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Roundup of COVID-19 Precautionary Measures from Governor Pritzker

March 16, 2020


Courtesy of Curt Fiedler, Morrill & Fiedler

At his press conference on Sunday, Governor Pritzker announced that Illinois now has 93 confirmed cases of COVID-19 spanning 13 Illinois counties.  At least one case has made its way to the Illinois Treasurer’s Office – prompting that its offices are to be closed for the next two weeks and its employees are to work from home. As precautionary measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 from overwhelming Illinois’ hospital and healthcare system, the Governor has announced the following over the last four days:

  • Closure of all public and private K-12 schools until March 31; requesting those that can transition to online learning alternatives (higher education universities have already begun cancelling classes and instead utilizing online courses);
  • Cancellation/suspension of high school and collegiate sporting events;
  • Closure of all state-licensed casinos for two weeks;
  • Closure of all dine-in services of bars and restaurants (but allowing for delivery and curb-side services) from March 16-30;
  • Closure of all Illinois state parks and wildlife centers;
  • Recommended all businesses that have the option allow employees to telecommute or work from home;
  • Revised state policies to restrict unnecessary travel and allow more state workers to telecommute or work from home;
  • Request local governments work with businesses to ensure food deliveries continue 24/7 during the crisis;
  • Declared a state of emergency to obtain additional federal aid (the federal government has also declared a national emergency to ensure maximum aid to state and local governments);
  • Recommended all large gatherings over 250 be canceled or suspended (most towns, including Chicago, have canceled their annual St. Patrick’s Day parades, McCormick place has already seen the cancellation of 14 trade shows, and the CDC is now advising the cancellation of gatherings of 50 people or more);
  • Closed the James R. Thompson Center to the public – only essential staff are to be at their offices;
  • Cancelation of large groups or lobby days at the State Capitol;
  • Cancelation of the legislative session next week; the spring 2020 session is on a “week-by-week” review.

Though the Governor, IL Dept. of Public Heath, and others continue to strongly recommend the public practice “social distancing” to help contain the spread of COVID-19, the Governor has not delayed the March 17 primary election. In a press statement the Governor’s reasoning was because “it is unclear when we might be able to hold another election.”  The Governor’s actions are very similar to the actions taken by other countries and states also working to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus; however, questions remain regarding the full impact of these decisions, such as:

  • Impact to businesses and employees due to significant loss of revenues;
  • Impact to families due to school closures (will school year be lengthened, daycare options);
  • Impact to state budget (loss of sales, hotel, amusement, and gambling taxes; loss of other revenues; increase costs to healthcare; cost to pensions from stock market losses);

It is possible that the COVID-19 could force the Governor and Illinois legislative leaders to re-assess the priorities of the 2020 legislative session.

Most of the legislative staff have been asked to work from home over the next week (as session has been cancelled), and the Governor’s staff is working full time on administration of state agencies and responding to COVID-19. It is possible that the Governor and legislative leaders agree on a shortened session schedule as a precaution against further spread of COVID-19 (as two cases have been confirmed in Sangamon County) – in which the legislature would focus on the passage of the FY21 state budget (which may have to include revised revenue estimates as current actions are likely to significantly reduce taxes to state coffers) and what are deemed “essential issues” to be addressed.