3 years after COVID-19 hit, Pritzker declares 40th emergency order

3 years after COVID-19 hit, Pritzker declares 40th emergency order

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared COVID-19 a disaster in Illinois for the 40th time. Illinois is 1 of only 6 states still using COVID-19 to declare a public health emergency.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has issued his 40th COVID-19 disaster proclamation, extending his own emergency powers for more than three years since the pandemic started.

Pritzker has held emergency powers for nearly three-fourths of his time in office. He has said his declarations will end on May 11 to coincide with President Biden’s end of the federal emergency.

None of Illinois’ neighbor states are ruled through emergency powers. Illinois is one of just six states nationwide still calling the COVID-19 pandemic an emergency, with five of the six led by Democratic governors.

According to Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, the state is in Phase 5 of COVID recovery, meaning:

“All sectors of the economy reopen with new health and hygiene practices permanently in place. Large gatherings of all sizes can resume. Public health experts focus on lessons learned and building out the public health infrastructure needed to meet and overcome future challenges.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom ended California’s COVID-19 state of emergency on Feb. 28. Georgia is under a state of emergency, but for supply chain disruptions related to the pandemic, not the virus itself.

Pritzker could keep extending his emergency powers if he sees fit. The Illinois General Assembly – a coequal branch of state government – has taken no action to stop him from issuing executive disaster orders every 30 days as the previous ones expire.

But other states have seen the wisdom in limiting their governors. Arizona, Louisiana and Virginia all enacted laws in 2022 increasing legislative oversight of executive powers.

When the newest proclamation ends April 2, Pritzker will have held emergency powers for 1,116 of his 1,539 days in office. Anything lasting three years is no longer an emergency, but rather a regular state of affairs over which the Illinois General Assembly should debate and legislate as needed.

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