Illinois Government Actions on Covid-19 Updated 10/13/2020
Today’s update discusses:
- A lawsuit being filed against the IHSA
- Secondary exposure lawsuits being filed
- Nationwide Insurance facing a class action lawsuit
- Winnebago County’s Health Department receiving a cease and desist letter
- Restaurants working to maintain outdoor dining during fall and winter
- Aurora hosting a pop-up food pantry
- Multiple counties reaching warning level
- Region Four moving back into Phase Four
- Due to the ongoing pandemic, public schools across the state rescheduled many fall sports to the spring. Three parents, claiming the lack of fall sports hurt the students’ chances for scholarships, filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) seeking a declaratory judgment that IHSA’s guidelines were invalid and void. A DuPage County judge denied the request, stating that the IHSA did not violate its own rules “because it was done during an emergency.” IHSA’s executive director explained that even if the temporary restraining order had been granted, many fall sports “would have remained on the sideline” under the governor’s Youth Sports Guidelines. He also stated that he felt the path forward should be based on collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health and state leadership.
- Illinois courts have started to see lawsuits alleging businesses have an obligation to family and friends who are exposed to an employee who has contracted COVID-19 while at his or her workplace. So far only a handful of cases have addressed this issue, but many more are expected. (These lawsuits are comparable to asbestos cases where family members or others in close contact with an employee became ill after the employee purportedly came home from work with asbestos fibers on his or her clothes.) To date, courts have been split on whether an employer should be held accountable. While it is unclear how successful these cases may be, businesses should be prepared to face more challenges like this in the foreseeable future.
- Nationwide Insurance is facing a class action lawsuit for its refusal to cover the costs of airfare for anyone who purchased travel insurance and then lost the ability to travel due to the pandemic. More specifically, the lawsuit alleges Nationwide did not provide an “adequate explanation” for the denial of coverage. According to U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall, the plaintiffs avoided dismissal by stating plausible claims for relief. As of now, Nationwide’s request to ground the lawsuit and its request to shut down the class allegations were denied.
- The Winnebago County Health Department received a cease and desist letter from attorney Thomas DeVore on behalf of three local restaurants (Fozzy’s Bar and Grill, Casey’s Pub, and Nora’s Place). The restaurants are fighting Winnebago County’s attempt to stop indoor dining. According to the letter, any further actions from the Department towards these restaurants will result in legal action.
- As the pandemic continues, restaurants throughout the Midwest are considering how to maintain outdoor dining in cooler weather. While outdoor dining itself presents challenges, doing so in cooler weather presents additional ones. For example, some restaurants face differing regulations as they have locations in multiple regions in the state. Additionally, many restaurants will face financial burdens as they look for ways to furnish outdoor seating that allows customers to remain comfortable and warm in cooler weather. Some local governments are working with their area restaurants to find solutions.
- The City of Aurora hosted a pop-up food pantry on Monday that helped over 1,200 families. Nearly 100 volunteers and staff members helped the families participate in the contactless, drive-thru food distribution event. This was the fifth communitywide pop-up food pantry hosted by the city and funded by the Federal Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
- The Illinois Health Department announced late last week that 26 counties across the state are now at “warning level,” meaning each of those counties has seen increases in two or more of the COVID-19 risk indicators. The Department stated that some of the reasons for the increases include college parties, large gatherings and events, and activities at bars and clubs, as well as a blatant disregard for mitigation measures.
- Illinois Region Four, which includes counties near the St. Louis Metro area, had been under Phase Three restrictions due to an increase in its positivity rate. However, on Friday evening the Metro East region officially returned to Phase Four after its positivity rate dropped to 5.8%.