Tensions rise as Pritzker extends stay-at-home order

Megan Krok, Copy Editor

As the number of coronavirus deaths in Illinois continue to rise, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced last week that he is extending his stay-at-home order through at least May 30. However, there were some revisions to the order that may allow some businesses to reopen. 

Pritzker stated that cities that have a fourteen-day decline on COVID-19 cases may be allowed to reopen more businesses before May 30. State parks will also be reopening under the instruction of the Department of Natural Resources, according to the Illinois.gov. website. Recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and golfing are also permitted as long as the proper safety precautions are taken. Certain non-essential businesses and stores may also reopen in order to fulfill online orders; once again this is only allowed if proper precautions such as face coverings and social distancing are maintained. Another very important modification to note is that as of May 1, it is mandatory for every resident over the age of two to wear a face mask when in a public space where a six-feet-apart distance cannot be attained. 

Even though some places are reopening, Pritzker is still adamant that Illinois residents should stay at home as much as possible. He stated in his briefing last Thursday, “The projections are clear: if we lifted the stay-at-home order tomorrow, we would see our deaths per day shoot into the thousands by the end of May, and that would last well into the summer. Our hospitals would be full, and very sick people would have nowhere to go.” According to the Chicago Sun-Times, 2,547 people in Illinois have already died from the pandemic. On May 1, Illinois saw their highest count of COVID-19 cases so far: 3,137.

Despite these alarming numbers, lots of Illinois residents are protesting Pritzker and his extended stay-at-home order. Major protests began about two weeks ago in Springfield. Freedom Movement USA organized another large protest in the Chicago Loop Friday morning. Protesters, while not maintaining social distance, rallied against the governor’s new orders.  Some protestors are politically motivated, while others are economically motivated because their jobs are suffering. Brendan Harris of Freedom Movement USA stated, “We’re now 41, 42 days into this, they’ve got no answers, no results and now they’re breaking their own policies and procedures.”

Recently a lawsuit has been filed against Pritzker for his stay-at-home policy. Republican State Representative Darren Bailey filed the lawsuit against Pritzker for abusing his power and violating the civil rights of Illinois residents. Bailey stated, “I filed this lawsuit on behalf of myself and my constituents who are ready to go back to work and resume a normal life.” Pritzker remarked that Bailey’s actions are disrespectful to the lives lost during this pandemic, “Disasters don’t evaporate on a 30-day timeframe. Legislators took this into account when they wrote this law. We will fight this lawsuit to the furthest means possible.”

Despite these protests, this pandemic is still wreaking havoc across the state. It’s important to follow the advice and guidelines of medical professionals and the state in order to return to our normal lives as soon as possible. Stay safe!