Apr 27, 2020
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Press Conference Transcript April 27
Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois held a coronavirus press briefing on April 27. An Illinois judge recently overturned Pritzker’s stay-at-home order.
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Governor J. B. Pritzker: (00:03)
Well, good afternoon everyone and welcome back to our 2:30 update. Let’s begin today with a weekly review of our statewide data with a special focus on the subject of regionalization. First, I want to focus on hospitalization and its progression over time. On April, 6th we had 3,680 COVID patients in our hospitals. On April, 10th that number had risen to 4,020. On April, 14th that number had risen to 4,283. On April 19th the number had risen to 4,599. And as of midnight last night, the number was 4,672, a net increase of 73 Illinoisans in one week’s time.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:02)
To remind you, these hospitalization numbers include both COVID-19 patients and assumed COVID-19 patients in the hospital in any condition, whether mild or serious. I’ll offer the same time series progression for our COVID occupied ICU beds as I did for overall hospitalization rates. Remember, our institutions have worked to expand their bed capacity, which is why our overall bed numbers and ICU bed capacity have increased. On April, 6th COVID patients occupied 43% of our 2,700 ICU beds in Illinois. On April, 10th it was 40% of 2,900 ICU beds. On April, 14th 40% of 3000 ICU beds. And on April, 19th 40% of 3, 100 ICU beds. And as of midnight last night, 34% of 3,600 ICU beds.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (02:12)
We also keep an eye trained on the number of Illinoisans with COVID-19 who are on ventilators, even as our medical professionals work to innovate, ways to help patients avoid this very difficult though potentially life saving measure. Of the 4,672 Illinoisans in the hospital, 763 are on ventilators. That means 23% of our total ventilator inventory is currently in use by COVID-19 patients. The same ratio as it was on April, 19th one week ago. That’s following a downward trend from 29% on April, 6th, then 27% on April, 10th, then 25% on April, 14th.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (03:06)
I want to stop and take a moment now to address those who think that Coronavirus is just a Chicago or a Cook County problem, and the downstate Illinois is immune or doesn’t need restrictions. Folks, that’s just not how this virus operates. COVID-19 knows no County or regional boundaries. It’s clear that some people are simply looking at the number of cases in a County and not looking at the infection rate. Of the top five counties by infection rate. Two of them are downstate. In order, that’s Cook County, Jasper, Lake, Will and Randolph.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (03:54)
Even more troubling, COVID-19 has played a role in the deaths of Illinoisans in 42 of our counties around the state with the top two rates of death per capita being in Jasper County and Monroe counties, that means you’re more likely to die of COVID-19 if you live in either of those two counties than if you live in Chicago or in Cook County. When these factors are taken into account, the overall picture around COVID-19 in Illinois is quite different than many have assumed.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (04:29)
Yes, in terms of total case numbers and total lives lost Cook and the Calhoun counties constitute the largest segment of COVID-19’s known presence in Illinois. That’s indisputable, but it would be doing a massive disservice to our downstate residents if we governed only by raw numbers. No matter where you live, I want you to be healthy and safe. And following the advice of the scientists and experts is what has kept people in every region of our state alive.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (05:04)
It’s true that there are a much larger number of cases and deaths in the metropolitan region around Chicago, but it’s also home to nearly two of every three Illinoisans, and it’s home to much of the overall hospital capacity that’s needed if there’s another surge of the virus. It’s also true that there are areas of the state that have lower infection rates, and I’ve already begun opening those areas up more with allowance for more elective surgeries and recreational activity there than in other regions.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (05:38)
Since the earliest days of my governorship, I have aimed to make every decision with the needs of the entire state in mind with a strong understanding about the differences between Chicago and Metropolis, between Rockford and East St Louis, between Effingham and Quincy. To help me do the right thing by all of our residents, I’ve sought out the advice of local officials across the state of every background even long before this pandemic. It’s been a point of pride for me to listen.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (06:13)
Now as we fight COVID-19, every week, I call Republican and Democratic mayors and legislators to hear their best ideas, and talk through how I’m thinking through the decisions that need to be made. Some really good ideas have come from those calls. We don’t always agree, but it’s always a two way dialogue. I understand that the choices that I’ve made and that I have had to make aren’t easy, and there are some that disagree with them, but I’ve made each decision with a laser like focus on the health and safety of every resident and with a strong desire to get us back to work in school as soon as it’s safe.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (06:59)
