Pritzker signs 34th consecutive emergency order as Biden declares COVID ‘over’

Pritzker signs 34th consecutive emergency order as Biden declares COVID ‘over’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued his 34th disaster proclamation regarding COVID-19, extending his emergency powers to nearly 70% of his term. President Joe Biden said the pandemic is done.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended his COVID emergency powers for the 34th time since the onset of the pandemic, declaring Illinois a disaster area just as President Joe Biden was declaring the pandemic was over.

“The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. But the pandemic is over,” Biden told “60 Minutes” on Sept. 18.

Pritzker’s newest proclamation expires Oct. 18. At the end of the newest emergency order, Pritzker will have held emergency powers of 949 of 1,374 days in office, or 69% of his term.

Compared to Pritzker’s first proclamation, Illinois has no mask mandate, vaccination mandate or social distancing. So where’s the emergency?

On Sept. 15, just before the 33rd order expired, Pritzker ended the COVID testing mandate for unvaccinated workers in schools and day care centers. The same mandate for higher education ended in July.

When announcing the decision, Pritzker admitted how much has changed since the early days of the pandemic.

“Although the current state of the pandemic is very different than it was two years ago, we still need to protect the most vulnerable members of our community as we continue to be responsive to the changing challenges and evolutions of this virus.” Pritzker said in a statement.

The press release said easing restrictions is the next step “to carefully unwind the state’s COVID-19 executive orders.” But gave no indication when or how that decision would be made.

Pritzker could keep emergency powers as long as he sees fit. The General Assembly – a coequal branch of state government – has no oversight into executive disaster orders.

Most states operate differently. Thirty-four states 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.

Pritzker granted himself emergency powers over the monkeypox virus and for buses of more than 500 migrants from Texas. Illinois currently has three statewide disasters that Pritzker has declared.

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