While Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker says he likes portions of President Donald Trump’s three-phase plan to re-open the U.S. economy, he says he is still planning to listen to scientists and doctors about a timeline for scaling back on COVID-19 restrictions.
On Saturday, the Associated Press published a story arguing that governors are “feeling the heat” from President Trump to ease restrictions in their states, but Pritzker says he isn’t concerned at all about outside pressure from the White House.
“I’m listening to the scientists and the doctors. I don’t feel any heat,” he said. “I will say that (with) the plan from Dr. Fauci and others, there are aspects of that plan that I think are pretty good, (but) I’m going to do what’s best for the people of this state.”
The state of Illinois is currently under a “stay-at-home” order through April 30, but Pritzker has not yet determined whether that order will be extended or modified.
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Pritzker says that delay in a decision is due, at least in part, to the fact that state health officials do not feel that Illinois has reached its peak of coronavirus cases or hospitalizations.
“We’re not yet at our peak, so it’s hard to make decisions on what will happen in 14 days or in the next two months,” he said.
Under the plan put forward by President Trump’s administration, states are being encouraged to dial back COVID-19 restrictions if they experience a decline in cases for 14 consecutive days. Illinois, while paring down on the percentage increase in new cases, is still on the upswing in terms of reported cases, and Pritzker says that state officials likely won’t be able to determine when the peak has occurred until it has actually passed.
“I want to get there as fast as anybody does,” he said. “We want people to get back to work and back to their lives. These are choices between saving lives and saving livelihoods.”
The governor’s words of caution come as protests are being held in multiple states, including Minnesota, Michigan and California, calling for state officials to pull back on restrictions and to re-open state economies.
The president has sent out numerous tweets encouraging the protests, but Pritzker remains firm that he will not be swayed by political pressures when it comes to removing restrictions.
“I want to remove the restrictions as much as anyone else does, but I’m going to do that based on science,” he said.