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The state of Illinois will appeal a Clay County judge's ruling in favor of a lawsuit filed by state Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, against Gov. JB Pritzker's COVID-19 stay-at-home order, Pritzker said on Tuesday.
In a Monday court hearing, Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney ruled in favor of Bailey, granting a temporary restraining order against the stay-at-home order which applies only to Bailey himself.
“This ruling only applies to one person because it was only ever about one person,” Pritzker said at the start of Tuesday’s daily COVID-19 news conference. “This was a cheap political stunt.”
Bailey's lawsuit cites the Illinois Department of Public Health Pandemic/Influenza Preparedness and Response Plan, which was passed into law in 2014 as the state's response plan for a pandemic such as COVID-19.
According to a news release, Bailey believes that Pritzker does not have the legal authority to extend his stay-at-home order past the 30 day mark without consulting with the state's legislative branch.
"... the legislative leaders could have called us back into session to debate and clarify the emergency powers, but they have not done so," Bailey said in the release.
According to a news release, state Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, introduced legislation on Thursday, which would require Illinois governors to seek legislative approval before extending disaster proclamations.
The Constitution of Illinois grants governors the power to issue a disaster proclamation for 30 days and does not prohibit governors from reissuing disaster proclamations in order to extend the state of emergency beyond 30 days.
"The idea that a governor can repeatedly and unilaterally continue to issue disaster declarations and exercise unparalleled power and authority over nearly every aspect of our lives – without any oversight from the legislative branch – is truly troubling," McConchie said in the release.
McConchie said that requiring legislative input to extend disaster proclamations would protect the Legislature's role as a co-equal branch of state government.
On Tuesday afternoon, Pritzker said actions like these detract from what the state's leaders should be focusing on in this time – the health and safety of Illinois residents.
Bailey’s district, Illinois’ 109th district downstate, has among the lowest hospital bed and ventilator availabilities in the state, Pritzker said.
These factors make the area “uniquely ill-equipped to respond to a surge in cases,” he said.
“The district is also home to the county experiencing Illinois’ highest death rate per capita from COVID-19,” he said.
If the ruling remains unchallenged it would set a legal precedent allowing any Illinois resident to “petition to be exempted from aspects of the orders that rely on collective action to keep us all safe,” Pritzker said.
For this reason, the state of Illinois will appeal the ruling immediately to maintain the integrity of the stay-at-home order, which Pritzker said is vital to ensuring the state’s health care system is not overwhelmed by a sudden surge in cases.
Another court hearing on a permanent injunction against the stay-at-home order will take place in the next 30 days, according to Bailey's news release.
Pritzker ended his response to the ruling on Tuesday afternoon by stating that he understands concerns about prolonging the reopening of Illinois’ economy and will do so as soon as it is deemed safe by the state’s top health experts.
“Responsible people understand the trade-offs and the consequences of reopening too early,” he said. “We will not let one irresponsible state representative deter us from success."
On Tuesday, Illinois reported 144 additional deaths because of COVID-19 and 2,219 new confirmed cases, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. This marks the highest single-day increase in deaths thus far, and the state has crossed the 2,000 mark for COVID-19 deaths.
Of these deaths, 80% were residents from northern Illinois, IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said. The majority of new COVID-19 deaths were reported in Chicago's Cook County with 113 additional deaths since Monday, according to IDPH data.
Additionally, Lake County reported six new deaths, Kane County reported two new deaths, DuPage County had six new deaths, McHenry County reported two deaths and eight additional deaths were reported in Will County, according to the IDPH.
In total, 2,125 Illinois residents have died from COVID-19 and there have been 48,102 confirmed cases throughout the state as of Tuesday afternoon.
Pritzker also updated the state on the progress the Illinois National Guard has been making in opening new COVID-19 testing centers, one of them in Rockford.
"It is truly extraordinary work," he said.
In the 24-hour period since Monday afternoon, there were 14,561 COVID-19 tests processed throughout the state, 2,219 of which showed positive results, according to the IDPH.
This means the state had a positive test rate of 15.2%, down from the 15.6% rate reported on Monday.
There have been a total of 242,189 COVID-19 tests conducted in Illinois thus far, according to the IDPH.
An IDPH study also shows 49% of participants recovered from COVID-19 less than two weeks after a positive test, with that number increasing to 61% after, 2 to 4 weeks 61%, and more than four weeks the study showed 74% recovered.