Coronavirus: Defiant Lawmaker Unrepentant, Equates COVID With Flu

WBBM Newsradio Staff
May 26, 2020 - 8:11 pm
Rep Darren Bailey

Rep. Darren Bailey meets with fellow House members Wednesday in Springfield. (Ted Schurter/Springfield Journal-Register)

(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Illinois state Rep. Darren Bailey — the poster legislator for defiance against Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order and requirements that people wear masks in public — vented this week about the way he says state government has mismanaged the pandemic.

In an interview for the WBBM In Depth podcast, the Republican from Xenia in Southern Illinois doesn’t sound convinced that the novel coronavirus is the threat that it’s made out to be.  

He does agree there is a virus. “I believe there’s a flu, there’s something out there,” he tells WBBM Newsradio’s Rob Hart. 

But he says he’s skeptical about the statistics provided by state and federal health authorities, especially weighed against the economic damage that has occurred. He even accuses the Pritzker administration of trying to goose the numbers upward, based on his own experiences hearing from relatives of the few people that reportedly have died of COVID-19 in his region. 

“I’ve had family reach out to me and just let me know their loved one did not die of COVID. They were suffering well before with something else,” Bailey says.

Health officials have said COVID-19 can contribute to a person’s death, and people with underlying health factors are considered most at-risk of dying. 

Bailey has received a level of attention — or notoriety — for legally challenging Democrat Pritzker’s extended stay-at-home order. He had a measure of success, too, when a state judge ruled that he, Bailey, does not have to observe the mandate. 

The lawmaker was in the news last week when Illinois House colleagues ejected him from their makeshift chamber in Springfield for refusing to wear a mask. He said he has no hard feelings, he’s just being honest about the way he feels. 

He says if he were governor, he would have allowed county governments to monitor outbreaks and report to the state’s health agency — in effect, letting local officials call the shots and decide whether businesses can remain open. 

“This is much like what we hear about stories of the Vietnam War being controlled from Washington. That’s what’s happening here in Illinois. The governor sets up in Chicago. He has no idea what’s going on downstate,” Bailey said.