Apr 17, 2020

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Press Conference Transcript April 17

J.B. Pritzker Illinois Briefing April 17
RevBlogTranscriptsPolitical TranscriptsIllinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Press Conference Transcript April 17

Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois held a coronavirus press briefing today, April 17. Pritzker announced that Illinois schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year. Full transcript here.

 

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J. B. Pritzker: (00:06)
Well, good afternoon everyone. IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike and I are joined today by the Illinois State Board of Education superintendent, Dr. Carmen Ayala, as well as the superintendent of Community Consolidated Schools district 168 in Sauk village and ISBE vice chairman, Dr Donna Leak. As indicated by the lineup of today’s guests, our conversation today of course centers around our schools. Up until March 17th, your average school day saw 2 million students gathered in large groups and school districts all across Illinois. That’s 2 million young people who would meet up with their friends in the classrooms and hallways during lunch, at sports practices and for extracurriculars and then go home to their families, to their guardians or whoever else that they may see when they go home and go wherever it is that they go next. Until the next morning, of course, when they do it all over again.

J. B. Pritzker: (01:15)
That routine is a source of joy for so many, but it also opens up a nearly limitless opportunity for potential COVID-19 infection in a time when our healthcare workers, our researchers, our scientists and our first responders need us to bend the curve downward. Folks, I’ve said time and time again, my decisions are hard ones, but they will follow the science and the science says our students can’t go back to their normal routine. Therefore, I am suspending in-person learning in schools for the remainder of the 2019/2020 school year. We know that there are many school districts with unique challenges and we will work with them on any issues that may arise. I know that many have felt that this was inevitable, but trust me when I say this was not a decision that I made lightly. The importance of our schools and our in-person school days is not just a question of tradition and sentimentality, as essential as those things are.

J. B. Pritzker: (02:22)
The shutting of in-person classroom time also risks a drop in instructional time, an extended window in which students can potentially experience summer learning loss and an educational landscape in which some districts have more experience with remote learning than others. These challenges weighed heavily on me as we came to this decision, but my priority remains unchanged. How do we save the most lives during this very difficult time? The answer to that question leaves us with only one path forward. Over the last month, Illinois schools have stepped up and faced the many challenges of COVID-19 with generosity and creativity and a resolute focus on caring for students and parents and communities. And I’m confident that our schools will manage and expand the learning opportunities for all of our children who will be working from home over the coming weeks.

J. B. Pritzker: (03:25)
Why am I so confident in that? Well, because school districts of every makeup across the state have been hard at work doing just that for the last month already. Like in Dallas city, a Mississippi river school district on the border with Iowa where more than half of the students have sporadic internet access or none at all. Dr. Michelle Lee, superintendent of Dallas City Elementary School District and LaHarpe Elementary School District has teamed up with the transportation director, bus drivers and maintenance staff to personally deliver paper packets of instructional materials to Dallas City students. Not only that, but on their route they’re delivering meals to not just their young students but also to older students in the area high school district, homeschooled students and younger siblings. And Dr. Lee has teamed up with a local community organization to ensure that meals keep flowing on the weekends too. About 40 miles Southeast of Dallas city and 40 miles Northeast of Quincy, Superintendent Todd Fox has developed his own creative approach to supporting the Southeastern Community Unit school district where 65% of students are low income and nearly half of families lack reliable internet. Superintendent Fox is operating with paper packets as the base of their remote learning system, so no students are left behind or left alone. Teachers log all of their communications with students and parents in an effort to support their social-emotional health and cognitive development and submit their logs to the principals each week. In the words of superintendent Fox, “We’re making connections to ensure our children are not stuck at home, but rather they’re safe at home.” South of Metro East Red Bud Community Unit school district superintendent Jonathan Tolman has worked with local internet providers to expand free service to families in need. Handing out devices to students without equipment of their own. Red Bud honored its graduating seniors on social media and offered area parents the opportunity to hear directly from Red Bud administrators on Facebook live.

