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Question of the day

Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021

* SJ-R

Four cases of COVID-19 were confirmed Thursday in the Capitol Complex and Bank of Springfield Center shortly before or after the Illinois House and Senate concluded their sessions for the week.

It’s unclear whether the outbreaks will play a role in when lawmakers will return to Springfield.

One case was confirmed in the Capitol Complex — which includes the Capitol building where the Senate met from Friday through Wednesday.

Three cases were confirmed through rapid testing at the BOS Center, where the House met from Friday through Thursday to accommodate social-distancing recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Steve Brown, an aide to House Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch, D-Hillside.

* WMAY’s Jim Leach

Earlier this month, Sangamon County put out the call to health care responders – the group of people known for vaccination purposes as “Phase 1A” – to fill up available weekend slots for receive the dose at the Department of Public Health. But that weekend, I began to notice social media postings from people who weren’t health care workers who had gotten their appointment to get a shot. Curious, I tried it, too. The online form asked if I was a health care worker. I accurately answered “no”… and it then proceeded to take me through the rest of the process and schedule my appointment.

I called the health department, which acknowledged a “glitch” in the online system that allowed the general public the ability to schedule appointments. While the glitch is now fixed, the department decided to honor the appointments that had been made. I asked if I should proceed with my appointment, and was told that I should, for a couple of reasons:

    * The county is going to considerable expense to schedule staff on weekends to keep up a fast pace of vaccinations. They want to make sure every slot is filled, and not a single dose goes to waste. So when appointments are made, they want to make sure they are carried out.
    * County health officials are hoping that media members like myself can help spread the word about the importance of the vaccine and clear up misconceptions about it and the vaccination process. In reality, members of the media are also part of Phase 1 because of the role we play in communicating important health and safety information to the public. You may question whether we are “essential” workers; in fact, you may vehemently disagree with that characterization. And you may have a point. But that is the system that’s been set up.

* As we all know, members of Congress have been offered vaccinations under an Obama-era executive order about continuity of governance. But members of the Illinois General Assembly have to wait their turn. Growing numbers are not happy…

* I asked Gov. Pritzker on Friday whether legislators should be vaccinated. As I told subscribers that afternoon, Pritzker said elected officials will receive the vaccination when they are eligible with the rest of the population. So, for example, if they’re over 65, they can qualify when those folks are vaccinated. Pritzker pointed out that he hasn’t yet been vaccinated and that legislators would, like himself, not be eligible for “special dispensation.”

* The Question: Should legislators receive the COVID-19 vaccination ahead of the spring session? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…

panel management

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:45 am:

    voted no - vaccinate the elderly before politicians.

  2. - Mr. Hand - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:48 am:

    Vaccinate my grandma that is 90 and living in a retirement community. We have moved to phase 1B in our area and a teenage worker at the grocery store is eligible for the vaccine, but most people over the 75 age limit can’t get it.

  3. - Staff - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:49 am:

    Absolutely. Staff as well. It’s ridiculous to ask Staff to put their health on the line during long work days. Pritzker needs to act now.

  4. - Ummmm - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:49 am:

    There are people who have actually shown up to work every single day of this pandemic who do not qualify for vaccination yet. Lawmakers didn’t even bother to try to do their jobs for an entire year and now they want to get vaccinated first before people who have been working and at risk every single day? How tone deaf are these people? If working was so important to them then why didn’t they pass remote legislating policy so they could work during a pandemic? If returning to work safely was important to them, why aren’t they in their communities ensuring that mitigation was followed and enforced? Where have their PSAs on mask wearing been? What meetings have they held with their local elected officials and local health departments to bring down positivity rates? Are these the same people that have been clamoring to open restaurants and play sports again? There are a lot of steps that can be taken before you hop the vaccine line. If you want to sit inside a restaurant and attend your kid’s sports game, then showing up to work at the capitol shouldn’t be a concern to you.

  5. - Frumpy White Guy - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:49 am:

    Retail, taxi, Uber workers aren’t given preferential treatment. Frontline government employees are on their own. So Didech wants to lead frog ahead of the above mentioned. Should be interesting when he is running for re-election.

  6. - Boy Blunder - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:52 am:

    If it’s essential that legislators and staff meet - and it is - then they should be treated as essential wokers, recieve the vaccine, and do the work the state needs them to undertake.

  7. - Colin O'Scopy - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:54 am:

    I voted no.

    I tell my kids that there are 2 types of people in the world: one type are those of us who wait our turn and color within the lines.

    The other type are those who think they are special and entitled to special treatment. They take up two parking spots at the mall at Christmas, they ride the shoulder when there is a traffic jam.

    Legislators are not special, nor should they be treated as such.

