By REBECCA ANZEL
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD — The novel coronavirus pandemic’s historic impact on Illinois warrants Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, four state health care advocacy organizations argue in a court filing.
That restriction, in place with modifications since March 21, prevented the accelerated spreading of COVID-19, health care facilities from using up stores of personal protective gear, hospitals from running out of beds and the short-staffing of personnel, attorneys for the organizations wrote.
At each step of the lawsuit filed by Xenia Republican Rep. Darren Bailey challenging Pritzker’s authority to issue successive 30-day disaster proclamations, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, Illinois State Medical Society, Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing and the state’s chapter of the American Nurses Association have submitted their argument in support of the governor.
The novel coronavirus is not restricted to any one region of the state nor does it adhere to the 30-day timeline the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act references, the groups wrote.
Dr. Michael Wahl, medical director of the Health and Hospital Association, testified that without the stay-at-home order, the financial cost and public burden of COVID-19 would have been “catastrophic.”
Wahl is also an emergency medicine physician at hospitals in suburban Chicago.
And the impact of lifting the stay-at-home order, according to the filing, “cannot be overstated: There will be a resurgence of the virus that will have devastating, widespread, and long-lasting effects” once Illinois’ hospitals are overrun with cases.
Hospitals, assisted living facilities and other health care centers would be unable to restock gowns, gloves, masks and other personal protective gear “at a time when the ability to rapidly replenish such supplies is unavailable,” according to the court filing.
As Bailey’s case moves back to the Clay County Circuit Court, the advocacy organizations warn in the document that residents in that area would be “heavily impacted by any surge in cases” there.
The only hospital in the county has no intensive care unit beds, needed if the condition of a patient with COVID-19 worsens. That hospital also has only 20 beds available for residents, according to the court filing.
The groups’ argument also applies to a related lawsuit filed by Machesney Park Republican Rep. John Cabello. His case also alleges Pritzker overstepped his authority in ordering Illinoisans to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Its outcome is applicable to all Illinoisans, whereas Bailey’s lawsuit applies only to himself.