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Pritzker warns local leaders, businesses not to reopen without his approval

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Thursday, May 14, 2020  |  Article  |  By Kevin Bessler | The Center Square

Business (10) , Governor (44) , Health (49)

(The Center Square) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker doubled down Wednesday on threats of withholding federal funds from counties that open before his stay-at-home order expires or before allowed under his reopening plan.

So far, Madison, Adams and Woodford County businesses have opened with more likely to follow. Other local governments have asked the governor to reconsider the regions in his reopening plan and the metrics used to determine when those regions can reopen.

During his daily briefing Wednesday, Pritzker said counties that reopen in defiance of his orders may not be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for damages they cause. He also warned businesses about opening early.

“Businesses and individual professionals that are licensed by state agencies will be held accountable for breaching public health orders,” Pritzker said.

The governor also delivered a message to elected officials who give the go-ahead to reopen early.

“What I don’t have sympathy for is those so afraid to tell their constituents what they may not want to hear that they put more people’s lives at risk,” Pritzker said. “You weren’t elected to do what’s easy, you were elected to do what’s right.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,677 new coronavirus cases with 192 additional deaths, including 14 downstate. As of Wednesday, the department reported a total of 84,698 cases of COVID-19 including 3,792 COVID-19-related deaths in 99 of Illinois’ 102 counties.