(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker has yet to detail how he plans to enforce his stay-at-home order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in places where local elected officials have said won’t enforce the order.
The emergency order that has been in place since March 15 baring dine-in service at restaurants was modified on March 21 to prohibit all public and private gatherings of more than 10 people and shuttered all businesses that were deemed nonessential.
The governor's stay-at-home order has been extended several times past April 7, then April 30 and now are in place through the end of May, a move Pritzker said is meant to slow the spread COVID-19.
Some local elected officials in Illinois have said they won’t enforce the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Peoria U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood told WMAY on Friday that he knows Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger well. Minger has said he won’t enforce the stay-at-home orders.
“[Minger] is a very smart, conscientious state’s attorney,” LaHood said. “I think when you look at what he’s doing and what others are doing in downstate, Illinois it’s a reflection of people being frustrated.”
LaHood said his district is much more like neighboring Iowa, which is lifting restrictions on things like restaurants, fitness centers and other businesses and Missouri, which plans to reopen economic activity Monday with social distancing guidelines.
Pritzker issued a modified stay-at-home for Illinois through May 30 that keeps restaurants and bars closed to dine-in service, but allows for religious gatherings of ten or fewer and allows retail businesses deemed nonessential to offer curbside or online sales.
LaHood said he told the governor that downstate Illinois is not like Chicago.
“We haven’t had the infection rate, the cases that Chicago has had,” LaHood said. “And we are looking for a more balanced and measured approach to opening up downstate Illinois.”
State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur, said as some local elected officials publicly said they won’t enforce the governor’s orders where businesses may be reopening, there will be “chaos.”
“We need an orderly progression of opening this economy up in a safe and responsible way,” Caulkins said while protesting outside the Illinois State Capitol on Friday. “It can be done. You can do it two-week blocks to make sure that you’re not going to have the outbreak again, but we have to do it and we should be doing it today.”
Pritzker said local law enforcement should enforce his orders, but on Friday he wouldn’t say how the state would enforce the stay-at-home order in places local elected officials have publicly said they won’t enforce his orders.
“It’s a good thing that we’ve expanded testing throughout the state because a lot of people are going to get sick,” Pritzker said. “Frankly it’s a good thing that we’ve left hospital beds available for people because they’re going to end up in the hospital too.”
The governor recently said he will review regional hospital data as a factor in opening things in some areas sooner than later.
Over the weekend, Pritzker announced preliminary plans to deconstruct parts of the field hospital facility the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built at McCormick Place in Chicago. The governor said, “the curve is flattening.”
“While this marks a critical moment and a large step forward in our collective fight against COVID-19, we must stay the course until data shows further progress in a reduction of new cases and as widespread testing comes online,” Pritzker said in a joint statement with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.