Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x3 *** WBEZ: About 20 percent of Illinois legislators, mainly in the House, won’t say if they’re vaccinated or not
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*** UPDATED x3 *** WBEZ: About 20 percent of Illinois legislators, mainly in the House, won’t say if they’re vaccinated or not

Wednesday, Aug 11, 2021

* WBEZ asked all 177 state legislators if they’ve been vaccinated. About 20 percent didn’t respond

Nearly four in five Illinois lawmakers say they’ve received COVID-19 vaccines. But the two legislative blocs most unwilling to divulge their vaccination status — Black Democrats and downstate white Republicans — also represent some of the least-inoculated parts of the state. […]

In the Illinois House, less than half of the 45-member Republican caucus publicly acknowledged being vaccinated, and just under 85% of the 73-member House Democratic caucus is fully vaccinated. […]

All 41 members of the Senate Democratic caucus told WBEZ they are fully vaccinated, and all but three within the 18-member Senate Republican caucus responded they, too, are inoculated against the coronavirus.

First, surveys generally do not produce 100 percent response rates. Some of these folks may very well be vaxed and just didn’t respond for any number of reasons. Some may feel that it’s private information. Some may not want to admit being vaccinated. I do not know if we should assume the unresponsive are not vaxed, but they didn’t respond, so they’ve basically given us the go-ahead to assume whatever the heck we want.

* Let’s go over the list of unresponsive legislators, starting with House Democrats

Aaron M. Ortiz [Sent me a screen shot of his vax card]
Jawaharial Williams [Says he was never contacted, but is “absolutely” vaccinated and is encouraging others to do so]
John C. D’Amico [He told me he is vaccinated]
Curtis J. Tarver, II [He told me he is vaccinated]
Justin Slaughter [”I’m definitely vaccinated!’]
Thaddeus Jones
Mary E. Flowers
Cyril Nichols [”I’m vaccinated”]
Janet Yang Rohr [Didn’t get WBEZ’s email and is vaxed]
Rita Mayfield
Natalie A. Manley [Spokesperson: “Manley is vaccinated”]

From earlier this week

Rep. Mary Flowers asked the health experts if Illinois gave a false sense of security that people are “okay” if they’re vaccinated. She also asked if state leaders are playing a “shame game” with people who haven’t gotten vaccinated.

Flowers is a Deputy Majority Leader.

* Unresponsive House Republicans

Tim Ozinga
Amy Grant
Deanne M. Mazzochi
Chris Bos
Martin McLaughlin
Thomas Morrison
Tom Weber
Dan Ugaste
Joe Sosnowski
Tony McCombie
Daniel Swanson
Andrew S. Chesney
Mark Luft
Norine K. Hammond
Randy E. Frese
C.D. Davidsmeyer
Brad Halbrook
Blaine Wilhour
Charles Meier
Adam Niemerg
Chris Miller
David Friess
Dave Severin

* Unresponsive Senate Republicans

Craig Wilcox
Neil Anderson
Darren Bailey

Sen. Bailey has said elsewhere that he’s not vaccinated.

* One House Republican says he is not vaccinated

The only legislator to tell WBEZ he is not vaccinated is state Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, who said he “probably” would wind up getting the vaccine but did not return a phone call seeking further elaboration.

If any legislator on this unresponsive list would like to contact me, I will make note of it here. I’ve also asked the spokespersons for all four legislative leaders to comment on WBEZ’s story and will post those as they are received.

*** UPDATE 1 *** House Speaker Chris Welch’s spokesperson Jaclyn Driscoll…

We know the vaccine is our best defense against this virus and the Speaker will continue to encourage everyone to get their shots. He’s extremely proud of the work our Democratic caucus has done when it comes to proactively engaging their communities, both in person and utilizing social media, to get their vaccines and adhere to guidance given by our health professionals even when it feels daunting. That’s the type of action that makes a real difference in communities.

