Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Restraining order blocking Illinois stay-at-home extension only applies to one person

By Jim Hagerty

CLAY COUNTY, Ill. – The temporary restraining order issued Monday that would temporarily block Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order extension that beings May 1 only applies to one person.

According to an injunction issued Monday by Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney the order exempts only Illinois Rep. Darren Bailey from Pritzker’s statewide executive edict.

The ruling does, however, open the door for broader legal implications. In other words, others could also join Bailey with similar complaints.

Bailey, a Republican farmer from Xenia, filed the complaint in Clay County as a private citizen last week, claiming  Pritzker violated his civil rights and those of all Illinoisans by extending the stay-at-home order through May 30. He claims the governor cannot extend such an order for longer than 30 days.

The complaint also claims the decision whether businesses should close in response to COVID-19 should not be made by the governor alone, but by lawmakers and local authorities.

Pritzker, who has been preparing to defend the suit, called Bailey’s actions insulting during his Monday press briefing.

“Representative Bailey’s decision to go to the courts is an insult to all Illinoisans who have been lost during this COVID-19 crisis,” the governor said. “It’s a danger to millions of people who might get ill because of his recklessness. Disasters don’t evaporate on a 30-day timeframe. Legislators took this into account when they wrote this law.”

The governor said as the attorney general’s office prepares to respond to Monday’s ruling, his office will be issuing new public health directives in response to the COVID-19 situation in Illinois.

About three quarters of Illinois’ COVID-19 cases and deaths have been in Cook County, something Pritzker continues to acknowledge. However, he said coronavirus knows no boundaries and spreads just as quickly in rural communities. He noted that per capita, Jasper and Randolph, both downstate, are among the top-five infected counties in Illinois.

“Even more troubling,” Pritzker said, “is residents are more likely to die of COVID-19 than residents of Cook County. 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 lives lost, Cook and the collars constitute the largest segment of COVID-19’s presence in Illinois. That is indisputable. It would be doing a massive disservice to our downstate residents if we governed only by raw numbers.”

This story has been updated. 

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