Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday that he was told several people appeared to laugh when Illinois' legal representatives said in court that lifting the state's stay-at-home order would result in more deaths from the coronavirus, calling the suit itself "extraordinarily irresponsible."
Pritzker appeared on "TODAY" to discuss the state's response to the coronavirus outbreak as well as a judge's ruling on Monday that granted a state representative a temporary restraining order exempting that lawmaker from Illinois' stay-at-home order.
Get the latest news on COVID vaccines in your inbox. Click here to sign up for our coronavirus newsletter.
State Rep. Darren Bailey, a Republican from Xenia, Illinois, filed the suit last week claiming Pritzker exceeded his authority and violated the civil rights of the state’s residents. Pritzker on Thursday extended his stay-at-home order through May 30, with more than 45,000 coronavirus cases and nearly 2,000 deaths statewide as of Monday.
"First of all, the suit itself was extraordinarily irresponsible," Pritzker said Tuesday on "TODAY." "This state representative was looking to gain some celebrity for himself. He took it to a local court, a local elected judge and got the ruling that I think he knew he was going to get in that local courtroom."
"There were 90 people, I'm told, who were in that courtroom," he continued. "Some of those people, all of whom seemed to be associated with that state rep., they even seemed to have laughed when our attorney general's representatives talked about the fact that people will die if we lift this stay-at-home order. It's abominable, it's disgusting frankly. But we're immediately appealing this."
"It only applies to this one individual, this state representative who filed his suit, so we believe we'll be able to get it overturned but it's extraordinarily irresponsible and it sends exactly the wrong message," Pritzker added.
"We are just now beginning to overcome our challenges with regard to COVID-19. We're reaching a peaking time period; I'm hoping we'll be able to move down the other side of it in the state of Illinois but it doesn't happen if you remove all the restrictions and everybody goes about their business. The projections are that thousands and thousands of people will die and many tens of thousands will get sick if we remove the stay-at-home [order] now."
Another hearing in the case is scheduled for next week.
Also on "TODAY," Pritzker said he had spoken with the White House about the need for supplies for testing for the coronavirus, saying officials committed to sending the state about 20,000 testing swabs per day. He also reiterated his support for a gradual reopening of the state based on the federal government's recommendation to begin reopening in phases following 14 days of decreasing numbers of hospitalizations for the deadly virus.
"Right now, we're still rising in hospitalizations so it's not the time for us to remove restrictions," Pritzker said.