Frankly, the decisions have most often been very difficult, often choosing between saving lives and saving livelihoods. But thousands of Illinoisans are still with us today because nearly all of you have made an earnest effort to follow our stay at home order. And so that’s a decision that I’m extraordinarily proud to have made, and I’m going to keep making my decisions about defeating this terrible virus by focusing on the most important factors, following the science, monitoring and building up our healthcare systems, listening to local leaders, and keeping Illinois families and workers top of mind, all in an effort to do the right thing for all of Illinois.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (07:52)
So thank you very much. And now I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Ezike for today’s medical update. Doctor.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (07:57)
Thank you. Good afternoon. I want to start off mourning the 50 lives that were lost over the last 24 hours, and I know everyone understands that these 50 people represent mothers and fathers and spouses, maybe fiance’s, grandparents, friends, coworkers. So for all the families and communities who will be significantly affected by the loss of this loved one, we pay our respects as a state to the families and communities. Along with those 50 lives lost, there were 1,980 new cases. That brings our total fatalities for the state to 1,983, and our total cases in the state to 45,008-
Speaker 1: (08:57)
Excuse me, could you repeat that number.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (08:59)
Sorry, the total fatalities in the state to 1,983, and the total number of cases in Illinois to 45,883. So in Illinois, 227,628 tests for COVID-19 have been run, with 12,676 being performed over the last 24 hours. I think it’s important to talk about the new symptoms that are associated with COVID-19, the CDC announced an official change in their symptoms just last week. Initially the symptoms indicative of COVID-19 were fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, that was later amended to fever, cough and shortness of breath and or difficulty breathing.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (10:02)
Now last week it’s been announced that there are six additional symptoms that are being seen in individuals with COVID-19. These symptoms include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. As our medical comprehension has advanced, we have seen more similarities in the presentations of the many victims of this disease. These symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Please remember that this is a novel Coronavirus and we continue to learn more every single day and as we learn more, our guidance will continue to be updated.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (10:55)
The guidance that remains unchanged, however, is the importance of staying home. If you have to go out, please wear a face covering, keeps six feet between you and others, and wash your hands constantly. I know we’re growing weary of hearing this, but there are still people out there who are not taking this pandemic seriously and are not following this guidance. We must all do our part to get back to the sense of normalcy, which could be pushed back if all of us are not working in concert. Let’s please stay safe. Let’s be healthy. Let’s stay at home. Thank you.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (11:36)
And now I will summarize comments in Spanish. [foreign language 00:00:11:40].
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (14:00)
[foreign language 00:00: 00] And with that I will turn it back to Governor Pritzker.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (14:36)
Thank you very much doctor. Before I open it up to questions, I want to clear up some confusion from over the weekend over the subject of how dental offices can operate amid this pandemic. Our executive order did not close dental offices, but IDPH has issued guidance to dentists focusing their work on more emergency procedures. That guidance remains in place. Dental procedures are high risk for dentists and for their staff and we’re going to continue working with the medical experts as we move forward. But right now dental procedures should be limited to urgent health issues and emergencies and I apologize for any confusion that my comments may have caused. So with that, I’m happy to open it up to questions.
Speaker 2: (15:25)
Thank you governor. It’s Monday. There’s a lot of questions. So-
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (15:28)
Speaker 2: (15:29)
We have moved to number four when you list states.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (15:33)
Speaker 2: (15:34)
And we are not number four in population. What do you think? What’s going on? Is that just we’re testing more. How did we surpass California?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (15:42)
You had notice that our testing numbers have gone way up, right? Just over the last week we’ve averaged more than 10,000 per day and that’s significantly up from where we were before. And if you look at most states, they’re not testing anywhere near as much as we are now. So actually, it’s a point of some pride at what we’ve done on testing. But if you test more people, as we’ve said, there are lots and lots of people out there who do not know that they have Coronavirus because they haven’t been tested. As you test more people, you’re going to get more positive cases.
