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An Illinois lawmaker says it is time to reopen the state regionally

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Tuesday, May 12, 2020  |  Article  |  By Kevin Bessler | The Center Square

Governor (44) , Health (49) Wilhour, Blaine--State House, 107
(The Center Square) – A downstate lawmaker says Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s five-phase plan to reopen Illinois is unacceptable.

State Rep. Blaine Wilhour, R-Beecher City, has put out a three-phase plan that allows counties to decide when to open up for business based on health department criteria, similar to what is happening in some neighboring states.

“You look at Indiana and Iowa and you are going to see some real similarities in this plan,” Wilhour said. “It’s not like we pulled this stuff out of thin air.”

Under Wilhour's plan, most sectors of the economy would open, with tighter restrictions in the first and second phases followed by much more relaxed restrictions in the third phase. As long as hospital bed capacity remains sufficient to meet the demand for any new COVID-19 cases, regions would be able to move to the next phase in 14-day increments.

Under Pritzker’s plan, in phase 4, restaurants will finally be able to open, but at lower capacity, gatherings of 50 people or less would be permitted, and face coverings would be required.

“The only thing that is holds things back right now is fear,” Wilhour said. “Fear of political retribution, fear of legal authority, and bureaucratic positioning.”

Wilhour said he believes the governor is being unrealistic in his plan, which calls for waiting for a vaccine for highly effective and widely available treatment for COVID-19 before fully reopening the state.

“What we can’t do is keep delaying the process. The longer we wait to reopen, the more damage will be done to our economy,” Wilhour said. “We need to begin the process now.”