COVID and You

Pretty ****ing typical American model for governance.

Businesses violate, let them skate. Individuals get sick, indict. Businesses will be able to operate which is great for them since they have no legal consequences. Individuals having a gathering? Not so much. That would violate the state COVID19 guidelines. 

Does State’s Attorney Danley’s policy violate equal protection under the law?

No one wants to go through what we’re going through as a nation, but it is an opportunity to see how public servants prioritize and balance our rights and safety with their responsibilities and actions. 

Unfortunately, lives are on the line as well as a further disintegration of our American values and systems of government. 

We must not only observe but respond. Too many are allowing anger and resentment to guide their reaction and obstruct any new information.

It is understandable for people to have questions and to have real concerns about the virus and about the decisions that are taking place here.

Currently, as a nation, we are struggling to find a proper balance between public health risks and economic consequences, federal and state rights and responsibilities, local and state control, and specifically here in Coles County, business immunity versus individual legal responsibility.

America was already highly polarized heading into this pandemic. It is important that we do not let our fears and anxieties overwhelm our empathy and ability to see another person as a human being. This is especially true when we have profound disagreements.

When criminal lability and viral testing both are involved, the best example that still is in place today, is HIV.


I worked in the HIV/AIDS field in some degree for over 20 years. 

HIV is a completely different kind of virus than COVID19. However, HIV does expose the best and the worst nature in people, just like COVID19 has done in 2020. We have wonderful groups that have contributed their time, efforts, and materials to making PPE for local healthcare clinics, nursing homes and neighbors while we all waited for COVID19 testing to become more available.

Testing is a key in the treatment and prevention of HIV. Once you know your status, you can make different choices that protect yourself, protect others and increase the longevity and quality of your life, regardless of the outcome of the test.

What state’s attorney Jesse Danley has done here is similar to what happened with HIV in the 80s. That mistake still keeps at risk people from being tested and getting treatment for HIV.

Danley’s policy places all the criminal liability on the individual. Workers are not given immunity from prosecution, just their boss.

Having an unelected attorney make policy that impacts both public health and our short and long term economy exposes the lack of leadership on these issues from the White House. 

It is dangerous when public health is predicated on fears and anxieties. That is not a way to best serve the public good. In fact, a number of the laws on the books about HIV are still counterproductive to public health and are predicated on fears and anxieties and the need for someone else to be responsible.

HIV disclosure laws make common sense, but they don’t make psychological sense. 

Disclosure laws actually predispose at risk people to not get tested for HIV so they don’t have to disclose to potential sexual partners and be rejected. Not being tested allows these at risk people to continue about their sexual life without any legal or ethical issues. Meanwhile, they are putting at risk every sexual partner.

The actual science says people who know their HIV status, are on HIV drug treatment and are undetectable don’t transfer the virus to anybody during sex. 

So, does anyone revoke all of the HIV disclosure laws? No, they do not. 

‘It’s not my responsibility. It’s their responsibility.’

People would prefer to live in the dark and blame others later.

What these disclosure laws have done is place all the responsibility, legal and otherwise, on the individual that already has all the weight and all the responsibility for keeping themselves alive in a government and social system that does not work efficiently, effectively and at times appears to be out to be rid of them entirely. 

This allows everyone else to just carry on while people that have to disclose their status also have to absorb the piling on of other people’s fears and anxieties, often which appear as toxic hate and rage. 


Why does any of this matter to COVID19? 

When businesses reopen while COVID19 cases keep increasing, employees have no choice but to go back to work. 

I’m certain the vast majority are very glad to get back to work, but they have no choice or they lose their job.

Under the the Coles County policy, the business has no responsibility for COVID19 only employees do. That is not equal protection under the law.

If an individual comes into that business, that individual has the responsibility. In addition, those employees that potentially could get infected now have the responsibility if they become infected. 

How about the entire household where the employee calls home?

Businesses aren’t taking names and addresses.

But, the legal responsibility only exists if someone knows they have COVID19. So, workers are the only ones to be legally responsible, because no business is going to go after a customer.

It’s not like the customer is going to take any responsibility for coming in a store during this interim period where rogue counties are doing whatever they want and hope no one in the community ever responds in kind to local law enforcement.

This is the most concerning dynamic and precedent and is why SA Danley’s policy is so dangerous. Our local law enforcement already got hit with COVID19 on the chin having been on the front lines interacting with the public.

Why would anyone get a COVID19 test in Coles County now? 

A business owner might try and sue you for their business not becoming successful again because you got sick with COVID19 while working and the public found out about it. 

The employer isn’t responsible any longer. Only the individual has legal responsibility in Coles County. 

And, I’m sure, Danley will say this was not the intent of his policy. The intention behind his policy is clear. Individuals aren’t a priority. 

He claims his policy has no impact on civil liability. Many people know a criminal complaint makes a civil case a slam dunk. 

The workers take all the responsibility. If you don’t show up, you are fired. If you show up sick, infect others, know your status, you’re to blame for the lives of your fellow workers going to hell, and you’re likely fired, or you or your loved ones could die.

There’s literally no plan for the people or the workers, except they’re to blame for anything that happens.

This is just a reactionary policy for folks that are freaking out about COVID19, the shelter in place orders and face mask guidelines.

Yes, these are frustrating and require discipline and patience.

It is not easy being in a position to make policy and implement it.

The most important people to think about right now are the people that are sick. 

What about if a person is sick:

Especially if they don’t have health insurance.