Speaker 2: (16:17)
President Trump tweeted this morning, why should the people or taxpayers bail out poorly run states like Illinois?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (16:27)
Well, I have two things that I would say to that. One is that as you know, we are a donor state to the federal government. We pay more in federal taxes in Illinois than we get back from the federal government and so actually the states who are being bailed out every year, year in and year out are the states who take more out of the federal dole then they put in in taxes. That’s one thing I would say. The other is that unlike Donald Trump, we proposed and passed and have effectuated a balanced budget for the year that we’re in. Had it not been for Coronavirus, we would have had actually a surplus in the State of Illinois. So to the extent that we’re talking about, and we are about the federal government providing funding for states, all states need it now because Coronavirus COVID-19 has blown a hole in every state budget all across the nation. There’s not a single state that would not benefit from or that does not need support from another CARES Act package.
Speaker 2: (17:39)
Were you on the call today from the White House and any new insight?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (17:44)
I wouldn’t say there was any new insight. There’s more talk about testing and the federal government offering help with testing, which is terrific. They have offered help before and I’m looking forward to our ability to obtain more swabs and more reagent and VTM through the federal government as they are promising.
Speaker 2: (18:04)
My colleague Craig Wall wants to know, is it time to consider pension reform?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (18:10)
Well, as you know, we did make some pension reforms. We, as you know, the police and fire pensions across the state were dramatically reformed this last year under my leadership and working with the legislature. We certainly need to keep working on our pensions. I’ve said as principals here that we need to make sure that people who are owed a pension are paid the pension that they’re owed. And I want to make sure that people understand how important it is that we support our seniors when they’ve worked a lifetime for that pension, whether they’re police officers or firefighters or state workers in any way. So I continue to believe in the idea of supporting seniors when they retire. So we’ll continue to look at the ways, we proposed several ways last year that weren’t yet adopted to make changes in the pension system. And we’ll continue to look at everything and anything.
Speaker 2: (19:05)
Others are asking, perhaps is it time to lay off some state workers? Are those who are supposedly working from home really working from home? And when there is not as much to do, perhaps they should get unemployment as well instead of getting paid by the state for doing nothing?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (19:22)
Well certainly, number one we’ve asked people to stay home. Number two, we have actually done quite a lot to make sure that people can work from home. And you know all these departments. Think about what’s happening at IDES. Think about what’s happening at the Department of Human Services, right? In this pandemic and with so many people laid off, right? Our state needs to function well. And so we’re working with stay at home employees who are connected now and have the ability to work for and with residents of the state who badly need them.
Speaker 2: (19:58)
Yesterday you brought up e-learning and to look ahead to the fall. Perhaps that’s going to be the case. Are you talking about every grade level, private schools? Is it going to be, could you imagine a staggered Monday, Wednesday day for 10 students or come in the morning, others come in the afternoon? And what about colleges? Have you looked ahead to all of that?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (20:19)
I have certainly left it to our Board of Higher Education and our Community College Board and the State Board of Education to make plans, to make sure, because, look, people have talked for some time about preparedness for disasters and yet somehow the providing high speed internet and devices and the ability to connect to e-learning hasn’t been a priority in the planning for that. And you may have noticed that in our capital plan we put $420 million in to increase the availability of high speed internet everywhere in the state. Part of that was aimed at schools and so this is going to be a comprehensive effort to try to upgrade schools and upgrade internet everywhere in the state so that people can connect with their schools, but as to whether or how it will be needed I’ll leave that up to the professionals and of course to the scientists as we learn more throughout the summer about what the fall will look like.
Speaker 2: (21:22)
But are you considering a stagger day? Perhaps some people come in the morning, others come in the afternoon.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (21:29)
Not specific. I’m not considering that, but I’m sure that there are people at ISBE and other places that might be.
