Wilcox encouraged by Midwest Governors meeting on the economy; Says Pritzker should do the same with Illinois regional leaders

McHenry, IL. – State Sen. Craig Wilcox wants the same level of effort to reopen the Midwest economy to be applied to all of Illinois, a diverse state with unique regional wants and needs. 

“I applaud Governor Pritzker for seeking out neighboring governors to begin considering how we can open up the Illinois economy,” said Wilcox (R-McHenry). But, we need that same level of cooperation on a regional basis here in Illinois.” 

Wilcox said Illinois is a very diverse state, and while the coronavirus social distancing restraints imposed weeks ago were appropriate for the City of Chicago and the densely-populated collar counties, it’s been unduly burdensome for many downstate regions of Illinois. 

“We were told the reason for social distancing, which fueled business closures, shuttered churches and closed parks across the state was to ‘flatten the curve’ of the coronavirus outbreak, so our healthcare system wasn’t overrun to the point of collapse,” said Wilcox. “While the healthcare pressure on Chicago has been tremendous, that’s not the case in downstate Illinois. The capacity of downstate hospitals regarding bed space, ICU accommodations and equipment pressures hasn’t materialized.” 

Wilcox adds that for all of Illinois, the state’s own figures show that about one-third of hospital beds and ICU beds remain open and available, and about one-half of ventilators remain available: 

TOTAL HOSPITAL BEDS USAGE (STATEWIDE)

AS OF APRIL 13

AS OF APRIL 6

Total hospital beds

30,134

28,139

Open

11,165

11,993

In use by COVID patients

4,283

3,680

In use by non-COVID patients

14,686

12,466

Percent of hospital beds available

37%

43%

 

TOTAL ICU USAGE (STATEWIDE)

AS OF APRIL 13

AS OF APRIL 6

Total ICU beds

2,987

2,709

Open

994

949

In use by COVID patients

1,189

1,166

In use by non-COVID patients

804

594

Percent of ICU beds available

33%

35%

 

TOTAL VENTILATOR USAGE (STATEWIDE)

AS OF APRIL 13

AS OF APRIL 6

Total ventilators

3,140

2,791

Open

1,742

1,593

In use by COVID patients

796

821

In use by non-COVID patients

602

377

Percent of vents available

55%

57%

The administration also made public regional data for ICU bed capacity across the state’s 11 regions: 

REGION

TOTAL ICU BEDS

TOTAL ICU BEDS AVAILABLE

TOTAL ICU BEDS IN USE

PERCENT OF ICU BEDS AVAILABLE

1 – Rockford Area

148

84

64

56.8%

2 – Peoria Area

230

101

129

43.9%

3 – Springfield Area

115

66

49

57.4%

4 – Edwardsville Area

106

42

64

39.6%

5 – Marion Area

79

46

33

58.2%

6 – Champaign Area

138

64

74

46.4%

7 – Southwest Suburbs

427

71

356

16.6%

8 – West Suburbs

369

101

268

27.4%

9 – Northwest Suburbs

309

173

136

56%

10 – Northeast Suburbs

150

39

111

26%

11 – City of Chicago

916

207

709

22.6%

Sen. Wilcox said the virus outbreak has been manageable throughout most of downstate Illinois and as such the region’s employers could have incorporated common sense precautions and remained open, protecting jobs and providing goods and services people rely on during their normal everyday lives. 

“I get the seriousness of the healthcare situation involving Covid-19, and I understand the initial focus had to be on intervention and prevention, but we’ve had time now to review the impact of this disease using real data,” said Wilcox. “We are now at that point where our future can no longer be ignored.” 

Wilcox also would like to see a definitive set of guidelines allowing employers to make adjustments to reopen and begin contributing to the economy. He said Illinois citizens initially received a long list of ‘essential’ businesses that he called “a giant permission slip,” which created conflicts and raised many questions about compliance. 

The Senator said another shortcoming in a one-size-fits-all coronavirus response for Illinois is the impact on the state’s parks and recreation areas. 

“Clearly, downstate State parks could have remained open – and should be reopened immediately. Allowing people to enjoy the outdoors and ease the stress of the Governor’s ‘Stay at Home’ Executive Order could be accomplished with no worries about getting too close to another person. For example, the Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area in central Illinois is 25 square miles in size. Its campgrounds are spacious and there would be no problem maintaining the government’s proscribed social distancing,” said Wilcox. “Other state parks and recreational areas are similarly designed.” 

Gov. Pritzker’s Executive Order of March 20, 2020 encouraged hiking, biking and going to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas, but the Illinois Department of Natural Resources shut down state parks four days before on March 16. 

“This coronavirus challenge shows Illinois must be better prepared for any future crisis,” said Wilcox. “That means not leaving it up to the Governor alone to act. The General Assembly has an equal responsibility for the state’s response. Legislators, as direct representatives of the people and their particular regions of the state, have a responsibility to help guide the Executive Branch.” 

 

Links:

March 10, 202 E.O. – https://www2.illinois.gov/Pages/Executive-Orders/ExecutiveOrder2020-10.aspx 

IDNR closes state parks – https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20200316/illinois-state-parks-and-other-facilities-closed 

Illinois Dept. of Public Health/COVID-19 Hospitalization Utilization – http://www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/hospitalization-utilization

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