GOV DEFENDS PROPOSED CHANGES TO MASK RULES
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Sunday defended his proposed new rules for “modest” changes to the way the current statewide mask mandate is enforced, saying politicians shouldn’t use a public health crisis for political gain.
The new emergency rules, which were filed Friday by the Illinois Department of Public Health, offer local officials more leeway to give out warnings before fining businesses that don’t follow the state’s public masking and social distancing guidelines.
Pritzker, who was joined Sunday by a group of doctors and public health officials who shared support for his proposed new emergency rules, said he believes the rules are “fair.”
“Many, many businesses are doing the right thing, but it’s not fair to those businesses when their competitors are not doing the right thing,” Pritzker said. “And so, we think it’s fair to hold everybody accountable, to hold everybody to the same standard and we’re doing it in a way that should allow businesses to get it right.”
Pritzker said having rules requiring masks and proper social distancing makes “common sense.” But his new rule changes were met with some opposition.
The Illinois Retail Association on Friday issued a statement saying Pritzker should focus on the customers who refuse to wear a mask rather than “demonize innocent businesses.” In the political realm, Illinois House Republican leader Jim Durkin on Friday called on Pritzker to “abandon his mask rule” and work with the Legislature on the issue.
On Sunday, Pritzker said a public health crisis shouldn’t be politicized.
“The worst possible outcome for public health right now is to turn this into political football,” he said.
Pritzker issued a statewide masking mandate May 1. Some of Illinois’ bordering states have been slow to follow with Indiana waiting until July and Wisconsin August. Pritzker said he’s discussed the importance in having a regional decline in new infections with governors from neighboring states, and he blamed President Donald Trump’s response to the pandemic for putting states in this position.
“If we had responsible leadership in the White House, if we had leadership that cared about having a national strategy, we would have dealt with this months ago,” said Pritzker.
State health officials on Sunday announced 1,382 new COVID-19 infections and eight new coronavirus-related deaths.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate dipped slightly to 4.1%.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker