Pritzker gives himself COVID-19 emergency powers for 36th time

Pritzker gives himself COVID-19 emergency powers for 36th time

Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared Illinois a disaster area for the 36th time, extending his emergency powers over the state for another 30 days. None of Illinois’ neighboring states remain under emergency powers.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has extended his COVID-19 emergency powers for another 30 days – proclaiming Illinois a disaster zone for the 36th time.

None of Illinois’ neighboring states remain under emergency orders. Illinois is one of just 10 states nationwide still being ruled through emergency powers, with eight of the 10 led by Democratic governors.

Pritzker issued the order Nov. 10 after first declaring Illinois a disaster in March 2020, citing the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as a public health emergency. When the newest executive order ends, the governor will have held emergency powers for 1,003 of his 1,426 days in office, or 70% of his term.

Updated CDC guidance states tools such as vaccinations, boosters and treatments have significantly reduced Americans’ “risk of severe illness, hospitalization and death compared to earlier in the pandemic.”

Illinois also reported fewer new cases, hospitalization, deaths and COVID patients in ICU beds this month than in any November since the start of the pandemic.

Pritzker’s newest executive order is purported to freeze vaccine prices and help Illinoisans recover from the economic and educational fallout of the pandemic after businesses and schools were shuttered in 2020.

Pritzker also re-issued masking recommendations regardless of vaccination status per U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Previous orders only recommended masking to the unvaccinated.

Pritzker can keep wielding emergency powers as long as he deems Illinois a disaster.

The Illinois General Assembly – a coequal branch of state government – has no oversight into executive disaster orders.

Lawmakers have also shown no interest in limiting how often Pritzker re-issues orders for the same emergency, despite his executive powers circumventing the checks and balances guaranteed by representative government.

Most states operate differently: 34 give their legislative bodies some form of control over the emergency powers. Arizona enacted a law requiring the legislature to approve emergency extensions beyond 120 days.

Illinois is currently under three statewide disasters declared by Pritzker for the coronavirus pandemic, monkeypox and buses of migrants from Texas seeking asylum. Without lawmaker intervention, there’s no telling how long Illinois will be a disaster zone.

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