*** UPDATE 2 *** Senate President Don Harmon…

I’m proud of the personal responsibility Senate Democrats have shown and our work to promote the only real way out of this pandemic that exists. Following the science and getting more people vaccinated is how we protect our kids, our neighbors, our communities and our economy.

*** UPDATE 3 *** Leader Dan McConchie…

As you can see from the overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans who were willing to give their private medical information to the press, the Governor’s narrative that the caucus is hurting the vaccination effort is entirely unfounded. Throughout the vaccination rollout, the Senate Republicans have been unrelenting in our fight to improve access and help our constituents receive vaccines. From holding vaccination clinics, to working with their local health departments, our members have been at the forefront of fighting this pandemic on the ground in their communities. The Governor’s goals, as he has articulated them, are more likely to be achieved through a collaborative process that includes the General Assembly and both parties. That has not been his approach thus far.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:05 am:

    It’s summer. D’Amico’s probably on a bass boat somewhere, far from his e-mail account. Lol.

  2. - fs - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:09 am:

    Worth noting that some of the areas in the Chicago area with the lowest percent of vax’d population overlap with some of those above. Perhaps they should show some leadership here.

  3. - Jocko - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:13 am:

    ==state leaders are playing a “shame game” with people==

    They should be ashamed if they (or members of their family) end up taking a hospital bed away from a vaccinated person who is sick or injured

  4. - Cool Papa Bell - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:17 am:

    Looking at the House Republicans list - I’d guess that some of those folks are but are unwilling to say so in order to appear more on the side of their strongest constituency.

  5. - Just Sayin ... - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:21 am:

    Yes it is shameful. It is shameful that the New Covid unvax’d patients who are now taking valued bed space away from other Healthcare needs such as, cancer patients needing surgery or needing heart or kidney transplants. The unvax’s need to know their decision is not just impacting them. Legislators should be heald to a higher standard for upholding integrity of our public health safety.

  6. - Club J - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:22 am:

    These folks are supposed to be leaders of their given area and they are showing a lack of concern for the lives of those who put them in office.

    It would be interesting to see what vaccine rates and the COVID infection rates are in these communities.

  7. - truthteller - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:22 am:

    any surprise?

  8. - Captain Obvious - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:25 am:

    Like their tax returns, their health status or information is none of my business or concern.

  9. - Anotheretiree - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:25 am:

    Considering how highly contagious Delta is and how much unmasked interaction they have, the lack of infection among non responders is a sign of secret vaccination.

  10. - Davis Junction - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:29 am:

    6 months ago, this was private medical information, now it’s show us your papers.

  11. - Ng - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:30 am:

    This does not reflect well on House Democrats. They seem to have had a lot of issues with leadership. Leaders are suppose to lead. Do better

  12. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:31 am:

    === Like their tax returns===

    Gonna save this in the back of my mind when you seemingly are concerned about wealth.

    To the post,

    As vaccines become more and more mandated for many “places and workplaces”, this idea of “status” as a confidential item will not be a “thing”

    My hope is anyone who is eligible is vaccinated so we can get closer to a normal.

    If you think things are “back to normal”, when was helicoptering children 150 miles for an ICU bed normal in the past?

  13. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:33 am:

    ===This does not reflect well on House Democrats.===

    Then this reflects even worse on Durkin.

  14. - Tommydanger - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:33 am:

    Unresponsive House Republicans is probably a redundant description, but still nevertheless disappointing for any legislator to not say one way or the other.
    We are in an undeniably challenging public health crisis with a virus that is as contagious as chicken pox. If you’re comfortable being an unvaccinated person, feel free to publicly share your reasons. I believe its fair to assume if you’re declining to share your status that you are either unvaccinated or a hypocritical coward and are vaccinated but afraid to say so lest it cost you votes in your district.

  15. - Perrid - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:36 am:

    Asking our leaders to lead by example, or asking why they aren’t leading by example, isn’t “show us your papers”. JFC guys, come on.

  16. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:36 am:

    If legislators are not answering because they didn’t get vaccinated, it’s a bad example of leadership, especially in hard-hit communities. They almost should be primaried just for that reason.

