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Cabello’s suit; Clay County laughs it off; Sen. Collins’ plea for help; An ode to Dan Petrella’s aunt

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* Rockford TV

State Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park) is filing a lawsuit against Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, similar to one which a southern Illinois ruled in favor of yesterday.

Cabello said his lawsuit will differ from that filed by Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia), in that it will not apply only to him, but to anyone. […]

Both Cabello and Bailey are represented by attorney Thomas DeVore.

“I’d expect in the near future that this issue was raised by Mr. Bailey successfully today is going to start cascading around the state,” DeVore told Center Square.

* Oh, man…


* Meanwhile, in the serious world…


Unacceptable.

* And you may have heard Gov. Pritzker today sending his condolences to Tribune reporter Dan Petrella on the loss of his aunt. Petrella’s column is a must-read

I sat in front of the computer screen in my guest bedroom on April 21, watching Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s daily news briefing on COVID-19. I listened, as I do almost every day, as officials announced the number of people in Illinois who had died from the new coronavirus.

The count on that day was 119. One of them was my aunt, Carol DeWitt.

I’ve been covering the COVID-19 briefings from the start, at first competing with other reporters for a good seat in the Blue Room at the James R. Thompson Center and later, as a safety precaution, from home. Each day as officials announced the number of new cases and deaths, I’ve tried to keep in the front of my mind that these aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet. They are human beings. Lives at risk. Loved ones lost. […]

She was the aunt who lived with us in my earliest years, who played “Thriller” on the living room record player and shot baskets with us on the bumpy driveway. She still gave my two older brothers and me handmade cards and drawings practically every time we saw her.

Carol had beautiful blue eyes. I see them sometimes when I look at my son.

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller   30 Comments      


About that poll the governor mentioned

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* Gov. JB Pritzker mentioned a poll today in his daily media briefing. That poll was conducted for my subscribers, but now that it’s out there (grrr), I wanted to make sure y’all knew the toplines before someone else published them…

Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing handling the Coronavirus outbreak in the United States?

    Strongly Approve 36%
    Somewhat Approve 12% [48%]
    Somewhat Disapprove 10%
    Strongly Disapprove 39% [49%]
    Don’t Know 3%

Do you approve or disapprove of the job JB Pritzker is doing handling the Coronavirus outbreak here in Illinois?

    Strongly Approve 47%
    Somewhat Approve 24% [71%]
    Somewhat Disapprove 9%
    Strongly Disapprove 14% [23%]
    Don’t Know 6%

Do you support or oppose the current stay at home order in place here in Illinois?

    Strongly Support 59%
    Somewhat Support 18% [77%]
    Somewhat Oppose 10%
    Strongly Oppose 8% [18%]
    Don’t Know 4%

Are you concerned that states might lift their stay at home orders too quickly or too slowly?

    Too Quickly 48%
    Too Slowly 29%
    Don’t Know 23%

Subscribers have crosstabs.

* Methodology…

This poll was conducted between April 23rd and 24th, 2020, using a blend of automated calls to landlines and live-operator calls to cell phones. In all, 800 interviews were achieved among registered voters in Illinois. 320 of these responses came from cell phones. The Margin of Error for this survey is +/-3.46% at a Confidence Interval of 95%.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Pritzker goes off on Bailey: “This ruling only applies to one person, because it was only ever about one person” - Dr. Ezike talks hospitalization data, recovery rates - Explains power of local health authorities - Denies that stay at home order is a quarantine order - Explains how multiple EOs issued during floods - Rep. Cabello filing lawsuit today? Pritzker responds: “shameful acts on the parts of these partisan actors” - Dr. Ezike talks about caution fatigue - Trying to spin up contact tracing - Talks again about antibody testing - Asked whether he’s contemptuous of the judiciary, Pritzker says it’s a “ridiculous question” and has “great respect” for judiciary - Explains federal blood donation law - Says no partisan divide, just people taking “political advantage” - Tax relief “in the works” - Dr. Ezike explains danger of opening public swimming pools - Addresses lack of testing at Bloomington site - Doesn’t disclose any backup plans for lawsuit - Expresses condolences to Trib reporter - Says more National Guard involvement likely

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* Gov. JB Pritzker at today’s media briefing

Before I get into today’s conversation. I want to address the ruling that came out of the Clay County Circuit Court yesterday.

First, the stay at home order designed in close consultation with scientists and public health experts remains in place.

As it stands, the judge’s ruling is limited. Applying only to one person, the state representative from the hundred ninth district.

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. The district is also home to the county experiencing Illinois highest death rate per capita from COVID-19.

This ruling only applies to one person, because it was only ever about one person.

This was a cheap political stunt designed so that the representative can see his name in headlines, and unfortunately he has briefly been successful in that most countless of feats as absurd as this charade is, we are taking this matter very seriously.

While the court’s order is limited, the risk it poses is significant. By agreeing with the plaintiffs in this initial ruling, the court set a dangerous precedent. Slowing the spread of this virus is critical to saving lives by ensuring our healthcare system has the resources to treat patients who get sick. And we will not stop this virus if because of this ruling, any resident can petition to be exempted from aspects of the orders that rely on collective action to keep us all safe.

Because of the threat to public health from this court order and the fact that the state has acted well within its legal authority to protect the health of the public, the state is appealing immediately.

I know misinformation tends to spread quickly in situations like this. So I assure you that I will continue to provide you with updates on any new developments.

But on this topic, I leave you with this. I know this virus is causing devastating economic consequences. Just as this has caused tens of thousands to become ill and thousands to die. For two months, not a second has gone by,where the economic impact on our working families at our small businesses hasn’t been an important and paramount consideration of my decision making.

I have been listening to working people and businesses to Democrats and Republicans, epidemiologists and expert modelers. Responsible people understand the trade offs and the consequences of reopening too early. So I will continue to listen and to act in a responsible fashion. So we can all get back to work and school and move toward normal in a way that will keep our families, healthy and safe.

Let me remind everyone again. The stay at home order in Illinois is still very much in effect. All of us must maintain social distancing, wear masks in public and keep non essential businesses closed until we can lower our still increasing hospitalizations and lower ICU bed use. The danger has not passed yet, no matter whether you live, in little Egypt, or in Freeport, or in Quincy, or in Chicago. We are making much of progress, and much of the progress that we had hoped to make.

And we will not let one irresponsible state representative deter us from success.

Now moving on to the business of actually keeping people safe.

The governor then went on to welcome the assistance of the Polish medical delegation and praised the Illinois National Guard.

Please pardon all transcription errors.

* Dr. Ezike…

Thus far, we have run 242,189 tests with 14,561 tests being run yesterday.

Regarding hospital data, as of yesterday 4738 people in Illinois were reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s up from 4672 yesterday.

Of those, roughly 25% or 1245 patients are in the ICU and 778 patients were on ventilators.

Talking about recovery, I’d like to report that we’ve been continuing with our survey to identify people who report having a resolution of their symptoms after having a positive test for those less than two weeks from the positive test 49% report no longer having symptoms and feeling recovered. For people who are between two and four weeks from their positive test 61% report feeling recovered. And after more than four weeks from the positive tests 74% of the respondents report being recovered. I hope that scene is encouraging news that people do recover. We mourn the loss of all the lives and we’re sorry for all those who have had to endure a battle in the hospital, but the majority of individuals do recover.

* On to questions for the governor. Rep. Bailey says local health departments are the authority to decide quarantine situation so there’s due process with those affected. Why isn’t that the way it should be handled instead of the statewide approach?…

Local health departments certainly have lots of authority, they can put in more stringent rules than the state does, that’s certainly true. But the state of Illinois has a Public Health Act and has an Emergency Management Act that allows us to protect all of the people of the state, thinking about every region of the state which I am and we are.

* If you can explain the Department of Public Health’s quarantine authority and will you now turn to those powers giving the judges temporary restraining order, if you believe you need to?…

We’re not, there is no quarantine authority that’s being exercised here there’s a stay at home order their executive orders they’re in place to effectuate the protection of all of our citizens. I’m not sure what the if there was some other point to the question

I think what he was speaking of, the judge’s ruling yesterday said, in essence, by limiting people to what they can go outside and do, so you can go to the grocery store but can’t go fishing, that is in effect a quarantine… You don’t believe this applies at all in that regard?…

It’s called a stay at home order, there is no mandate that people have to stay quarantined in their home. That’s not what the stay at home order says. That’s the name of the order, but the order in fact says that we’re designed to protect families and individuals all across the state, following guidelines from our federal Homeland Security Department, where we’ve essentially authorized essential businesses to keep operating. But we’ve asked non essential businesses to close, and we’ve asked people to wear masks and we’ve asked people to make sure and protect each other across the state by keeping social distancing norms. And that’s all of what those orders are about.

But again, it’s the authority of the Emergency Management Act of the Public Health Act. And it is the history of the state of Illinois that we have sometimes successive declarations of disaster in the state.

A good example is floods that have occurred in the past which, remember, emergencies don’t have a time bound to them necessarily. Aometimes they do, a tornado can come and go. And the emergency can be declared and has a time bound to it. Floods tend not to, pandemics which we haven’t experienced in Illinois for 100 years, pandemics don’t live by a 30 day timeframe. And so all we’re trying to do is to end our disaster. Our executive orders as soon as possible, but with the thought in mind that we need to keep people safe until we’re able to do that.

[Bailey’s lawyer] told me today that just because there have been continuing proclamations in the past that have never been challenged in court doesn’t set precedent for the court to accept that as a legal exercise of authority. Can you respond to that?…

All I would say is he should read the statute. The statute allows the governor to declare an emergency for 30 days at a time. And if there is an emergency that occurs this emergency declaration goes till April 30. I’m not sure what he’s suggesting but on May 1, if there is an emergency on May 1, then it is the authority of the governor to declare an emergency, a disaster proclamation on May 1 for 30 days.

But, look, let’s not get into the you know the the back and forth. Here’s the facts. We are defeating this virus by virtue of having a stay at home order. You can hear from Dr Ezike and others that there would have been thousands more deaths in the state and there will be thousands of deaths if this executive order is not allowed to proceed on May 1 through May 30. So all I can say is that it is the height of recklessness that that attorney and his client have gone ahead and challenged the idea that we’re in the middle of an emergency. Remember, Donald Trump, the President of the United States, has declared a national emergency. We are one of the United States, and we too have declared a disaster.

It appears we’re going to have a second lawsuit filed by a Republican, Representative Cabello. Similar claims. I haven’t seen it yet, we’re told that’s going to happen today. So now we have a second Republican from upstate challenging this. Do you have a concern that this is going to have a snowball effect and that there’s going to be a lot more Republicans challenging this and is this going to go to the Supreme Court, eventually?…

Well, it appears to me to be some partisan endeavor at a moment when frankly political parties shouldn’t matter at all. We should be focused on simply doing what’s best for people, keeping them safe and healthy.

But I don’t know, certainly people have the ability, anybody has the ability to go to court. But I know that we have appealed this ruling in Clay County in the local court Circuit Court in Clay County. It’s been appealed. And our hope is that it’s the Supreme Court’s been asked to take up the matter and so my hope is that we can move swiftly just to move this out of the way,because we have so much to do. We have so much to do to keep people safe and wasting our time and effort on these ridiculous lawsuits is something that I think is just, it’s something that we shouldn’t have to do and shameful acts on the parts of these partisan actors.

* There’s talk about quarantine fatigue or caution fatigue, with mental health experts saying it really started to kick in. Can you comment on that and can these actually hurt people’s efforts to stay safe?…

Dr. Ezike: No of course, we know it’s a big sacrifice that we’re asking people.. Of course we’re trying to do it with their best intentions with the public health in mind. Trust me, no one wants to tell people to stay at home. No one wants people to not be able to enjoy our beautiful state. It is with a lot of reflection and the use of data that we are using taking these aggressive actions and they’re actually working. We know that we have flattened the curve. we know that we have decreased the rate of rise of a number of people who’ve gotten infected, which means that we’ve decreased the number of people who will be hospitalized and have passed on. I unfortunately cannot prevent every fatality. but we can decrease the numbers as much as we can. And so I know that people are getting tired, we all are tired of this pandemic the enemy. The common enemy is the virus, it’s not the people, it’s not public health is trying to keep people safe it’s not the governor’s working so hard to help us manage these community mitigation strategies. We all need to try to hang in there so that we can prevent the loss of life of our loved ones and ourselves. Is there some worry about the toll that this constant state of fear could have on people of stress that’s creating, definitely that’s a very real thing and that’s why we’ve had the the call lines to help people with some mental health resources. And we hope that others are able to check on friends and others who may be more predisposed to having further mental health exacerbations. It is a trying time, no one’s gonna deny that being in for this long and not being able to connect with people physically which is an important and normal human normal desire, all of that is being interrupted. But for the greater good of being able to not lose lives and hopefully when we can come out of this, we will have to address some of these issues. Hopefully people can reach out and get some telehealth and telemental health. In the meantime, but again we’re not trying to unduly punish people we’re actually trying to work on the society’s best interest.

