The COVID-19 pandemic impacts every one of us, across Illinois and the entire United State. Beyond the anxiety about the health and well-being of ourselves and our family and friends, the pandemic creates anxiety and hardship for millions. This hardship creates special, urgent issues for the most vulnerable in our state, including those who are detained in prison, jail or immigration detention, communities of color and children under the care of DCFS. 

Throughout this time, all actions (and restrictions) instituted by government actions should be based in science and public health, not politics or ideology. This public health approach is especially critical in the instances where they impact the most vulnerable, especially those susceptible to exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.  


    As Illinois prepares for distribution of limited supplies of COVID-19 vaccine, the manner in which particular groups of individuals are given priority access to vaccination must recognize and protect the rights and civil liberties of Illinois’ citizens. The ACLU of Illinois developed a list of specific requests for refinements to Illinois’ current Plan for vaccine distribution to assure it is carried out in an equitable and efficient manner.


    The COVID-19 pandemic raises concerns on bias in the provision of care in hospitals, especially bias against persons with physical and mental disabilities. 


    The economic hardships caused by the pandemic falls must heavily on those experiencing poverty and homelessness. Government should take steps to alleviate fines, fees and other actions that affect these people do not add to hardships during this moment. 


    Immigrants and newcomers detained in local jails in our state, especially those with pre-existing conditions that make them susceptible to COVID-19, should be released consistent with public health guidelines.  


    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, law enforcement authorities across Illinois have sought to pierce the shield of privacy around personal medical information, asking for lists of the address and names of all person who have tested positive for the virus. Public health experts agree that these lists will give law enforcement a false sense of security, because of the large number of people who have not been tested and the fact that people who are asymptomatic often are the most contagious. These experts also argue that the release of test results will discourage many from seeking the testing and treatment that is crucial to ending the pandemic. We have taken action in a number of counties across the state.


    Illinois was previously under a “shelter in place” order. Enforcement of these orders must not include unreasonable or discriminatory enforcement, must not set an unnecessary curfew and should remain in force only as long as is required to advance public health.


    Those people detained – whether before trial in county jails, Illinois prisons or juvenile facilities –are vulnerable to COVID-19. Already there have been dangerous outbreaks in these institutions, owing largely to the crowded and often unsanitary conditions. Conditions in many jails and prisons – in the best of times – make them a dangerous place to house people; this is especially true during a pandemic.  


    The Government is actively seeking innovative and effective ways to help decrease the spread of COVID-19.  Among the tools being considered are methods of contact tracing, which work backwards from someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus infection to identify others who may have been exposed. Governor Pritzker is among a growing list of government officials investing in contact tracing methods.  Although these methods can be effective in decreasing the spread of disease, they also risk infringing upon our privacy rights. We've identified principles and best practices to ensure that any contact tracing system rolled out in IL is privacy-protective.


    Abortion care is essential and should not be can be accessed despite the growing number of "shelter in place" directives. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker recognized this reality by including reproductive health care explicitly in his stay home order. 

    Find out more about the work of the ACLU across the country on COVID-19 issues