Speaker 2: (21:34)
Okay. Can you look ahead to this summer and say whether or not a convention of several hundred people, let alone a thousand or so, I mean, or a conference, a social event. Will we see, people who go to an office where several hundred people work? Will that happen this summer in Illinois?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (21:55)
Well, let me speak to the convention question and it sounded like gatherings of thousands of people first and just to say, look, I don’t know. It seems to me that we don’t yet even have a treatment, so I don’t know that people will even want to go to events like that and be in the midst of thousands of people. Because the idea that there’s some percentage likelihood that you may contract COVID-19 by attending an event like that might keep people away. So I’m not going to dictate anything and we have a stay at home order from now until May 30th. We’re making plans for the phased reopening of the economy. It’s unclear to me about large gatherings.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (22:39)
Those seem like harder things to get done than for example, opening manufacturing facilities where you could be able to keep people six feet apart wearing PPE, and make sure the lunch rooms are not crowded and so on. These are things that we’ve looked at and are continuing to look at to make sure that we’re doing it right and in a phased fashion. But as to whether a large convention could fit into an early phase, I don’t know.
Speaker 2: (23:08)
And the same that I guess goes to Mayor Lightfoot who just a few moments ago talked about she envisions baseball with no fans and Cisco Cotto from BBM Radio wants to know as well. Is that what you see? Major league baseball with no fans?.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (23:22)
Listen, I want to watch a baseball game. I’m a fan and I really would like baseball to go on, but I also know that that’s going to be a decision both for the leagues who are making decisions. All the pro sports leagues are having to make decisions about what the future should look like. And importantly, I think they like me, they are relying upon the scientists, epidemiologists to help them figure out how do you do that in a safe fashion? Do you need to test all the players before they go on the field? Can they really, in contact sports, how do you do that if you’re supposed to maintain some social distance? So I think those are all things that are above my pay grade so to speak. And something that I think need to be considered by the leagues and by the scientists.
Speaker 2: (24:11)
A couple of questions for Dr. Ezike. How many have died from COVID-19 that do not have any other underlying health condition?
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (24:22)
So nationally, the numbers are vanishingly small in less than 10% I think. I saw something like 6% and that might’ve been a global number. So in the general statistics, Illinois has been similar to what the aggregate larger numbers have. So I would say that it’s going to be definitely under 10%, maybe even in the single digits.
Speaker 2: (24:49)
Thank you. Governor, a lot of questions still on unemployment. Sean Lewis from WGN says he’s hearing from people who are getting nowhere on the system. They’re frustrated, they can’t get an answer. They’re broke. A week ago you announced there would be some more help or answers to this. What are you telling the folks who cannot find out what to do about unemployment?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (25:13)
Well, the first thing I would say is that we’ve processed in the neighborhood of 800,000 unemployment applications at this point and it’s about 10 times every day what was being done last year at this time. So it’s a significant effort that’s been put into making the system easier for people to get through. Now, I think the problem to be clear has been the phone lines. Remember I said a little while ago that you have to have trained personnel and these training, sorry, trained personnel that are answering the lines because the information is private information. And so people have to be trained to handle that properly.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (25:59)
There is a federal guideline for that training and that training takes longer than the time that we have to handle something within a week, for example. So we’re working very expeditiously to try to ramp all that up. But I just want to remind you that virtually every state is having trouble managing the influx of unemployment applications. We are working night and day. I watch those numbers every day. I see how many are coming in over the internet, how many are coming in by phone and the increase of numbers of people who get their phone calls answered. Again, I can’t, we can’t fix this overnight, it’s absolutely true. But we are fixing it and it has been radically better over time.
Speaker 2: (26:40)
Eric Horng from WLS asking, Ohio, which is part of the regional coalition with Illinois is announcing plans to reopen segments of the economy starting Friday. Will this impact what happens in Illinois and what’s the point of a coalition if the states are acting independently on such important decisions?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (26:59)
Well, you have to remember that every state has a slightly different curve and so decisions about timing are different than decisions about what might open. The other thing is that this is a council in part of governors who share ideas with one another about how best to go about the opening. So, remember, we are still climbing on our curve and I just talked to you about how that’s a slowing climb, which is a good thing, but we are still on this side of the peak and I’m hoping there’s not a plateau. I haven’t looked at the numbers for Ohio, but obviously Governor DeWine is seeing something different in Ohio if he feels like Friday is a good day for them to begin to open and moving to phase one.
