 3,406 deaths. Two months later, Illinois was reporting 6,095 deaths.

* Want to open up? Deal with the virus. Encourage businesses to follow common sense guidelines and then we can hopefully get to where New York is…

* Meanwhile

First it was Seattle. Then New York City. Then the novel coronavirus hit Arizona, Texas, and Florida with a vengeance, infecting hundreds of thousands of people and leading to backlogs of bodies in morgues that are still growing today.

The big question, as the weather begins to turn cold, flu season approaches, and schools reopen across the nation, is a simple one: Which city is next?

The modelers at PolicyLab, the think tank at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) whose projections are often used by the White House Coronavirus Task Force, think they have an answer: Baltimore, Chicago, and Boston. The reasons range from density to climate to behavior to demographic factors. But, cumulatively, they have created a dangerous and swelling disease burden within the cities and in their immediate environs, according to PolicyLab models and interviews with a slew of public health experts.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

ILGOP’s attempt to have its gatherings treated the same as religious services met with skepticism by federal appellate court

Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

* Andrew Maloney at the Daily Law Bulletin

A federal appeals court greeted the Illinois Republican Party’s challenge to the governor’s limit on public gatherings with skepticism this week.

A 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel had a barrage of questions Tuesday for the lawyer representing the state GOP, which claims it should be allowed to hold gatherings of more than 50 despite Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s pandemic guidelines to the contrary.

The Illinois Republicans and other Republican organizations claimed the Democratic governor’s orders violate the First Amendment because they carve out an exemption for churches. The plaintiffs also claim Pritzker created another exemption by endorsing protests against racial injustice.

But if the governor didn’t draw constitutional lines in his executive orders, the three judges asked, where should they be drawn?

Judge Diane P. Wood said if the Republican Party is exempt from the regulations, “I see no logical stopping point.”

* Lauraann Wood at Law360

Counsel for the Illinois Republican Party urged a three-judge panel during oral argument to revive its bid to hold gatherings larger than the 50-person limit set in the latest coronavirus safety order, arguing the exemption for religious gatherings should apply to all protected First Amendment expression. But U.S. Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett said the party seems to be comparing its asserted speech rights to a group that has “an additional interest” under the amendment, which is the right to freely exercise religion. […]

Daniel Suhr of the Liberty Justice Center argued the party should receive the same exemption as religious groups because both religious and political speech rights “live at the heart of the First Amendment.” But Judge Barrett pushed back on that stance, saying the amendment itself treats free speech and free religious exercise “a little bit as apples and oranges” since they’re separated into two distinct categories. […]

U.S. Circuit Judge Amy St. Eve said the party’s argument leaves the court wondering where it would draw a line distinguishing First Amendment rights about political speech from First Amendment rights “about some other cause.”

Suhr argued in response that “it’s the governor’s job” to draw that line. But U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Wood quickly rebuffed that stance, saying it was the party’s job, “since you’re the one who’s attacking the governor’s executive order for not drawling the line that you think should have been drawn.”

“You should have some theory of relief,” she said.

There’s more in both stories, so click those linkies.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

1,645 new cases, 16 additional deaths, 4.1 percent positivity rate

Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

Public Health Officials Announce 1,645 New Confirmed Cases of Coronavirus Disease

State reports more than 42,000 tests in one day

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 1,645 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 16 additional confirmed death.

    - Cook County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s
    - DeKalb County: 1 female 70s
    - Douglas Count; 1 male 50s
    - Iroquois County: 1 female 80s
    - Jefferson County: 1 female 80s
    - Lake County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
    - LaSalle County: 1 male 80s
    - Madison County: 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s
    - Perry County: 1 female 90s
    - Rock Island County: 1 male 80s, 1 male 90s
    - St. Clair County: 1 female 90s
    - Williamson County: 1 male 80s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 198,593 cases, including 7,672 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 42,098 specimens for a total of 3,189,801. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from August 5 – August 11 is 4.1%. As of last night, 1,525 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 357 patients were in the ICU and 129 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IDPH is now reporting both confirmed and probable cases and deaths on its website. Reporting probable cases will help show the potential burden of COVID-19 illness and efficacy of population-based non-pharmaceutical interventions. IDPH will update these data once a week.
*All data are provisional and will change. In order to rapidly report COVID-19 information to the public, data are being reported in real-time. Information is constantly being entered into an electronic system and the number of cases and deaths can change as additional information is gathered. Information for a death previously reported has changed, therefore, today’s numbers have been adjusted. For health questions about COVID-19, call the hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

ISBE survey: Most students will be learning remotely this fall

Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

* Center Square

Most students in Illinois will be learning remotely this fall, according to results from an Illinois State Board of Education survey.

