Illinois Government Actions on Covid-19 Updated 11/24/2020
Today’s update discusses:
- Chicago mayor issuing non-mandatory stay-at-home advisory
- Governor extending eviction moratorium
- Potential existing for another statewide stay-at-home order
- Chicago planning vaccine distribution to high-risk individuals
- Illinois residents’ continuing problem with scamming from Illinois Department of Employment Services breach
- Illinois teacher union requesting Governor close school buildings
- Southern District of Illinois order cancelling federal trials until January
- Sangamon County judge’s ruling that Governor has authority to mandate public health measures in schools
- Illinois Supreme Court agreeing to combine more lawsuits challenging indoor dining bans with existing cases in Sangamon County
- Geneva restaurant taking its lawsuit against Governor to Illinois Supreme Court
- Democratic leaders cancelling upcoming fall session
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a non-mandatory stay-at-home advisory, which went into effect last week. The order strongly encourages residents to not leave their homes except for work, school, medical care, or essential shopping; those who do leave their homes should wear a face mask. In addition, Mayor Lightfoot also reminded Chicago businesses of fines and potential shutdowns if social distancing rules are not followed. These announcements came as the city’s positivity rate reached 14%.
- Governor Pritzker has extended the residential eviction moratorium for another 30 days. This extension, however, will only cover renters who make less than $90,000 a year (or $198,000 jointly).
- Illinois could face another statewide stay-at-home order if the positivity rate across the state continues to get worse. While a stay-at-home order is a last resort, the Governor stated, “if things don’t take a turn in the coming days, [Illinois] will quickly reach the point when some form of a mandatory stay-at-home order is all that will be left.” While not mandatory, the Illinois Department of Public Health has already asked residents to stay home and only leave for essential purposes.
- Chicago’s health care workers can expect to be some of the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines, though there is expected to be only about 150,000 doses to distribute. Chicago’s public health commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, explained that high-risk individuals will be the first to get the vaccine, including health care workers and people in long-term care facilities. This decision comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise and hospitals begin facing a surge of patients being treated.
- Illinois is one of many states facing an ongoing issue with hackers scamming residents in connection with unemployment through the Illinois Department of Employment Services. These problems have been ongoing since the pandemic began and have raised concern with residents who fear nonpayment if they were to need state assistance in the future. According to an investigation by CBS, identity issues created by scammers have delayed more than 69,000 unemployment assistance claims.
- Members of the Illinois Federation of Teachers are asking Governor Pritzker to close school buildings as COVID-19 positivity rates continue to rise across the state. Governor Pritzker has acknowledged that decision makers are “always thinking about our schoolchildren, parents and the teachers,” but the union wants the governor to close school buildings and enforce clear metrics in regard to any future closings.
- Southern District of Illinois Judge Nancy Rosenstengel issued an order last week cancelling federal civil and criminal trials through January 24 due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. While the courts’ and clerks’ offices will be closed, filing boxes and electronic filing will be available.
- In response to two lawsuits, Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow ruled that Governor Pritzker has the authority to mandate public health measures in schools during the ongoing pandemic. The decision came after a two-hour hearing with Judge Grischow, who explained “[the] court is still of the opinion that the governor has the authority to issue executive orders, successive executive orders, along with guidance to the agency to help promulgate those executive orders.”
- As previously updated, the owners of the restaurant FoxFire in Geneva were able to sue Governor Pritzker in Kane County and were granted a restraining order to prevent the enforcement of an indoor dining ban in Kane and DuPage Counties. That decision, however, was quickly reversed by the Illinois Appellate Court for the Second District. Now, FoxFire plans to appeal its case to the Illinois Supreme Court, alleging that Governor Pritzker exceeded the emergency powers given to him and that the Illinois Department of Public Health and the county health department acted beyond the authority granted to them.
- Late last week, the Illinois Supreme Court allowed 10 additional lawsuits challenging the indoor dining ban to be combined with existing cases in Sangamon County. There are now 19 cases involving challenges against Governor Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health Director, and the Illinois Department of Public Health. Oral arguments are set for December 21, 2020.
- Democratic leaders of the Illinois General Assembly have cancelled the upcoming fall session as COVID-19 cases surge in central Illinois. Senate President Don Harmon, in reference to an article describing the surge as a “virus tsunami,” explained “this is not the time to physically bring together hundreds of people from all around the state.”