By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – Illinois Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford), has weighed in the impact COVID-19 restrictions are having on the economy.
“We are just now starting to see the warned about social impacts as a result of these leader’s decisions to shut the state down as they did,” Syverson said in his May 12 E-Newsletter. “Disturbing data is emerging that, during the lock-down, we are seeing increases in depression, domestic violence, drug and alcohol use, suicide, and child abuse. We may well find out as Francis Bacon said ‘the remedy was worse than the disease.'”
Syverson continues that while devastating, the COVID-19 health impact “has not been near what the ‘models” and ‘theories’ had indicated and therefore, it is time for Illinois to reopen.”
“Would there be an increased potential risk with reopening the state now vs. 2 weeks from now or July 1?” he said. “That is debatable. However, what is not debatable is the negative impact that staying closed is having on the economy and social/mental health of our families, and yes we all understand that until a vaccine is in place or the public has built up sufficient immunity, some commonsense social distancing guidelines will need to be part of the reopening.”
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, however, continues to stand by his executive order, the existing measure that expires at the end fo the month, and the five-phase “Restore Illinois” plan that, as-is, will have some businesses, and potentially parts of the state closed until September. The governor says he will consider suggestions, and that the Restore plan may evolve but he isn’t willing to scrap it without an effective COVID treatment or a vaccine.
Pritzker says his plan is rooted in science and data that shows reopening must happen gradually to avoid COVID spikes and ultimately more coronavirus-related fatalities.
Syverson says data reveal something else.
“We have seen other states that closed later and opened sooner that had fewer negative Covid-19 impacts than Illinois,” he said. “One of the reasons for the higher negative results in states like Illinois, maybe as a result of the unintended consequences of the early decision to close small business, retailers, and restaurants, thereby resulting in the ‘herding’ effect of record numbers of people into a few box stores. This may have been one of the reasons that lead to the spike of Covid seen in urban areas. Reopening the state would naturally distance people away from big box stores and move them into small retailers and restaurants where social distancing was occurring before the forced shut down.”
Syverson said he expects science to show the “Sweden Model” would have been a better course of action for Illinois. In Sweden, no stay-at-home orders have been issued. The country continues to mitigate the spread of COVID with social distancing; businesses remain open.
“While we cannot go back and implement that model, we can use that model going forward,” Syverson said. “That model is simple. Open businesses.”