Parents and students wondering what their school district’s plans for the fall semester are amid COVID-19 concerns can find out through a new portal from the Illinois State Board of Education.

ISBE has been surveying the state’s more than 850 school districts on reopening plans and it published a dashboard on the department’s website that allows everyone to see which options districts are planning to offer this fall.

Of the more than 850 districts, 671 that cover more than 1.6 million students had responded as of Wednesday.

Most of the districts, or 319, plan to offer a blended model. That will cover more than 525,000 students.

About 200 districts serving 153,000 students will be doing in-person instruction.

About 150 districts serving about 921,000 students will offer only remote instruction.

Some of that could change as districts get closer to their start date.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

Mask rule roundup

Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

* From a reader on the new mask and gathering size rule…

Are folks who oppose the DPH rule actually serious in saying enforcement should be on individuals, not businesses? I get why businesses would argue that- to avoid legal responsibility. But they actually want enforcement at the individual level? They want businesses and customers to call police on the people in their communities, overload their local police and be responsible for having their customers hit with a misdemeanor? Or is it just something to argue?

It’s a good question.

* Capitol News Illinois

On Tuesday, several members of the panel, particularly Republicans, said they continued to hear concerns from local businesses in their districts about why they were being held liable for enforcing the public health rules, but their customers who refuse to wear masks or keep a 6-foot distance from others were not.

Among those was Rep. Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, who said callers to his office were concerned about actions of individuals leading to fines and potential misdemeanor charges for businesses.

But Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, a cochair of JCAR, said the graduated nature of the enforcement rules means businesses that genuinely are trying to comply should have nothing to fear.

“And I think it’s really important to understand what that points to is this rule is going to be enforced against rogue operators,” Cunningham said. “This is not something that is going to be easily applied even by the most zealous law enforcement agency or public health department against someone — a business that slips up once or twice. There’s just not an ability to do that based on the framework of this rule.”

I think Cunningham is right. The businesses will get a reminder and a warning. If and only if a business is ignoring those public health warnings, then the matter goes to the state’s attorney, who will have the authority to decide whether to proceed.

* Joliet Herald-News

“As small business owners and residents across the state spoke out against this blatant attempt to shut down the Illinois economy again, Democrat state lawmakers are silent,” the party said in a news release.

The Will County GOP urged its supporters to call members of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to “hold the Governor accountable.” Republicans asked citizens to “rise up again to combat yet another wrong done by this Governor,” according to the release.

The party also provided potential callers with talking points to argue it was “wrong to fine a business for a customer’s actions,” and that the rule would “hurt Illinois businesses and Illinois’ fragile economy.”

Again, a business would get a warning and then a threat of action before the state’s attorney would have to press charges

The graduated enforcement of the emergency rules begins with education of the business and hopeful voluntary compliance. A written warning will follow additional violations and some or all patrons may be asked to leave the premises. The third and final consequence could include a Class A misdemeanor [with] a fine ranging from $75 to $2,500.

County health departments and local law enforcement agencies will issue the warnings and fines, while only a State’s Attorney is able to issue a misdemeanor.

The rules apply to businesses, schools, and childcare facilities, but not to individuals.

* Finke

[Pritzker’s general counsel Ann Spillane] said the administration heard from law enforcement agencies that said a rule like this would be a help when officers are asked to break up large gatherings or address mask wearing.

The new version of the rule also makes it clear that different establishments face different circumstances, she said. A tiny story with one clerk on duty can’t do the same kind of enforcement as a larger store. Also, the earlier version made it appear that full compliance was required.

“Businesses are not expected to achieve 100% compliance,” she said.

* IRMA is right to be reticent to confront customers

Illinois Retail Merchants Association’s Rob Karr, whose group was among the first months ago to put out public service announcements about the importance of masks, said the rule requires businesses employees to stick their neck out for the mandate.

“This rule requires us now to have that interaction,” Karr said. “It is clearly putting employees and retailers at risk and the [Pritzker] administration now owns that responsibility.”

But somebody’s gotta do it. And, as noted at the top, somebody would still have to call the cops on recalcitrant customers.

* More

State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo, said the governor circumvented the legislature by filing the rule and creating a tiered approach that could lead to criminal charges.

“This is not going to make more people wear masks,” Schimpf said. “In fact, I think this is going to cause people to dig in their heels a little bit more.”

Schimpf said the governor should get the consent of the people and call a special session to deal with pandemic-related issues instead of issuing unilateral mandates.

State law, approved by the General Assembly, requires IDPH to promulgate rules in the event of unusual things like novel virus pandemics. It’s set up that way because the legislature is not exactly a quick responder.

