Bloomington state Sen. Bill Brady is calling again for Senate hearings on mitigation rules as coronavirus positivity rates spike statewide.
The Republican minority leader told reporters Wednesday in an online news conference that mitigation efforts threaten to destroy the livelihoods of many bar and restaurant owners. The Illinois Department of Public Health has said bars and restaurants are the second most common place identified in contact tracing. Reporters asked Brady what specifics he wants to see in data that could change guidance.
"Show us the data that shows these decisions are sound. We have no reason to believe ... bars we admit are different than restaurants and should possibly be treated differently. We'd like to see the contact tracing data that shows the difference between bars and restaurants," said Brady.
Brady and other Republicans said they hope limiting taverns to table service only will prevent crowding at bars, keep people safe, and businesses open.
Brady did not directly answer a question about what Republicans think the state should do to limit COVID-19 spread as a third wave raises case counts and positivity rates.
The rolling positivity rate for the state is 6.7%, the highest since May. A reporter asked what the best option is to lower viral spread if Brady prefers bars and restaurants stay open.
"I'm not advocating necessarily for bars. I think there is a difference between a bar and a restaurant, from what I have seen. Social distancing can absolutely take place in restaurants that are 50% capacity, let alone a 25% capacity," said Brady.
In the spring when the governor put in the statewide order, Republicans criticized him for having a one-size-fits-all measure. Now, that there are regions, Republicans have a new complaint. Brady denied the GOP has moved the goal posts.
“The governor has moved the goal posts by missing an entire tier that he laid out that would have moved from 50% occupancy to a 25% occupancy under certain mitigation standards,” said Brady. “Now, we didn’t necessarily agree with his goal posts, why a 25% rate was necessary.”
He said his party believes the regions are appropriate.
There’s a growing body of data that shows economic damage during the early part of the pandemic happened in areas that did not regulate just as much as in those that did, suggesting people vote with their feet regardless of edict. Is the tension between regulation and personal choice really what matters right now, asked a reporter?
“We believe that there is some truth in what the Chicago mayor indicated, that when you eliminate people’s safe opportunity to gather like in a restaurant in a 25% capacity, human nature tells us that they will convene together in a basement when it’s cold out or whatever, and you put that in fact at a bigger risk,” said Brady.
He called on the state to make public contact tracing data to help lawmakers make decisions jointly with the governor.
There's no subscription fee to listen or read our stories. Everyone can access this essential public service thanks to community support. Donate now, and help fund your public media.