By REBECCA ANZEL
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — All of Illinois is “on track” to progress into the next phase of Gov. JB Pritzker’s plan to reopen the state safely, he said Tuesday during his daily update teleconference in Chicago.
The current phase of the plan allows residents to visit golf courses and state parks, retail shops to deliver orders placed remotely and medical centers to allow elective surgeries to resume.
By moving into the “Recovery” phase in 10 days, offices, salons, barbershops and manufacturers will begin to return with some capacity restrictions. Pritzker said the progress in various metrics — including the rate of positive COVID-19 tests, hospital admissions and ventilator availability — is “terrific news.”
The governor added while some residents are “itching” to move ahead quicker than the 28-day period prescribed, the Restore Illinois plan was designed by experts to ensure safety.
“I can say with confidence that here in Illinois, we’ve committed to operating with a focus on public health and transparent measurable benchmarks to move to each new phase,” Pritzker said. “…There’s no doubt this is hard, but public health means that each of us is working to protect all of us.”
Also difficult is residents living in border communities seeing restaurants, bars and shops open in Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin, he added.
The federal government should have instituted a national procedure to avoid a “patchwork” of rules and regulations, Pritzker said.
And instead of following the guidance issued by the White House which would have delayed Illinois’ reopening, the governor added, President Donald Trump “decided to inject politics where science and data should have won out.”
Keeping Illinoisans safe is the job of Illinoisans, lead epidemiologist at University of Chicago Medicine Dr. Emily Landon said.
“Now we all realize there will be no swift rescue, no knight in shining armor in the form of a vaccine or an antiviral that will sweep in and return our lives to normal before the summer comes,” she said.
“…Our transmission balance is tenuous and business as usual could set off another wave of infections that threatens our lives and livelihoods.”
Protestors over the weekend in Springfield and Chicago rallied to encourage officials to reopen the state sooner than the government’s plan allows.
Some had signs depicting Pritzker, who is Jewish and whose parents escaped persecution in Europe, as the German dictator Adolf Hitler. Others threatened his life.
The governor said he is “frankly disgusted by the failure of so many people to call that out,” including lawmakers.
“This is a fight against a virus, not an ideology,” Landon said, encouraging residents to continue wearing face coverings when shopping, frequently wash their hands and observe social distancing guidance.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.