SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois, one of only 8 states still under a COVID-19 health emergency, has been under a disaster proclamation for 70% of Gov. JB Pritzker’s time in office, a new report has found.

According to the Illinois Policy Institute, Pritzker has been in office 1,483 days and has issued consecutive 30-day disaster proclamations and emergency orders for 1,060 of those.

Pritzker says his COVID-19 era emergency powers will come to an end on May 11th, the same day the Biden Administration has set to end its national COVID-19 emergency.

State Rep. Dan Ugaste (R-St. Charles) has been critical of Pritzker’s use of executive powers, telling The Center Square, “I don’t know how anyone can tell you four months in advance exactly when an emergency is going to end. It’s obviously being done to game the system, but more importantly to me, we are still experiencing a period where an individual retains extraordinary authority over the legislative process and all of the government in the state of Illinois.” 

Ugaste also said he intends to file a legislative measure that would limit the Illinois governor’s power to issue rolling disaster proclamations.

According to a 2021 study, COVID-19 lockdowns resulted in the permanent closure of 35% of Illinois small businesses.

Illinois passed a $580 million Business Interruption Grant Program to direct federal COVID-19 relief funds to affected businesses.

However, Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) said he believes the governor was acting in the best interests of the people of Illinois.

“In hindsight, when you think of how well the governor did with his executive orders, I am in support of the governor and his authority,” Ford said. “Sometimes trying to get the General Assembly to agree on something could be a matter of life and death. A strong and competent executive branch can be the difference between a life and death situation.” 

A spokesperson for Gov. Pritzker said the extension of the state’s disaster proclamations allowed continued access to the federal government’s State Disaster Relief Fund, which offered paid reimbursement for costs incurred by the state for healthcare professionals, the Illinois National Guard, and other first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 36,167 residents died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. The IDPH does not provide data on how many of those were elderly or had pre-existing health risk factors.