On October 19, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health placed new regional restrictions on Region 5 beginning Thursday, October 22.
State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg), who represents several counties in region 5, voiced his concerns for these mitigations and stressed the need to continue promoting public safety.
“We want to do everything in our power to prevent further spread of COVID-19," said Sen. Fowler. "But we have to recognize that Southern Illinois is not like the rest of the state, and this blanket mitigation approach raises serious concerns for many in our region."
Sen. Fowler notes that there is a serious disparity in testing availability in rural areas, potentially skewing the data being used in Region 5.
“As of now, testing is not as widely available throughout the region as it is in more densely populated areas. So, it follows that Region 5, which has several rural areas, will have a higher number of positive tests,” said Sen. Fowler. “Before we decide to pull the region backwards, I want to ensure testing is easily accessible and our positivity rate isn’t unfairly biased.”
Sen. Fowler notes that efforts are being undertaken to improve access in Southern Illinois, with several mobile testing sites opening throughout the region. However, he cautions that while this is a step in the right direction, no immediate action should be taken to shutdown Region 5.
Region 5 consists of Alexander, Bond, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, Edwards, Fayette, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Massac, Monroe, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, St Clair, Saline, Union, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, White, Williamson counties.