Especially if they have to pay massive co-pays and deductibles for healthcare.

Especially if they don’t know the answers to any of those questions. 

Now, thanks to Mr. Danley, they also have to fear criminal and civil prosecution in the Coles County state’s attorney office if they seek treatment and have COVID19. 

Mr. Danley has proven, yet again, if you’re a business and breaking the law, going against rules and regulations . . . who cares if anyone gets hurt, you can blame it on an employee or someone else. There’s always Madigan, JB, or anyone else but Trump. 

Most people already knew that this is the way our system worked. It’s who you know and how much money you have that matters more. 

This same ideology is why no one went to prison after the financial collapse.

We just had a former National Security Adviser, a convicted liar, someone who had admitted his guilt, have all charges dropped. If that is not clear evidence that our system protects those at the top and is not for workers and individuals and folks with no influence, I don’t know what is.

We have people in these positions that might be doing their best but are so beholden to something or someone else that they are breaking their bond to place the people and the public good above all else. 

When you look at Congress and the White House, they aren’t doing any better. 

People might ask, who am I to talk? I’m not a perfect person by any shot. My own PTSD has been extreme for months. 

Yeah, that doesn’t negate one fact, one logical argument nor American value, principle or truth that I’ve said. 

And, Danley has a tough job. Putting away murderers is something I’ve helped to do. It is not easy work. 

The police are only doing as they are directed and trained. They have the toughest job during COVID19, and the testing proves it. Every moment they are out serving and protecting the public, they are opening themselves, their families and their households up to COVID19 infection.

Danley also has an election coming up. He has wealthier and more well connected members of our community and every person they can get to harass and pressure him to go against the public health executive orders of Governor JB Pritzker. 

There are people that have a political agenda that are likely pushing him in many directions. When folks attempted to push me in one direction or another, my mentality was simple. No, I’m focused on listening to people, gathering all the facts, information, history and background, and then, decide where to set the vector. 

That is the fundamental issue here. What is the vector, the direction with force, that Danley and others are signaling here?

The entire country is experiencing something they’ve never experienced before. It’s a lot of stress, it’s a lot of intense emotions, and as a public official or anyone, we all have to make choices and live with the consequences . . . not just for ourselves but for others. 

Even if you’re not doing anything different, you know you’re not doing anything different. That in itself alters your brain neurochemistry and your thought process. 

And, regardless of whether we agree with JB, Trump or not, we’re in this together. Your choices impact my life. My choices impact yours. We can deny that. Our government did for two months, and we’re living with the consequences.

It’s a policy like Danley’s that furthers an ideological pattern that separates out businesses and corporations from individuals, making those entities a special class above people. Does that not trouble anyone? 

The people get screwed while businesses and corporations screw us. They get a golden parachute and get to do it all over again with millions of taxpayer money. 

That certainly is the way this ideology has framed their approach.  

Why pit business versus the working class?

Those that push this ideology have been at this for my entire life. It has led to wages stalled out at the bottom. It has led to working people pitted against one another. It has led to working people pitted against those that barely survive. 

Where are the beneficial results for any of those groups of people that is in any single metric comparable to the wealthy and established? 

It doesn’t exist.

I’m just shellshocked that public servants cannot breathe new life into public service at a time that America needs it most. 

We are blessed to be in this country. There is so much to be thankful for in every single day. 

The struggle is very tangible and is staring many of us directly in the face, and we all see something different when we stare in its face.

The way we perceive differently is America’s greatest strength. We need to harness our capacity to adapt and innovate, not return to what wasn’t working before. 

It is vital that America, starting with our community, begin seeing each other and correcting these mistakes that we’ve already made before. 

That is what I urge Danley and us all to do. Thank you. 

A Lot of Work Left to Be Done

It is clear the voters will have the first woman Representative to Congress in Southern Illinois come 2021. I congratulate Erika Weaver on a hard fought campaign to win the Democratic nomination for the 15th Congressional District. As I’ve expressed to her personally, I will provide any advice, expertise or personal effort that I can to help to make this a Democratic Party victory in November. 

There is a lot of work to be done throughout the 15th District, and I am dedicated to push forward our efforts to reform government, programs and policies that promote our economy, our communities and our people. 

As we trudge through this ongoing and unfolding coronavirus pandemic and response, you can make certain that we will continue to provide leadership on our priorities of healthcare, education and an economy that works for everyone. 

Now, more than ever, we must rely on facts, science and each other, holding elected officials and candidates accountable for their actions, for their words and for the consequences from what they’ve both said and done. 

We’re in this together. However, we must not be silent when confronted with facts and bad faith. 

I certainly won’t be. 

Thank you for your vote, for your support and your strength that keeps our district, our communities and our country alive. 

Rep. Shimkus is Retiring

Rep. John Shimkus is retiring. Many good wishes to him and his family.

Rep. Shimkus reached the same decision as many other Republicans have been making.

Ask most farmers, they’re over President Trump’s Trade and Tariff War.

Ask businesses, both small and large, the growing uncertainty in the Trump economy is making life more difficult.

Ask working families, they’ve not received much if any of the benefits of the Trump-Republican massive tax cuts that have created historic Trillion Dollar Deficits.

It would be difficult for anyone to defend let alone to fight to prolong these failing economic policies for our rural communities.

After Labor Day, I’ll be making an announcement as to our plan and strategy for raising up the 15th District.

Have a safe and wonderful Labor Day Weekend!