CAPITOL RECAP: Pritzker tests positive for COVID-19

CAPITOL RECAP: Pritzker tests positive for COVID-19

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker has tested positive for COVID-19 and is isolating at home, his office announced Tuesday, three days after he spoke at a gathering of Democrats in Tampa, Florida.

Pritzker’s press office said he is experiencing mild symptoms and has received the anti-viral medication Paxlovid, a drug that received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December for individuals at high risk to the effects of COVID-19.

The drug, according to clinical trials, reduced by 89 percent the risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19. It is manufactured by Pfizer.

Pritzker is also vaccinated against the virus and has received two booster shots, according to his office.

The governor tested positive during “routine” testing after he arrived home from Florida having had several close contacts with other COVID-19-positive individuals at the gathering of Democrats.

Pritzker’s office said he will work from home and follow the current U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which call for at least five days of isolation after the positive COVID-19 test, regardless of vaccination status.

“He urges all Illinoisans to continue following CDC guidance, utilize anti-viral treatments, and get all available boosters,” his office said in a statement.

* * *

CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER: The Illinois State Police announced Monday, July 21, they will start using a broader definition of what constitutes a “clear and present danger” when reviewing a person’s Firearm Owners Identification card.

That’s a factor ISP considers when deciding whether to grant someone a FOID card or to revoke or suspend a card that has already been issued.

The change is meant to address gaps in the process that were identified in the wake of the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park. The alleged shooter in that case had been the subject of a clear and present danger investigation, but under standards used at that time, ISP determined there was insufficient evidence to support such a determination.

Under current law, known as the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act, ISP can deny a FOID card application or suspend or revoke an existing card for any person deemed to be a clear and present danger of harming themselves or someone else.

Under that statute, a physician, clinical psychologist or other qualified examiner can classify someone as a clear and present danger if he or she “communicates a serious threat of physical violence against a reasonably identifiable victim or poses a clear and imminent risk of serious physical injury to himself, herself, or another person.”

A person can also be classified as a clear and present danger if they demonstrate “threatening physical or verbal behavior such as violent, suicidal, or assaultive threats, actions or other behavior, as determined by a physician, clinical psychologist, qualified examiner, school administrator, or law enforcement official.”

That law requires physicians, clinical psychologists, law enforcement officers and school administrators to promptly report any such behavior to ISP.

In 2013, however, ISP filed administrative rules that provide a stricter, more limiting definition. Those rules defined a clear and present danger as someone who poses “an actual, impending, or imminent threat of substantial bodily harm to themselves or another person that is articulable and significant or who will be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety or contrary to the public interest if they were granted access to a weapon.”

ISP said the new rules announced Monday will revert to the original, statutory definition, allowing them to consider a broader range of information when determining whether someone poses a clear and present danger.

The 2013 rule also prohibited ISP from maintaining report records of people who are not determined to be a clear and present danger. The new rules would require ISP to maintain those records.

ISP adopted the new definitions through what are known as “emergency rules.” That’s allowed under state law when an agency determines it needs to take swift action to protect public interest, safety or welfare. But those rules are still subject to review by the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, or JCAR, whose next scheduled meeting is Aug. 17.

ISP said it also plans to submit the changes to JCAR in the form of permanent rules through the regular rulemaking process as well.

* * *

PRITZKER APPROVAL: A new poll from the firm Morning Consult showed Gov. JB Pritzker’s approval rating at 51 percent among Illinois voters, or seven points “above water” in polling lingo.

It’s the latest quarterly poll from the firm, and data included 14,258 registered voters polled from April 1 through June 30.

While it’s a truism of polling that any poll is just a “snapshot in time,” Pritzker’s numbers have been remarkably consistent in the Morning Consult measurements since January 2021. His approval has ranged from 50 to 51 percent while disapproval ranged from 43 to 44 percent.

President Joe Biden’s approval rating in Illinois as measured by the same firm, however, is an example of how quickly public sentiment can change.

Morning Consult distributed the polling results under the headline “Democratic Governors Facing Re-Election Are Resisting Biden’s Drag Effect.” The firm measured Biden’s approval at 47 percent in Illinois while disapproval measured at 50 percent.

It was a major drop from one year prior for Biden, who logged a healthy 58-38 approval-disapproval rating in Illinois for the quarter ending in June 2021.

The discrepancies between the approval ratings of Biden and Democratic governors help explain the level of intrigue in national news outlets regarding Biden potentially being replaced atop the Democratic ticket in the 2024 election cycle.

Pritzker’s name – along with California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who had a 53-40 approval split according to the poll – has been floated time and again in that conversation. Many news outlets, including Capitol News Illinois, have asked him about his plans should Democrats seek a new presidential candidate next time around.

He hasn’t directly denied an interest in a presidential run, but he told me at the end of June that Illinois remains his focus

The intrigue has also been largely stoked by the governor’s recent speaking engagements.

In June he spoke at a gathering of Democrats in New Hampshire, normally one of the country’s first states to hold a primary, and last weekend he spoke at Florida Democrats’ Leadership Blue gala.

State Sen. Darren Bailey, the Xenia farmer who gained the GOP nomination and has vowed not to be outworked in the race for governor, saw Pritzker’s recent East Coast trip as a line of attack.

“Gov. JB Pritzker spent the weekend hobnobbing in Florida with wealthy liberals and fueling his presidential ambitions,” Bailey’s campaign said in a Monday news release. “Meanwhile in Illinois, rampant crime continued unabated. Seven people were killed over the weekend in Chicago, and eight carjackings terrorized Chicago neighborhoods in the span of just one hour.”

* * *

CAMPAIGN FUNDING: Bailey’s battle will be uphill on the fundraising front as he looks to knock off the incumbent, who is partial heir of the Hyatt hotel fortune and has a net worth of $3-4 billion.

Gov. JB Pritzker’s campaign fund had $60.8 million cash on hand as of June 30, while Bailey’s campaign fund had just $363,918. Pritzker’s campaign spent $27 million from April to June, while Bailey’s camp spent $9.2 million.

Bailey’s main financial backer has been Richard Uihlein, founder of the shipping supply company Uline, having donated $9 million to the candidate and $8 million to other political action committees working on Bailey’s behalf during the primary. Uihlein gave another $5 million to the pro-Bailey People Who Play By the Rule PAC on July 6.

Irvin’s campaign ended June with $763,515 cash on hand, having spent $40.5 million.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government that is distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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