A second lawsuit has been filed challenging the legality of the Stay-at-Home orders. Governor J.B. Pritzker called the lawsuit “irresponsible.”

Confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise, more tests are being given. The average positive rate has dropped to about 15%, which is a good sign.

COVID-19 Infections Are Still Increasing

Evanston: The number of Evanston residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 increased by 4 cases today, April 29, for a total of 328 cases, according to information provided by the City of Evanston. The trend is shown in the above chart. 

To date, a total of 10 Evanstonians have died due to COVID-19.    

Chicago, Cook County and Illinois: For Chicago, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grew from 19,594 yesterday to 20,413 today; the cases in Cook County grew from 33,449 yesterday to 34,880 today; and the number of cases in Illinois grew from 48,102 yesterday to 50,355 today. The trend is shown in the first chart in the chart box.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the Director of Illinois Department of Public Health, said that there were 2,215 new confirmed cases reported in Illinois. The trend of new cases is shown in the second chart in the chart box.

Dr. Ezike said that while the number of new COVID-19 cases has increased, the number of tests has also increased, and the rate of the increase is slowing. The rate of increase of new cases today (in relation to the total cases yesterday) is 4.7%.

When asked how new cases were still arising even after the Stay-at-Home order was in place for more than 30 days, Dr. Ezike said that essential workers were still going out, and people were still going out to grocery stores and for other reasons, and infections could be occurring as a result of that. She added that the infection rate per-person is decreasing.

Gov. Pritzker said when the Stay-at-Home order was first entered, one infected person, on average, was infecting about 3.5 other persons. Now the average rate of infection is fewer than 1.5 persons. He said the goal is to bring the average infection rate below 1 person.

The number of deaths in Illinois due to COVID-19 increased by 92 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Illinois to 2,215.

The Positive Test Rate: In the last three days the number of confirmed COVID cases in Illinois increased by an average of 2,150 per day. In the same period, there were an average of 13,992 tests per day. The average percentage of positive tests in relation to the number of tests given in the three-day period was 15.3 %.

The World Health Organization says the positive rate should be below 10% in order to safely open the economy. A rate higher than 10% means it is likely that there are many people in the community who have COVID-19 but have not yet been tested.

Hospitalizations in the State: Dr. Ezike also reported that the number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in Illinois increased from 3,680 on April 6 to 5,063 today; the number of COVID-19 patients occupying ICU beds increased from 1,161 on April 6 to 1,290 today; and 777 people with a COVID-19 infection were on ventilators today.

Gov. Pritzker said the number of hospitalizations was a key factor that he would consider in deciding whether to open the economy. He said he wanted to see that number peak and then decline for 14 successive days.

The State’s hospitals have capacity to handle these number of patients. As of April 25, there were 11,173 hospital beds open, 966 ICU beds open, and 1,894 ventilators available.

Second Lawsuit Filed Against Gov. Pritzker

A second lawsuit was filed today against Gov. Pritzker challenging the Stay-at-Home orders. This lawsuit was filed by State Representative John Cabello, a Republican, in the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. Unlike the first lawsuit filed by State Representative Darren Bailey only on behalf of himself, the complaint in this case is brought by Rep. Cabello on behalf of himself and “all citizens of the state of Illinois similarly situated.” The complaint alleges that the Stay-at-Home orders deprived Rep. Cabello and other citizens in the State of their right to free movement and to leave their homes and to engage in activities outside their homes.

The Cabello complaint presents three legal theories. Like the complaint in the first lawsuit, Rep. Cabello’s complaint alleges that Gov. Pritzker lacked authority to make successive proclamations of a disaster due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lacked authority to enter Stay-at-Home orders lasting for more than a total of 30 days.

The complaint cites Section 7 of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act, which states in part: “Upon such proclamation [of a disaster], the Governor shall have and may exercise for a period not to exceed 30 days the following emergency powers… (See 20 ILCS 3305/7.)

The complaint also alleges that the Illinois Department of Public Health has the “supreme” authority to enter an order isolating or quarantining a person, and that the Governor lacked authority to enter the stay-at-home orders.

Third, the complaint alleges that the Governor violated people’s procedural and substantive due process rights by failing to provide them an opportunity to be heard before entering the orders and by failing to narrowly tailor the orders to achieve their goals.

The complaint seeks an injunction precluding Gov. Pritzker and any other state official from enforcing the Stay-at-Home order or issuing any new orders.

“I think it’s a similarly irresponsible lawsuit,” said Gov. Pritzker. “We’re in the business here of keeping people safe and healthy. That’s what the Stay-at-Home has been about. I just think that lawsuit is another attempt at grandstanding.”

When asked about an argument that his order treats small businesses differently from big box stores, Gov. Pritzker said, “The list of essential services and businesses that are open focuses in part on grocery stores. But as you know, many big box stores have a grocery store inside them, which allows them under this order to stay open. They also have other aisles and products that they sell. That’s one of the unfortunate challenges about this. Small mom-and-pop stores, the small business people, what we’ve tried to do for them is [permit] pick-up and delivery for any kind of retail establishment to give them an opportunity to reopen. I’m most concerned about those small businesses. That’s the reason we created … a grant program at the State level to just provide $25,000 grants to small, but local, small businesses.

“These is no doubt about it that the first thing I want to be able to do across the State is open up the smallest of businesses. Those folks have risked their lives – risked their livelihoods, rather, all of their savings – to open up a business, and along comes this terrible pandemic that no one expected and it’s devastating, specifically those tiny, those small businesses.

“It is a top concern of mine to open small businesses.”

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...