J. B. Pritzker: (05:49)
And in Macoupin county’s Staunton Community Unit school district south of Springfield, superintendent Dan Cox has developed a learning plan for his P12 student body that combines Google Classroom tools with offline continued learning kits, making the most of technology without being reliant on technology. Be assured, Illinois students are in good hands. Our teachers and our administrators are doing what they do best. They’re stepping up to ensure that every child in this state receives the education that they deserve. Remote learning looks different in each of our communities and that’s encouraged. Personalization in education is a very good thing. Some rely on paper and pencil methods more than digital and vice versa, some rely on digital more than paper and pencil. Schools should be checking in with students every day. That can be done by logging onto an online system or by calling or by emailing. Those check-ins are not just about attendance. They help support our students through this difficult time.

J. B. Pritzker: (07:01)
And to begin the work of preparing our classrooms for students’ eventual return, I will be signing an executive order to modify licensing requirements for future educators who are nearly finished with their studies, like our student teachers, to ensure that this situation does not impact schools’ ability to hire the qualified teachers that they need when students come back. There is $569 million to support our K- 12 schools from the federal CARES Act in response to COVID-19. Dollars that can help equip students with technology and internet access to enhance remote learning, support teachers in developing their remote instruction skills and assist schools in continuing to provide meals to children and communities. Public school districts will receive a portion of this funding proportional to the number of low income students that they serve and ISBE will direct the remaining funds towards supporting our districts that need those resources most.

J. B. Pritzker: (08:06)
My office and the Illinois State Board of Education is recommending that any grades given during this pandemic reflect the unprecedented circumstances in which students are attempting to continue their studies. That is, grades should deliver feedback and not be used as a tool for compliance. COVID-19 is forcing far too many of our students to deal firsthand with concepts that even adults find nerve wracking. Let’s recognize that and be supportive of all of our students. Before I turn it over to Dr. Ezike, I want to offer a few thoughts to some of the people impacted by this decision. To the teachers who feel like they didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to their students, my heart is with you. Know that your efforts reach your classrooms through new creative ways and that that means the world to your students and to me. To the special education instructors who might be facing particular challenges in making meaningful remote connections with their kids, I know you’re working to build a unique response to a unique situation and I’m so grateful for that. We must continue to reach all of our students in any way that we can.

J. B. Pritzker: (09:27)
To the administrators who have dedicated themselves to transforming their districts overnight and doing everything that it takes to implement low remote learning, whatever it looks like in your community, thank you. Every minute of instructional time that you can keep running will make a real difference for our children. To the parents who find themselves experiencing a whirl of emotions because of this pandemic, along with some extra stress with your kids at home all day, I promise you you will get through this. And I want to remind everyone of our call for calm emotional support line, a freeway to anonymously connect with a caring counselor at a local community health center, mental health center. You can text, talk or hablar to 552020. Text talk or in Spanish, hablar to 552022. To our high school seniors who are leaving this phase of their teen years behind in a way that they never expected, I know you’re feeling sad about missing the rituals of senior prom and senior pranks, senior nights and of course graduation. Hear it from me as your governor, there’s room for you to feel all those things big and small. You will get through this too. You will talk about this for the rest of your lives and you will go on to do amazing things. I am very proud of you.

J. B. Pritzker: (11:05)
And to children of all ages, this is a very strange moment that you’re living in. Your parents and I didn’t experience something like this when we were kids, but I can tell you for sure that the hard things we did live through, we learned from, and you’re going to learn from this. You’re going to see what it looks like when the world comes together, what it looks like to put your faith in science and research and the teams of people here in Illinois and beyond who are working on treatments and vaccines to save lives. We will get to the other side of this and that other side will be a place that appreciates the best of the before but with a greater sense of compassion and connection. And the best part is that you are going to be the ones guiding us forward. All of you with your creativity, your passion and your care for others are going to shape our future. Let me be the first to say I can’t wait to see all that you will accomplish. So now, I’d like to bring up Dr. Ezike for today’s medical update. Doctor?

Dr. Ezike: (12:17)
Thank you, governor. Thank you for your announcement and thank you for that heartfelt message to the students who are impacted as well. As a mother of a graduating senior, I’m sure my son heard you. Thank you. With today’s announcement, I imagine parents and students might be missing their teachers and friends just a little bit more. However, I know that learning will continue to take place, but it will happen via e-learning at home. The science does show that social distancing works and I hope people remember this and take it to heart. We won’t abandon all the good that we’ve done. Today, unfortunately I announce our largest number of new cases in a single day at 1,842 new cases and 62 additional lives lost to COVID-19. That brings our state wide total to 27,575 COVID cases and unfortunately 1,134 lives lost.

