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EDWARDSVILLE, IL – Madison County Board overwhelmingly approved to move forward with their own plans to reopen starting Wednesday in a 26-2 vote.

Criticisms of this action to reopen on their own terms isn’t only coming from the governor’s office, it’s happening locally too.

Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler is clear – his county is not only dealing with a health issue – it’s dealing with an economic issue as well.

“In the last month, we had 15,000 new claims for unemployment,” Prenzler said.

“That’s shocking!”

He admits the last thing he wants to do is get in a tit for tat exchange with Governor J.B. Pritzker.

Still – he believes Madison County should make its only decision on reopening separate from the state even with the governor threatening to cut federal funds.

“That’s very curious his response comes less than 1 hour from our meeting,” the chairman said before the meeting. “I sent him a letter on May 2, very politely requesting that we have the ability to go forward as a county.”

The Board Chairman says he wants to model Missouri’ reopening method with more local control.

So, he and other county leaders joined to draft their own 4 phase reopening plan that defies the order the governor put in place.

“We believe that we can manage this on a county level and do a good job and a responsible job,” the chairman said.

In a sometimes-heated Tuesday meeting, commissioners appear to overwhelmingly agree with the board chairman – voting 26-2 to reopen Madison County.

That means starting on Wednesday, restaurants, bars, gyms, and a laundry list of other facilities are set to reopen immediately with social distancing restrictions in place.

Current numbers show Madison county with 446 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 186 recovered and 33 lives loss.

Madison County Democratic Party is saying this sudden reopening is a misstep, a mistake and could be detrimental all too soon.

“This is a political move,” chairman Randy Harris said. “This isn’t real leadership.”

Harris warns the Madison county’s push to reopen on local authority could put small business owners at risk.

He points out insurance companies may default any claims filed that potentially went against state and federal laws.

“Every state-wide association in Illinois is suggesting to business owners if you open in violation of this order, you will likely now have insurance coverage,” Harris said.

“Well the businesses can make up their own minds and their free to do that,” Prenzler said in response.

Still – Board Chairman Prenzler assures this is the right move and he’s only hopeful the governor will be able to see that as well.

“We believe we are orderly, we believe we are responsible citizens and we can do this in a safe and responsible way,” he said.

The chairman details the guidelines on reopening here.