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6 downstate Illinois counties sue over COVID-19 restrictions

6 downstate Illinois counties sue over COVID-19 restrictions

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Illinois reports July's highest one-day total of virus cases

FILE - In this July 16, 2020, file photo, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker meets with people at City Market in Rockford, Ill. As parts of the nation struggle with a worse coronavirus outbreak than during its high points last spring, Illinois, where officials continue to congratulate residents for keeping the new virus in check, announced Wednesday, July 22, an increasing number of new infections. Pritzker and his state public health director, Dr. Ngoze Ezike, made public pleas to wear masks when outside the home and continue physical distancing and conscientious hygiene to stem the spread of the coronavirus. (Scott P. Yates/Rockford Register Star via AP, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Residents in six central and southern Illinois counties, including the state capital's home, filed lawsuits Thursday against Gov. J.B. Pritzker's restrictions on social interaction prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The actions taken in Bond, Clay, Clinton, Edgar, Richland and Sangamon counties seek court orders declaring there is no public health emergency as defined by Pritzker's Public Health Department. Springfield, the state capital, is in Sangamon County.

Plaintiffs in each case seek injunctions against the disaster declaration Pritzker's using to justify restrictions on public interaction to limit transmission of the virus. The state has reported 7,367 deaths among 167,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus — mostly in Chicago and Cook County.

“You can't put a county that has had nine confirmed cases and no one pass away under the same rules and restrictions as counties like Cook," said Thomas DeVore, a Greenville attorney respresenting the plaintiffs.

Richland County has had nine cases and no deaths. That's also the case in Clay County, where Rep. Darren Bailey, a Republican from Xenia, continues to press his case filed last spring against Pritzker's restrictions.

Pritzker general counsel Ann Spillane said DeVore is “playing a game.”

“It is unconscionable that as states around this country are grappling with a resurgence of COVID-19, there are those who continue to challenge science and data and fight against basic guidance from public health experts to prevent the spread of this deadly virus,” Spillane said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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