Dr. Ezike: (13:21)
I applaud governor Pritzker for his decision making. He never shies away from making difficult decisions that benefit us all. Every action he takes is thoroughly thought of with the people of Illinois in mind, and we thank him for his courage. Please, for people who are experiencing illness and want to get testing, I do want to alert that we do have increased testing capacity. Go to dph.illinois.gov/COVID-19 to find sites where you can get tested. Please continue to stay home, continue washing your hands, wear a mask if you must leave. Everyone’s effort is appreciate-

Dr. Ezike: (14:03)
… mask, if you must leave, everyone’s effort is appreciated. It’s noticed. Your efforts have shown that they can flatten the curve. I’m so proud to be in this state and see how we have responded to this pandemic. We’ll continue fighting together. We’re all in Illinois and with that, I will translate my comments into Spanish. [Spanish language 00:14:24]. With that I will turn it over to Dr. Carmen Ayala, superintendent of the school board of education.

Dr. Carmen Ayala: (16:04)
Thank you Dr. Ezike and thank you governor, especially for your courageous leadership today and throughout this crisis. We know that these are not easy decisions to make. [Spanish language 00:02:16]. Our school buildings may be closed, but the hearts and the minds of our teachers and students are wide open. Since the suspension of in-person instruction, when it began on March 17th, Illinois schools statewide have risen to the challenge of holistically serving students in new and in different ways. Decatur Public Schools, for example, has partnered with local radio stations to provide stories and lessons on the air. Vienna High Schools has parked it school buses equipped with WiFi hotspots in strategic locations throughout Johnson County to boost internet connectivity for students at home. The Northwest Suburban Special Education Organization has prerecorded videos using American sign language to read in sign stories to students with disabilities. This pandemic has altered the fabric of how we teach, how we learn, and how we connect, but it has not shaken the core of what our schools do. That is to take care of Illinois children and prepare them for what is next.

Dr. Carmen Ayala: (17:38)
Our schools focus on social and emotional skills like resiliency, empathy, and adaptability for this very reason. So when the unpredictable events in life knock us down, we have the strength and the mindset to get back up. Many of Illinois families are undergoing tremendous hardship and we are committed to doing everything that we can so that schools can continue to serve as conduits, to food, technology, and resources, not just to students, but to their families, to the elderly, and to entire communities. Marquardt District 15 comes to mind. It’s an elementary district West of Chicago, and we talk about the importance of making connections with our children every day. In Marquardt a social worker made a connection to a family to discover that in that family they had a half a loaf of bread left. With a mother that had no resources, no transportation, five children that she was trying to also educate.

Dr. Carmen Ayala: (18:49)
Because of this contact with the social worker, the Marquardt District was able to deliver five days worth of meals and milk for this family. That’s how important the daily contact is. Taking attendance, which really means making contact with each and every student every day is more important now than ever. This regular engagement helps teachers gauge their students’ needs, their academic, social, emotional, and technological needs. Many families also do not have sufficient access to computers or internet at home and we’re going to tackle this digital divide head-on as part of a strategic effort that will extend beyond the end of this pandemic. We will use the Illinois State Board of Education’s federal cares act dollars to increase access to technology and devices in our least resource districts. We encourage school districts to use their CARES Act funding allocations for this purpose as well.

Dr. Carmen Ayala: (19:54)
Closing the digital divide will be pivotal and fulfilling the agency’s new post pandemic strategic plan. But no matter how students are currently engaging with their schools, the Illinois State Board of Education does not expect families to try replicating their students’ usual school experiences at home. We have published guidelines for how much time children should focus on purely academic work and it ranges from as little as 30 minutes for our kindergartners to somewhere between two to five hours for our high school students. These recommendations are available on our website, isb.net/covid`19 and they are available in English, Spanish, Polish, and Arabic. Will students return to school totally caught up? We’re not expecting them to. The Illinois State Board of Education will be releasing transition guidance to help schools address learning loss and students’ social emotional needs when they return to the classrooms, whenever that is safe to do so. In addition to the call for calm tech support line, our agency website also has a page dedicated to mental health resources with guides for how to talk to children about this public health crisis and other resources. It’s at isbe.net/mentalhealth. All our efforts are geared toward meeting our students where they are and giving them the tools and the supports they need for success. These efforts will not end even when the pandemic ends. [Spanish language 00:07: 36]. I would like to introduce Dr. Donna Leak, vice chair of the Illinois State Board of Education who is with us today as a current district superintendent.

