6 downstate Illinois counties sue Pritzker over COVID-19 restrictions

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Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx looks on as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a press conference in Chicago after Foxx filed motions to vacate more than 1,000 low-level cannabis convictions, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Residents in six central and southern Illinois counties, including the state capital’s home, filed lawsuits Thursday against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s restrictions on social interaction prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The actions taken in Bond, Clay, Clinton, Edgar, Richland and Sangamon counties seek court orders declaring there is no public health emergency as defined by Pritzker’s Public Health Department. Springfield, the state capital, is in Sangamon County.

Plaintiffs in each case seek injunctions against the disaster declaration Pritzker’s using to justify restrictions on public interaction to limit transmission of the virus. The state has reported 7,367 deaths among 167,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus – mostly in Chicago and Cook County.

“You can’t put a county that has had nine confirmed cases and no one pass away under the same rules and restrictions as counties like Cook,” said Thomas DeVore, a Greenville attorney respresenting the plaintiffs.

Richland County has had nine cases and no deaths. That’s also the case in Clay County, where Rep. Darren Bailey, a Republican from Xenia, continues to press his case filed last spring against Pritzker’s restrictions. Bailey filed a request for declaratory judgment Thursday similar to the other five cases.

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