Governor Pritzker Follows the Science Only Up to the Point Where It Interferes With Politics

On June 6thGovernor Pritzker and Attorney General Kwame Raoul attended a South Suburban Day of Action event in Calumet City. Yesterday A.G. Raoul announced that he’s tested positive for COVID-19. The Attorney General’s office said he had been in his Chicago office for the last couple of weeks, and most of his meetings and events have been conducted via video link, so it seems very possible, if not probable, that he contracted the virus at that event. Right after the protests arising from the death of George Floyd, health officials urged people who attended the protests to self-quarantine for 14 days to fight the possible spread of coronavirus.

Ten days later, the Governor got a test for COVID-19, and was found to not have been infected. Good for him, and I wish a speedy recovery for the Attorney General.

But the Governor apparently didn’t get the self-quarantine memo, because what did Governor “Don’t Second-Guess Me Because I Follow the Science” do in the intervening days? Here’s an archive of his public events from June 8th through the 15th, taken from the Illinois Playbook published every weekday morning:

  • June 8th: At the Thompson Center for a 1:30 p.m. briefing on insurance coverage for rebuilding businesses. In the late afternoon, Prtizker will attend the South Suburban March for Justice and Love that starts at Victory Apostolic Church.
  • June 9th: At Union Baptist Church in Springfield at noon for a roundtable discussion with state Sen. Andy Manar, local aldermen, T. Ray McJunkins, and teen organizers of a Black Lives Matter march. Then the governor will tour the Decatur Boys & Girls Club’s Child Care Facility and discuss early childhood education issues.
  • June 10th: At Skip-a-Long Child Development Services at 11 a.m. in Moline with Rep. Cheri Bustos, state Rep. Michael Halpin, Mayor Stephanie Acri and others to discuss the Child Care Restoration Grants program to provide emergency relief to childcare providers. Then, at 2 p.m. he’ll be at the Rockford YMCA with Bustos, state Rep. Maurice West and others to talk about emergency relief there, too.
  • June 11th – 14th: No public events.
  • June 15th: At the Community Interfaith Pantry in Belleville at 11 a.m. to discuss grants administered by the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. He’ll address the grants again at 2 p.m. at the Crosswalk Community Action Agency in West Frankfort.

The fact that the Governor tested negative is beside the point. He was violating his own Executive Order 2020-38 which limits gatherings to no more than ten people, and he was ignoring his own epidemiologists’ recommendation for self-quarantining.

But the most infuriating thing is what he did to possibly expose other people to the virus because he had to make a political statement. The first thing out of his mouth in Calumet City was a pitch for his progressive income tax. He’s willing to expose people to COVID-19 for thatI guess following the science only goes so far.

Those people at the Thompson Center, the Victory Apostolic Church, the Union Baptist Church, the Decatur Boys & Girls Club’s Child Care Facility, Skip-a-Long Child Development Services, the Rockford YMCA, the Community Interfaith Pantry in Belleville and the Crosswalk Community Action Agency in West Frankfurt, did they know they were at risk? Were they subject to the contact tracing that’s part of the Governor’s Phase 3 Recovery Plan? Were they told to get tested and self-quarantine? It doesn’t matter that Pritzker tested negative this week, at the time he met with these folks, he didn’t know.

Governor, though I’ve tried to get you to allow my county, among others, to determine for themselves the pace at which they open up, I’ve been pretty supportive of your calls for social distancing and sensible personal actions to slow the spread of coronavirus. But you’re losing me and whatever credibility you had at the beginning of this pandemic with your opportunistic disregard for your own injunctions. If we get hit by a second wave in the fall, you’ll have lost that credibility just when you’re going to need it most. Elected officials don’t lead by making pronouncements and issuing Executive Orders, they lead by example. With this action, you aren’t setting a very good one.