Dr. Donna Leak: (25:21)
Thank you Dr. Ayala and thank you to governor Pritzker for your leadership. It is an honor to be here today to represent the students, families, teachers, staff, administrators and board members that make up community consolidated schools district 168 and Sauk Village Illinois. I am proud like so many other superintendents of each and every staff member and student who stepped up during this global pandemic. Community engagement has been key to the success of remote learning days in our district. I was absolutely blown away by the number of community members that participated in our Facebook live community coffee that I recently hosted. Through this connection, I learned more about the fact that our families in our community needed additional social and emotional support. Our team put our heads together and developed a variety of opportunities to care for our community during this unprecedented time.

Dr. Donna Leak: (26:20)
Students, families, they’re experiencing loss and grief right now. Their lives have been completely up ended and schools are valuable resource to help our families and students cope with this sudden transition to the unknown. In our district, our teachers are hosting virtual community circles each morning in order to allow their students support and social emotional needs. In addition to continuity and education, our social workers and our counselors are available for students and their families to reach out for assistance at any time. We’ve had more than 400 of our students participate in a virtual lunch just to talk about what’s going on.

Dr. Donna Leak: (27:05)
We’re supporting student learning, utilizing technology, and when needed paper packets, in particular individualized instruction for those who need it most. Our students are staying engaged throughout the school day through the use of Google Hangout, Zoom. We’re using Classroom Dojo and powered by Action Network. Our special education teachers and teacher’s aides are ensuring that the required minutes for our students with special needs are being met through technology. I am so proud, like every other superintendent in this state. I’m so proud of our staff for rising to this occasion and finding new and creative ways to keep our students engaged. But not only are we supporting our students in terms of mental, emotional, and academic, but also nutrition. Our area has provided tens of thousands of meals to families across our district. Each day we work to ensure that our students have breakfast and…

Dr. Donna Leak: (28:03)
… District. Each day, we work to ensure that our students have breakfast and a hot lunch. And in addition, we have partnerships across the village to ensure that our families and seniors needs are met. Throughout this process, I have spent time collaborating with my fellow superintendents. We share thoughts, ideas, and provide support to one another as we never gate through this unchartered water. We are all prepared to meet the demands that our communities will have to face with today’s announcement, and we will continue to find creative and innovative solutions to support our families into this new future. And now I would like to turn it back over to Governor Pritzker for questions. Thank you.

Speaker 2: (28:47)
Reporters in the room, we’re going to do one question each. Marianne’s got a few from the political reporters in town, so she’s going to get three. Great.

J. B. Pritzker: (28:53)
Thank you very much.

Marianne: (28:54)
Governor. Thank you. First of all, on the $569 million who will oversee that? Where will that money go? How will it be fairly distributed? Does that include Chicago and everywhere else? Then if I can combine a question in one, Chicago, you’re telling everybody no school, it’s public, private, the whole shebang.

J. B. Pritzker: (29:15)
That’s correct. Yep. So the $569 million is defined in the CARES act. A portion of it goes directly to schools, and then a portion of it is defined by ISBE and what the needs are across the state. So those decisions will get made about ISBE’s portion of it based upon the needs of our school districts.

Marianne: (29:36)
We’ve had some questions from some of my coworkers. Are you tracking the positive cases of coronavirus among health workers, healthcare workers? Do you know those numbers here in Illinois and also how many healthcare workers in Illinois and have died?

J. B. Pritzker: (29:53)
I’m going to turn over to Dr. Ezike who can answer some of those questions for you. Oh, sorry.

Dr. Ezike: (29:56)
That’s okay. Oh, sorry. So yes. So we have all of those numbers in our database, our INEDS databases is populated with information from our local county health departments as they manage the individual cases. So we know that there have been numbers of individuals who are health care workers, different types of healthcare workers. And we can get to those numbers specifically so that you can keep those. I haven’t reported out specifically on those, but I can get those for you.

Marianne: (30:27)
And the number who have died. Why haven’t you reported that yet?

Dr. Ezike: (30:30)
No, I actually haven’t broken it out like that. So it’s something that my team can assemble. We have occupational status for many of the cases that are in the database, but we haven’t broken it out like that so we can get that for you.

