Judge upholds legislator's suit against Pritzker's stay-at-home extension

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker lambasted a court ruling handed down Monday that throws into doubt the governor's ability to extend the state's stay-at-home order beginning Friday.

The ruling by Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney temporarily blocks the renewed stay-at-home order specifically as it applies to Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey, who filed suit last week.

But it opens the door for others to file similar suits or flout the stay-at-home order, Wheaton attorney Pat Bond said.

The decision came as state health officials reported 50 more people had died from coronavirus infections and an additional 1,980 tested positive for the disease over 24 hours.

Bailey alleged Pritzker did not have the authority to extend disaster proclamations beyond 30 days.

Pritzker sharply criticized Bailey and the ruling.

"History will remember those who put politics aside to come together to keep people safe and it will also remember those who were so blindly devoted to ideology and the pursuit of personal celebrity that they made an enemy of science and reason," Pritzker said during his daily briefing. "Darren Bailey's decision to try to dismantle public health directives that try to keep people safe is an insult to all Illinoisans who have been lost during this crisis."

Bailey, in a statement when he filed the lawsuit last week, said, "Enough is enough! I filed this lawsuit on behalf of myself and my constituents who are ready to go back to work and resume a normal life."

Legal experts say the ruling jeopardizes Pritzker's ability to enforce the stay-at-home order.

"While this particular ruling is specific to an individual," Bond said, "it will cause other individuals and businesses to follow suit and either ignore the order altogether or to initiate a whole host of litigation against the governor challenging his authority under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act."

Pritzker called the ruling "insulting" and "dangerous," adding that Attorney General Kwame Raoul will continue to fight the circuit court's decision and "act in a swift fashion to have this ruling overturned."

"We are reviewing the order and considering our options for appeal in consultation with the governor's office," said Annie Thompson, a spokeswoman for Raoul.

Pritzker did not mince words when it came to his feelings about Bailey's suit.

"People's safety and health has now been put at risk," Pritzker said. "There may be people who contract coronavirus as a result of what Darren Bailey has done."

A status hearing is set for next week.

Republican Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington said residents should continue to follow the recommended precautions until the court proceedings are decided.

"In the meantime, Senate Republicans remain ready to return to Springfield in order to take up those critical issues that need to be addressed in a timely manner," he added.

COVID-19 update

State officials on Monday updated the total number of Illinoisans who have died from the virus to 1,983, while 45,883 have been infected.

Over the last few days, infection rates have begun declining as more tests are being administered.

However, data still shows a little more than 20% of the tests taken have confirmed an infection since the state started tracking in mid-March.

During Monday's briefing, Pritzker said deaths have occurred from the virus in 42 of Illinois' 102 counties.

The counties with the five highest infection rates per capita are, respectively, Cook, Jasper, Lake, Will and Randolph, Pritzker said. However, Jasper County, east of Effingham, has 42 positive cases and three deaths. Randolph County, on the Mississippi River south of St. Louis, has 109 positive cases and one death.

"This is not just a Cook County problem," Pritzker said.

The governor also noted that hospitalizations, while slowing, are still on the rise. There are 73 more Illinoisans in the hospital from coronavirus-related illnesses than there were a week ago.

The state is focused on hospitalizations, he said, to ensure the state's health care system is not overwhelmed by a massive swell of patients.

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