* When can we see contact tracing start to be part of the solution? Do you have a timeline for that? And then also the White House is promising because say 20,000 testing swaps per day in May. Is that going to be enough?…

Listen, I am thrilled that the White House is going to provide 20,000 swabs a day I was on the phone this morning with [garbled] on that very subject and it will be a great advancement for us to have 20,000 more opportunities to get testing up and going. The first part was just on contract tracing, now I know so I think ramped up yeah also after that discussion with the admirals I had a meeting with our contact tracing team. And that is something that we’re working very hard to spin up to get going in a, in a large way, as you know there are a lot of components to that, there’s a technology component, there’s a hiring component. This is a very large endeavor. When you have more than 2000 people that are being identified every day as a result of more testing, we now have more cases that are identified and each one of those people may, for example, have had 10 contacts or more. And so you can imagine every single day and then pile on top of that, that we are monitoring the people who are in quarantine or in isolation, I should say. once they’ve been contacted and asked to go into isolation, or given options about what they’re going to do. So it’s a very large endeavor and we would be the second state to have a very large contact tracing initiative, take place so I’m, I’m kind of pushing hard on the team, they know it for us to get that going. Because that’s the other or another of the major components that allows us to open up the economy even more.

* What about antibody testing, is that going to be more widely available anytime soon?…

We would like to do antibody testing, but i as i said the other day, the tests are still as yet somewhat unproven, or you know the sensitivity is in question still. And there are lots of articles about that. We want to make sure that when we start doing antibody testing that we’re giving people accurate results, and that we know what the impact is because one of the things that we still don’t know is if in fact you are immune after you’ve had COVID-19. And so doing antibody testing was intended to give people that information, so we don’t want to start that until we have at least a greater medical basis upon which to give people that information.

* Regarding your comments yesterday on the Bailey lawsuit. Are you really that contemptuous of the judiciary or the right of citizens or even the legislator to go to court to challenge an executive power in this country? He said that Bailey is grandstanding isn’t that what you were doing when you call the lawsuit and said his actions would make people sick?…

Okay, that’s just a ridiculous question I’m not even sure how to answer. No, I know, I’m responding to Mr O’Connor.

First of all I have great respect for the judiciary. Second of all, I absolutely think it’s the people’s right to go to court. Third of all, what I’m calling reckless is the idea and the contention that’s been made by this state representative, that somehow we’re intending to limit people’s civil liberties or that we’re intending to take away people’s rights. That’s not the intention here. The intention in fact is to save people’s lives. So it is reckless in the extreme for a state representative who should know better, to bring a lawsuit like that, that he knows might have a terrible effect on the health and safety of people all across the state. That’s what’s reckless, he should be more responsible than that. Anybody can go to court. Absolutely. Anybody can go to court. But the fact that he took that case to court and that he was the plaintiff in that case, that he’s the one giving you know, interviews, about why people’s rights have been taken away and claiming somehow that this is unconstitutional. I mean he should know, but he should read the statutes. That’s what he should do

* What is the Department of Public Health going to do in the event that the state loses this lawsuit and do local health departments have the capacity to deal with a situation?…

Dr. Ezike: The Public Health Act actually gives us most of the authority to make sure that those restrictions are in place. Other aspects of the law give us other powers too so. So, it would be somewhat. I mean it’s hard to speculate exactly whether or not this case would go anywhere else. I do not believe that the courts will allow this ruling to stand and I do believe that the courts will overturn it.

* It is illegal to sell premix cocktails to go in Chicago but bar owners say they need those sales to survive Lightfoot said it’s a state issue. Are you considering pushing to make it legal?…

I don’t know that it’s a state issue, I haven’t thought about mixed drinks being served at the curb but I’m happy to look into it.

* The FDA recently reduced the time for blood donations from gay and bisexual men from a year to three months. Is there a movement from Governor’s to totally eliminate this ban, given how badly blood donations are needed?…

This is something that the federal government has imposed. That’s not something that I would support as a governor, but unfortunately this is a federal law.

* To what extent is COVID-19 dividing the state has increased partisan has an increased partisan divide?…

I think there was a poll yesterday that showed that the vast majority of people in the state support, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, support the stay at home order. And so I don’t think it’s there’s a partisan divide, I do think that 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.

* You’ve extended sales tax deadlines for bars and restaurants. Are some more accommodations in the works for other businesses or other businesses tax relief options on the table?…

We certainly are talking to the General Assembly about that, you know, there are other things that I think we could do. But those are in the works and I don’t have anything to announce today.

Dr. Ezike was asked about guidance for wearing a mask. Please check the Google.

* There’s another question about clarifying the pools and whether or not, why those are not open during the pandemic?…

Dr. Ezike: Well, I think, again, swimming and pools are a summer pastime that everyone would like to feel that they’re back to normal and being able to enjoy the normal things of the summer. Again, we are still learning a lot about this virus. But in terms of pools in genera,l we know that the settings of pools, whether it’s public pools or private pools, usually involves mass gatherings almost like that. Lots of people congregating together, whether in the water or poolside. So there for many reasons that we probably need to get to a certain point in our epidemiologic curve before we could probably consider that.

* In Bloomington, our state run drive up testing site is still underutilized and Bloomington is averaging about 100 people per day and capacity is 250.
Asymptomatic workers supporting critical infrastructure are still not allowed to be tested there despite state guidance that says they should be. What’s the holdup on loosening those restrictions there?…

Well, we have a limited number of tests and capability across the state. And so, to the extent that as we’re focused today on people who are symptomatic or our first responders and other essential workers there again is still a limited number of tests available. We would hope that more people would go to that site, but I do want to remind the questioner that actually in Bloomington,what we’ve seen is there are a lot of other sites that are available for people and that is one of the reasons why people are not going to that site is they have the ability to go to other health care facilities that have testing available.

* What’s your backup plan to continue to fight COVID-19 in the event the courts restrain your executive orders which you’ve already mentioned but he also has a second part: If it’s not clear the law gives you the powers you feel you need, why not call an emergency session now?…

I am reasonably confident that the responsible members of the judiciary will overrule and, overturn rather the ruling that came from this one judge.

* Chicago released school level budgets today. They included $125 million increase. With dire forecasts in other cities about school funding are budget increases wise?…

I can’t even answer the question because we don’t yet know, working with the legislature whether we’ll be able to increase education funding at all but but I hope that we will be okay.

* Dan Petrella will be our last question from the Tribune. Are you considering any additional duties for the guard as part of the COVID response? In Connecticut for example Guard members are being deployed to aid with nursing home inspections, is that something we could see here?…

Well, let me just begin by saying to Dan Petrella that I read the piece that he posted today about his aunt the loss of his aunt. And I just want to tell you how very sorry I am for your personal loss.

Absolutely. The National Guard has been tremendous. I mean everything we’ve asked them to do they’ve done with a just, you know, the execution has been amazing. They are excellent at everything that they do we will be asking the National Guard to do new things. It may be that we’ll ask them to help us with nursing homes more than they already are. As you know, we’ve deployed them to prisons we’ve deployed them to testing sites we’ve had them really in virtually everything that we’re doing in fighting this pandemic they’ve been somehow involved and so I, there’s no doubt that we’ll continue to use the National Guard.

And I just, I said it many times, but I’m just so proud of these young men and women and their relationship with the Polish military, which when I became governor I learned so much more about. And I must say it gives, it’s a point of real pride for the state of Illinois to have this kind of a relationship with the kind of excellent military operation of Poland. And of course because we have so many Polish Americans here in the city of Chicago. It’s a great point of pride, especially for them so thank you very much for everything that you’re doing. thank you Consul General.

-30-

- Posted by Rich Miller   67 Comments      


2,219 new cases, 144 additional deaths

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 2,219 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 144 additional deaths.

    Cook County: 1 female 20s, 1 male 20s, 2 males 30s, 3 males 40s, 2 females 50s, 6 males 50s, 10 females 60s, 17 males 60s, 11 females 70s, 17 males 70s, 17 females 80s, 15 males 80s, 5 females 90s, 6 males 90s
    DuPage County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
    Jefferson County: 1 female 90s
    Kane County: 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
    Kankakee County: 1 male 50s
    Lake County: 1 male 40s, 2 females 70s, 2 males 70s, 1 male 80s
    Madison County: 1 female 50s
    McHenry County: 2 females 70s
    Ogle County: 1 male 70s
    Rock Island County: 1 female 90s
    St. Clair County: 1 female 90s
    Will County: 1 female teens, 1 male 50s, 1 female 60s, 2 males 70s, 2 males 80s, 1 female 90s
    Winnebago County: 1 female 80s.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 48,102 cases, including 2,125 deaths, in 96 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have processed 14,561 specimens for a total of 242,189.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


A quick COVID-19 roundup

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* Tribune’s live blog

Nearly 200 residents, staff at Cicero nursing home test positive for COVID-19 as at least 5 deaths reported at facility

Smartphone location data can tell if people stay home during the pandemic. Experts worry users are sacrificing privacy for safety.

Pritzker says White House has promised to help get Illinois COVID-19 testing swabs

Open the economy or save lives? It’s not that simple. From the experts, 7 ways to talk politics in the COVID-19 era.

Chicago to give $5,000 grants to small businesses with four or fewer employees in lower-income neighborhoods

As domestic violence calls rise, free hotel rooms are being offered to victims

As Illinois facial covering requirement nears, Lightfoot and opponents put forward dueling plans to distribute masks in Chicago

Hormel furloughs 150 employees at its Fontanini Foods’ Italian sausage plant in McCook

Expect changes if college campuses reopen in the fall: ‘All of this is in uncharted waters’

Donors come to rescue of Illinois school district struggling with digital divide

* Sun-Times live blog

CDC now recommends social distancing for pets

Mayor Lightfoot announces grant program for microbusinesses

Founder of South Side nonprofit doles out COVID-19 supplies to hard hit black community

White House vows to send Illinois 20K swabs per day in May to expand testing: Pritzker

What reopening looks like in states lifting lockdowns

Mask safety tips: Sizing questions, washing instructions and more

El Milagro closes tortilla factory for two weeks after employee dies from coronavirus

Lakers return $4.6 million from coronavirus stimulus loan program

Eighteen employees at a Tootsie Roll manufacturing plant in Chicago have tested positive for COVID-19 since the end of March.

Chicago police announced Monday 21 more cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the department to 414.

In fight against COVID-19, house party is a slap in the face

And that’s all I had time for today. Sorry!

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Healthy Illinois Supports The Illinois Kidney Care Alliance

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

To highlight the needs of people suffering from kidney failure, organizations from across the state have come together to create the Illinois Kidney Care Alliance (IKCA). IKCA is a coalition of health advocates and professionals, community groups, providers and businesses focused on raising awareness of the needs of people who suffer from kidney failure and of their loved ones.

IKCA is proud to have Healthy Illinois as a member of the coalition. Healthy Illinois is a campaign to make quality health care coverage accessible to all Illinoisans. It aims to create healthier and more financially stable families and communities across the state by expanding health care coverage to all.

In Illinois, more than 30,000 people suffer from kidney failure. These patients, currently on dialysis or waiting for a functioning kidney, are among society’s most vulnerable. IKCA’s goal is to help and protect kidney patients and their families. For more information, please visit our website.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Hang in there, Lee!

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* My old buddy Lee Milner was diagnosed with Stage-3 pancreatic cancer in December. Lee was a state spokesperson back in the day and has been a communications consultant and free-lance photographer for years. You’ve probably seen him at the Statehouse taking pictures…

Anyway, I’m told that he could use some cheering up. So, instead of a question today, how about we all send Lee some good vibes in comments.

Thanks!

- Posted by Rich Miller   71 Comments      


McConnell walks back bankruptcy talk, sticks to pension guns, floats tort reform

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* I told you last week that I thought Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments about allowing states to go bankrupt was likely being overblown by the media. McConnell is very good at public negotiating ploys and the media eats it up every time.

Most of the usual local suspects immediately proclaimed Leader McConnell a truth-telling hero.

But McConnell walked it back yesterday

Under siege from Democrats seeking to oust him as majority leader in November, McConnell said the entire episode was “a classic case of taking things out of context” and that he never expected many states to use that option even if it were available to them.

“The fundamental point I was trying to make is that we’re not interested in borrowing money from future generations to help states solve problems that they created themselves,” McConnell said. “The bankruptcy suggestion would have been optional anyway. I wasn’t assuming many of them were going to take that option.”