Speaker 2: (27:44)
But you’ll still discuss and talk. How often and what kind of insight do they give you?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (27:47)
Yeah, we’ve had calls and again, we’re sharing kind of the commonalities. What are you doing about manufacturing? What are you doing about warehousing? How are you handling those things within your state? Those are-
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (28:03)
… Those things within your state, those are things that are very important that we share in common as states. And therefore each of us offering ideas for one another. One of the important topics the last time we were on the phone together was how is everybody working to provide support for our smallest small businesses, many of whom can’t access the PPP money because they don’t have lawyers and accountants and so on. And so listening to how each state, by the way, Illinois has solutions for that that we’ve implemented. Having limited state resources for all these States makes it harder. But we’re all doing slightly different but important things that lift up … I’m particularly interested in these because these smallest businesses are the ones that create the most jobs. And so I’m the one who’s asked that question of my colleagues.
Speaker 4: (28:55)
Amy Jacobson, WIND radio. Once we’ve reached our peak, is the 14 day decline based on the number of hospital beds in use, ICU patients, or the percentage of new cases?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (29:08)
So remember the whole idea here, Amy, is to make sure that we’re not going to overwhelm our hospitals and our healthcare system in general. So that’s how we choose what of those statistics we’re watching. It’s very important, the question of hospitalizations, are we going down the other side of that? Are we going down the other side of ICU and are we continuing to go down the other side of ventilators? Because right now ventilator, we’ve increased the number of ventilators and it appears that the number of people on ventilators, roughly speaking, has leveled. And so I expect that to be one of the first things that goes down in part because doctors have done such a good job of keeping people off of ventilators and having them recover without going on. So those are the things, hospitalizations, ICUs, those are certainly things that we look at that are very important for making a decision on the other side of the peak. Remember the peak, I’m hopeful that the peak is actually a peak and that not as we’ve seen in some other states, a plateau.
Speaker 4: (30:12)
From Univision, David Palomino. A question for the governor. There are trending reports about hospitals getting paid more if patients are listed as COVID-19 and on ventilators. Are the fact that hospitals are getting more money, according to that, is that … If you heard of that?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (30:29)
I have not heard of that. It may be something to do with the CARES act, but that’s not something that we’re doing in the state of Illinois. We are supportive of those hospitals, however. The hospital, I just want to take this moment, thank you for asking the question because there are hospitals like Rush just as one example that have really converted their entire hospital into a COVID-19 hospital. I mean, in the sense that they got ready for an onslaught. Right? And I mean almost immediately, in fact other Chicago area hospitals, they were on it. I’m not saying the others haven’t done a phenomenal job. I’m just pulling out one of them and saying …
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (31:07)
Those hospitals deserve our respect and they deserve to be supported because honestly, if you converted away from elective surgeries and away from other profit making surgeries into making sure that you are treating COVID patients, you lost money in that trade and so we want to be very supportive of those hospitals. But right now there’s no state funding that that is increasing for COVID hospitals that’s different than other hospitals. One of the reasons that we opened up elective surgeries is to allow hospitals to, to have some profit making endeavor that would offset the cost of taking so many COVID patients.
Speaker 4: (31:49)
There are reports today about questions in the food supply. Are you concerned about the meat shortage that might happen?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (31:56)
Well, concerned in the sense that we’re monitoring it closely. Our department of agriculture, our department of public health, our local county departments of public health. We’re all paying very close attention to those meat producers and processors, but I don’t currently believe that we are going to have a problem with our supply chain. But again, we’re watching it very closely today.
Speaker 4: (32:19)
Today the mayor talked about boating on the lakefront and she, the question to you is she does not anticipate opening the lakefront for boating, but what do … You’ve said they can boat if they only have two people in the boat. Where do you stand on boating on Lake Michigan?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (32:35)
Well, our executive order is really focused on the state parks and municipalities have the ability to have more stringent rules than we have a suggested on any subject really. And so that’ll be up to the city of Chicago to make a decision about whether people will be allowed to boat or not.