Marianne: (30:44)
Thank you. How about McCormick Place? We understand that now there have been patients admitted. Are they only coronavirus patients? How sick are they? And tell us a little more about that.

J. B. Pritzker: (30:54)
Yep. So I’ll give you just the introduction because I was there this morning. There are five patients there so far, and they are all people who have a low acuity COVID-19. And so the intention is for them to convalesce to be watched, as patients will be at these alternate care facilities. And they’ll be there for as long as it will take them to recover. And Dr., you have anything?

Dr. Ezike: (31:25)
I don’t know that there’s much to add. So like you said, there’s five patients there, we only have level two capability and that was the intention. So they’re not on vents or in ICU type setting. There are people who were deemed appropriate to leave the hospital, but not quite ready to go home. And so probably won’t be extended stays. But we obviously we have the staff, and we have the personnel, and we have all the equipment to treat them there until they’re ready to make their final transition to home.

Marianne: (31:56)
Does that mean the hospitals are full and that’s why you had to?

J. B. Pritzker: (32:01)
So we follow the bed availability. How many med surge beds, how many ICU beds, how many vents, how many ICU. So there are individual hospitals that may be full, but in terms of all hospitals in a region, we divide our hospitals, our 211 hospitals, into 11 regions. Regions 7-11 form the suburbs, the Chicago land if you will, the Chicago and the metro area. So there’s no region that has no beds, but individual hospitals can get to capacity. And so that would have resulted in some of the transfers that we have seen there.

Speaker 3: (32:42)
Governor, was there any talk about extending the school year into the summer or adjusting next year’s school year? And also what does this do to the stay at home order?

J. B. Pritzker: (32:50)
To the state… Sorry?

Speaker 3: (32:52)
The stay at home order.

J. B. Pritzker: (32:52)
Yep. I’ll make decisions about the stay at home order as I do everything else on a day by day basis, following it, and I’ll let you know as soon as I know. I did not consider what would happen mid summer, or obviously there are summer school programs and other things that may take place but, but at the moment, we felt like this was the right answer. We wanted to make sure that the kids got e-learning opportunity that was already being set up for them because many of them, their spring break vacations were at the end of March or early April, so they’ve been a couple of weeks at least into e-learning. They may have even started it before their spring break, and so that’s all set up for people as they go into May. And we think it gives people an opportunity to finish out the school year in as appropriate a fashion as they can. Yeah.

Speaker 4: (33:42)
Governor, can you expand on the grading, the non grading, and really what does compliance mean?

J. B. Pritzker: (33:47)
Yeah, we’re not intended to say non grading or grading, it’s just we want students to be treated with enough understanding that teachers are not using it as a compliance tool to give them a bad grade because they don’t have an internet connection or their internet connection is spotty. These are sometimes difficult circumstances. People are not used to kids, they’re not used to being home and doing schooling. And so there needs to be more understanding. That’s really the point of the comments that I was making.

Speaker 5: (34:25)
Governor, regarding graduation ceremonies for seniors, for eighth graders, are you ruling out the possibility of some type of ceremony once the state home order is lifted, perhaps even in August or September for those students who might want them?

J. B. Pritzker: (34:46)
Oh no, I’m not ruling out that possibility. And again, the stay at home order, no decision has been made about the extension of it. But to your question, could that occur in August or September? No, of course. I mean, I feel for these students. I have two teenagers, they don’t happen to be graduating this year, but I can imagine. Just given their friendships, and their groups of friends, and I know what this time of year means to people who are graduating from eighth grade, or even fourth grade or fifth grade, and of course from high school. So no, I, I hope that we’ll find ways to celebrate even now, or at least at the end of the what would have been the normal school year, and that we find unique ways to do that online. And then as soon as people are able to gather, I know that there will be celebrations planned and I’m looking forward to that.

Speaker 6: (35:35)
Hi, Governor. Amy Jacobson. W-I-N-D. I’m also a CPS high school coach. So it’s a rough day for all of us, but Governor DeSantis in Florida is letting parents choose whether or not to redo the school year. Is that a possibility here?

J. B. Pritzker: (35:50)
Redo?

Speaker 6: (35:51)
Redo the school because we-

J. B. Pritzker: (35:53)
You mean have a child go back?

Speaker 6: (35:54)
Yeah, we missed three weeks in the fall because of strikes. And now this, there’s not a lot of construction time in the classrooms and sports. Can we have them start the year over?

