McHenry, IL. – State Sen. Craig Wilcox said the state’s response to the coronavirus needs better planning, which starts with input from lawmakers and the public. Wilcox wants public hearings.
“I agree with the importance of keeping people safe, but at the same time we cannot put the physical and mental health of tens of thousands of Illinoisans at risk by destroying our economy,” said Sen. Wilcox (R-McHenry). “The Governor has talked a lot about his plan being driven by science and data. Let’s see it.”
In anticipation of the General Assembly’s return to the State Capitol on May 20, Wilcox said the public deserves a full explanation of the rationale behind the coronavirus response plan.
“Parts of the plan lack consistent logic,” said Wilcox. “For example, recently, people could go into a Jewel-Osco or another grocery store chain – along with possibly hundreds of other people – to purchase flowers for Mother’s Day, but small business flower shops, such as Locker’s Flowers in McHenry were closed to foot traffic because they were not allowed to be open. And, why are people encouraged to get out for walks and runs as a family of five, but that same family cannot go boating together in the same open fresh air?”
Wilcox added Illinois also needs to stop hiding behind CDC guidelines, defining an “essential” versus a “non-essential” business because everyone’s livelihood is essential to them. Instead, he suggests setting logical standards and guidelines, and empowering individuals to follow them.
The 32nd District Senator said another purpose for public hearings is to ensure state government is being as responsive as it can to the needs of people no matter where they live. Under the governor’s recently-revised plans, Illinois is divided into four massive geographical regions. Initially, the Governor was criticized for a one-size-fits-all approach for the entire state, but Wilcox said dividing the diverse state into now four regions is hardly a step toward being responsive. Under the four-region approach, McHenry County is lumped into a region with Chicago.
“Chicago has a unique situation that is quite unlike most other areas of our state, and even different from what we are experiencing in the 32nd Senate District,” said Wilcox. “Yet, our area is lumped in with Chicago coronavirus considerations. The residents of Illinois deserve to have their voices heard in this discussion, through their duly elected representatives. We can accomplish this during our upcoming session with transparent public hearings.”
Sen. Wilcox previously suggested the state consider expanding the four super regions to the well-known and already utilized 11 EMS (Emergency Medical Services) regions to guide reopening procedures and public health responses to the virus. Under the existing EMS regions, McHenry and western Lake County are in Region 9 along with Arlington Heights, Elgin, Geneva and Niles.
“The 11 EMS regions would give the state more accurate information regarding the impact of the coronavirus, which could be used to tailor a better local response,” said Wilcox. “The Illinois Department of Public Health is already tracking hospital resource capacity by these 11 regions. Recently, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Illinois Department of Public Health to provide a breakdown of the same four-region metrics for each EMS region daily. That data can become part of the critical information set that could be used to determine where and when partial or full openings are allowed.”
Sen. Wilcox said Illinois’ economy has been decimated for two months, with little recourse for employers or employees.
“Under the governor’s so-called reopening plan, the due process rights and the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness of both employers and employees are being withheld by a chief executive apparently unwilling to compromise,” said Wilcox. “The people of Illinois, through their elected representatives, are entitled to a voice in the governmental process. That should include public hearings.”