* But he did stick to his guns about not bailing out state pension funds, which is what I figured he’d do last week

“I’m open to additional assistance. It’s not just going to be a check, though, you get my point?” Not really. He explained, “We’re not writing a check to send down to states to allow them to, in effect, finance mistakes they’ve made unrelated to the coronavirus.”

Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post

Well, no one was talking about that. This is to replace money that the states have lost because their economies have shut down and revenue to the states has dropped through the floor as they fight the pandemic and must pay for testing and tracking.

Well, um, actually at least one person was talking about that, and he’s from Illinois. Oops.

* But McConnell appeared to show his cards yesterday. What he says he really wants now in exchange for a state and local government funding package is tort reform

“We probably will do another bill. What I’m saying is it won’t just be about money,” McConnell said. “The next pandemic coming will be the lawsuit pandemic in the wake of this one. So we need to prevent that now when we have the opportunity to do it.” […]

“We can’t afford to not protect all of the brave people who have been at work during all of this,” he said. “It’s going to take a certain amount of courage to open your business up again if you think there’s a lawyer right out on the curb waiting to go after you if he sees somebody within six feet of someone else.”

Back to Jennifer Rudin

The likely compromise is to enact litigation protection that kicks in if the business complies with Occupational Safety and Health Agency guidelines for a safe workplace and follows guidelines from both its state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Not to nitpick, but get it together, man

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* From the Friday, April 24th Gov. JB Pritzker media briefing

Should grocery stores and other businesses turn people away if they’re not wearing a face covering some employers have safety concerns about such confrontations?…

    I understand, but we have put in a requirement for people to wear face coverings. And so I, you know, just like with everything else you’re not allowed to go into a restaurant without wearing shoes.

    So it’s perfectly acceptable to tell people that you’re not allowed in if you’re not wearing a face mask.

The shoe requirement is a myth. The Society for Barefoot Living sent letters to every state health department in the country a few years ago to confirm it. The Illinois Department of Public Health’s 2017 response is here. Illinois has no shoe-wearing requirement.

…Adding… From the governor’s office…

The goal of the Governor’s updated stay at home order requiring a face covering, is to set a new normal that everyone uses a face covering so that both store workers and customers are protected. Our hope would be that the most a store owner would need to do would be to remind someone to put on their face covering who might have forgotten. Store owners do also have the option to ask customers to leave if they believe that they pose a risk to the health or safety of their employees or other customers. The expectation is that stores should enforce this the same way they’ve been enforcing other social distancing requirements: by posting signage about the face covering requirement and reminding people who aren’t in compliance.

* Saturday, April 25th

The Illinois State dental society has sent you a letter asking to be considered an essential business. Since you need a dental exam before some elective surgeries are you considering letting them reopen?…

    We actually never closed dentists or doctors offices in the EO. They have the ability to operate but, I know that many dentists have chosen not to open because the challenge, as I understand, having talked to a dentist about this is that the aerosolization of someone’s saliva when they’re being worked on makes it very difficult to protect the dentist and therefore, many dentists have just been open only for emergency dentistry.

* Sunday, April 26th

Dentists around Chicago are extremely confused after your comments yesterday. They’ve all been waiting for your green light to open. You said they closed down on their own. Can you clarify that please and can they get back to work for more than just emergencies?…

    They can. I said that yesterday, I’m happy to reiterate it today.

* Monday, April 27th

Our executive order did not close dental offices, but IDPH has issued guidance to dentists, focusing their work on more emergency procedures. That guidance remains in place. Dental procedures are high risk for dentists and for their staff, and we’re going to continue working with the medical experts as we move forward. But right now, dental procedures should be limited to urgent health issues and emergencies, and I apologize for any confusion that my comments may have caused.

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


WalletHub: Vast majority of states are getting hit harder than Illinois

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* I missed this last week

While Americans have started to receive their government stimulus payments, those who are jobless will likely still struggle. However, not all states have experienced the same levels of unemployment due to the pandemic. To identify which states’ workforces have been hurt most by COVID-19, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on increases in unemployment claims. We used this data to rank the most impacted states in both the latest week for which we have data (April 13) and overall since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis (March 16). Read on for the results

Illinois ranked 43rd of 51 for the week-to-week impact and 44th in overall impact. The top ten most impacted states included Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana and Florida. Some of that can be explained by the complete collapse of automobile manufacturing and its radiating effects.

* But, as I’ve noted before, you’d think Illinois’ early stay at home order would’ve hurt us more. It doesn’t appear to have done so, partly because people are essentially voting with their feet and staying home no matter what their state government says

According to Google’s mobility reports, Florida is actually outperforming the US average on every metric of social distancing the tech company is tracking. Retail visits are down 49 percent (45 percent across the US). Trips to grocery stores and pharmacies have dropped 20 percent (7 percent US average), and people are going to parks less (down 54 percent versus 16 percent nationwide).

Illinois also has a history of being late to and emerging from recessions. And we don’t have a good comparison about how Illinois stacks up against other states as far as processing unemployment claims goes.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* WAND has a novel legal analysis of yesterday’s Clay County judicial order and I dismissed it at first. I mean, even Rep. Bailey himself says yesterday’s order only applies to him. But I somewhat reconsidered, then backtracked and now admit to being a bit stumped after re-reading the order several times

Monday was the first hearing on the lawsuit, where Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney ruled against against Pritzker’s executive order, granting a restraining order to temporarily block the stay-at-home order restrictions taking effect on Friday.

This does not mean the current stay-at-home order has been lifted. Gov. Pritzker’s legal team has a week to appeal the judge’s ruling. According to the Attorney General, who is representing Pritzker, the order does not impact the entire state. The governor’s office said if they lose the appeal on Tuesday they will issue the new directives.

However an attorney WAND-TV spoke with read the ruling differently, saying this could apply to Illinois as a whole. If so the state could “return to normal” Friday, unless another judge gets involved to overturn the ruling.

The ruling only applies to Bailey, but the lawyer said because Gov. Pritzker is acting on behalf of the government, he believes Pritzker can not issue a new ruling and exclude Bailey; therefore making it binding for the entire state. Pritzker would also not be able to issue a new order due to equal protection laws, according to the lawyer.

There is no returning to “normal.” Those days are over. The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. John Hyten, said this two days ago on 60 Minutes

2019 normal will never exist again. We have to figure out how to operate and fight through a world where coronavirus exists.

But could Illinois return to legal “normal”? That’s the question here.

* The reporter explained more on Twitter…


* To the order

Part “A” is clear. Rep. Bailey is exempt from enforcement of the March 20 order, which, by the way, is no longer in effect. But, let’s just stipulate that the judge meant to say the April continuance of the original order.

Even so, the judge is blocking enforcement of an order that doesn’t quite exist in the way he characterized it. The EO does not force anyone to “isolate and quarantine” in their homes beyond this

The intent of this Executive Order is to ensure that the maximum number of people self-isolate in their places of residence to the maximum extent feasible, while enabling essential services to continue, to slow the spread of COVID-19 to the greatest extent possible.

There’s no “forcing” evident here. Ensuring people “self-isolate” doesn’t mean forcing them to do it. But whatever.

And as far as quarantines go, the EO only mentions the word in context of existing powers of state and local health departments

People at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, including elderly people and those who are sick, are urged to stay in their residence to the extent possible except as necessary to seek medical care. Nothing in this Executive Order prevents the Illinois Department of Public Health or local public health departments from issuing and enforcing isolation and quarantine orders pursuant to the Department of Public Health Act, 20 ILCS 2305. […]

Nothing in this Executive Order shall, in any way, alter or modify any existing legal authority allowing the State or any county, or local government body from ordering (1) any quarantine or isolation that may require an individual to remain inside a particular residential property or medical facility for a limited period of time, including the duration of this public health emergency

* Let’s move on to “Part B.” This is the part that the unnamed attorney in the WAND account was referring to. The judge barred Pritzker from entering any further orders against Rep. Bailey. The governor can’t just specifically carve Bailey out of a future EO without triggering an equal protection lawsuit.

Then again, the new EO, which takes effect May 1, will not be “forcing [Bailey] to isolate and quarantine in his home.”

So, I dunno. It reminds me of the old saying that the only lawyer in town will starve until another lawyer moves in.

* But it’ll probably be a moot point soon enough anyway. The judge was clearly biased and made some truly odd arguments…


That would be the very definition of what conservatives used to call an “activist judge.”

* Some more quotes compiled by Mark Maxwell, who was at yesterday’s hearing

Judge McHaney: “This executive order is absolutely destroying people’s property.”

Judge McHaney: “The Speaker of the Illinois House could propose an amendment to the Illinois Emergency Management Act and grant the Governor the authority. He could pass that in a New York minute, couldn’t he?”

Thomas Verticchio [with the AG’s office]: “Governors have made successive and multiple proclamations and then issued…”

Judge McHaney: “Aren’t you talking about flooding? That governor certainly didn’t shut down the state or destroy people’s lives or property over H1N1.”

Judge McHaney: “There is a vast difference between being allowed to ask the federal government for disaster loans for a flood, and depriving me of my constitutional right to work, to travel, to exist.”

Judge McHaney: Does the Governor have the right to shred the Constitution for longer than 30 days? That’s the issue, isn’t it?

1) The EO isn’t destroying anyone’s property. The virus is.

2) “Because… Madigan!” But, hey, the judge isn’t totally wrong here. The GA could reconvene, but we are still at or near the peak of a pandemic.

3) Illinois was not declared a federal or state disaster area during H1N1. Huge, huge difference.

4) It’s not just about federal disaster money. The governor can legally bar entrance to and exit from flood zones, he can shut down businesses during earthquakes, he can do all sorts of things when natural disasters strike, and this virus is certainly one of those.

5) As we’ve already discussed, the statute is likely silent about multiple 30-day EOs for a reason.

Anyway, your turn.

- Posted by Rich Miller   96 Comments      


AFL-CIO vows to continue fight, while biz groups push back

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* Yesterday…

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission today formally repealed an emergency rule which created a presumption that the workplace was the cause of a COVID-19 infection.

This action came after the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) and Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of two dozen business organizations challenging the rule, in which a Sangamon County judge granted a Temporary Restraining Order. Attorneys Scott Cruz, Thad Felton and Kevin Hormuth with the law firm Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. represented the the IMA and IRMA.

The following statement can be attributed to Mark Denzler, president and CEO, IMA, and Rob Karr, president and CEO, IRMA:

“Retailers and manufacturers are concerned about the health and safety of their employees, customers, and communities. This case was first and foremost about the rule of law and we appreciate the court ruling in Sangamon County and subsequent repeal of the emergency rule by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. It was clearly an overreach and inconsistent with the traditional rule making process. If left unchecked, this rule would have subject Illinois businesses to billions of dollars in added costs at a time when many are struggling to make payroll and retain employees. Our members employ the largest number of workers in Illinois, represent the largest sales tax revenue generator for the state, and contribute the single largest share of the state’s Gross Domestic Product.”

Attorney Scott Cruz added: “We are happy for IRMA’s and IMA’s members, that the Sangamon County Circuit Court took swift - and proper - action in granting our TRO last week to enjoin the Amendments from taking effect, and we appreciate the Commission’s decision today to repeal the Amendments. At its core, this case was based on the Commission far exceeding its rulemaking authority. The substantive law of Illinois, and the wisdom of implementing it, is for the legislature, after proper discourse, and not the whim of the Commission.”

* Also yesterday…

In order to protect frontline workers, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC), adopted an emergency rule that provides a rebuttable presumption for first responders and frontline essential workers who file claims as a result of contracting the COVID-19 virus. The emergency rule passed the Commission without a dissenting vote on April 15th.

The Illinois Manufacturers Association (IMA) and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), backed by the insurance industry, filed a law suit against the IWCC to block the rule. Today, the IWCC withdrew the rule. The following is a statement from Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea.

Statement by Illinois AFL-CIO President Tim Drea On Rescinding Workers’ Compensation Rule For COVID-19 Protection

During this state of emergency, employees are going to work at great personal risk to themselves and their families. As a result, hundreds of first responders and frontline essential workers have been infected by the COVID-19 virus as a result of their job. Sadly, some have not recovered from the disease and have died.

Employers have lobbied government to have their business declared essential and then mandated that employees show up for work – often without providing protective gear or safety supplies. In order to protect these essential workers, the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission (IWCC), with the strong support of Governor Pritzker, adopted an emergency rule to protect front line essential workers who file workers’ compensation claims as a result of contracting the COVID-19 virus on the job.

Unfortunately, employers and insurance companies have used the courts to block the rule for workers’ compensation coverage leaving workers with few options to protect themselves.

While we are disappointed with this setback and find the actions of the big business groups shameful, rest assured that the Illinois AFL-CIO will continue to fight for fair workers’ compensation protection for first responders and frontline workers who contract COVID-19 while performing their essential duties to mitigate this crisis.