  8. - 1st Ward - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:54 am:

    No. The Tribune put out a vaccination tracker this past week. The zipcodes with the largest percentage and number of total vaccinations was wealthy, white northside neighborhoods so far. If this trend continues over the next month the politics of who gets vaccinated will increase. It thus will not be good politics for the political class to run to the front of the line.

  9. - Cool Papa Bell - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:54 am:

    I say yes.. Its a drop in the bucket when it comes to the total number of vaccinations going out everyday. They need to be at work and this might make it easier for them. Also we can see if the Eastern Bloc will roll up sleeve and be on the correct side of the issue or not.

    But I also say, understanding the FDA here, bring over the U of I salvia test. Test everyone, every day. Don’t ask for permission, just do it.

    There is a plan out from medical providers in Springfield to vaccinate 1500 people a day. It’s dependent on supply but lets get to that sooner rather than later.

  10. - Rosie - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:54 am:

    They should be categorized with other frontline/essential workers. But not ahead of the oldest residents.
    The vaccine rollout seems really haphazard so far.

  11. - Ares - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:56 am:

    Yes - the business of the people is essential business. Look at what happened at the insurrection, when one of our MCs acquired the COVID-19 virus in the wake of the insurrection, but hopefully, will be OK as a result of having received the first shot. We cannot have a society without a working Legislature.

  12. - tea_and_honey - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:57 am:

    I voted no simply because many others have been working in person every day (not just a few days here and there) since this started in March and they don’t get special treatment.

    Continue with the testing plan and require masks and distancing on the days they meet in person, and then wait their turn like everyone else.

  13. - VerySmallRocks - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:57 am:

    Yes - they’re potential superspreaders and they would set an example (except for the willful morons who shall remain nameless). The challenge is that the effectiveness is reduced by the need to have two injections spaced weeks apart.

  14. - Just Me 2 - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:59 am:

    I’d say they should qualify for phase 1c as an essential worker that works with the community on a daily basis. That also includes legal, media, and social services.

  15. - Shane Falco - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:59 am:

    No - Committee hearings should be held on zoom and floor votes don’t typically start until late April. For now, we need to prioritize people who are high risk and the elderly. This question can be revisited in late March. Hopefully by then the vaccination rollout is in full swing backed by competent leadership in DC.

  16. - reddevil1 - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:59 am:

    Yes - only if they meet the current CDC guidelines for getting the vaccine.

  17. - Ashland Adam - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 11:59 am:

    Legislators and staff should be vaccinated. They’re doing the essential work of the people. This is a no-brainer. No vaccination, then not allowed in the Capitol/conference center.

  18. - Observation - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:00 pm:

    I voted no. The comments made by Ummmm and others above apply to my resounding “no” vote.

  19. - Downstate Dem - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:01 pm:

    I voted yes. People who work with the public should be vaccinated. It’s too dangerous, as was shown last week, that the legislators meet without being vaccinated. They don’t need to take COVID 19 home to their districts.

  20. - The 647 - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:02 pm:

    I voted no. If they were meeting in person five days a week I would have a different opinion. It seems unfair to put them in the same category as grocery store workers who work everyday while the legislature has met just a handful of days since last March. Also, they have the ability to work remotely - they just haven’t fully given themselves that power.

  21. - Anotheretiree - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:02 pm:

    No..they can take precautions like we all have to. hey should get shots based on the criteria. Glad for Jim Leach that he got in early. He should pause and consider that people may die because of this glitch and his good fortune in going ahead of them.

  22. - The Dude - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:04 pm:

    You can offer all you want but the number of people who actually do are generally 40-50% of those who could.

    So we can discuss this all day long but at the end of the day vaccines are not going to be effective if so few are lining up.

  23. - Who else - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:05 pm:

    No. Their inability to legislate remotely is their own doing. What a bad look to insist they are somehow more essential than essential employees elsewhere —including other public sector workers—who will have to wait in line like everyone else.

  24. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:08 pm:

    There are thousands of people living in state facilities, everywhere from prisons to veterans homes, to facilities for the developmentally disabled. Heck, even the Illinois Math and Science Academy. These people should be vaccinated first, along with the employees who care for them.

    I don’t see any compelling reason to bump legislators to the front of the line. They are supposed to be citizen legislators. They can wait like the rest of us citizens.

  25. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    I voted yes. Not thrilled to but I want government back in session and working. Even if done remotely they should get it he shot
    If you are an ex rep or senator in prison do you go to head of the line /s

  26. - Buzz McCallister - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    Daniel Didech is one of the people on the Titanic that rushes the life boat ahead of woman and children. Healthy, congress people who are not seniors do not need to be moved ahead of more at risk people.

  27. - ChicagoVinny - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    Voted yes, they should be grouped with other essential workers.

  28. - Depends, actually. - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:12 pm:

    I voted yes, but I can see a younger legislator deferring to his elders or community elders.

