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Coronavirus Illinois: COVID-19 cases top 98K with over 4K deaths as Republicans criticize Pritzker’s order allowing businesses to be penalized

CHICAGO (WLS) — As Illinois slowly moves into the next phase of reopening, the debate over Governor JB Pritzker’s plan is growing sharper.

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Illinois health officials announced 146 additional deaths and 1,545 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. That brings the statewide total to 98,030, including 4,379 deaths.

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Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 18,443 specimens for a total of 621,684. As of Tuesday, the statewide 7-day rolling positivity rate is 14%.

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As Illinois slowly moves into the next phase of reopening, the debate over Governor JB Pritzker’s plan to keep businesses closed and penalize them if they open, is growing sharper.

Republican representatives across Illinois held a Zoom conference Tuesday morning. They said Governor Pritzker’s latest emergency rule, penalizing businesses that open in defiance of the shutdown, is an abuse of power, and throws due process out the window. They are calling for the General Assembly to meet and vote on the rule.

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“He cannot and should not unilaterally keep ruling the state as he has been doing for the last two months,” said state Rep. Keith Wheeler, (R-50th District). “It’s time for collaboration. The Pritzker administration has reached beyond its authority and it’s time to restore proper checks and balances to state government so tomorrow morning I will make the motion to suspend this emergency rulemaking that criminalizes business owners,”

The governor said he was unaware of any businesses being cited over the weekend with misdemeanor citations for reopening in areas like downstate Madison County, which announced last week it would not be following the governor’s reopening plan.

“This citation causes less harm to a business than a total shutdown or a loss of a license, but gives local governments and law enforcement the ability to do their job,” Pritzker added.

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The emergency rule, which is now in effect, means business owners can be charged with a misdemeanor. Business owners can face a maximum penalty of $2,500 and up to a year in prison.

Republican leaders also called for the governor’s graduated income tax to be taken off the November ballot. Gov. Pritzker dismissed that, saying Republicans are just trying to keep people from voting on this issue and it must be a concern to them that it might actually pass.

The General Assembly is scheduled to meet this week.

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Following a weekend of rallies, in Chicago and Springfield, the governor accused some protesters of spreading hate and fear, including hate-filled, anti-Semitic messages that have been directed at him.

“I have to admit that I am worried about my family’s safety. You saw some of the signs, you saw the vehemence that people were carrying those signs with swastikas and pictures of Adolph Hitler, references to me and my family,” Pritzker said. “Yeah, I’m concerned. But I also want you to know that I am undeterred from the path we’re on. I think we’re doing the right thing.”

Governor Pritzker laid out details Monday of a new contract tracing system to be launched with local health departments in the next few weeks. Improving contact tracing, which helps identify and locate anyone who’s been in contact with a COVID-positive patient, is a step the governor has said is crucial to reopening the state.

“The first contact will be through a technological platform, such as text message or an email, which we hope most individuals will respond to,” said Dr. Wayne Duffus, of the Illinois Dept. of Public Health. “And if this is ineffective at least three phone calls will be made, and only as a last resort. Will there be in-person visits.”

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The state is launching pilot programs in Lake and St. Clair counties. Currently, only 29% of known cases are engaged in a tracing process. The goal is for that figure to be above 60%.

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Officials say that contact tracing program will be community based with hiring and other aspects of the program run by local health departments under state guidance.

The Illinois Department of Public Health has created a hotline at 1-800-889-3931. More information can be found at the IDPH website and the Chicago Department of Public Health website

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Source: ABC7 Chicago

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