* Greg Hinz

In a joint phone interview, IMA President Mark Denzler and IRMA chief Rob Karr said what’s shameful is that labor would seek to use the pandemic as an excuse to violate the law.

Though the pair conceded that existing workers comp rules generally place the burden of proof on the worker to show they were infected on the job—often through a lengthy administrative process—the proposed rebuttable presumption goes too far the other way, they said. Indeed, WCC rules allow for emergency action in needed cases, Denzler said.

“The current law is sufficient to help people based on my discussions with the commission, Denzler said. […]

Despite that, both said they’re willing to talk and Denzler appeared to hint at a possible compromise when he noted that some other states are applying the rebuttable resumption standard only to health care and first responders, not the retail and other “front-line” workers that Drea referenced.

They just threw the hospitals right under the bus. Heh.

Anyway, I get where the employers are coming from, but unions, particularly the UFCW, have been demanding higher pay for their members and want them formally treated like frontline workers when it comes to PPE and other protections because they absolutely are on the nation’s front lines. They are literally putting their lives and the lives of their families on the line every day they show up for work.

And one way or another, they’re gonna get something. The state has a Democratic governor and two Democratic super-majority legislative chambers.

It’s time to start talking.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      


This isn’t just about nursing home residents, it’s also about the workers

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* Gov. JB Pritzker yesterday

COVID-19 knows no county or regional boundaries. It’s clear that some people are simply looking at the number of cases in a county and not looking at the infection rate.

Of the top five counties by infection rate, two of them are downstate. In order, that’s Cook County, Jasper, Lake, Will and Randolph. Even more troubling, COVID-19 has played a role in the deaths of Illinoisans in 42 of our counties around the state. With the top two rates of death per capita being in Jasper County and Monroe County.

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.

* Neal Earley at the Sun-Times followed up with some locals

Local officials in both counties said Pritzker’s stay-at-home measures have hurt their local economies, forcing many small businesses to close. Government leaders in Jasper and Monroe counties point to outbreaks at nursing homes in their respective areas, saying the majority of deaths come from one source.

“I mean, I’m not trying to say that they’re not concerned about what’s going on at the nursing home, because they are,” said Brian Leffler, a member of the Jasper County Board. “That’s a bad deal, and everybody’s very sorry for it, but as far as keeping the whole county shut down because of it, I don’t know if that’s the answer.”

Newton Care Center nursing home accounts for 36 of 42 reported cases and two of the three deaths from the coronavirus in Jasper County, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. In Monroe County, Garden Place Independent & Assisted Living accounts for 29 of the county’s 64 reported cases and eight of the county’s 10 deaths from the virus. […]

Darrel Hickox, a member of the Jasper County Board, disputed the numbers from state public health officials, contending that “nobody” in Jasper County has died from the coronavirus.

He said that members of the media who report on the pandemic are “socialists, liberals and communists.”

“There has been some coronavirus here, but they was dying anyway,” Hickox said.

Aside from Hickox’ shocking inhumanity, he and others are missing the point, even though their point is pretty widespread.

* For instance, this is from Wirepoints

The general public is even less at risk when you consider that nearly 35 percent of Illinois’ deaths came from retirement homes. A WBEZ analysis found that 625 of the state’s 1,795 deaths as of April 24 were nursing home residents.

Um, no. They weren’t all residents.

* From that referenced WBEZ story

Those numbers include both nursing home residents and staff.

* And what about the Newton Care home in Jasper County? This is from last week

Newton Care Center reported three dozen confirmed cases of COVID-19 last week among its residents and employees, a spokeswoman for the nursing home stated last week.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure we stop the spread of COVID-19 within our facility,” stated Holly Morris, vice president with Ide Management Group in a news release last week. “We currently have 26 confirmed positive COVID-19 residents and 10 confirmed COVID-19 employees.

And, of course, those employees don’t live where they work. They go home to their families after their shifts are over. They or their families may then go to the store or wherever.

Point being, this virus isn’t being confined within nursing home walls.

* And working conditions are so bad at some of those facilities that employees have voted to strike

Thousands of nursing home workers across Illinois are set to walk off the job on May 8 because they say not enough is being done to keep them safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

They have asked for more PPE, enhanced safety protocols, hazardous duty pay and more transparency at work places about coronavirus cases regarding who has gotten sick and who has died.

Nursing homes have been hit hard with dozens of facilities across the state in the eye of the storm.

Members of the Service Employees International Union that represents 10,000 employees, such as certified nursing assistants, have delivered letters to management and owners to which they say their pleas have largely been ignored.

- Posted by Rich Miller   41 Comments      


“It will become all one thing or all the other”

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* The Guardian

A wave of planned anti-lockdown demonstrations that have broken out around the country to protest against the efforts of state governments to combat the coronavirus pandemic with business closures and stay-at-home orders have included far-right groups as well as more mainstream Republicans.

While protesters in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and other states claim to speak for ordinary citizens, many are also supported by street-fighting rightwing groups like the Proud Boys, conservative armed militia groups, religious fundamentalists, anti-vaccination groups and other elements of the radical right.

* Los Angeles Times

While most of the world hungers for a vaccine to put an end to the death and economic destruction wrought by COVID-19, some anti-vaccine groups are joining with anti-lockdown demonstrators to challenge restrictions aimed at protecting public health.

Vaccine critics suffered serious setbacks in the last year, as states strengthened immunization laws in response to measles outbreaks sparked by vaccine refusers. California tightened its vaccine requirements last fall despite protests during which anti-vaccine activists threw blood on state senators, assaulted the vaccine bill’s sponsor and shut down the Legislature.

Now, many of these same vaccine critics are joining a fight against stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns intended to stem the spread of the coronavirus, which had killed more than 48,800 Americans as of Thursday afternoon.

“This is just a fresh coat of paint for the anti-vaccine movement in America, and an exploitative means for them to try to remain relevant,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

* The Daily Beast

The possibility of anti-vaccine advocates gaining a foothold in the protests against public safety laws could portend even dicier problems for government agencies ahead. Health officials have said that a vaccine for coronavirus is one of, if not the, surest ways to emerge through the crisis and return to a semblance of social normalcy. But that depends on wide-scale cultural acceptance of the vaccination—which optimistically could be 18 months away from production—and the coronavirus pandemic has drawn more online interest to anti-vaccine causes.

Jackie Schlegal, the founder of well-funded anti-vaccine group Texans for Vaccine Choice, claims that her group has received an “overwhelming influx of support” and a load of traffic from people concerned about coronavirus vaccine exemptions.

* BuzzFeed

A video of a mother arrested in Idaho at a playground that was closed under stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic has quickly gone viral, with far-right social media accounts rallying around her.

But the mother, 40-year-old Sara Walton Brady, wasn’t on the playground simply so her kids could play. Brady is an anti-vaccine activist with connections to several far-right groups in Idaho, and she was participating in an organized protest on Tuesday against the governor’s stay-at-home order.

* CapitolFax.com headline from April 29, 2019

Eastern Bloc member posts anti-vaxxer propaganda

Two guesses who it was. Click here if you’re stumped.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


Open (almost) thread

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* Almost every post, every day is about the pandemic. So, let’s declare this to be a completely pandemic-free post. Write about anything else except that topic. Also, please be nice to each other. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   70 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Tuesday, Apr 28, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** UPDATED x7 *** Pritzker: “This ruling has put the people of Illinois at risk”

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

*** UPDATE 1 *** Some clarity…


…Adding… If you look at Bailey’s complaint, he only asked that the restrictions be lifted on himself. Which shows you how much of a grandstanding move this was.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Pritzker’s chief of staff…


*** UPDATE 3 *** This judge sounds like a real treat…


*** UPDATE 4 *** More…


*** UPDATE 5 *** Speaker Madigan has been almost totally silent in the last several weeks, but he issued this statement today…

Like Governor Pritzker, I find Representative Bailey’s lawsuit to be extremely reckless, at a time we can least afford it. 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. Clearly, we cannot say the same for all the leaders of our state.

It is my sincere hope that upon further review, this decision is reversed, and that our health care workers, first responders and loved ones are not unnecessarily subjected to added risk by such a short-sighted lawsuit.

*** UPDATE 6 *** Leader Durkin…

Today’s ruling is the first regarding the Governors authority from his Executive Orders during this time of pandemic. I expect a quick appeal to the higher courts as this is a case of first impression and one that needs to be dealt with on an expedited basis. We will be following the case closely as it progresses.

*** UPDATE 7 *** The governor’s office says the attorney general’s office filed the notice of appeal tonight and the brief is due Wednesday.

Also, from Senate President Don Harmon…

Today’s ruling doesn’t change the fact that nearly 2,000 Illinoisans have died from this disease in recent weeks and thousands more remain hospitalized, struggling to maintain their health. I would appeal to everyone’s common sense. A dangerous, highly infectious virus is loose in our communities. 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. Today’s ruling doesn’t change any of that. This virus isn’t paying attention to judicial orders.

Please, be patient, recognize the dangers and keep following the advice of our medical professionals and public health experts.

Rep. Darren Bailey…

Clay County Chief Circuit Judge Michael D. McHaney ruled in favor of State Rep. Darren Bailey’s challenge to Governor J.B. Pritizker’s statewide ‘stay at home’ order during a Monday court hearing, granting Bailey a temporary restraining order that only covers the Representative. However, Bailey says he will continue to push the issue and hold the Governor responsible to the public health laws already on the books.

“Our governor has acted as if he knows best, but he does not know what’s best for all 12 million residents in our state,” said Bailey (R-Xenia). “We have a mechanism in place through the Illinois Department of Public Health; and how to act during a pandemic was laid out many years ago, long before J.B. Pritzker came to office. I’ve asked him since day one to respect local governments throughout the state and he’s refused, but I believe this lawsuit is the mechanism by which ‘we the people’ will be allowed to govern ourselves as our constitution demands.”

Bailey’s attorney Tom DeVore said Illinois has had a pandemic/influenza response plan in place for many years, a plan approved by the Illinois legislature, that is a 120-page guide that covers the current COVID-19 situation.

“It’s called the state of Illinois Department of Public Health Pandemic/Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan,” said DeVore. “It’s a law promulgated by the legislative branch that lays out how the Department of Public Health is to manage these types of pandemics. It’s very detailed. It’s working now. I’ve talked to my county health department and they use this plan now. It’s very effective and more importantly it contains due process within the law for individuals pertaining to a quarantine.”

“The comments by Judge McHaney make it clear in my opinion that the governor or the legislative leaders could have called us back into session to debate and clarify the emergency powers, but they have not done so. The U.S. Congress has met using common sense distancing and even local city councils and county boards have been meeting with the use of technology like Zoom. The only other option at this point to ensure the checks and balances of power in Illinois are through the courts,” added Bailey.

Bailey argued that under state law, Pritzker could not extend his first executive order beyond 30 days. Another court hearing on a permanent injunction is expected within 30 days.

Mayor Lightfoot…

Today’s ruling is troubling and wrong. I understand that the State Attorney General’s office will appeal this ruling, which we support. One of the many problems with this ill-advised opinion is that it will destroy the collective progress we have made, giving Illinoisans the wrong impression that we have beaten the COVID-19 pandemic. Let me remind everyone that the Governor’s Stay at Home Order has played a crucial role in our data-driven, robust response to COVID-19. In fact, recently published City data has shown that staying at home and limiting human interaction is one of the major reasons why Chicago is beginning to see the flattening of the curve. And let me be clear, this does not mean that we can, nor should, return to our normal day-to-day lives, in fact it means the opposite. Continued compliance will be needed to keep flattening the curve and ultimately lead to a decrease in cases. Contrary to what this ruling suggests, we must all be in this together, and only through cooperation and collaboration can we contain and limit the effects of the virus.

I applaud and unequivocally support Governor Pritzker’s actions to extend the Stay at Home order to protect all Illinois residents. Nothing about today’s ruling will change the City’s intention to continue imposing the Stay at Home restrictions. We need this effort to keep all Chicagoans safe and healthy, and we will stay the course.

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* The governor was just asked a question about Rep. Bailey’s lawsuit: Governor, a judge just ruled that your stay at home order in Darren Bailey’s lawsuit is no longer able to stand. We’re still getting the details of what that order means but would you like to react to that?

I would. I have affirmed many times over that Republicans and Democrats alike, public servants from all corners of Illinois have come together since the earliest days of this public health crisis to make incredibly difficult choices, understanding that painful as our actions might be the question boils down to life and death. COVID-19 is responsible for denying the people of Illinois the precious moments of togetherness and steadiness of routine that have been put on pause in response to this global pandemic. The stay at home order has prevented 10s of thousands of illnesses and thousands of deaths.

Representative Darren Bailey’s decision to take to the courts to try and dismantle public health directives, designed to keep people safe is an insult to all Illinoisans who have been lost during this COVID-19 crisis and it’s a danger to millions of people who may get ill, because of his recklessness, at best, no one is better off because of this ruling and at worst people’s health and safety will suffer tremendously.