    If certain legislators don’t believe in the vaccine, are scared of it or don’t trust it, they should at least have the guts (no laughing please) to say so.

  17. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:47 am:

    They don’t have to answer, but there is nothing preventing that lack of an answer from being held against them. Before anyone goes there, no, HIPAA does not apply.

  18. - Jocko - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:48 am:

    ==their health status or information is none of my business or concern.==

    Jacobson v Massachusetts says different.

  19. - Shield - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:56 am:

    - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 11:36 am:

    It’s important to know the difference between unvaccinated and unresponsive. Unfortunately, if they are unresponsive, we don’t know if they are vaccinated or not. However, in the defense of some of the legislators on this list (although not much of one), they aren’t the most engaged or responsive anyway.

  20. - The Magnificent Purple Wombat - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 12:34 pm:

    I take their claims of being vaccinated with a grain of salt, They are politicians.

  21. - Norseman - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 12:42 pm:

    Mary Flowers doesn’t surprise me. She recoiled against anti-smoking efforts in her district because smoking is one of the few pleasures her constituents can enjoy. I’m not sure what pleasures Covid provides, but it goes to politicized view of govt infringing on one’s erroneous understanding of personal rights.

  22. - thunderspirit - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 12:45 pm:

    == HIPAA does not apply. ==

    Correct. HIPAA prevents hospitals, insurance companies, pharmacies, and health care providers from sharing protected health information you provide to them with anyone else without your permission. It doesn’t prevent anyone from asking if you’re vaccinated, nor from sharing your responses to that question.

  23. - Norseman - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 12:46 pm:

    Chamber Wars

    The Speaker: Yada, yada, yada.

    The President: Singing “my members are smarter than your members …”

  24. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 12:59 pm:

    The fact that these folks didn’t respond initially is interesting. The fact that you put up their names two hours ago and nobody has written to say that they were vaxxed tells you a lot. If the Dems wanted you to know they were vaxxed they would have told you. So I’m gonna go ahead and assume that, like Mary Flowers, these are resistant dems. Time to vax up people. You’re elected officials and you have a responsibility to your constituents and to set a good example. Do better.

  25. - Meh - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 1:10 pm:

    A survey is one of the laziest forms of journalism I can think of. Given these are investigative journalists, did they do any research of their own? Like what public statements/posts the “unresponsive” legislators have previously made on vaccinations? Whether there is a correlation between districts that are represented by an “unresponsive” representative and the covid hospitalization rate, etc?

  26. - JoanP - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 1:12 pm:

    I don’t know why he’s not responding, but Tarver, along with Senator Peters and Rep. Buckner sponsored a vaccination clinic for the South Shore Community:

    I’d be surprised if he did that and weren’t vaccinated himself.

  27. - Unconventional wisdom - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 1:14 pm:

    =Black Democrats and downstate white Republicans=

    I keep hearing hearing anecdotal but not fully substantiated rumors that Blacks and very conservative anti government Republicans have been resistant to taking the vaccine.

    Seems to be more anecdotal evidence?

  28. - So - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 1:17 pm:

    If WBEZ is not heard or relevant in a particular District, the station may never get a call back regardless of status.

  29. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 1:22 pm:

    ==It’s summer. D’Amico’s probably on a bass boat somewhere, far from his e-mail account. Lol. ==

    McKinney says that D’Amico got back to him and confirmed he is vax’d. So sounds like you could be right, lol.

  30. - NIU Grad - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 1:27 pm:

    “Sent me a screen shot of his vax card”

    I was surprised to see Ortiz on this list, so that makes sense.

    Many of the Democratic reps on this list are in areas that have the lowest vaccine rates…it would great if they could lead by example here.

  31. - Roadrager - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 1:27 pm:

    ==I keep hearing hearing anecdotal but not fully substantiated rumors that Blacks and very conservative anti government Republicans have been resistant to taking the vaccine.

