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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to IL Gov. Pritzker’s Shifting Goalposts to Lift State-wide Lockdown

May 11, 2020

‘Pritzker’s behavior is not just cautious, nor simply callous in the extreme. It is tyrannical.’

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (May 11, 2020) – On CNN’s State of the Union program on Sunday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said he would end the state’s COVID-19 lockdown when “we’re able to eradicate” the novel coronavirus.

“The truth is coronavirus is still out there. It hasn’t gone anywhere,” Pritzker said. “So we all are going to have to change the way we do things until we’re able to eradicate it.”

The governor last week announced a five-phase plan to lift the restrictions on travel and the opening of businesses and schools. The state is currently in Phase 2 which Pritzker calls “the flattening,” with Phase 3 – which he said he would announce in the “coming weeks” – allowing the opening of “manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops and salons” but no gatherings of more than 10 people would be allowed. Phase 4 would allow the opening of restaurants, bars, and health clubs, and Phase 5 allows festivals and gatherings of more than 50 people.

The following statements from policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

“Eradication of the coronavirus is an impossible standard, which means Gov. Pritzker is claiming nothing less than unlimited, unending authority for himself to control everything in the state of Illinois. No governor has the right to ‘eradicate’ the U.S. Constitution by fiat. The people of Illinois should immediately institute a recall effort to eradicate this dangerous individual from public office.

“Pritzker’s behavior is not just cautious, nor simply callous in the extreme. It is tyrannical.”

S.T. Karnick
Director of Publications
The Heartland Institute


“Gov. Pritzker’s standards for lifting his statewide lockdown are not based on science. They are based in his desire to wield unchecked power – and to do so indefinitely. His standards to free millions of Illinois residents from unconstitutional house arrest are not only unreasonable, they are ill-defined. We will get to ‘Phase 3,’ he says, when ‘the rate of infection among those tested, the number of patients admitted to the hospital, and the number of patients needing ICU beds is stable or declining.’ We are there right now. Our hospitals were never overwhelmed, and most of the seriously ill are concentrated in Cook County in long-term care facilities, not among the general population.

“Remember ’15 days to slow the spread’? That was in mid-March, the time when Americans all across the country volunteered to do their part to accomplish that goal. But then came the switch to ‘flattening the curve,’ which we’ve done; then not stressing our hospitals, which we’ve also accomplished. But now Pritzker intends to move the goal posts so far off the horizon we can barely make them out.

“It is long time to do what should have been done in Illinois and across America weeks ago: Protect the vulnerable, trust Americans to practice sensible social distancing, and release us from involuntary house arrest so we can save an economy that should have never been shut down.”

Jim Lakely
Vice President
and Director of Communications
The Heartland Institute


“Gov. Pritzker’s moving goalposts isn’t feeding families, it isn’t generating desperately needed tax revenue, and it’s not educating children. It’s alarmism that has very real consequences for Illinois’ working families both in the short term and long term. Unrealistic expectations exacerbate the challenges facing the state and puts its already stressed fiscal condition on even shakier ground. It also puts Illinois at yet another job-creating disadvantage compared to its neighboring states – which are already opening up.

“I don’t question the governor’s resolve to ensure the well-being of Illinoisans, but the cure cannot and must not be worse than the disease. Other states and their residents are clamoring to work and are able to mitigate the risks in their endeavors. Unending or even unnecessarily protracted shelter-in-place orders place lives at risk in ways that Pritzker’s ‘models’ don’t account for – through increased domestic violence, mental health crises, and delayed vital healthcare services.

“It’s time to have a real conversation about opening up Illinois’ economy, let Illinoisans do what they do best, and stop the hyperbole no matter how well-intentioned. I also hope that this isn’t a cynical ploy to buy time because Pritzker believes Congress will bail out the state after generations of poor fiscal management.”

Cameron Sholty
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute


“I disagree with Gov. Pritzker’s take and believe that the determination of the ability to ‘return to normal’ ought to be made by ‘we the people.’ In a free society the people determine the winners and losers in business, not the government. If the risk of returning to ‘normal is deemed too high by the people, they have the right to stay home. But for those that want to continue providing for themselves and their family, it is inhumane and un-American to take away their liberty to do so.”

Christina Herrin
Director, Free To Choose Medicine
The Heartland Institute


“The concept that we must ‘eradicate’ the coronavirus before reopening the state is a pipe-dream that will inflict economic misery on Illinoisans most in need. Hospitals in Illinois are not at capacity, yet Gov. Pritzker continues to push draconian measures on citizens that restrict their inalienable rights of freedom and liberty.

“Let those who need to work work, and those who choose to stay home do so, but don’t subject the citizens of Illinois to laughably unrealistic standards while destroying their ability to provide for their families.”

Andy Singer
Producer, Heartland Daily Podcast
New Media Manager
The Heartland Institute


S. T. Karnick is a senior fellow and director of publications for The Heartland Institute.
Jim Lakely is the Vice President and Director of Communications of The Heartland Institute. @jlakely
Cameron Sholty is government relations director at The Heartland Institute.
Christina Herrin is a former state government relations manager at The Heartland Institute. @_Free2Choose
Andy Singer the Digital Media Manager at The Heartland Institute. @HeartlandInst
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