In Illinois and nationally we are operating on decades of precedent in terms of how disaster proclamations work from floods to tornadoes and now a global pandemic disasters don’t necessarily evaporate on a 30 day timeframe.

In the interim, we will be issuing new public health directives so that we can continue to respond to this public health crisis. At this time I strongly encourage all municipal level leaders, as well as the people of Illinois, who are our strongest weapon against this virus to follow the advice of our scientists here in Illinois and across the nation of IDPH and the CDC and continue to follow the guidelines of are stay at home order.

This ruling has put the people of Illinois at risk.

I sincerely hope that this matter will be brought to a swift resolution so that we can go back to placing our undivided attention on the work of keeping people safe.

Please pardon transcription errors.

* Follow-up from Mary Ann Ahern: So, if the judge is saying, Darren Bailey’s right, you might not have this authority. So every city, every county is going to go ahead and say, guess what we’re opening…

That is the danger that Darren Bailey has put the state in. You’ve just stated it perfectly succinctly.

People are in danger as a result of this ruling of the judge’s ruling of the suit that was brought by Darren Bailey. We certainly are going to act in a swift fashion to try to have this ruling overturned, certainly put a stay in place.

I mean it’s frankly, it’s insulting, it’s dangerous. And peoples’ safety and health has now been put at risk. There may be people who contract Corona virus as a result of what Darren Bailey has done now.

* How quickly can you act because I would think people are going to try to supersede them very quickly?

The Attorney General handles these kinds of lawsuits there people are on site and there people are handling the appeals that will take place

…Adding… Unrelated question that Pritzker brought back to this particular topic: How do you see the handling of COVID-19 affecting political political discourse in Illinois and across the country as we lead up to the November election?…

I think that I can see that people want to make this a political issue. From my perspective this is a matter of life and death. We all want to be on the same side on those subjects. So I’m hoping that this doesn’t devolve into the politics that I think, often people at the federal level like to make it. And obviously you can see that there are legislators who don’t understand this who think that everything is fodder for the political world.

But I must say that there are Republicans that I have worked with who are genuinely concerned to do the right thing in the state of Illinois and of course Democrats have been terrific, working with some of those Republicans, working with me to make sure that we’re making progress at lowering our hospitalizations and all the other things that we’re trying to do here. But it is vital, vital that we work together to keep people safe and that means following the orders that we put in place, which obviously you know Darren Bailey has now put at risk.

- Posted by Rich Miller   214 Comments      


Pritzker talks about hospitalization numbers, Downstate infection rates - “Of the top five counties by infection rate, two of them are downstate” - Pritzker apologizes for claim about dentists - Explains that testing has moved us up the list of most cases - Responds to Trump tweet - Says federal government offered more help with testing - Asked about pension reform - Asked whether it was time to lay off workers and if state workers are actually working - Asked about conventions and large gatherings - Says phone lines at IDES still a big problem - Explains why he’s not following Ohio’s lead - Explains how 14-day decline is defined - Watching meat industry, but doesn’t yet believe a meat shortage is imminent - Refuses to undermine Lightfoot on boating ban - Explains death rate - R0 still above 1 - Working with legislators on workers’ comp changes - Says Pence says Trump still wants to help state and local governments - Will ask GA to expand mail-in balloting

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

* Gov. Pritzker began his press conference by listing statistics. He also plans to talk about regionalization today. Please pardon all transcription errors…

On April 6, we had 3680 COVID patients in our hospitals. On April 10 that number had risen to 4020. On April 14, that number had risen to 4283. On April 19 the number had risen to 4599. And as of midnight last night, the number was 4672, an increase of 73 Illinoisans in one week’s time. To remind you these hospitalization numbers include both COVID-19 patients and assumed COVID-19 patients in the hospital in any condition, whether mild or serious.

I’ll offer the same time series progression for our COVID occupied ICU beds as I did for overall hospitalization rates. Remember, our institutions have worked to expand their bed capacity, which is why our overall bed numbers and ICU bed capacity, have increased. On April 6 COVID patients occupied 43% of our 2700 ICU beds in Illinois. On April 10, it was 40% of 2900 ICU beds. On April 14 40% of 3000 ICU beds, and on April 19 40% of 3100 ICU beds, and as of midnight last night. 34% of 3600 ICU beds.

We also keep an eye trained on the number of Illinoisans with COVID-19, who are on ventilators, even as our medical professionals work to innovate ways to help patients, avoid this very difficult though potentially life saving measure of the 4672 Illinoisans in the hospital. 763 are on ventilators. That means 23% of our total ventilator inventory is currently in use by COVID-19 patients, the same ratio as it was on April 19 one week ago. That’s following a downward trend from 29% on April 6, then 27% on April 10 than 25% on April 14.

* Now on to the folks who think they’re safe…

I want to stop and take a moment now to address those who think that coronavirus is just a Chicago or a Cook County problem and that downstate Illinois is immune or doesn’t need restrictions. Folks that’s just not how this virus operates.

COVID-19 knows no county or regional boundaries. It’s clear that some people are simply looking at the number of cases in a county and not looking at the infection rate.

Of the top five counties by infection rate, two of them are downstate. In order, that’s Cook County, Jasper, Lake, Will and Randolph Even more troubling, COVID-19 has played a role in the deaths of Illinoisans in 42 of our counties around the state. With the top two rates of death per capita being in Jasper County and Monroe County.

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.

* More on regionalization…

When these factors are taken into account, the overall picture around COVID-19 in Illinois is quite different than many have assumed. Yes, in terms of total case numbers and total lives lost Cook and the collar counties constitute the largest segment of COVID-19 known presence in Illinois. That’s indisputable. But it would be doing a massive disservice to our downstate residents if we governed only by raw numbers, no matter where you live. I want you to be healthy and safe and following the advice of the scientists and experts is what has kept people in every region of our state alive.

It’s true that there are a much larger number of cases and deaths in the metropolitan region around Chicago, but it’s also home to nearly two of every three Illinoisans, and it’s home too much of the overall hospital capacity that’s needed if there’s another surge of the virus.

It’s also true that there are areas of the state that have lower infection rates, and I’ve already begun opening those areas up more with allowance for more elective surgeries and recreational activity there than in other regions.

* Talks about outreach…

Every week I call Republican and Democratic mayors and legislators to hear their best ideas and talk through how I’m thinking through the decisions that need to be made.

Some really good ideas have come from those calls. We don’t always agree but it’s always a two way dialogue.

I understand that the choices that I’ve made and that I have had to make aren’t easy. And there are some that disagree with them. But I’ve made each decision with a laser like focus on the health and safety of every resident, and with a strong desire to get us back to work and school. As soon as it’s safe, frankly, the decisions have, most often been very difficult. Often choosing between saving lives and saving livelihoods. But thousands of Illinoisans are still with us today because nearly all of your earnest effort to follow our stay at home order. And so that’s a decision that I’m extraordinarily proud to have made.

And I’m going to keep making my decisions about defeating this terrible virus by focusing on the most important factors. Following the science, monitoring and building up our healthcare systems, listening to local leaders and keeping Illinois families and workers top of mind, all in an effort to do the right thing for all of Illinois.

* The governor said he wanted to clear up something he said over the weekend about dentists…

Our executive order did not close dental offices, but IDPH has issued guidance to dentists, focusing their work on more emergency procedures. That guidance remains in place. Dental procedures are high risk for dentists and for their staff, and we’re going to continue working with the medical experts as we move forward. But right now, dental procedures should be limited to urgent health issues and emergencies, and I apologize for any confusion that my comments may have caused.

* On to questions for the governor. We have moved to number four in the number of when you list states. And we are not number four in population. What do you think what’s going on, is it that just we’re testing more? How did we surpass California?…

Yeah, notice that our testing numbers have gone way up right oh just over the last week. We’ve averaged more than 10,000 per day. And that’s significantly up from where we were before. And if you look at most states, they’re not testing anywhere near as much as we are now. So, actually it’s a point of some pride, what we’ve done on testing. But if you test more people, as we’ve said, there are lots and lots of people out there who do not know that they have Coronavirus, because they haven’t been tested as you test more people, you’re going to get more positive cases.

* President Trump tweeted this morning, why should the people and taxpayers bail out poorly run states, like, Illinois…

Well I have two things that I would say to that. One is that as you know we are a donor state to the federal government. We pay more in federal taxes in Illinois than we get back from the federal government. And so actually the states who are being bailed out every year year in and year out are the states who take more out of the Federal dole than they put in. […]

That’s one thing I would say, the other is that unlike Donald Trump we proposed and passed and have effectuated a balanced budget for the year that we’re in. Had it not been for coronavirus, we would have had actually a surplus in the state of Illinois. So to the extent that we’re talking about and we are about the federal government providing funding for states, all states need it now because coronavirus COVID-19 has blown a hole in every state budget all across the nation. There’s not a single state that would not benefit from, or that does not need support from another CARES Act package.

* Were you on the call today from the White House, and any new insight?…

I wouldn’t say there’s any new insight there’s more talk about testing, and the federal government offering help with testing which is terrific. They have offered help before and I’m looking forward to our ability to obtain more swabs and more reagent and VTM through the federal government as they are promising.

* My colleague Craig Wall wants to know is it time to consider pension reform…

Well, as you know, we did make some pension reforms we as you know the police and fire pensions across the state were dramatically reformed this last year under my leadership and working with the legislature.

We certainly need to keep working on our pensions. You know I’ve said as principles here that we need to make sure that people who are owed a pension are paid the pension that they’re owed. And I want to make sure that people understand how important it is that we support our seniors when they’ve worked a lifetime for that pension, whether they’re police officers or firefighters or state workers in any way. So, I continue to believe in the idea of supporting seniors when they retire. So, we’ll continue to look at the ways we proposed several ways last year that weren’t yet adopted to make changes in the pension system and we’ll continue to look at everything and anything

* Others are asking, perhaps is it time to lay off some state workers? Are those who are supposedly working from home, really working from home? And when there is not as much to do, perhaps they should get unemployment as well instead of getting paid by the state for doing nothing?…

Well, certainly, number one we’ve asked people to stay home, number two we have actually done quite a lot to make sure that people can work from home, and you know all these departments, think about what’s happening in IDES, think about what’s happening at the Department of Human Services, right in this pandemic. And with so many people laid off right, we have our state needs to function well. And so we’re working with stay at home employees who are connected now, and have the ability to work for and with residents of the state who badly need them.

* He was asked a question about staggered school weeks. He said it was up to ISBE, IBHE and the community college board. He was then asked about conventions and gatherings of thousands of people…

Look, I don’t know. It seems to me that we don’t yet even have a treatment. So I don’t know that people will even want to go to events like that and be in the midst of thousands of people. Because the idea that there’s some percentage likelihood that you may contract COVID-19 by attending an event like that might keep people away. So I’m not going to dictate anything and we have a stay at home order from now until May 30. We’re making plans for the phase dreopening of the economy.

It’s unclear to me about large gatherings, those seem like harder things to get done than for example opening manufacturing facilities where you could be able to keep people six feet apart wearing PPE and make sure the lunch rooms are not crowded and so on. These are things that we’ve looked at and are continuing to look at, to make sure that we’re doing it right in in a phased fashion but as to whether a large convention could fit into an early phase, I don’t know.

* He was asked again about baseball, particularly about playing games without fans. Pritzker said that would likely be up to MLB. For Dr. Ezike: How many have died from COVID-19 that do not have any other underlying health condition?…

Nationally, the numbers are vanishingly small, less than 10% I think I saw something like 6% and that might have been a global number, so in the general statistics, Illinois has been similar to what the aggregate larger numbers have so I would say that it’s going to be definitely under 10% maybe even in the single digits.

* People who are getting nowhere on the [unemployment application] system, they’re frustrated they can’t get an answer. They’re broke. A week ago you announced there would be some more help or answers to this. What are you telling the folks who cannot find out what to do about unemployment?…

Well the first thing I would say is that we’ve processed nearly, more or in the neighborhood of 800,000 unemployment applications at this point, it’s about 10 times every day what was being done last year at this time. So, it’s a significant effort that’s been put into making the system easier for people to get through.

Now, I think the problem, to be clear, has been the phone lines there. Remember I said a little while ago, that you have to have trained personnel, and this training is for a trained personnel that are answering the lines, because the information is private information. And so people have to be trained to handle that properly. There is a federal guideline for that training and that training takes longer than the time that we have to handle something within a week for example so we’re working very expeditiously to try to ramp all that up.

But I just want to remind you that virtually every state is having trouble managing the influx of unemployment applications. We are working night and day. I watch those numbers every day, I see how many are coming in over the internet, how many are coming in by phone, and the increase of numbers of people who get their phone calls answered. Again, I can’t, you know we can’t fix this overnight it’s absolutely true. But we are fixing it and it has been radically better over time.

