Open Letter to Gov. Pritzker on COVID-19

Below is a letter from State Representative Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) to Governor JB Pritzker:

Dear Governor Pritzker,

I wanted to express my deep gratitude for your efforts in combating COVID-19.  I am grateful for your leadership over the past several weeks and know that Illinois’ effort has resulted in the saving of lives.  In no way could you have imagined being in this situation when you decided to run for Governor, yet you have shown yourself to be up to the task.

In all crises, strategy changes with new information. We now know much more about the virus, and conditions on the ground have changed significantly since we saw our first case here in Illinois. We are now entering a critical time in this fight, and it is important that we “re-balance” our restrictions in this next phase. With this new information, we should look to increase restrictions in some areas while decreasing them in others. The ultimate goal is that more lives will be saved with less total disruption.

FACE MASKS

New studies are showing that wearing a covering of any kind on the face can significantly slow the spread of the disease. Even today, I still see many store employees and customers in a busy grocery store without any protective equipment. Restaurants offering carry-out and delivery are also not requiring staff to wear PPE. It should become a requirement for all employees and customers to wear face coverings inside stores and restaurants.

SENIORS

I wanted to share with you an effort I spearheaded in my district to help protect the senior population called Helping Hands. My program dispatches volunteers to seniors in need of services like grocery pick up, medication retrieval or anything they may need during these trying times. This can certainly be expanded on a statewide level with volunteers, and will greatly reduce the risk of exposure to one of our most vulnerable populations.

MENTAL HEALTH

Safely opening up other parts of society will also help with our mental and economic health.  People walking a trail in a state park wearing a face covering are safer than spending time at the local big box store without one.  Hunting, fishing, and golfing are other activities that are being allowed in some other states that are having success containing the virus.  With strict rules, these types of activities should be allowed. 

ESSENTIAL & NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES

Businesses that have been declared non-essential but have a very low employee-per-square-foot should be allowed to open with restrictions.  If items cannot be bought on Main Street, big box stores should also be restricted from selling them. For example, a local shoe store should not be closed but Walmart can continue to sell shoes just because they also sell canned goods. I personally believe we are at the point where we can open some stores with a very low density capacity ratio and the requirement of face coverings.

SCIENCE

I am glad to hear that you are listening to the scientists, however I implore you to listen to ALL the scientists and not just the experts of COVID-19.  While epidemiologists may understand how to decrease deaths due to this virus, they do not have a grasp on the entire life-expectancy picture. 

Other scientists will tell you that suicides increase as unemployment increases, lack of exercise has consequences, domestic abuse calls are increasing, people are not going to drug rehab meetings and more.  We also know all too well what a cratered state budget can do to our critical social services.  It is our job as policy makers to take in all the evidence and make a collaborative decision that is best for all of our constituents.

There are still many unknowns, and many things we simply cannot get the answers to during these unprecedented times, but a common sense approach to re-balancing restrictions will create “buy-in” from more residents of the state.  This “buy in” will be necessary as this pandemic will extend in some capacity well beyond May of 2020.

Warmest Regards,

Mark Batinick

State Representative 97th District