Pritzker urges patience in ‘coming days’ of counting; has National Guard in ‘state of readiness’


Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday urged patience in the coming days as election authorities grapple with historic levels of mail-in ballots, and said the Illinois National Guard is in a “state of readiness,” amid the possibility of election-related unrest.

“It will possibly take until Wednesday, or Thursday, or even Friday to get results for some races in Illinois and in states across the country,” Pritzker said at his daily coronavirus news briefing. “Every vote must be counted, particularly on the national level. It is very important that we are patient with the presidential election. We may very well not know who won the election on Wednesday, let alone Tuesday night.”

Pritzker likened the National Guard’s “state of readiness” leading into Election Day to the action his administration took in September to ensure members were available before the Kentucky attorney general announced charges in the controversial police killing of Breonna Taylor in Louisville. Taylor’s killing sparked protests against police brutality earlier this year.

“We want to make sure that the cities, counties that call upon us for help, from the state of Illinois, that we have those resources available to them,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker also warned against sourcing election information solely from social media sites expressing concerns about “foreign actors, specifically Russia, Iran and others, who intend to promote misinformation throughout Election Day, and in the days after.”

“They would like nothing more than to promote conspiracy theories and sow discontent,” Pritzker said.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike had a message for voters going to the polls in person on Tuesday, as COVID-19 continues to surge statewide.

“Please make sure that your mask is securely fitted over both your nose and your mouth, and please make your selections before you get to the polling booth so you can get in and out as quickly as possible,” she said.

The state on Monday reported 6,222 newly-diagnosed cases and 20 additional deaths of people with COVID-19. The state has now reported 423,502 cases and 9,810 deaths through the course of the pandemic.

The state on Monday reported 68,118 tests conducted over the previous 24 hours, and as of Sunday night, 3,371 people were in the hospital with COVID-19, with 722 patients in intensive care units and 298 on ventilators.

The seven-day average for the case positivity rate, which is the share of confirmed cases resulting from the total number of tests conducted, was 8.1% for the period ending Sunday, more than double what it was a month earlier, and up from 5.4% two weeks ago.

Starting Wednesday, all 11 regions of the state, as defined by Pritzker’s Restore Illinois reopening plan, are under tighter rules imposed by the state that include shuttering indoor dining and bar service and lowering the limit on gatherings to the lesser of 25 people or 25% capacity.

The 20-county north-central region that includes the Quad Cities, Bloomington and Peoria, will be the last one to come under those tougher rules on Wednesday.

In the face of growing opposition to his coronavirus-related restrictions, Pritzker on Monday highlighted the state’s Business Interruption Grant program, meant to give a financial boost to some of the types of businesses that have been hardest-hit by closures or drastic operational changes forced by the state’s coronavirus restrictions.

As of last week, Pritzker’s office said more than $46 million in Business Interruption Grants had gone out to businesses as part of the state’s second round of awards, with nearly $20 million going to bars and restaurants.

“Many, many restaurants and bars are doing the right thing, they’re either tenting, using outdoor tents, or they’re just providing pickup or delivery service or drive-thru during this difficult period,” Pritzker said. “And what we’re asking is that the enforcement be brought where people are not following the closure of indoor bars and restaurants. I do believe that law enforcement locally, health departments locally, mayors, will, should do the right thing. And some are choosing not to.”

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