* Ohio, which is part of the regional coalition with Illinois, is announcing plans to reopen segments of the economy starting Friday. Will this impact what happens in Illinois? And what’s the point of a coalition if the states are acting independently on such important decisions?…

Well, you have to remember that every state has a slightly different curve. And so decisions about timing are different than decisions about what might open.

The other thing is that this is a council in part of governors who share ideas with one another about how best to go about the opening. So, remember we are still climbing on our curve and I just talked to you about how that’s a slowing climb, which is a good thing, but we are still on this side of the peak, and I’m hoping there’s not a plateau.

I haven’t looked at the numbers for Ohio but obviously Governor Dewine is seeing something different in Ohio if he feels like Friday is a good day for them to begin to discuss and talk about how often and what’s you know what kind of insight did they give you. We’ve had calls. And we’re sharing the kind of commonalities, what are you doing about manufacturing, what are you doing about warehousing, how are you handling those things within your state. Those are things that are very important that that we share in common with states, and therefore, each of us offering ideas for one another.

One of the important topics the last time we were on the phone together was how is everybody working to provide support for our smallest small businesses, many of whom can’t access the PPP money, because they don’t have lawyers and accountants and so on. And so, listening to how each state, by the way, Illinois has solutions for that that we’ve implemented. You know, having limited state resources for all these states makes it harder, but we’re all doing slightly different but important things to lift up. I’m particularly interested in these because these smallest businesses are the ones that create the most jobs. And so, I’m the one who’s asked that question of my colleagues

* Once we reached our peak, is the 14-day decline based on the number of hospital beds in use ICU patients, or the percentage of new cases?…

Remember the whole idea here, the aim is to make sure that we’re not going to overwhelm our hospitals and our healthcare system in general so that’s how we choose one of those statistics we’re watching.

It’s very important the question of hospitalizations, are we going down the other side of that, are we going down the other side of ICU, and are we continuing to go down the other side of ventilators. Because right now ventilators, we’ve increased the number of ventilators, and it appears that the number of people on ventilators roughly speaking has leveled. And so I expect that to be one of the first things that goes down, in part because doctors have done such a good job of keeping people off of ventilators and having them recover without going on them.

So those are the things, hospitalizations I see us those are certainly things that we look at that are very important for making a decision on the other side of the peak. Remember, the peak I’m hopeful that the peak is actually a peak, and that not as we’ve seen in some other states, a plateau.

* He was asked again if hospitals were getting more money for treating COVID-19 patients. He said it could be in the federal CARES Act, but he didn’t know.

* Are you concerned about the meat shortage that might happen?…

Well, concerned in the sense that we’re monitoring it closely our Department of Agriculture, our Department of Public Health, our local county departments of public health. We’re all paying very close attention to those meat producers and processors. But I don’t currently believe that we are going to have a problem with our supply chain, but again we’re watching it very closely.

* He was asked again about boating on Lake Michigan and again said that this was a local decision and therefore up to people like Mayor Lightfoot, who doesn’t want to allow it.

* How many IDOC prisoners have been released through medical furlough and how many had been granted commutations or clemency due to COVID concerns? Why haven’t lawmakers who have requested information about criteria for releases received answers?…

We’ll be happy to provide information to anyone. I don’t have the numbers right here, but happy to I can tell you that we’ve overall reduced the population in our prisons by, I know it’s more than 1300. Overall, many of those were near the end of their terms are actually their sentences were up, but also many of them were under this program of either medical furloughs due to COVID-19 or other reasons pardons or commutations on my part.

* Iceland has done the most COVID-19 testing per capita in the world, and as a result has a very low death rate. Of course Iceland is very different from the US in a lot of ways, but is it possible that if Illinois caught up on testing our death rate wouldn’t actually be the current 4.5% and would actually be much lower? What is the death rate that’s being assumed in the modeling beliefs on Thursday that was used to show that at the current stay at home water restrictions were loosened 20,000 or so people would die in a second wave?…

[Pritzker talked about the importance of testing and then said] I’d like to just disabuse anybody of the notion of a 4.5% death rate. The fact is that if you look internationally and in the United States, it is presumed that there is about a 1%, a little less than 1%, of people who get COVID-19 who pass away from it. The 4.5% that you’re calculating is just the cases that we’ve been able to identify, by virtue of the limited testing that we’ve had available. So it is a much lower rate than than 4.5% we assume.

* Do you believe Illinois has reached its peak what is the current R0?…

Dr. Ezike: As the governor has said, we are growing so slowly in the numbers in terms of the rate of rise that we think we are coming upon it very shortly. So again, not being able to predict whether we will just continually increment versus we’re going to hit it in a few days and start coming down, versus like he said he’s hoping not to have a plateau but there’s a potential for just staying at a level number for an extended period of time. We don’t know when we’re off the peak and heading down until we are, unfortunately. And so the models and the predictions can only do so much. But it’s actually going to be the data that will tell us when we’ve reached.

There is another part of the question, what is our current R0. The last time we looked at it it was one point, I think 1.4. And so I should be getting some updated numbers this week.

* When does the Illinois legislature need to meet to begin to make its own decisions about the budget, and when the legislature is in next what sort of protections will you ask for, and for which classes of workers in light of the workers compensation commission today rescinding the rebuttal presumption of the COVID-19 rule?…

It’s up to the legislature. There’s no requirement terms for the budget by May 31. If the legislature votes on a budget it needs to have a simple majority to approve a budget.

After May 31, it’s a super majority vote for a budget. So again that’s whenever the legislature decides to meet and, you know, given the circumstances and they are considered essential workers so they’ll be able to figure it out. It is quite complex though as you may know, between staff and 177 Senators and House members, yo organizing all of that in the Capitol building or really anywhere else is quite complex and I think that’s taking some time. […]

[We are] having discussions that are proposals by legislators about things that that we should do [on workers comp] to protect our workers as best we can during this pandemic. And so I’ll be very supportive of measures that will keep them safe.

* What will the impact be if Illinois does not get any federal aid to make up for the loss of revenue amid the pandemic? And do you think your criticism of the President has substantially reduced your chance of getting that aid?…

First of all, if we don’t get any further federal aidit will be extremely difficult, not just for the state of Illinois but for many states, not just for the ones that have Democratic governors but for Republican states as well.

So I know that the President has said that he’s in favor, despite a tweet today, he’s in favor of support for the state for state and local governments. I would like to make sure that the smaller local governments receive support in this next bill, not just the large counties are large cities over 500,000, but small towns, all across the state of Illinois and all across the nation should get support.

So I’m in favor of that and I think the President is in favor of that and indeed, Vice President Pence in our call yesterday reiterated that fact that the President is supportive of that, so I feel pretty good about where they are on it. Obviously, it’s Senator McConnell that is an obstacle here and considering that he comes from a state that gets more money from the federal government than it gives in federal taxes, he’s a recipient state of a lot of support from the federal government.

* He was asked a question about a local nursing home and was then asked about Rep. Bailey’s lawsuit. Click here for that answer.

* What is the state doing now or what does it plan to do to prepare for the November election, and how is it ramping up mail-in voting?…

So, as you know there is some federal funding available to support changes in our elections, so that we can make sure that people have the ability to vote, even in the presence of coronavirus.

Our intention, my intention at the moment is to ask the legislature to expand mail balloting I think that having everybody giving everybody the ability to vote by mail, much more easily makes the most sense to me as a way to prevent people from contracting coronavirus. And so I will be asking the legislature to do that and then of course the Illinois Board of Elections has been thinking about this and preparing for it for some time. And we look forward to working with them, advising them and and making sure the legislature gives them whatever they need in order to effectuate more mail-in ballots.

-30-

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


1,980 new cases, 50 additional deaths

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

* Press release…

– The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 1,980 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 50 additional deaths.

    - Boone County: 1 female 90s
    - Champaign County: 1 female 60s
    - Cook County: 1 female 30s, 1 male 30s, 2 males 40s, 2 females 50s, 3 males 50s,
    1 female 60s, 2 males 60s, 3 females 70s, 8 males 70s, 4 females 80s, 6 males 80s, 1 male
    90s
    - DuPage County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s
    - Jasper County: 1 female 80s
    - Jefferson County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
    - Madison County: 1 female 60s
    - Rock Island County: 1 male 50s, 1 male 70s
    - Sangamon County: 2 males 80s
    - Will County: 1 male 50s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 45,883 cases, including 1,983 deaths, in 96 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have processed 12,676 specimens for a total of 227,628.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      


COVID-19 roundup

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

* Molly Parker and Brian Munoz at the Southern Illinoisan

After initially reporting a small outbreak of COVID-19 at an immigration detention center in rural Southern Illinois in early April, county officials and the health department have clammed up about the spread of the virus inside the facility, even as advocates say detainees have been left in the dark and are fearful for their lives. […]

What’s happening inside one small detention center in Illinois raises important questions about how ICE and its contractors are handling the spread of the coronavirus. COVID-19 was introduced into the facility following a transfer of detainees on April 1, documents reveal, well after advocates sounded the alarm on the need for ICE — and other correctional institutions — to stop making unnecessary transfers. The purpose behind the recent transfer to the Pulaski County Detention Center is unknown as ICE and county officials have declined comment. […]

County officials have sought to tamp down concerns in Pulaski County as they’ve worried over whether news of an outbreak could lead to protests among detainees and immigrant rights’ groups and cost them a lucrative contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Jail fees bring in more than $8 million annually to the county of fewer than 5,500 people.

“You know, it’s just, you know, there’s not just a whole lot more we can say at the moment without jeopardizing Pulaski County’s relationship with ICE and the ICE contract. That’s what I just wish everybody would realize,” said Rex Wilburn, Pulaski County Board chairman, after the health department confirmed the first three cases among detainees there on April 9.

After initially disclosing that Pulaski County’s first cases of COVID-19 involved detainees, the Southern Seven Health Department, which covers the county, said it had changed its policy for releasing whether cases involved people in congregate settings. It has also directed another area health department not to disclose cases involving Pulaski County Detention Center employees to the media.

Go read the whole thing.

* Joe Mahr and Patrick M. O’Connell at the Chicago Tribune

The state released figures this weekend that showed a dramatic jump in deaths of those linked to long-term care facilities — to 625, more than double reported a week ago.

The latest figures compiled by the state showed that, as of a Friday count, at least 278 facilities had 4,298 cases of residents or workers testing positive. Illinois Department of Public Health figures from the prior week reported 186 facilities, with 286 deaths out of 1,860 cases.

As of now, a third of all Illinois deaths from the virus have been tied to long-term care facilities.

* Press release…

Illinois Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge President Chris Southwood, Illinois State Troopers Lodge 41 President Joe Moon, and Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council Executive Director Shawn Roselieb issued the following joint statement after Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul determined that the addresses of those with positive COVID-19 test results could be shared with first responders so they are fully aware of the danger when they answer calls for assistance:

“The coronovirus has already killed several first responders in Illinois, and Attorney General Raoul’s ruling will help save the lives of those who remain in the front-line fight against this menace. First responders can’t see a virus, and not sharing these vital test results is like sending a police officer to a dangerous area without a bullet-proof vest. Sharing only with first responders during an enforcement action the addresses, but not the names, of those with positive test results is certainly better than publishing a funeral notice for another first responder who could have been saved by a simple piece of information.”

* Chicago Tribune’s live blog

Illinois repeals controversial worker’s compensation rule that presumed front-line workers with COVID-19 got it on the job

10th inmate in Illinois prison dies from a COVID-19-related illness: officials

Coronavirus victims tell their stories to dispel fear, stigma. Experts warn that some minority patients are being blamed for getting sick.

CDC adds six COVID-19 symptoms to its list, but many doctors, hospitals already had been using them

Farmers markets in some suburbs this year ‘won’t be the leisurely experience people are used to’

The law denies stimulus checks to Americans married to immigrants in the U.S. illegally. An Illinois man alleges that’s discrimination.

New poll shows rising support for mail-in voting due to coronavirus concerns, but Trump’s opposition resonating with GOP voters

Chicago health department launching app to communicate with those with COVID-19, prepare for vaccinations

Coronavirus school shutdown has been particularly tough on kids with disabilities: ‘It’s not just a disruption. We’re going to see kids who actually go backward.’

Chicago’s curve is flattening, but “not on the way back down yet,” public health commissioner says

* Sun-Times live blog

Chicago Loop Alliance cancels 2020 ACTIVATE season

We’re stuck at home, bars are closed: homebrew industry is exploding

‘You’re literally putting everyone around you in danger’: Pritzker responds to viral house party video

Small-business loan program resumes Monday morning: Here’s what you should know

South Side LGBTQ pride festival moves online amid COVID-19 concerns

Civic boosters look at promoting a post-pandemic city

A laugh amid the pandemic? It’s harder than you think

Chicago’s blues musicians, clubs hit hard by pandemic: ‘There’s gonna be a lot of songs to come from this’

* Roundup…

* Coronavirus antibody tests: Can you trust the results?