- Posted by Rich Miller   44 Comments      

Tie-breaker rules adopted, allowing approval of 75 new cannabis dispensary licenses

Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

* A mask mandate wasn’t the only JCAR agenda item yesterday. Press release…

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) announced today that permanent rules have been adopted for adult use cannabis dispensary licensees to be selected when there are two or more applicants in the same Bureau of Labor Statistics Regions with tied high scores. The rules, which were filed in June, may be found here.

The approval of these rules allows IDFPR to move forward in awarding the 75 conditional adult use cannabis dispensary licenses that were authorized by the 2019 Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. Consistent with the new rules, IDFPR will provide a public notice announcing the applicants with tied high scores who, if they meet the requirements in the rules, may participate in the selection process for a conditional license.

“We are pleased that these rules have been adopted, and we remain unwavering in our commitment to ensuring these licenses are issued in a fair and objective way that implements Illinois’ equity-centric law,” said Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor for Cannabis Control to Gov. Pritzker. “Additional licenses will be made available in the coming years and these rules will help ensure a strong foundation is established for the licensing process in the future.”

Once IDFPR awards a conditional license, the licensee will have 180 days to find a location within its BLS Region to operate. A license to operate cannot be issued if the location is within 1,500 feet of an existing licensed dispensing organization. More about the awarding of the conditional adult use dispensing organization licenses may be found under 410 ILCS 705/15-25 and 15-30 of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.

In addition, application scoring for craft grower, infuser and transporter licenses is being finalized, and the Illinois Department of Agriculture will announce award dates in the near future.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

Deep in the weeds with Tom DeVore

Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

* Rep. Darren Bailey’s attorney Tom DeVore explained yesterday’s JCAR actions to his Facebook audience late Tuesday afternoon

The main reason that the General Assembly was never convened in my opinion is because the governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health were working with those JCAR members - probably the Democrats, it’s just reality of the times we find ourselves in - to try to put a rule together through all of them working together in concert that would be able to get through the JCAR process.

That was much easier for them than going to the General Assembly and having the General Assembly pass comprehensive legislation and the voice of all of you be heard. No, no, no we can’t do that. They admitted on that transcript, over and over again that the Illinois Department of Health and the governor’s office was working with this JCAR group of committee members - and again I would suggest you working with it you know could they have talked to the Republicans too, you could’ve if but if you saw the vote, and I’ll tell you about that in a second, there was no Republican in favor of this rule - I would suggest to you humbly that that’s how government works, it’s not out in the front for all the people to watch, because you know what we haven’t been watching. Why would they care?

It was done in these backdoor conversations to get this new rule put together, that they knew, they knew before they walked in the door today that they had the votes they needed. If you heard one of the Republican senators I believe a senator, or a Republican member of the committee, said that the governor called him today and he talked to the governor about it. So the governor, by admission of this member, has been lobbying these people, didn’t have to lobby the whole General Assembly just had to lobby twelve people, really only had to get two of them. […]

And there was efforts by the administrative, body being the Department of Health and the governor’s office, to work with JCAR. Why is an administrative body in the governor’s office working with the oversight committee? Independent! You bring us a rule we’ll vet it and we’ll decide whether it passes muster, not work with us and let us give you our thoughts on what kind of rule you can present, and then we might pass it. Does anybody find that inappropriate but me? They admitted that on the record today, and they weren’t even bashful about it. And shame on all of us, for letting it get this far. Shame on us. Because I listened to that and I was like are you kidding, independent body is supposed to be an oversight, worked and gave their recommendations it seems on how this rule could be amended to get past them and not suffer from eight votes against it. I found that horrific.

Whew. A whole lot to unpack there. The GA wasn’t convened because of the pandemic. It had to eventually be convened one way or another to pass a budget and move some other necessary bills.

And, yes, how terrible that JCAR members worked with the administration to craft a better emergency rule. Just shameful.

That video, by the way, was viewed 8,400 times and shared 109 times. 321 comments were posted.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      

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Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

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MLB open thread

Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

* Something to get you started…

Maybe more than three, but the general concept seems sound.

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

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Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

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Wednesday, Aug 12, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* Question of the day
* First, get a handle on this virus
* ILGOP's attempt to have its gatherings treated the same as religious services met with skepticism by federal appellate court
* 1,645 new cases, 16 additional deaths, 4.1 percent positivity rate
* ISBE survey: Most students will be learning remotely this fall
* Mask rule roundup
* Tie-breaker rules adopted, allowing approval of 75 new cannabis dispensary licenses
* Deep in the weeds with Tom DeVore
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* MLB open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Illinois AKA sorority sisters respond to Kamala Harris' choice as Biden's running mate
* Yesterday's stories

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