Washington Times columnist Cheryl K. Chumley is biking the battleground states as part of an ongoing series, visiting 14 states in 14 days to hear what real Americans think of the 2020 election. All of her interviews may be found HERE.
ROCK FALLS, ILLINOIS — Dr. Richard Bartlett, a medical practitioner for decades who’s served on Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s healthcare task force, just met with the governor of Tennessee to relay a COVID-19 message that went like this: We don’t have to be afraid anymore.
Shortly after, Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, announced: “I want the economy to move forward.” And he dropped all statewide coronavirus restrictions on businesses in the state.
Contrast that with Illinois.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, just ordered a new wave of restrictions on bars and restaurants in certain counties. In certain Region 1 counties — meaning, Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago.
Why only some and not others?
The governor’s office would point to rising coronavirus cases in some counties and not others. The governor’s office would cite safety and health security and concerns about citizens and COVID-19.
But here’s an interesting factoid: These are counties that vote Republican.
Lee residents voted in 2018 for Republican Bruce Rauner over J.B. Pritzker 48% to 40%. Ogle went for Rauner 54% versus 34% for Pritzker. Carroll voted Rauner 62% over Pritzker, at 30%. And in Whiteside, it was 48% to 44%, Rauner-to-Pritzker.
And so are local Rock Falls residents. They’re just wonderin’.
“I think it is politics,” said Jane Sutton, owner of the Jane’s Place bar and restaurant, at 110 W. Second St.
She’s not alone in that.
General consensus is it’s time to relax restrictions and reopen — or, at the very least, quit targeting certain groups, businesses and organizations for coronavirus clamp-downs while turning blind eyes to others.
Seems scientific, too.
“I basically presented good news [to Tennessee officials] that we’re not helpless or hopeless any more,” said Bartlett, in a telephone interview to explain how he helped convince the governor to reopen. “The case fatality rates is dropping, hospitality rate has dropped and there are things that can be done, such as early therapies, that are making a difference.”
Those are the facts versus fears, he said.
Now if only leaders with all the political parties would listen.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.