* ‘The food supply chain is breaking,’ Tyson says as plants close

* Want a mask contract or some ventilators? A White House connection helps

* Kids are ending up in intensive care for COVID-related syndrome, British doctors says

* Smithfield Idles Illinois Pork Plants Over Virus

* How hard will the coronavirus pandemic hit Illinois school finances and for how long?

* Workers Offer Troubling View Inside Chicago Nursing Homes Fighting COVID-19

* A Chicago nurse returned to work after recovering from coronavirus. His cough came back. He tested 2 more times and got different results.

* South Side Leaders Call On Walgreens To Open Coronavirus Test Site There

* Judge mandates additional social distancing rules at Cook County Jail

* Guns, abortion and COVID-19 opportunism — what Gov. Pritzker got right: “When an anti-gun Democrat governor declares that essential businesses include firearm and ammunition suppliers and retailers for the purposes of safety and security, that is a really big deal,” said Alan Gottlieb, executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation. “Every governor should copy the Illinois example when issuing shelter-in-place and business closure orders in the face of the coronavirus.”

* Sangamon County: Two more resident deaths from The Villas in Sherman

* Residents call for Near North luxury tower to close hotel, say it’s a ‘significant health risk’

* Illinois State University officials considering options for fall semester

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


If you want to be governor, run for governor

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

* I agree with this HGOP press release on the need for more process transparency. But, as we’ve discussed before, Pritzker is not doing anything at all different when it comes to transparency that any of his predecessors going back multiple decades, notwithstanding the dark hints below.

By law, the Illinois Prisoner Review Board makes “confidential recommendations to the Governor” on commutations. A different statute allows the Director of the Department of Corrections to grant furloughs without notification of anyone at the state level.

* Anyway, on to the press release…

Illinois House Republicans are asking for more transparency and open communications from the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Pritzker administration on policy changes and communications regarding prison furloughs or inmates released early during the coronavirus pandemic.

State Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville), whose district includes correctional centers in Taylorville and Hillsboro, said inmates released into her district include high-level drug and meth dealers.

“As a co-equal branch of government, we should not have had to learn through news reports that these inmates had been released into the general population,” said Rep. Bourne. “Governor Pritzker, his staff, and Acting Director Jeffreys have ignored our repeated requests for information. None of them have been forthcoming with facts or the rationale behind to their decision-making, and today we renew our request. Additionally, we want to know why the Governor is being so secretive about these furloughs.”

On April 9, 2020, 22 House Republican members sent a letter to IDOC Director Jeffreys laying out their questions and concerns. So far, they have not received a response. In fact, several letters from various members of the House Republican caucus have been sent to the administration and the Department on different subject matters relating to DOC. To date, no answers have been provided to the lawmakers by either the Governor or DOC.

State Rep. Terri Bryant says she has asked the governor and the DOC about the release of undocumented immigrants without notifying local law enforcement officials, why a correctional facility lockdown was not implemented sooner to stop the spread of COVID-19, and what criteria was used to determine the release of more than 1300 Department of Corrections offenders.

“The people of Illinois have the right to understand the rationale being used by the Pritzker administration in making critical decisions regarding the operations at the IDOC,” Bryant said. “Far from seeking our advice, the Governor has simply ignored requests from members of the General Assembly for more information. As a co-equal branch of government, we have a right and a duty to demand transparency from the governor.”

In the April 9 letter to Jeffreys, House Republicans sought information about the parameters used to decide which inmates qualified for furloughs or early release, the type of oversight that is in place to monitor furloughed inmates, and if victims and communities were notified ahead of time prior to each prisoner’s release. They also asked for a complete list of furloughed offenders and any inmates released early due to coronavirus, and the crimes for which they were serving time.

State Rep. Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City), whose legislative district includes the Pontiac Correctional Center and is home to several employees of the Danville Correctional Center, also expressed disappointment in the lack of information that has been shared about the early release of hundreds of offenders.

“While the Governor may have executive powers to make unilateral decisions during this time, his administration should be more transparent and forthcoming when they are making decisions that affect the safety of the people and communities of the State of Illinois,” Rep Bennett said.

State Rep. John Cabello (R-Machesney Park), who has worked for more than 20 years as a police officer and detective, suggested the Governor is using the Coronavirus pandemic to further his cause of releasing criminals, many of whom were given multiple chances and received sentences as repeat offenders.

“I will hold Governor Pritzker personally responsible if any of the murderers or other violent felons he has released hurt another person,” said Rep. Cabello. “If they do, I will make it my mission in life to make sure the victims, their families, and the public know that offender was back on the streets and able to victimize them because of Governor JB Pritzker’s actions.”

As far as the “criteria” being used to release prisoners, Rep. Bryant should probably read the relevant EO and the accompanying statute. It’s in there.

Look, the role of the legislature is to legislate, not “consult” on executive decision-making aside from the Senate’s advice and consent role in nominations. So, if they want to come back and legislate, they need to direct their ire at the House Speaker and the Senate President.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


Multiple disaster declarations are actually common - And a look at that appellate prosecutor’s memo

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

[I’m bumping this up from Sunday for visibility and opening comments ahead of today’s hearing.]

* Let’s circle back to Friday

State Rep. Darren Bailey filed a lawsuit today (April 23) against Governor J.B. Pritzker for a violation of civil rights.

“My lawsuit asks the court to find that Gov. Pritzker overextended his power by issuing additional ‘stay at home’ orders after his original disaster proclamation, which expired on April 9th, 2020,” said Bailey

State statute allows a governor to declare a disaster for 30 days. That is undisputed, even by Bailey. The law is silent, however, on whether the governor has the power to issue another declaration.

* It turns out, declaring more than one disaster is common practice. From May 8, 2019

Governor JB Pritzker has issued a state disaster proclamation for 34 counties along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. The declaration will ensure state support to communities that are battling floods caused by weeks of elevated river levels and recent heavy rains.

From May 31, 2019

Governor JB Pritzker has issued a second state disaster proclamation for 34 counties along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers.

What Rep. Bailey is essentially saying here is that the governor has to either give up and not issue subsequent proclamations during massive flooding, or involve the General Assembly, which, theoretically, could be under water at the time (and actually is under that theoretical “water” right now).

* OK, let’s take a look at Section 7 of the statute

In the event of a disaster, as defined in Section 4, the Governor may, by proclamation declare that a disaster exists. Upon such proclamation, the Governor shall have and may exercise for a period not to exceed 30 days the following emergency powers

Again, the act is completely silent on what happens after 30 days. There is no specific prohibition against declaring another disaster.

And there are more than just hints in the full statute that the General Assembly actually intended to remain silent on this particular 30-day renewal point.

For example, Section 6 of the statute requires the GA or a bicameral committee to approve any “reciprocal mutual aid agreements or compacts with other states.”

And this is from Section 9

It is the intent of the Legislature and declared to be the policy of the State that funds to meet disasters shall always be available.

That’s basically a continuing appropriation.

The section goes on to say that if the governor determines that state and other resources are insufficient, he has to request an appropriation from the General Assembly. However, if the House Speaker and Senate President certify that the legislature is not in session

the Governor is authorized to carry out those decisions, by depositing transfers or loan proceeds into and making expenditures from the Disaster Response and Recovery Fund, until such time as a quorum of the General Assembly can convene in a regular or extraordinary session.

So, the General Assembly envisioned a limited role for itself in those two sections, but allowed the governor to act without it on funding and, it appears, deliberately avoided mentioning any sort of legislative role in carrying out or approving a second disaster declaration in the same statute.

You never know what a local county judge will do, particularly in Rep. Bailey’s part of the world, but that looks to me like a slam dunk.

* Let’s now move on to another point. From a press release

Rep. Bailey said a story which first appeared publicly on the Edgar County Watchdogs website, which offered up an internal memo of the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor’ Office, indicates there are serious doubts inside that judicial agency as to the legality of Pritzker’s Executive Orders.

This judicial agency provides training and support for local state’s attorneys on “constitutional, statutory and case law issues. The internal memo, written by David J. Robinson, who holds the position of Chief Deputy Director of the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, states:

    “My research leaves me less than confident that a reviewing court will hold that the Governor has the authority close businesses, bar attendance at church services and assemblies in excess of ten citizens (particularly if they are assembling to redress grievances)”.

* Let’s look at that the memo. The Director of the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, Patrick Delfino, tasked a member of his senior staff with this research

(Y)ou asked that I prepare a memorandum outlining potential arguments that may confront Illinois State’s Attorneys as part of future civil and criminal litigation with regard to the Governor’s Executive Orders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robinson was essentially gaming out what arguments could be coming at local state’s attorneys if local governments use civil or criminal penalties to shut down a business or church or whatever. His footnote says that this memo is “designed solely to assist you in informing and advising Illinois State’s Attorneys.” This happens a lot. You always want to figure out what the other side will do to you.

However, the administration has never said that it would definitely prosecute people. The governor himself has repeatedly said he’s asked state and local police to use persuasion, and if that doesn’t work then they should ask for involvement by local and/or state public health officials.

* Let’s go back to the statute

Sec. 7. Emergency Powers of the Governor. […]

(6) To recommend the evacuation of all or part of the population from any stricken or threatened area within the State if the Governor deems this action necessary. […]

(8) To control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area, the movement of persons within the area, and the occupancy of premises therein.

Since the entire state is a disaster area, the statute gives him some pretty extraordinary powers.

* But are those powers constitutional? Not in some instances. From the Robinson memo

It also appears that the Governor is taking no position on the enforcement of his EO, except to say that it is up to local law enforcement, which is an indication that he is presuming it would be enforced in a constitutional way, if at all (”we are asking people to do the right thing”).

That is exactly right. Statutory law cannot exceed the Constitution and neither, obviously, can an EO.

* From the Robinson memo’s conclusion

Accordingly, given what the Governor has said publically, a reasonable view is that he has taken executive action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by issuing EOs with the understanding that local officials will enforce those orders in compliance with the Illinois Constitution and the Constitution of the United States. [Emphasis in original.]

That’s basically the defense strategy. The EO is protected because the governor wants only constitutional enforcement, through civil or criminal means.

* So, if a cop walks into a church during a service with more than 10 people present and starts making mass arrests, that likely wouldn’t hold up in court. Instead, what the state has been trying to do is use the carrot of persuasion by explaining to pastors, business owners, etc. what could happen with mass gatherings, along with the threat of a local or state public health legal action to prosecute violations of the EO. From ILCS 2305/8.1

Whoever violates or refuses to obey any rule or regulation of the Department of Public Health shall be deemed guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

But it doesn’t appear that the state will use that statute in at least certain targeted cases. The state hasn’t, for instance, broken up any protests against the stay at home order, even though they may have been in violation of the EO’s crowd limits. It also hasn’t arrested any pastors or church-goers.

* The statute is clear that the Department of Public Health can order a closure

The Department may, however, order a person or a group of persons to be quarantined or isolated or may order a place to be closed and made off limits to the public on an immediate basis without prior consent or court order if, in the reasonable judgment of the Department, immediate action is required to protect the public from a dangerously contagious or infectious disease.

But there is almost immediate due process written into statute for those hit by a closure order

In the event of an immediate order issued without prior consent or court order, the Department shall, as soon as practical, within 48 hours after issuing the order, obtain the consent of the person or owner or file a petition requesting a court order authorizing the isolation or quarantine or closure. When exigent circumstances exist that cause the court system to be unavailable or that make it impossible to obtain consent or file a petition within 48 hours after issuance of an immediate order, the Department must obtain consent or file a petition requesting a court order as soon as reasonably possible.

And then it goes on to explain what is required to prevail in those court cases.

And, as the Robinson memo points out, the governor is not encouraging or carrying out unconstitutional arrests or civil penalties. There may be a standing issue here for Rep. Bailey.

…Adding… Sorry that I didn’t post this earlier…


- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


Our Democracy Could Be Decided By A Coin Toss

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

Democrats, who have a supermajority in both legislative chambers, were assumed to control the 2021 remap. However, a move by the Census Bureau could delay population data being sent to the states until July 31, 2021 putting that control in jeopardy.

If census officials win a delay, the Illinois Constitution outlines a process that calls for the appointment of an eight-member commission, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, to draw maps. If they cannot agree, a ninth member – either Democrat or Republican – is randomly chosen, allowing either party the opportunity to gerrymander to their partisan advantage.

Our democracy is too important to be left to a game of chance.

We need an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission to determine maps that are fair and equitable for all communities across Illinois.