Speaker 5: (32:57)
Thank you governor.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (32:58)
Speaker 4: (32:59)
Okay. Questions from online, this is Jamie Monks of the Tribune. How many prisoners have been released through medical furlough and how many have been granted time mutations or clemency due to COVID concerns? Why haven’t lawmakers who have requested information about criteria for releases received answers?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (33:15)
We’ll be happy to provide information to anyone. I don’t have the numbers right here, but happy to … I can tell you that we’ve overall reduced the population in our prisons by, I know it’s more than 1,300 overall. Many of those were near the end of their terms are actually their sentences were up, but also many of them were under this program of either medical furloughs due to COVID-19 or other reasons, pardons or commutations on my part.
Speaker 4: (33:47)
Department of Corrections can get that information for you, Jamie, as well. For Dr. Ezeke from Hannah, Iceland has done it the most COVID-19 testing per capita in the world and as a result has a very low death rate. Of course, Iceland is very different from the US in a lot of ways, but is it possible that if Illinois caught up on testing, our death rate wouldn’t actually be the current 4.5% and would actually be much lower? What is the death rate that’s being assumed in the modeling beliefs on Thursday that was used to show that if the current state home order restrictions were loosened 20,000 or so, people would die in a second wave?
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (34:22)
Okay. A lot in there. I think I can definitely speak to the need for testing. We all agree, I think that has been said from this podium every single day that testing is key. It’s one of the key elements to getting over this pandemic. Without people being … Without individuals being able to know their status, it affects their ability to know that they need to stand down or isolate or stay away from high risk people. So, I mean, you’ve seen us go from doing dozens of tests a day to 1,000 tests a day to 5,000 and just in the last week continually hit over the 10,000 and we’re not trying to stop there. We’re trying to get tens of thousands, hundred of thousand. So we are on the same page with Iceland, we just haven’t achieved it yet. But we definitely understand how critical testing is, and increasing that test capacity and we’re working … We have teams of people working day and night on that
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (35:17)
And I’d like to just disabuse anybody of the notion of a 4.5% death rate. The fact is that if you look internationally and in the United States it is presumed that there is about a 1%, a little less than 1% of people who get COVID-19 who pass away from it. The 4.5% that you’re calculating is just the cases that we’ve been able to identify by virtue of the limited testing that we’ve had available. So it is a much lower rate than 4.5%, we assume.
Speaker 4: (35:49)
Okay. This is for Dr. Ezeke from Amanda WTTW. Do you believe Illinois has reached its peak? What is the current R zero?
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (35:59)
So as the governor has said, we are growing so slowly in the numbers in terms of the rate of rise that we think we are coming upon it very shortly. So again, not being able to predict whether we will just continually increment versus we’re going to hit it in a few days and start coming down versus like he said, he’s hoping not to have a plateau but there’s a potential for just staying at a level number for an extended period of time. We don’t know when we’re off the peak and heading down until we are unfortunately. And so the models and the predictions can only do so much, but it’s actually going to be the data that will tell us when we’ve reached there. Is there another part to the question?
Speaker 4: (36:41)
What is our current R zero.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (36:43)
Oh, okay. So the last time we looked at it, it was I think 1.4 and so I should be getting some updated numbers this week.
Speaker 4: (36:52)
What does that mean?
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (36:53)
Okay. So RNOD is a is a measure essentially of the infectivity or contagiousness of the disease. It suggests how many people like one case, how many different people will be infected. I think at the beginning of this it was like 3.5 and so if you think about exponential growth and how one person going to infect three people and those three people going to another three so you’re increasing exponentially that with one going to three, after 10 rounds you get to 59,000 people. So obviously if you are … If one person only infects one or 1.4 people, if that was such a thing and you keep going, obviously that lowers, lowers, lowers the numbers of people that would eventually get ill
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (37:36)
And we’ve been able to lower that by virtue of the stay at home order and other restrictions that people have followed in the state.
Speaker 5: (37:43)
Is there an ideal number?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (37:44)
Under one. That’s what you’re looking for, under one.
