Pritzker’s latest mask mandate bolsters legal challenge, attorney says | News

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The attorney suing the governor over his COVID-19 orders for youth sports says his announcement of masks for indoor youth sports bolsters the legal challenge.


Attorney Laura Grochocki said parents sued over equal protections violations because the governor’s actions against youth sports last year harmed their children.


“Hospitalizations due to depression, mental health issues, bulimia, kids now having bulimia and then thousands of kids who have lost the opportunity to go to college over the loss of their sports scholarships,” Grochocki told WMAY.


Grochocki said the negative effects on children are worse than she could have imagined, including one client’s son who committed suicide.


The governor has said high schools don’t have the resources to test and track COVID-19 like college and sports teams do. Grochocki doesn’t buy that argument.


“There are colleges that are very tiny, and then there are colleges that have enormous resources,” she said. “The other issue is are they using those resources. Yes, maybe they even have them, but what are they doing with them. There’s no regulation.”


After rounds of court filings, a judge denied the governor’s motion to dismiss was denied. Grochocki now expects troves of internal communications from the Pritzker administration in the discovery process. That would include email communication to and from the governor, his staff, college teams, school administrators and beyond.


Grochocki expects the discovery documents to be revealing for her case, but also for other challenges to the governor’s executive orders. Earlier this year, attorneys for Geneva restaurant FoxFire won discovery in their challenge to the governor’s indoor dining prohibitions. That case is still pending.


While he didn’t prohibit sports this week, the governor did implement new regulations when announcing mask mandates for K-12 schools.


“Face coverings will be required for all indoor recreation, whereas outdoor, where transmission risks and rates are lower, athletes and coaches will not be required to mask,” Pritzker said.


The Illinois High School Association said the “mask directive for indoor athletic events applies to student-athletes, coaches, officials, game personnel, and fans.”


“Swimmers and divers do not have to wear masks while competing, but must adhere at all other times,” IHSA said in a statement. “The masking directive also applies to any winter or spring IHSA sports that may be conducting open gyms, general conditioning, or weightlifting indoors.”


There are no restrictions to scheduling or spectators limitations.


And while the governor’s attorneys had said the case challenging his orders from last year was moot because there were no longer such restrictions, Grochocki said the governor’s new mask mandate on schools and youth sports this week shows it’s not moot.


“It’s like, see, this is what we’re talking about, your honor,’” Grochocki said. “The restrictions are not fair. We’re applying to some people and not others.”


Grochocki said the case is about equal protection violations by unilaterally imposing regulations on youth sports while not requiring college or pro sports to do the same things.