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Downstate health officials see no link between COVID-19 patient’s alleged violation and court ruling

Richland County health officials said the woman’s actions were not sparked by the ruling, which only applied to the legislator. “I’ve spoken directly with the patient,” Micah Drummond, public health nurse told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Walmart in Olney, Ill.
The Walmart in Olney, Ill.
Google Maps.

A downstate woman who tested positive for the coronavirus is under investigation for allegedly violating a court-mandated self-isolation order, but the patient’s apparent decision to leave her home is not believed to have been sparked by a southern Illinois court ruling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s state-at-home order.

The unidentified woman, who is in her 40s, left her Richland County home to visit a Walmart, CVS Pharmacy and Mach One gas station and convenience store in downstate Olney, Tuesday evening, according to county health officials.

That’s just one day after a judge in neighboring Clay County agreed with a Republican legislator that the Democratic governor lacks the legal authority to force the legislator to stay home past 30 days during the coronavirus pandemic.

But Richland County health officials said the woman’s actions were not sparked by the ruling, which only applied to the legislator.

“I’ve spoken directly with the patient,” Micah Drummond, the public health nurse for the Richland County TB & Public Health Office, told the Chicago Sun-Times Thursday.

Richland County Public Health offices in Olney, Ill.
Richland County Public Health offices in Olney, Ill.
Google Maps.

An anonymous tip prompted the investigation, Drummond said.

County health officials issued a release about the incident and urged residents to follow Pritzker’s stay-at-home restrictions.

“We can expect more cases to be confirmed locally as the virus continues to spread,” officials said. “The number of cases can be reduced by adhering to public health guidance on social distancing, washing hands frequently, disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, and following the Governor’s orders to shelter in place.”

Richland County reported three cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday. Next-door, Clay County has reported two. Neither county has reported any deaths from the coronavirus.

Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney’s ruling Monday only applies to the southern Illinois lawmaker – state Rep. Darren Bailey – but the governor has said it will endanger all Illinoisans and open the door for others to file suit.

Then state Rep. Darren Bailey,, R-Xenia, last year.
State Rep. Darren Bailey,, R-Xenia, in February.
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“This was a cheap political stunt designed so that the representative can see his name in headlines, and unfortunately he has briefly been successful in that most callous of feats,” Pritzker said Tuesday.

But Bailey has told the Sun-Times that he was “elated” about the ruling.

“I saw it as a victory for the people, for the Constitution that I believe has been hijacked here in Illinois,” Bailey said.