Illinois Executive Order grants new legal protections to healthcare workers fighting COVID-19
April 2020

Illinois Executive Order grants new legal protections to healthcare workers 
fighting COVID-19

Across the nation, hospitals, physicians and nurses have responded to the COVID-19 crisis with heroic courage. The pandemic has forced healthcare providers to endanger their own health while making unprecedented decisions regarding patient care. In addition, chronic shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) have required healthcare providers to deviate from the standard of care by reusing PPE in the treatment of multiple patients.

On April 1, 2020, Illinois issued a limited, temporary immunity to protect healthcare providers from medical malpractice claims arising out of patient care delivered in response to COVID-19. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed COVID-19 Executive Order No. 17 to implement the immunity. This executive order grants healthcare workers partial immunity from civil liability for injuries or deaths that occur during the delivery of care in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the executive order does not provide COVID-19 treatment immunity if an injury or death was caused by gross negligence or willful misconduct. 

The governor and those who advocated for this executive order hope it will encourage inactive and out-of-state healthcare workers to return to work in Illinois during the battle against COVID-19. In addition, the executive order recognizes that healthcare providers should not be responsible for deviations from the standard of care caused by the pandemic. 

The following is a summary of key questions and answers about the terms used in the executive order.

What types of healthcare providers are protected by the temporary immunity?


- Healthcare facilities licensed, certified or approved by any state agency and covered by 77 Ill. Admn. Section 1130.215(a)-(f)
  • Ambulatory centers
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Skilled and intermediate care facilities
  • Mental health rehab facilities
  • Kidney disease treatment centers maintained by the state 

- Healthcare facilities covered by 110 ILCS 330

  • University of Illinois Hospital 
- Healthcare facilities covered by 210 ILCS 3/35(2)-(4)
  • Post-surgery recovery centers 
  • Children’s community-based healthcare centers 
  • Community-based residential rehab centers 

- Veterans Affairs medical facilities 

- State operated mental health centers licensed by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 

- Facilities licensed under the Community-Integrated Living Arrangements Licensing and Certification Act

- Mental health centers as defined in the National and Community Services Act of 1990

- Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)

- Government operated sites providing healthcare services established for the purpose of responding to COVID-19 

Healthcare professionals

- Licensed or certified healthcare or emergency medical services workers 

Healthcare volunteers

- All volunteers or medical or nursing students who do not have licensure who are providing services, assistance or support at a healthcare facility in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

How long does immunity last?

- For the remainder of the duration of the gubernatorial disaster proclamation, which currently extends through April 30, 2020. 

Is this a blanket immunity?

- It only applies to facilities and individuals “rendering assistance” in support of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, the immunity does not provide protection for injury or death caused by gross negligence or willful misconduct.

- For healthcare facilities, “rendering assistance” includes:

  • Cancelling or postponing elective surgeries or procedures, as defined in the Department of Public Health’s (DPH) COVID-19 Elective Surgical Procedure Guidance; and
  • Measures such as increasing the number of beds, preserving PPE or taking necessary steps to prepare to treat patients with COVID-19.

- For healthcare professionals, “rendering assistance” means providing healthcare services at a healthcare facility in response to the COVID-19 outbreak or working under the direction of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency or DPH in response to the gubernatorial disaster proclamation. 

- For healthcare volunteers, “rendering assistance” means providing services, assistance or support at a healthcare facility in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, or working under the direction of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency IEMA or DPH in response to the gubernatorial disaster proclamation. 

Gov. Pritzker stated at a press conference on April 7, 2020, that the solution to the COVID-19 crisis “isn’t coming tomorrow or next week or next month.” It is certainly possible that Executive Order No. 17 will be extended beyond April 30.

Client alert authored by: David J. Tecson (312 855 4059), Principal, and Raquel Boton, Law Clerk

The firm acknowledges Chuhak & Tecson law clerk Raquel Boton as co-author of this client alert. Raquel is graduating from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in May 2020 with a juris doctor degree and certificate in Health Law.

This Chuhak & Tecson, P.C. communication is intended only to provide information regarding developments in the law and information of general interest. It is not intended to constitute advice regarding legal problems and should not be relied upon as such.

David J. Tecson


David invites you to contact them and welcome your inquiries.
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