Let’s end partisan gerrymandering and create a process that gives power back to the people.

To learn more about the effort for Fair Maps (SJRCA18, HJRCA41) visit, https://www.changeil.org/policy-priorities/redistricting-reform/.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Illinois’ COVID-19 death toll is probably significantly higher than what’s being reported

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

* From the Financial Times

The death toll from coronavirus may be almost 60 per cent higher than reported in official counts, according to an FT analysis of overall fatalities during the pandemic in 14 countries.

Mortality statistics show 122,000 deaths in excess of normal levels across these locations, considerably higher than the 77,000 official Covid-19 deaths reported for the same places and time periods.

If the same level of under-reporting observed in these countries was happening worldwide, the global Covid-19 death toll would rise from the current official total of 201,000 to as high as 318,000.

To calculate excess deaths, the FT has compared deaths from all causes in the weeks of a location’s outbreak in March and April 2020 to the average for the same period between 2015 and 2019. The total of 122,000 amounts to a 50 per cent rise in overall mortality relative to the historical average for the locations studied.

I asked the governor’s office if they could put something like this together on a county-by-county basis for Illinois. That could take awhile. I’ve looked around myself, but all I came up with so far is a recent and limited study of a handful of states, including Illinois. Any help y’all could give would be greatly appreciated.

* From that study

Many states experienced a notable increase in the proportion of total deaths due to P&I [pneumonia and influenza] starting in mid-March through March 28 compared to what would be expected based on the time of year and influenza activity. Expressed as the relative increase above the baseline, these increases were particularly notable in New Jersey, Washington, New York, Illinois, and Georgia. […]

Excess P&I mortality has been used as a method for tracking influenza mortality for more than a century. Here we used a similar strategy to capture COVID-19 deaths that had not been attributed specifically to the pandemic coronavirus. […]

To get a complete picture of the burden of the burden of deaths due to COVID-19, it will be necessary to evaluate spikes in all-cause mortality, as we have done for New York and New Jersey here. However, it is difficult to do such analyses reliably in real time with provisional death statistics because the data are incomplete for recent weeks, and the delays in reporting can only be determined retrospectively. Our analyses here suggest that excess P&I deaths represent a fraction of all of the deaths related to COVID-19 (25-50% based on preliminary data), so the P&I excess mortality estimates we present here represent a lower bound of the burden.

From February 9 through March 28, they found 185 unexpected “excess” pneumonia and influenza deaths in Illinois. During that same time period, Illinois reported 47 COVID-19 deaths.

Testing has expanded considerably since then, of course, but we still need some updated numbers to see where we are.

And remember, this possible undercount for Illinois could only be a quarter to a half of all excess deaths because the researchers didn’t look at other factors.

…Adding… More

In the early weeks of the coronavirus epidemic, the United States recorded an estimated 15,400 excess deaths, nearly two times as many as were publicly attributed to covid-19 at the time, according to an analysis of federal data conducted for The Washington Post by a research team led by the Yale School of Public Health.

The excess deaths - the number beyond what would normally be expected for that time of year - occurred during March and through April 4, a time when 8,128 coronavirus deaths were reported.

The excess deaths are not necessarily attributable directly to covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. They could include people who died because of the epidemic but not from the disease, such as those who were afraid to seek medical treatment for unrelated illnesses, as well as some number of deaths that are part of the ordinary variation in the death rate. The count is also affected by increases or decreases in other categories of deaths, such as suicides, homicides and motor vehicle accidents.

But in any pandemic, higher-than-normal mortality is a starting point for scientists seeking to understand the full impact of the disease.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 - Pritzker admin responds *** Trump asks why Americans should be “bailing out” states like Illinois

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

* This caused a bit of a stir on Saturday…


One example of many…


* The governor was asked about Haley’s remarks yesterday

Do you have any reaction to yesterday’s tweet from former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley about Illinois not deserving federal relief because of the state’s reckless spending, including on pensions?…

    I want to know if members of the Republican Party in Illinois agree with her that Illinois doesn’t deserve to get any federal help. That’s what I want to know.

* The ILGOP walked it back…


I agree with that position, by the way.

* And now…


I think all of the states are looking for federal help.

The governor’s office has promised a response.

Take a very deep breath (or two) before commenting, please. But now do you see why I asked y’all whether Harmon should retract that letter?

*** UPDATE *** Jordan Abudayyeh…

Every state in the country is facing unprecedented economic fallout due to COVID-19. While the president shirks his responsibility to manage a national crisis, governors have stepped up to protect their residents. Regardless of party, governors from around the country agree that Washington needs to act to support their efforts and address the unique challenges every state is facing. The state of Illinois sends more taxpayer dollars to Washington than it receives each every year, so we’d urge the President to avoid his instincts to make this a partisan issue and do what’s right for the country.

- Posted by Rich Miller   85 Comments      


Fair maps group won’t demand a vote before the upcoming deadine

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

* Press release…

Illinois legislators and ethical government activists from communities across Illinois continue their outreach and support for Fair Maps and an improved redistricting process as the May 3rd deadline approaches. After May 3rd, the process becomes very uncertain, and urgent legislative action will be required to prevent another decade of partisan gerrymandered maps.

While many might have assumed Democrats will retain their partisan control of the map making process, that is no longer a safe assumption. Due to potential delays in the Census due to COVID-19, there is a 50 percent chance that Republicans actually will be in charge. “It could all come down to which name is drawn out of a hat,” says Ryan Tolley, policy director for CHANGE Illinois, the non-partisan coalition supporting the Fair Maps Amendment. “Lawmakers are running out of time to take action. Our democracy deserves a vote on a more equitable map process, and if one cannot safely be held before the May 3rd deadline, then legislators must commit to meaningful reforms in the coming months.”

There has been strong bipartisan support for the Fair Maps Amendment, which was introduced in the General Assembly on Feb. 13. The amendment is supported by 34 diverse organizations representing communities of color, businesses, farmers, senior citizens and more from across the state. A February poll commissioned by CHANGE Illinois showed 75 percent of the state’s voters support the creation of an independent commission to draw political maps.

Even during this pandemic, the supporters of this amendment are still committed to increasing election fairness. “This public health crisis underscores how important it is to elect leaders who are accountable to the people they serve,” said state Rep. Terra Costa Howard (D-Glen Ellyn), who is the Amendment’s chief sponsor in the House. “Now more than ever, we need to ensure that our districts are drawn fairly so that all constituents’ voices are heard.”

“Illinoisans deserve better than a repeat of the same political map making process that determined voters’ representation for decades, rather than allowing voters to choose their elected officials,” said state Rep. Ryan Spain of Peoria, the Republican chief co-sponsor of the Fair Maps Amendment. “We’re going to continue fighting for these reforms.”

I went over the Census deadline changes with subscribers a couple of weeks ago. There are several ways around that problem.

* The proposed constitutional amendment would need five session days to pass - three reading days in each chamber (the third serves as the first in the other chamber). That would mean the GA would have to come back to town by this Wednesday to get it done. Both chambers have already canceled session this week.

So, I asked Madeline Doubek at CHANGE Illinois if her group’s press release was a demand that the legislature reconvene this week. Her response…

No, it is not. We don’t presume to suggest we can demand anything, particularly in a pandemic. Safety must be considered, first and foremost. Fair maps and our democracy deserve votes, if and only if, some way could be found to do so safely. If that isn’t possible, we will work for legislative improvements to the redistricting process whenever the General Assembly can safely reconvene.

The chief Senate sponsor is Sen. Melinda Bush. I reached out to her earlier today and she told me that she and others are working on legislation now. She’s had some bills in draft form ready since February, Bush said. The legislation, among other things, would create an independent map commission by statute.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


Report: 90 people will be allowed into Rep. Bailey’s court hearing today

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

* Background is here if you need it. I heard about this number over the weekend and couldn’t quite believe it, but the Clay County Circuit Court is apparently going to allow 90 people into today’s hearing on Rep. Darren Bailey’s lawsuit

The hearing is set for 1:30pm in Clay County Circuit Court in Louisville.

Media are being asked to gather about 1pm for health screening and guidelines, then are to be admitted about 1:15pm. Social distancing will be in place in the courtroom, so only about 90 people will be accommodated in the courtroom.

The presiding judge, Michael McHaney, was contacted over the weekend by representatives for the governor, requesting a continuance in the case, but the request was denied.

What could possibly go wrong?

* And Rep. Bailey is encouraging the public to attend…


A hearing will be held at the Clay County Courthouse in Louisville Illinois on Monday April 27 at 1:30 pm. Doors open…

Posted by Darren Bailey for State Senate 55th District on Saturday, April 25, 2020

- Posted by Rich Miller   57 Comments      


Some have become heroes, others not so much

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents government intrusion on journalists’ rights to tell their stories and your rights to read or watch or listen to them.

But that means things can get messy. Some reporters can make everyone else look bad.

“There are no bad questions,” is something I learned growing up. But after doing this job for a number of years, I’m here to tell you that, yes, there are bad questions.

I’ve been guilty of that over the years. Heck, I messed up my own remote question to the governor on April 24 because I got into a hurry and mistyped it. Oops.

Too often, though, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s daily press conferences have become a theater of the absurd.

We’re in the midst of a global crisis that might eventually prove to be empire-changing. On top of the massive health scare, the nation is suffering through its sharpest employment and business collapse in its entire history. And on top of that, news media outlets — already reeling from years of corporate greed and systemic readership changes — are in very real danger of disappearing forever at a time when we desperately need them the most.

So, you’d think that present circumstances would bring out the best in reporters. It definitely has in a lot of them, but it hasn’t in others.

We’ve had the repetitive and even childish “Are we there yet?” sorts of questions for weeks on end, sometimes three, four or five a day during Pritzker pressers. All asked while hospitalizations continue to rise, the virus continues to spread throughout the state and deaths have taken an alarming upward turn. It’s like some news reporters can’t see the news in front of their faces. And, too often, it’s those very reporters who are the ones hogging the question period.

Some ask questions that can be answered with simple Google searches. For instance, a reporter recently asked the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (who appears with the governor every day) how many COVID-19 patients were in the ICU. That information is posted on the IDPH website every day. The briefings aren’t supposed to be quiz shows.

And then there are those who advocate for their own personal hobbies or interests.

“Golf courses,” a Chicago TV reporter recently told the governor. “People are so anxious just to get out on the green, to be outside. Golf courses. Maybe you could do it in a socially distant kind of way?”

There are questions and then there is lobbying. That was lobbying.

The governor clearly said in response to a reporter’s recent question that he would definitely not be following the lead of Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp when it came to loosening his own stay at home order.

Gov. Kemp imposed a stay at home order and then decided to reverse some of it, and even President Donald Trump repeatedly criticized his flip-flop.

But some reporters acted shocked on April 23 when Pritzker extended his own order. And some of their questions went off the rails. It was perhaps the worst day of all.

A reporter for a suburban newspaper proclaimed: “Many people in rural parts of the state want to quarantine Chicago and the suburbs and reopen parts of Downstate Illinois that aren’t seeing infection rates like the urban areas. Why has the state not done that?”

Reporters should give voice to the voiceless, but the governor has repeatedly said the virus is everywhere and quarantining one area wouldn’t work and he was rightly stunned.

A talk show host for a small Chicago radio station delivered an extended soliloquy on bankruptcy and Puerto Rico. Another reporter claimed Pritzker had been accused by some Republican lawmakers of “operating in a bubble.” Pritzker denied it, and I spent some time looking for an instance of anyone saying that and couldn’t find anything. Maybe I missed it.

A reporter for a conservative news site asked how the governor could justify raises for state workers, even though most state employees have binding union contracts and the governor can’t just wave a magic wand to get rid of them. It went on like that for what seemed like forever.

Many, many reporters have asked thoughtful, well-researched and tough questions over the weeks. They are my heroes. But I have been getting an uneasy feeling lately that those questions are being drowned out by the stupid ones, and it’s undermining everyone’s credibility at a crucial moment in history. We just gotta do better. Myself included.

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


Open thread

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

* How was your weekend?

- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Toplines and crosstabs

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

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- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Monday, Apr 27, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


« NEWER POSTS PREVIOUS POSTS »
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Partisan breakdown of newly proposed congressional map
* *** UPDATED *** Democrats release new congressional map - More Latino strength - Newman, Casten in same district - Kinzinger, LaHood mapped together - Miller, Bost mapped together
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Question of the day
* The debate continues over the labor force participation rate
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Pritzker expands vax/test mandate to workers at licensed day care centers
* COVID-19 roundup
* Despite pleas and even threats, IDOC worker vax rate remains about the same
* Can't somebody at the state step in and help Dixmoor with its water problem?
* Giannoulias hit for accepting campaign money from his brothers, others
* Illinois: Tell Congress To Count All Copays
* Open thread
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
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