Local COVID-19 Cases On The Rise Again

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Cases of COVID-19 coronavirus in Montgomery County continued to increase over the holiday weekend after weeks of stability.

After reporting increases from 41 to 44 the first half of last week, the Montgomery County Health Department announced 47 cases on Sunday afternoon, July 5, with three tests results pending.

Statewide, the number of positive cases is trending up slightly, too, but according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the preliminary rolling seven-day positivity rate remains at 2.6 percent.

The holiday weekend began with major judicial decisions regarding pandemic restrictions on Thursday, July 2. A circuit court judge ruled that all of Gov. JB Pritzker’s executive orders since April 8 pertaining to the novel coronavirus pandemic are void because he exceeded his authority when he used his emergency powers for more than 30 days, and a federal judge denied a request for a temporary restraining order that would have allowed Illinois Republican Party groups to host large fundraising events.

In the circuit court decision, the Illinois Department of Public Health has “supreme authority” to close businesses and restrict residents’ activities in a public health crisis–not the governor, according to Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney.

His decision, according to a Capitol News Illinois story by Rebecca Anzel, is the latest ruling in Xenia Republican Rep. Darren Bailey’s lawsuit. He argued in his April 23 filing that the governor could not issue successive disaster proclamations to manage COVID-19.

The attorney general’s office is likely to ask a higher court to reconsider the order. Thomas DeVore of Sorento, Bailey’s attorney, said business occupancy limitations and other restrictions can no longer be enforced.

But the governor’s office interpreted the ruling differently–Pritzker’s orders are still valid, a spokesperson told Capitol News in an email.

In the federal lawsuit, the state GOP argued that Gov. JB Pritzker’s 50-person cap  on gathering sizes–which was a 10-person cap when the lawsuit was filed–does not apply to religious organizations, and the governor “declined to enforce” his order against protesters demanding an end to systemic racism, according to a Capitol News Illinois story by Jerry Nowicki

The GOP–along with the Will County Republican Central Committee, Schaumburg Township Republican Organization and Northwest Side GOP Club–argued that applying those exemptions to protestors and religious institutions but not to political parties created an “unconstitutional content-based restriction on speech,” according to a court document.

That, the Republicans claimed, was a violation of their First and 14th Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution, which grant freedoms of speech and demonstration, as well as equal protections under the law.

U.S. District Court Judge Sara L. Ellis, of the Northern District of Illinois’ Eastern Division, denied the request for a temporary order that would allow the GOP to resume large gatherings, stating that granting the relief “would pose serious risks to public health.”

On Saturday, July 4, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh denied a request from Illinois Republicans to block Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s rule that bars political rallies of more than 50 people amid the coronavirus pandemic. The request went to Kavanaugh based on geography alone. 

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