Pritzker still dragging his feet on fully reopening

SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Brian Stewart (R-Freeport) says Gov. J. B. Pritzker continues to drag his feet on reopening Illinois, after his announcement March 18 that Phase 5 of his COVID-19 mitigation plan has been delayed AGAIN!

“More than a year into a pandemic that has destroyed our economy, Gov. Pritzker continues to run our state via Executive Order with little to no input by lawmakers,” Stewart said. “It makes no sense because we actually know more than he does about what goes on in our communities, in the businesses closed, in the jobs lost, in the increasingly frequent food giveaways for struggling families, in the tax revenues lost. Despite this, our Governor is not ready to relinquish his iron control and allow our state to fully open up.”

Stewart says while the Governor has refused to fully reopen the state, weeks of pressure from people across Illinois, including members of the business community and employees wanting to get back to work, have forced the Governor to release a “Bridge Phase” based on vaccination rates.

According to the Governor’s plan, the newly created Bridge Phase will kick in once 70 percent of people 65 and older have received at least one vaccination dose, ICU bed availability remains at 20 percent or greater, and there is a non-increasing trend in COVID-19 hospital admissions and mortality rate. Metrics would be monitored for 28 days before the state can move forward. To advance to Phase 5, the state must reach a 50 percent vaccination rate for residents ages 16 and over and meet the same metrics and rates required to enter the transition phase, over an additional 28-day period.

While the Governor claims these new mitigation measures are based on science and data, Stewart says he has not provided that specific data he is using, nor has he empowered local health officials to adapt the standards to best meet the needs of their communities.

Lawmakers have continually pushed for increased transparency from the Pritzker Administration, including access to data the Governor has used to make his decisions. They have also continued to ask the Governor to involve lawmakers in making decisions that involve nearly every aspect of Illinoisans’ daily lives. Instead, Gov. Pritzker has chosen to operate unilaterally through 76 individual Executive Orders.