By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker’s COVID-19 disaster proclamation now runs through Aug. 22, Illinois Department of Corrections facilities resumed acceptance of transfers from county jails, and initial deposits into sports betting accounts must once again be made in person, as opposed to online.
That’s after a series of executive actions taken by Pritzker since Friday extended the proclamation and a number of virus-related measures.
DISASTER EXTENSION: While Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, has challenged Pritzker’s authority to continuously extend COVID-19-related disaster proclamations and a Clay County court has ruled the proclamations void as they pertain to Bailey, Pritzker has been undeterred in his effort to mitigate the spread of the virus through executive action.
The legal ramifications of that Clay County decision remain contested and several other court cases loom, but Pritzker maintains he has authority under law to issue consecutive proclamations, and on Friday he signed the sixth consecutive such measure related to COIVD-19.
PRISON TRANSFERS: Pritzker’s executive order number 50 of 2020 — the 46th related to COVID-19 — was signed Monday night, allowing for the transfer of inmates from county jails to IDOC facilities.
With the exception of transfers made at the discretion of the IDOC director, the practice had been on hold since March 26 when the governor signed an order aimed at limiting spread of the virus at state correctional facilities.
An internal IDOC memo issued Monday, when the transfers were to resume, outlined that any prisoner being transferred would be masked, and 50-passenger transfer buses would be limited to carrying 12 inmates, all socially distanced. Temperature checks and testing would be conducted at multiple points.
Someone being transferred to a facility must quarantine for 14 days prior to the transfer, and a COVID-19 test must be performed within 72 hours of the transfer. Proof of a negative test will be sent with the transferee to the new facility.
Transferees who are symptomatic upon their arrival will receive a rapid result test, and if the result is positive, the offender and any other people riding on the same transport will not be allowed into the IDOC facility, but will be transported back to the county jail.
Upon arrival, transferees will be required to wash their hands, and their face coverings will be disposed of and replaced with a new one.
Once the procedure is completed, the new arrivals will quarantine for 14 days in a special unit, and will be tested within 72 hours of when the quarantine is scheduled to end.
The Illinois Sheriffs’ Association filed a lawsuit against the governor and IDOC in late May in an effort to compel them to accept county jail transfers. The latest court appearance in the case was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
IN-PERSON GAMBLING DEPOSITS: Pritzker’s executive order number 48 of 2020 was issued Friday when he extended the disaster proclamation. It extended a number of virus-related actions, including a residential eviction moratorium, until Aug. 22. Notably, however, it did not extend a provision that allowed gamblers to make their initial deposit into sports gambling accounts in-person at one of the state’s casinos, as was the intent of the law as passed before the pandemic.
Casinos reopened in June after months of closure, and Rivers Casino in Des Plaines was the only one in the state to launch the gambling app during the window which allowed for initial deposits to be made online.
Revenue from sports gambling is to go to the state’s multi-year capital infrastructure plan to fund the projects that are not related to roads or bridges, such as university facilities and other building infrastructure.
“The governor issued Executive Order 41 and 44 so sports betting could continue on track amid the pandemic that forced the closure of casinos, which made it impossible for players to create sports betting accounts in person,” Pritzker spokesperson Jordan Abudayyeh said in a statement. “Now that the state has entered phase 4 and casinos have resumed in-person business, there is no longer a need to suspend provisions of the law that require in-person registration. The Illinois Gaming Board has been in communication with the industry and has worked to ensure gaming could continue to generate revenue despite the challenges presented by COVID-19.”
IN-PERSON EDUCATION: Unexpectedly, Pritzker’s Friday executive order — number 47 of 2020 — allowed for the opening of schools for in-person learning for the fall term in accordance with Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines.
Those guidelines specifically noted in the executive order include limiting the number of people in one place to no more than 50; ensuring compliance with social distancing requirements; requiring symptom screenings, temperature checks or self-certification that an individual is free of COVID-19 symptoms; ensuring appropriate hygienic practices including hand washing; and requiring the use of appropriate personal protective equipment by students, staff, and visitors, including the use of face coverings for those over age two who are medically able to tolerate them.
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 and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.