Madison County, Ill. defies Gov. Pritzker by allowing businesses to reopen

Gov. Pritzker said he would "consider" taking away federal stimulus funding from counties that violate his executive order. 

Maria Keena
May 13, 2020 - 8:14 am

    EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (KMOX/AP) — The Madison County Health Board, comprised of county board members, gave businesses the green light to open, defying Governor J.B Pritizker's executive order.

    The board overwhelming voted 27-2 on Tuesday for the reopening, despite potential ramifications.

    Related: Collinsville, IL rejects Madison County reopening

    "My concern is for business owners and that they understand this is just our wishes," said board member Don Moore. "They still have to be concerned, not so much about the government imposing sanctions, but insurance companies that may not cover them if they open against the wishes of the Governor and have lawsuits or liabilities for things like trips and falls."

    In yesterday's briefing, Pritzker said he would "consider" taking away federal stimulus funding from counties that violate his executive order. Pritzker said punishing counties financially is just one of the many 'enforcement mechanisms that are available.

    Related: Law expert says businesses reopening will face 'daunting' challenges to avoid lawsuits

    Madison County States Attorney Tom Gibbons was asked about police enforcing that executive order.

    "The recommended guidelines are not legally enforceable, so there's no lawful basis (to enforce it.)"

    As of Tuesday, Madison County has 446 COVID-19 cases with 33 fatalities.

    Illinois reported a one-day record high in COVID-19 cases Tuesday and its next-to-highest death toll, just a day after Pritzker announced that the peak in coronavirus infections originally projected for late April has been pushed into mid-June.

    He remained optimistic that by the May 30 end of his current stay-at-home order, much of the state will be able to move into the third phase of his five-stage reopening plan, which allows for manufacturing to start up, offices and hair salons to open with limits on capacity, and some small gatherings. It’s not fast enough for some, the latest being mayors of border cities who are concerned that neighboring states are opening sooner, according to The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan.

    Pritzker maintains that his stay-at-home order and social-distancing practices have slowed the spread of the disease, saving the health care infrastructure from being overwhelmed with a peak in cases at first pegged for late April. The peak now won’t come until next month, making it easier to provide care for fewer people who become sick at the same time.

    “I understand that people may cross over the border,” Pritzker said. “But I think they should take into account the ... spread of the virus and their ability to carry that virus back over the border, and they come back, bringing it to their family and their community.”

    The governor noted that the 4,014 new cases reported — nearly 900 more than the previous high on May 1 — should come as no surprise given that the state received test results on more than 29,000 people in 24 hours, which is thousands more than in previous days. Testing availability, which continues to grow in Illinois, is key to tracking the disease and resuming a sidelined economy.

    The number of people who have tested positive in Illinois now stands at 83,021, and there have been 3,601 deaths related to COVID-19. The death toll of 144 reported Tuesday was second only to the 176 deaths reported May 5.

    © 2020 KMOX/Associated Press (Entercom). All rights reserved.