J. B. Pritzker: (36:04)
In the summer or in the fall you mean? I’m not sure.

Speaker 6: (36:06)
In the fall. In the fall.

J. B. Pritzker: (36:06)
Yeah. Yeah. I haven’t looked at what Governor DeSantis is doing, but I understand I guess the basis of your question. Certainly something we could look at. I mean it’s not something that we’ve contemplated right now, given the amount of time that’s left in the school year and the fact that some school districts, many school districts, do have a pretty good e-learning program in place so they can get much of the instruction done. But I recognize that there are kids who may not get as much, and therefore something like that might work. But I’ll go look at what Governor DeSantis has announced. Thank you. Yeah.

Speaker 7: (36:38)
This may be a question for the doctor, but today was the biggest one day jump in cases. Do you expect this to keep happening? And if so, are you sure the curve is flattening if the numbers keep increasing? And do you expect those numbers to keep increasing?

J. B. Pritzker: (36:54)
I’m sure we both have an answer to that, so forgive me, I’ll just give you a short version and let the doctor speak. Look, it’s never encouraging to see a number go up and not down in this circumstance. The number I want to go down, the numbers I want to go down, or cases, hospitalizations, ICU beds, people on ventilators, and of course, the fatalities. And we look at hospitalizations as really the most important of those numbers, at least I do. Cases remember, are dependent upon how many people got tested that day. And we all know that all across the country, very few people had been tested. So it’s almost hard to make some judgements about that. But we watch it. You saw that this was our second highest day for testing. We had I think 7,300 tests that came back today.

J. B. Pritzker: (37:44)
And that leads to of course a higher nominal amount of people who are tested positive. There are lots of people out there, unfortunately, who don’t get tested, who are COVID positive. And so the more we test, the more we’re going to see test positive. So the thing I would track, I mean that’s, we look at it, but the bigger more important number is really the number of hospitalizations and ICU beds for several reasons. But the most important of which is if people are sick enough to go to the hospital, that’s a definite signal that someone is, you know, COVID-19 positive, likely, if they have a respiratory issue. And then of course, ICU beds are a worsening of that condition. Dr., you have anything to say?

Dr. Ezike: (38:30)
He usually says it all. I will say that yes, we continue to follow trends. We follow trends for a lot of pieces of data. We follow the trends for cases, we follow the trends for fatalities. We following the bed counts and how people are showing up to the hospital. We’re looking at emergency room visits that translate into admission. So all of these numbers help us to make assessments and determinations. Definitely, we did not think we were at our peak yet. So given that, we do expect cases to rise and so that is an important thing to understand.

Dr. Ezike: (39:09)
And really another important part is with the flattening of the curve, I mean I don’t have the picture. But if you have this kind of curve, but you flattened it, it means it takes longer to get to the lower peak, but it takes longer to get there. So one of the byproducts of being able to flatten the curve is that you will delay the peak, and maybe it’s not a peak where you go straight up and down, but maybe if I can use the term plateau, where you’re kind of flattened for a while.

Dr. Ezike: (39:43)
So again, we’re looking at all these numbers to figure out exactly where we are in our curve, and as it’s really a day by day thing. And then you look at week trends. So we’re not exactly surprised that we would see more cases. There is the extra fact of how many tests were done on one day versus another. So again, we’re following all of that. We are continuing to increase our amount of testing. So if the denominator, if you will, of total people being tested has increased, we will see higher numbers. So we’ll take that into account. But definitely all the numbers are being evaluated every single day, and we are making the best educated guesses out of the trends that we see from the data. I don’t think we’ve peaked.

Speaker 2: (40:30)
Okay. We’ll go to questions from other reporters, not in the room. From Tony Arnold at WBEZ. Have you been briefed on the clinical trials happening at the University of Chicago that seemed to show promising results for treating COVID with an anti-HIV drug called remdesivir? Is this an indication that there’s a treatment coming?

J. B. Pritzker: (40:47)
I have not been briefed, but I read the same materials that probably Tony Arnold read this morning in particular. I’m following very closely a number of the trials, because it’s very important when we talk about what does the future look like, the first really important thing that will happen while we’re building up testing, while we’re doing contact tracing, is that the approval of a therapy or treatment that will diminish people’s likelihood of either being hospitalized, or after they’re hospitalized, being put in ICU, or on a ventilator.

