WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Illinois-16), along with four other Illinois Republicans, has sent a letter to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, urging a him to consider a regional, phased re-opening of the economy.
The letter, also written by Rodney Davis (13), John Shimkus (15), Darin LaHood (18), and Mike Bost (12), claims the coronavirus pandemic has impacted different parts of the state in different ways and that any re-opening plan must reflect those differences.
The representatives say they were prompted to pen the letter after speaking to constituents following Pritzker’s announcement earlier this month that he would extend the current stay-at-home executive order through May 30.
Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced the highest number of deaths Illinois has seen in a single day since the pandemic began. The congressmen addressed the death toll in a joint statement.
“Illinois is a diverse state and the coronavirus has impacted communities in different ways. As we work to start the phased reopening here at home, we cannot do so with a blanket, one-size-fits-all plan. Sadly, this week marked the deadliest day Illinois has faced with the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and yet we still have several counties reporting zero cases of COVID-19. As we continue to face rising numbers of coronavirus in certain areas, we need to continue getting the necessary resources to aid those areas. But we also need to recognize that areas without any cases of the virus need to be treated differently.
“We’re urging Gov. Pritzker to take a regional approach by starting the reopening process in low-risk areas,” they said. “With improved and increased testing, and an emergency response plan in place should an outbreak occur, the Governor should move forward on allowing Illinoisans the opportunity to make informed decisions on how they can safely return to work.”
Every member of the Illinois GOP delegation voted in favor of the four different phases of legislation to provide financial aid and relief caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Kinzinger said. He added that recent legislative efforts provided dedicated funding to the State of Illinois for testing, personal protective equipment, and much needed relief to hospitals, schools, small businesses, farmers, and families.
“The federal government has done a great deal to help the State of Illinois, like funding for health care providers and economic boosts to small businesses, families, individuals, and more,” the congressmen said. “Now is the time for Gov. Pritzker to step up with a plan to reopen Illinois that prioritizes the health of our people and our economy. We stand ready to work with the governor on this effort.”
In terms of PPE, the federal government has already provided the Illinois with more than 1.6 million N-95 masks, over 5.5 million surgical masks and 2.3 million surgical gowns, and almost 70 million medical gloves.
The federal CARES Act created $15.9 billion in loans from the Small Business Administration for nearly 70,000 small businesses in Illinois, Kinzinger noted, while the SBA and the Internal Revenue Service continue to issue these Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Economic Impact Payments to families and proprietors across the state.
Pritzker signed the new order Thursday. Although it’s not the regional approach some leaders have called for, the governor said he did consider that some rural counties have not been hit hard by COVID-19, prompting him to open several state parks.
Non-essential businesses are permitted to open May 1, as long as they provide curbside, pickup and delivery services only. Hospitals may start scheduling some elective procedures as long as they reserve a specific number of beds for COVID-19 patients.