Speaker 4: (37:47)
Governor, this is from Amanda as well. When does the Illinois legislature need to meet to begin to make its own decisions about the budget and when the legislature is in next, what sort of protections will you ask for and for which classes of workers in light of the workers’ compensation commission today rescinding its rebuttal presumption of the COVID-19 rule?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (38:07)
It’s up to the legislature. There’s no requirement terms for the budget. By May 31, if the legislature votes on a budget, it needs to have a simple majority to approve a budget, after May 31 it’s a super majority vote for a budget. So again, that’s whenever the legislature decides to meet and given the circumstances, and they are considered essential workers so there’ll be able to figure it out. It is quite complex though, as you may know, between staff and 177 senators and house members organizing all of that in the Capitol building or really anywhere else is quite complex. And I think that’s taking some time. And the other question, sorry was …
Speaker 4: (38:54)
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (38:57)
Yeah, apologies. Worker’s comp, right? Yeah, we’re definitely having discussions. There are proposals by legislators about things that we should do. I mean, I want to protect our workers as best we can during this pandemic and so I’ll be very supportive of measures that will keep them safe.
Speaker 4: (39:19)
Greg Heinz from Cranes has two questions. What will the impact be if Illinois does not get any federal aid to make up for the loss of revenue amid the pandemic? And do you think your criticism of the president has substantially reduced your chance of getting that aid?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (39:35)
First of all, if we don’t get any further federal aid, it will be, it will be extremely difficult, not just for the state of Illinois, but for many states, not just for the ones that have democratic governors but for Republican states as well. I know that the president has said that he’s in favor, despite a tweet today. He’s in favor of support for the states, for state and local governments. I would like to make sure that the smaller local governments receive support in this next bill. Not just the large counties or large cities over 500,000, but small towns all across the state of Illinois and all across the nation should get support.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (40:20)
So I’m in favor of that and I think the president is in favor of that. And indeed Vice President Pence in our call yesterday reiterated that fact, that the president is supportive of that. So I feel pretty good about where they are on it. Obviously it’s Senator McConnell that is an obstacle here and considering that he comes from a state that that gets more money from the federal government than it gives in federal taxes, I think he’s a recipient state of a lot of support from the federal government and the rest of us ought to benefit at this point given coronavirus and its effect.
Speaker 4: (40:59)
Kyle Beachy from Peoria asked a question, a credible tip says Generation of Peoria nursing home now has 12 positive tests, but they are frustrated. They’re not being tested. Why is a facility with this type of outbreak not being fully tested and what facilities are tested?
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (41:17)
So I think we’ve talked in the last week about our aggressive measures, both preemptively to try to get into facilities that have no cases and try to do staff testing as well as resident testing to see if we can identify positives that were unknown because of the lack of symptoms ahead of time. We’ve also gone into areas that have had high rates of community transmission and tried to address issues in places where we do know that we have COVID cases. So we’ve been in both types of facilities. The strategy in places where there are already established cases may look different than the mass-
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (42:03)
Established cases may look different than the mass testing that is done in the institutions that have no cases. But we are working closely with all the local health departments and then each case has its nuances. And so both the local health departments along with assistance from the state health department can decide what the best strategy is. But we do know that testing is an important strategy in all cases. I guess if you know that someone is positive and you know that these people have been in contact with someone and that they’re symptomatic, the test doesn’t add anything, we expect it to be positive.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (42:41)
And so you do have situations where you know you have somebody that was exposed, they’re developing classic symptoms. A test doesn’t really add much because we pretty much know what that is. But we are trying to… If we had testing, rapid testing that we could put in every single facility, we would put one in every nursing home, at every workplace, at every correctional facility. We all agree that mass testing, rapid testing with accurate and reliable results is where we want to head and where we want to be eventually.