Speaker 2: (41:22)
This is from The Patch for Dr. Ezike. Do community health centers tasked with conducting new testing announced yesterday have the ability to report results to public health officials the same way hospitals provide the data? If so, specifically, how will they do it? If not, will the testing data not be reported on public health roles and limit the state’s ability to track the virus?

Dr. Ezike: (41:41)
No. That’s a great question. It’s very important that we have the data for every test that happens in the state of Illinois. We’re using all of that data. It’s very sensitive. All of the FQHCs, any of the additional clinics that come on board, we’ll be sending their specimens to a place where the labs will be processed, who will now send all of those results to IDPH. Most of those testing specimens will actually…

Dr. Ezike: (42:03)
… results to IDPH. Most of those testing specimens will actually be sent directly to IDPH to be run, and of course we’ll have the results. But even if they are sent to a university or a hospital where they are run, they will still be sent to us usually electronically through our electronic lab system.

Speaker 8: (42:18)
Awesome. This is from Hannah at The Daily Line, “Considering the school funding changes you had planned to make for next year in your February budget proposal, what will happen with funding schools with the evidence-based school funding formula next year given the disproportionate impact e-learning will have on poor districts? Will any proration of the school funding formula again become the norm?”

J. B. Pritzker: (42:40)
Well, I didn’t plan any reduction of the funding for evidence-based funding, just to be clear. As you know, we put forward a budget that would have fully funded the $350 million for evidence-based funding so that … And in terms of what would happen if there’s a reduction of evidence- based funding model, it’s actually written into the law what would happen. There would be a reduction that would focus on the tier one and tier two schools in EBF, and therefore the tier three and tier four schools would receive less.

Speaker 8: (43:16)
This is from Shia at Politico, “How is Illinois going to find and train contact tracers? Where are they coming from and who is paying them?”

J. B. Pritzker: (43:24)
Great question and my short answer to that is that if you look at what Massachusetts did … and there’s a terrific article about this in the New York Times that gives you a pretty good a sense of it, although I have some materials that I’ve received directly from them, you can see how this is done. But yes, we would be hiring people. It does cost to pay people to hire them of course, but the important part of this collaborative is it’s a very important component of getting the economy going again and getting people out of the situation that we’re in today along with, as I’ve always said, testing and of course treatment.

Speaker 8: (44:05)
This is from Jamie Munks at the Chicago Tribune, “With the highest to date number of known cases being reported in a single day and the high number of deaths in a single day reported yesterday, what do you attribute that to and what evidence shows that the State is in fact bending the curve or no?”

J. B. Pritzker: (44:20)
Well, the first thing that people should take note of is that … And we talked about this the other day, the doubling times. How long does it take to double the number of cases in a State? How long does it take to double the number of fatalities in a State? We have seen the length of time it takes to double increased significantly. Even more than I reported the other day, it’s actually increasing that doubling time and that’s a very good thing. That’s a good thing. We have not peaked. I think you just heard Dr. Ezike say that and I will repeat it. We are in a period where, again, you can see it bending this curve because we know what the projections were had we not put the stay-at-home order in place, much worse than where we are today. And we can see the slowing of the development of people ending up in hospitals, and in a ICU beds, and on ventilators. And remember that the fatalities often are a lagging indicator, the cases are maybe a leading indicator.

J. B. Pritzker: (45:27)
Hospitalizations, though, are the most definite indicator of where you are in the curve. We’re seeing, again, a flattening of that. We saw a really significant upward trend of it and then we saw it flattening, and I want to make sure that … There was a question about flattening and flat. It’s flattening, the curve is bending but it isn’t flat yet. I mean, I would like it to be flat and then we know at least, or we can have some confidence that it may start falling. But either way, whether you’re on this side of the curve or that, we will have increasing numbers of cases. I mean, total cases in the State, whether that number of daily cases is falling or not. And same thing of course for all the other numbers on the other side of this.

Speaker 8: (46:12)
Rebecca Anzel from Capitol News Illinois would like to check in with governor Pritzker and Dr.Ezike, “How are you both doing physically and emotionally? Has holding these daily updates gotten any easier?”