  29. - thoughts matter - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:13 pm:

    No. They can wear masks and socially distance when possible. Some of them refuse to do even that. Those that qualify due to age or medical condition can get vaccinated when it’s their turn. Household members of the elderly or ill are not able to jump the line so why should legislators?

  30. - Left of the Lake - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:15 pm:

    No, it needs to continue to go to the elderly, teachers, and other front-line workers first after the essential and emergency workers. Maybe the GA can be put at the front of the “general public” but that’s where I would draw the line.

  31. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:15 pm:

    Voted yes. If they are vaccinated tomorrow, it will be five weeks before they are fully protected.

    Then they really need to get stuff done.

  32. - Stu - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:16 pm:

    Rep. Didech, believe it or not, you’re not more important than the grocery store worker or other essential workers who have showed up to work every day since this pandemic started. Wait your turn.

  33. - Candy Dogood - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:20 pm:

    No. Aside from the other issues of fairness, I do not believe any exemption should be made that would allow people who have wantonly propagated misinformation and actively encouraged behaviors that have contributed to the community spread of this virus and deaths of our fellow Illinoisans to cut in line for a vaccine.

  34. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:24 pm:

    Vaccine “hesitancy” is a real thing.

    Some people who are lied to (repeatedly) have difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction…go figure.

  35. - Mrsfloyddog - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:27 pm:

    I voted yes, mostly because I don’t want to be in a room with 200 people without my vaccination.

  36. - Seymourkid - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:28 pm:

    No, they can work remotely

  37. - Flapdoodle - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:29 pm:

    Yes* — the state needs to get moving and the legislature is a essential part of that

    *Preferably with very long needles

  38. - Sox Fan - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:31 pm:

    ===No, they can work remotely===

    Came on to say exactly this. Is it ideal? No. But millions of others have made remote work, well work

  39. - Anyone Remember - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:32 pm:

    No. They get enough “perks” as it is. Such as the “left lane is the passing lane” legislation, sponsored by former Rep. / Sen. John Milner, who had previously been a police chief. He wanted the “peasants” (not his term) out of his way when he excessively sped to / from Springfield for session.

  40. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:38 pm:

    Voted yes. Not one of those “punish the politicians” people, of whom there are so many. They do very important work—our millions of voices and wills funneled into a few hundred legislators. The people’s work must be done.

  41. - Really - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:38 pm:

    Absolutely not. They don’t work near as hard as many of the other essential workers. They could have passed legislation last week to allow them to meet over Zoom and were too lazy to do so. They aren’t special and have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt over the last year that they are mot essential. They are not even competent. The answer is a resounding no.

  42. - Essential State Employee - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:42 pm:

    ==He wanted the “peasants” (not his term) out of his way when he excessively sped to / from Springfield for session.==

    Along those lines, I’ll never forget an expose on one of the Peoria stations’ newscasts a few years before the left lane law showing dashboard cams on northbound I-55 between Springfield and Lincoln (presumably) of legislators’ cars speeding past them. Classic. Most likely I think it aired on WMBD-31 since they’ve been longtime sister stations to WCIA (and it was probably a Channel 3 investigation that also aired on Peoria’s 31).

  43. - Socially DIstant Watcher - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:43 pm:

    Is this really an either / or situation? The Republicans are in a tizzy because prisoners are in line ahead of anyone else.

    This is a supply problem, not a queue problem.

  44. - Staffer - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:48 pm:

    How about posting a poll asking about staff?

    Attacking the politicians is easy, but let’s find out if you all think staff is as essential as you say we are when you want something…

  45. - Hippopotamus - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:53 pm:

    No - they are demonstrably not essential and proved so when they did not limit the Governor’s authority to manage the crisis. Had they acted, I would say yes to return and help manage the crisis.

  46. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 12:55 pm:

    Voted “No”. They have an important job to do and it needs to be done. Cancelling session just didn’t make any sense.

    Masks work. Social distancing does too. Follow the science- I am tired of both the right and left wing hysteria.

    if you are on the right- the virus is real and masks work. Science matters.

    If you are on the Left- masks work, follow the rules. Science matters.

    If the eastern bloc won’t wear a mask they simply forfeit their right to be in session.

  47. - Peters Piece - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 1:00 pm:

    One benefit of vaccinating the Legislature is they will get to see up close and personal if it is working. Have them go to the community sites for their vaccine. At the VA where it is working the long lines dissipated after a week to ten days and then the goal is to keep the queue filled. BTW if you are a vet call your local VA even if you have never signed up. We are ready for you.

  48. - Huh? - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 1:10 pm:

    Are the legislators responsible for their health and taking the appropriate precautions? Then yes.

    Are they members of the Eastern block and acting like covidiots? Then no.

