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Viewpoint: It's only a matter of time

By Clark Brooks, Editor & Publisher

I was going to scribble today's editorial yesterday, but I received some unsettling news. The original piece was going to reflect on how I empathized with Illinois State Rep. Darren Bailey, who was granted a temporary restraining order against Governor J.B. Pritzker’s "shelter-in-place" order.

There are a lot of things I miss right now, too. I can't wait for life to return to something resembling the pre-Covid days. If things turn out better, well even better.

Right now, I miss going to the grocery store to pick up fresh vegetables or frozen pizza and a six pack of craft beer. This buying for a week business has got my spending habits out of whack.

I miss playing a vigorous game of tennis. However, while entertaining, my teammates probably don't miss me tossing my tennis racquet against the back fence or slamming it ground in frustration after losing a point.

I miss walking to Black Dog, Bunnies or Courier Cafe in downtown Urbana for a beer and something to eat when I'm feeling too lazy to cook.

I miss my work. I miss covering sporting events for clients and doing postgame interviews with coaches and athletes for Sentinel articles.

In his grand, noble gesture Bailey, who lives in Xenia (pop. 364), told reporters he is only trying to defend residents in his district that are struggling financially because of COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the governor. His goal, he told reporters, was to help get businesses re-open in his district.

I sympathize with that, too. There are people all over the country, not just in Illinois, struggling through stay-at-home orders. I'm one of them. I miss my livelihood, too.

Believing Gov. Pritzker has exceeded his authority and is violating the civil rights of residents by extending the state’s stay-at-home order beyond the 30-day limit, Bailey benefiting from a compassionate bench, is the only resident in the state with TRO relief from the Gov. Pritzker's executive order.

A privilege that he paid $306 in court fees plus attorney fees - probably between another $1,200 to $2,000. That's money he could have maybe loaned or even donated to constituents who might need food to get through the week or help a business with this month's rent. Instead, he spent his hard earn dollars to buy his personal freedom, at least for now temporarily.

There is a growing seed of discontent among residents in the central and southern part of the state. Some 38 days into the social distancing strategy, cabin fever is on an upswing.

Bailey, fanning these flames, reminds me of Dathan, son of Eliab in the Old Testament. Together with his brother Abiram, the Levite Korah and others, Dathan rebelled against Moses and Aaron as they led the Israelites away from Egypt to the Promised Land.

While the majority of the reported cases in the state our in the Chicagoland area followed by border counties on the Illinois side facing St. Louis in second, Clay County, which off the beaten path, with no interstate traffic or tourists attractions of note, has reported just two confirmed cases of the virus since the outbreak.

The coronavirus is a Chicago thing, not a downstate thing.

It will be interesting to see which way the first-term representative steps when the number of cases start to skyrocket in his county. It is only a matter of time.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports nearby Newton, a half hour drive away, has 44 confirmed cases with four virus related deaths. Mt. Vernon, an hour to the south, is reporting nearly twice that amount with 80 cases and 11 lives lost.

While now everything seems peachy in the land of milk and honey around Xenia, but it is only a matter of time before that changes for the 13,850 that live Clay County.

In a farm community about 75 miles north from Bailey's hometown, I have a relative living in an assisted nursing home. The county where it is located currently has five reported cases, two announced this past Sunday and the latest yesterday.

It was in yesterday's phone call when I learned the newest confirmed case is an employee at his care facility. I was told she self-quarantined as soon as she started exhibiting symptoms.

I got my game face on. I am trying not worry about him or the other residents and wonderful staff there. It hard not to when you hear news about the virus in nursing homes like the one over by Springfield in Sherman.

Yes, Mr. Bailey, you should worry. It is only a matter of time.



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