Pritzker urged by five GOP congressmen to ‘safely reopen’ low-risk regions

The governor said he recognizes lockdowns need to be “different from one area to another and we’ll be talking more about that as we put forward plans for reopening.”

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker was urged by five Illinois GOP congressmen on Thursday to ‘safely reopen’ low-risk regions

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was urged by five Illinois GOP congressmen on Thursday to ‘safely reopen’ low-risk regions

AP

The five Illinois Republican House members Thursday urged Democratic Gov. J. B. Pritzker to reopen low-risk Illinois counties with few or no coronavirus-related deaths in order for the state “to strategically and safely reopen its economy.”

The congressmen pushed the regional approach after Pritzker last week extended a stay-a-home order to May 30 even as restrictions will be lifted on a variety of activities and businesses on Friday.

The lawmakers — Reps. Darin LaHood, Adam Kinzinger; John Shimkus; Rodney Davis and Mike Bost — and Pritzker avoided acrimonious exchanges as the state navigates pandemic reopening policy.

The congressmen said in a 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.”

Pritzker, asked about the GOP lawmakers’ concerns during his Thursday briefing, said, “I don’t disagree with them that different areas of the state require different rules during this time, and that’s why we made some changes in this new executive order that goes into effect tomorrow.”

He noted that state parks and golf courses outside of the Chicago area will be open and having elective surgeries will now be permitted.

In a letter to Pritzker, the five congressmen said with improvements to the ability of health systems to handle COVID-19 cases, “the greater threat looming over Illinois is the collapse of our economy if your Stay-at-Home order continues in its current form.

“It is unreasonable and untenable to continue on this course for the duration of the pandemic. We must, therefore, work with our public health experts to establish a path forward that no longer ignores the economy that feeds and fuels our families and society.

“The State of Illinois must begin a phased reopening of the private and public institutions that form the foundation of our economy. Failure to do so poses a great threat to the lives and livelihoods of far more Illinois residents through unemployment, homelessness, crime, substance abuse, and suicide.”

Pritzker said he recognizes that it is “different from one area to another and we’ll be talking more about that as we put forward plans for reopening.”

The lockdown order has been challenged in state and federal courts and has thrown a spotlight on the regional disparities in Illinois — most of the coronavirus infections and deaths are in northern Illinois.

Pritzker’s executive order extending the state-at-home timeline calls for enforcement by local authorities.

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