(The Center Square) – An Illinois lawmaker says he is frustrated with a lack of transparency from state health officials on COVID-19 cases among children.
State Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, said he asked the Illinois Department of Public Health for the number of cases and hospitalizations of children with COVID-19, but can’t get an answer. He says the data will help school officials know the real level of mitigation in school settings and the data could either confirm or refute the need for mandates by the governor, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Illinois State Board of Education.
“This refusal to provide transparency to parents and school boards is unacceptable and the taxpayers of Illinois deserve to know the facts,” Niemerg said.
Niemerg said Gov. J.B. Pritzker is overstepping his bounds with a school mask mandate.
“When it comes to having local control, the governor unbelievable totalitarian executive orders has just had complete control of our state and quite frankly unacceptable,” Niemerg said.
Illinois schools that are not following the Illinois State Board of Education’s mask requirements that all students and staff must wear a face covering inside schools are now on probation. ISBE has placed a total of 34 school districts on probation so far, but some schools have taken steps to reverse their mask policy in order to be taken off the list.
ISBE officials stated schools that fail to address deficiencies and submit a corrective plan could face nonrecognition, meaning a total loss of access to state funding and the loss of the school’s ability to engage in any state sanctioned athletic competitions.
“Those schools that are not following the mask requirements for their children are of course endangering their children, they’re also endangering the people who work in the school,” Pritzker said.
Niemerg said he believes the state has an ulterior motive with the school mask mandate.
“When it comes to the IDPH and the ISBE, they are trying to force more people to get vaccinated and they’re using our children as political hostages to reach that particular goal,” Niemerg said.
In the latest report from IDPH, there were 24,682 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus in Illinois, including 126 additional deaths since reporting last Aug. 13, 2021. No age breakdown was provided.
The last available data available on July 1 showed 78 children under the age of 18 were hospitalized with COVID-19.