    Seems to be more anecdotal evidence?==

    Ford Heights is one of the poorest communities in the state, and almost entirely Black. McKinney noted their current vaccination rate is 16%. Ford Heights also had one of the few dedicated vaccination sites in the south suburbs early in the rollout. An elected representative of such a community, like Thaddeus Jones, being intentionally silent on vaccination is engaging in active harm of his constituents, and should be called out accordingly.

  32. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 1:50 pm:

    ===anecdotal but not fully substantiated rumors that Blacks and very conservative anti government Republicans have been resistant to taking the vaccine===

    Multiple polls show that Black people are not actually resistant, but in the real world they have not yet been vaxed for whatever reasons.

    Polling and public statements show that a significant chunk of Republicans are resistant and many are also outspoken or not so subtle about it.

    There’s important differences here, in other words.

  33. - Ng - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 1:51 pm:

    Calling Leader Manley.

  34. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 2:40 pm:

    “Unfortunately, if they are unresponsive, we don’t know if they are vaccinated or not.”

    It’s worse if a legislator is vaccinated, won’t disclose it and pushes an anti-vax message, especially to a hard-hit community. That ought to spur resignation.

  35. - Bruce( no not him) - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 2:56 pm:

    ===Unresponsive Senate Republicans…===
    Perhaps a bucket of cold water on their heads will wake them up. Always worked for me when I was younger.

  36. - Shield - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 3:02 pm:

    - Unconventional wisdom - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 1:14 pm:

    From the Kaiser Family Foundation, via WaPo’s Philip Bump

  37. - Amalia - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 3:05 pm:

    Mary Flowers never ceases to amaze/disappoint/amuse. she’s a walking cliche.

  38. - Unconventionalwisdom - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 3:06 pm:

    Some updated data from CDC Maybe there is some gradual improvement:

    The CDC reports demographic characteristics, including race/ethnicity, of people receiving COVID-19 vaccinations at the national level. As of August 2, 2021, CDC reported that race/ethnicity was known for 58% of people who had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Among this group, nearly two thirds were White (59%), 10% were Black, 16% were Hispanic, 6% were Asian, 1% were American Indian or Alaska Native, and

  39. - Chito - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 3:31 pm:

    I was at a retreat last week where Mary Flowers was the only person walking around the room unmasked. None of her colleagues bothered to say anything to her directly because “Mary’s gonna Mary”.

  40. - Ng - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 3:37 pm:

    I will never understand why someone who has earned so much respect is allowed to bully and disrespect others. Rep. Flowers continues to get away with disrespectful bully behavior and no one says a word. Crickets. And this is Leadership?

  41. - SAP - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 3:43 pm:

    ==Following the science and getting more people vaccinated is how we protect our kids, our neighbors, our communities and our economy.==

    Nipping the COVID virus by getting vaxxed is the way to protect the economy. I would have expected that to strike more of a chord with Republicans.

  42. - wayward - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 3:46 pm:

    I’d be surprised if Deanne Mazzochi wasn’t vaccinated. Chris Miller and Darren Bailey, not so much.

  43. - Cubs in '16 - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 4:16 pm:

    To update 3:

    That’s some seriously impressive spin from Leader McConchie. Made me so dizzy I had to sit down.

  44. - huh - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 4:53 pm:

    WBEZ trying to draw conclusions from no-replies.

  45. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 4:54 pm:

    ==the caucus is hurting the vaccination effort is entirely unfounded==

    Two words for you: Senator Bailey.

    Yes, your caucus is hurting the vaccination effort. The evidence is clear and convincing.

  46. - Bruce( no not him) - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 5:37 pm:

    ==the caucus is hurting the vaccination effort is entirely unfounded==
    No corrections though.

  47. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Wednesday, Aug 11, 21 @ 7:29 pm:

    I suggest a second Cutback Amendment which eliminates the districts of the 28 representatives (according to my count at this time) that have refused to get vaccinated so far. And in the process eliminates 14 total Senate districts too (45 Senate, 90 House), so we can keep social distancing intact in the GA long after COVID.

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