  49. - Responsa - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 1:13 pm:

    No. Dan, and other younger legislators and staff–wear your masks and be extra careful when at work like the rest of us are and have been doing until the most vulnerable are dosed with vaccine. The idea that you actually think that you are more important and that your job is somehow more essential than most others’ both rankles and makes me sad.

  50. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 1:32 pm:

    Voted yes on the condition that all legislators must sign an oath to follow state masks rules in order to get the shot(s).

  51. - illinifan - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 1:35 pm:

    They should get it when it is their turn based on state priority groups. Unlike essential workers they can distance and choose to do virtual meetings.

  52. - Blake - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 1:37 pm:

    They should wait their turn unless there is a major disruption in government due to illness.

  53. - Long winded - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 1:37 pm:

    Voted no– elderly first and if you can’t cover staff, then unfair policy. On the contrary, it is only “200″ doses as the rep tweeted and maybe 200 isn’t a huge dent in the supply, but I doubt he had that information before he tweeted his demand.

    It may also set a good example for constituents/general populous if their rep or senator encourages it by getting it themselves. I’m afraid to find out which GA members will refuse it then cause a PR havoc and discourage members of their community to recieve it.

  54. - Out of loop - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 1:42 pm:

    Voted no– elderly first and you can’t cover staff with 200. On the contrary, maybe 200 isn’t a huge dent in the supply.
    If GA members are offered it first and refuse it, this could discourage members of their community to recieve it.

  55. - ICG - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 1:53 pm:

    Voted no assuming the question was asking if legislators should be in Phase 1a or 1b…but legislators should be Phase 1c eligible

  56. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 2:22 pm:

    Trump attempted to attach a (D) behind COVID…in the minds of many politically gullible people…more’s the offense.

    Trump stated COVID-19 was a “Democrat” hoax…never forget.

  57. - JT11505 - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 2:38 pm:

    How about requiring legislators to be vaccinated, and not allowed on the floor if they haven’t been?

  58. - Tim Butler may have a point - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 3:00 pm:

    If any one has watched more than 10 minutes of Zoom Chicago City Council they would know the issues with
    full remote legislation especially since the GA covers significantly greater subject matter with double the amount of members (House) from much different areas and experiences. Full remote would consist of hours long debates with no staff support and the lack of the intangible benefit of looking each other in the eye and trying to sway someone to vote for your bill. Its probably too soon to vaccinate the GA and more importantly staff but by the end of March/April there will likely be sufficient vaccine supply just in time for the GA to ramp up and considered the very important issues that have been sidetracked for over a year.

  59. - Gary Hart - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 3:07 pm:

    Didech needs to pump the brakes. While he lives in his crystal palace on the North Shore, the rest of us have to struggle everyday. I’m shocked his buddy Carroll isn’t asking for the vaccine as well. The house’s version of Chads…

  60. - Downstate Illinois - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 3:36 pm:

    Gee, are we going to put young healthy prisoners in line ahead of lawmakers (and everyone else)? As easy as it is to lambast the state legislature and note how the rest of us our generally safer when they are not in session, I would certainly place lawmakers in a higher category than the cast of Chicago Fire. Yes, film and tv workers are counted as manufacturing and eligible in the 1B category.

  61. - Lost in space - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 4:15 pm:

    Absolutely unequivocally NO. If my 93 year old parents cannot get it, the legislators sure has heck better nit get it before them.

  62. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 4:25 pm:

    No, too many other essential workers who are taking risks every day and the elderly should come first, except if they qualify because of age.

  63. - Sal - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 4:39 pm:

    Boy Blunder, I agree with you.

  64. - Frank talks - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 5:26 pm:

    No - other state legislators have been meeting in session long before there was a vaccine and all during the pandemic while Illinois has been home. Were there cases? Yes, but they still worked through and met.

  65. - Arock - Tuesday, Jan 19, 21 @ 6:36 pm:

    Nope, not too essential by the looks of things. They can pass another fictitious budget in a one day session as that will be in keeping with their long standing norm of passing sham budgets.

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* 1,442 new confirmed and probable cases; 33 additional deaths; 1,166 hospitalized; 263 in ICU; 2.2 percent average case positivity rate; 2.8 percent average test positivity rate; 83,115 average daily doses
* CDC report: Masks decrease spread, but on-premises restaurant dining increases it
* Unemployment applications rose nationally last week, fell slightly in Illinois
* Kass (no, not that Kass, the smart one) argues against austerity
* Democrats, business leaders argue for phased approach to full reopening, and they want it to start soon
* Chicago Sun-Times: “Illinois Can’t Sit Back And Wait For The Federal Government To Do The Job.” CEJA Can’t Wait.
* Durbin agreed to back Harris before flipping to Kelly
* Appellate ruling: Transportation lock box amendment doesn't apply to home rule units
* ALPLM hires first person of color as executive director
* Support The Illinois Healthy Youth Act – SB266
* Open thread
* Yesterday's stories

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