coronavirus illinois

An Illinois Democrat, Republican Weigh in on Coronavirus Response, Relief and Pence's Mask-less Photo

Chicago congressman and downstate Republican disagree about the Pence photo but agree on how times are changing

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Don’t put much stock in President Donald Trump’s thought about withholding funds to fight the pandemic for states and cities that reject his immigration policies, an Illinois Democrat and Republican in Congress told NBC 5.

Earlier in the week the president indicated he might consider blocking funds to combat the coronavirus for cities and states that have sanctuary city laws. Illinois is a sanctuary state and Chicago a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants.

Neither Democrat Mike Quigley nor Republican Rodney Davis envision money being withheld.

“What I can tell you is the state of Illinois just recently got $5 billion. I think last week, that's on top of the billions that have come into our states for things like community health centers,” Davis said from his home in Taylorville. “I and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have negotiated and voted in a bipartisan way to provide those funds. So let's you know take a step back and realize the funds are coming in Illinois, and the funds will continue to help Illinois."

While members of the U.S. House debate when to return to Washington, Quigley said he received what amounts to a small coronavirus care package to help protect him and his staff.

“Oh, they sent us disinfectant wipes. They sent us dozens of medical quality masks to wear,” he said during a video conference interview from his North Side home.

When Congress returned last week to vote on the latest stimulus package, members voted in small groups alphabetically, but not all wore masks, Quigley said, or practiced social distancing. 

“Were crowding into elevators, they were not wearing the masks. They were talking and weren't physically distancing” he said.

Fast forward to this week and Tuesday’s photo op with Vice President Mike Pence at the Mayo Clinic, not wearing protection: “I think the Vice President was acting as irresponsibly as the host who were holding a house party [over the weekend] in Chicago,” he said.

A Chicago homeowner says she was working a 24-hour shift as a first responder when her son threw a massive house party that ultimately went viral. NBC 5's Christian Farr reports.

Davis, elected to Congress in 2012, does wear a mask but did not take issue with Pence’s mask-less photo op.

“Well number one I haven’t seen it. Number two, guidelines aren't for everybody to have to wear a mask 24 hours a day,” he said. “The guidelines aren’t wear a mask every second, every day. It is be safe.”

Where Quigley and Davis agree is that the world is changing.

“I mean look," Davis said, "no one's going to go to a grocery store anymore and just automatically grab a cart without wiping it down in the future. Our lives are going to change because of this.”

Both on a practical and emotional scale.

“I want to see my mom,” Quigley noted, but because she is in her late-80s, “I can't do that now because I frankly think I put her at risk.”

And now the calendar heads toward May.

“So, Mother's Day is coming and we're probably going to have a Mother's Day, similar to this interview.”

Quigley points to the recent death of Chicago singer-songwriter John Prine who died from the virus and his song Hello In There.  

“Old people just grow lonesome. Waiting for someone to say, 'Hello in there, hello.'"

“This is the biggest crisis of our lifetime,” he said.

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