J. B. Pritzker: (46:22)
Well, that’s so nice. Nobody ever asked that question. Has it gotten easier? Well, I mean I’ve gotten to know many of you better than I did. So for me anyway, I’ll just say I’m managing through this time reasonably well. I think some people have said about me that I … “What does governor Pritzker like to do when he’s not working?” And the answer most people give is work. So I’m doing what I think I can do, but I’m doing fine. Thank you for asking. I think there is an emotional component to this that I’ll just not spend a lot of time on. But when I wake up in the morning and I look at the numbers being reported in the morning about what happened overnight and in the evening before, it sometimes … I mean, the numbers are … When we have a day like yesterday, it’s hard not to let it get you down. But I know that if we are persist, if everybody persists out there with the stay-at-home order, following the rules, and we keep building up our testing and our contact tracing, we’ll do better every day.

Dr. Ezike: (47:45)
No, I can’t complain. I got a day off unlike you, so I was off last Sunday. But we have an important job. I guess we were called to our roles for such a time as this and so we are embracing it. I am so humbled to be under the leadership of the governor who is a tireless advocate for the people of Illinois and he inspires all of us to work just as hard as he is. We have a mission. We have a mission. We have a war that we’re facing and we need to make sure that people understand the enemy and understand how to defend themselves against the enemy, and that need to understand that it’s going to be a long war. So we’re making sure that … The governor is working so hard with his team to make sure that while we face this war, that we have the things that we need given the tough circumstances.

Dr. Ezike: (48:38)
We’re trying to make sure that we’re accurately looking at the data to make sure that we fully understand the enemy and are using the right tactics to fight back. I think we’re doing that, but I’m privileged to be in this position to try to help the people of this State and I think I’m finding the strength that I need to carry on. Thank you for asking.

Speaker 8: (48:56)
Rich Miller at Capitol Fax asks, “Are the scientists you consult saying anything about actions you can take to cause a ‘downward trajectory’ of documented cases within a 14 day period to ‘the new White House guidance?'”

J. B. Pritzker: (49:11)
There isn’t some specific action that you can do that leads to a downward trajectory. What you can do is keep doing the things you’re doing that are slowing the ascent of the curve, and there are a few other things you can do. I talked the other day about one of the State reps that suggested that people who work in grocery stores and other stores should be required to wear masks. I have encouraged everybody to wear a mask when they’re out in public. Perhaps if we enforce that more or if people just enforced it by talking to people as they see them on the street, I think that’s another way that we could do it. But there isn’t something specific. I wish I could tell you … We don’t live in a dictatorial society, we don’t live in an authoritarian world. This is a free country and we want to make sure that we are observing people’s civil liberties while keeping them safe, and that’s the balance that we’re trying to strike here.

Speaker 8: (50:13)
Molly Parker at The Southern Illinoisan will be our last question. “Is Randolph County on the State’s radar, given that you have two large facilities there, Menard Correctional Center and Chester Mental Health? Can you describe what efforts you may have in place there given that they are somewhat of a hotspot in Southern Illinois?”

J. B. Pritzker: (50:27)
Yeah. Just so you know, we’re watching every county in Illinois, and you hear us reporting on cases in counties and the numbers of counties. In part … and you can read about it at IDPH. In part, we make sure you know about the number of counties because we want people to know what’s going on across the State. This isn’t just a Cook County or Chicago issue, this really is happening everywhere. That’s number one. And number two with regard to congregate facilities, and we’ve talked about this quite a lot. The congregate facilities of every type are being surveilled by us all the time, we are talking to the leaders and managers of those facilities, we are delivering PPE, we’re making sure that there are guidelines for them to follow. A guidance given by IDPH to make sure that we’re caring for those people as best we can.

J. B. Pritzker: (51:20)
Those are very difficult circumstances. Just to be clear, it’s happening all over the country. When you put, for example, seniors together in a congregate facility, they can’t easily be moved around in a nursing home just as one example. But they are, we’re moving them, we’re making sure that we’re separating. There’s a lot of PPE, we’re giving a lot of guidance to the people who run those facilities. Same thing for a correctional institution. You’ve seen that we brought the National Guard into Stateville, we’re looking at other places where we might want to deploy them and making sure that we’re bringing even more medical facilities or making more medical facilities available to the staff and to the inmates themselves.

Speaker 8: (52:07)
All right. Thank you [inaudible 00:52:08].

J. B. Pritzker: (52:10)
Thank you.

Speaker 9: (52:10)
Thank you.