Speaker 7: (43:16)
Governor, a judge just ruled that your stay-at-home order in Darren Bailey’s lawsuit is no longer able to stand. We’re still getting the details of what that order means, but would you like to react to that?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (43:30)
I would. I have affirmed many times over that Republicans and Democrats alike, public servants from all corners of Illinois have come together since the earliest days of this public health crisis to make incredibly difficult choices. Understanding that, painful as our actions might be, the question boils down to life and death. COVID-19 is responsible for denying the people of Illinois the precious moments of togetherness and steadiness of routine that have been put on pause in response to this global pandemic. The stay-at-home order has prevented tens of thousands of illnesses and thousands of deaths. History will remember those who put politics aside to come together to keep people safe. It will also remember those who so blindly devoted to ideology and the pursuit of personal celebrity that they made an enemy of science and of reason.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (44:37)
Representative Darren Bailey’s decision to take to the courts to try and dismantle public health directives designed to keep people safe is an insult to all Illinoisans who have been lost during this COVID-19 crisis. And it’s a danger to millions of people who may get ill because of his recklessness. At best, no one is better off because of this ruling and at worst, people’s health and safety will suffer tremendously. In Illinois and nationally, we are operating on decades of precedent in terms of how disaster proclamations work from floods to tornadoes and now a global pandemic. Disasters don’t necessarily evaporate on a 30 day timeframe. The legislature took that into account when they wrote this law.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (45:29)
In collaboration with the attorney general’s office, my team and I will fight this legal battle to the furthest extent possible to ensure the public health and common sense, and that those prevail. In the interim, we will be issuing new public health directives so that we can continue to respond to this public health crisis. At this time I strongly encourage all municipal level leaders as well as the people of Illinois who are our strongest weapon against this virus to follow the advice of our scientists here in Illinois, and across the nation of IDPH and the CDC and continue to follow the guidelines of our stay-at-home order. This ruling has put the people of Illinois at risk. I sincerely hope that this matter will be brought to a Swift resolution so that we can go back to placing our undivided attention on the work of keeping people safe.
Speaker 7: (46:31)
Okay. And then we’ll just do a few more questions here. Jay Griffin from the Daily Herald, coronavirus deaths linked to nursing homes more than doubled. Cases also soared to 4,300. Is the surge partly a function of more testing in these facilities in the past week? What can be done to protect workers and residents in these facilities?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (46:47)
We certainly are doing much more testing across the state and especially in nursing home facilities. That is true. As you know, when there’s an outbreak, we have a strike team that often takes hold that we are advising the local assisted living or nursing home on how to manage these crises. And of course the County public health officials are very much engaged on the local level to make sure that there’s PPE to protect the people in the facility, including the staff as well as all the residents. So we’ll continue to operate on an urgent basis with regard to our nursing homes, because certainly those congregate facilities as we’ve been saying now for weeks are the most at risk of any type of setting that people can be in. Doctor, you have anything to add?
Mary Anne: (47:40)
Mr. Governor, I didn’t realize that order, what had happened, I called this [crosstalk 00:47:45] I mean that’s going to cause a problem. If you [crosstalk 00:47:49]
Speaker 7: (47:49)
Hey, Mary Anne, can you wait one second so we can get you on.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (47:52)
Yeah. We’re going to get you a microphone.
Mary Anne: (47:54)
If you… Yeah. I mean, I wasn’t ready for that. Sorry. And others are asking as well. So if the judge is saying Darren Bailey’s right, you might not have this authority. So every city, every county is going to go ahead and say, guess what we’re opening.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (48:14)
That is the danger that Darren Bailey has put the state in. You’ve just stated it perfectly succinctly. People are in danger as a result of this ruling, of the judges ruling of the suit that was brought by Darren Bailey. We certainly are going to act in a Swift fashion to try to have this ruling overturned. Certainly put a stay in place. I mean, frankly, it’s insulting, it’s dangerous and people safety and health has now been put at risk. There may be people who contract Coronavirus as a result of what Darren Bailey has done now.
Mary Anne: (48:51)
How quickly can you act? Because I would think people are going to dry to supersede you very quickly [crosstalk 00:48:57]
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (48:56)
The attorney general handles these kinds of lawsuits. Their people are on site and their people are handling the appeals that will take place.
Mary Anne: (49:07)
Speaker 7: (49:09)
Okay. We’ll do a couple more questions here. Kelly at Block Club, what is the state doing now or what does it plan to do to prepare for the November election and how is it ramping up mail and voting?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (49:21)
So, as you know, there is some federal funding available to support changes in our elections so that we can make sure that people have the ability to vote even with the presence of Coronavirus. So our intention, my intention at the moment is to ask the legislature to expand mail balloting. I think that giving everybody the ability to vote by mail much more easily makes the most sense to me as a way to prevent people from contracting Coronavirus. And so I will be asking legislature to do that. And then of course the Illinois board of elections has been thinking about this and preparing for it for some time and we look forward to working with them, advising them, and making sure that the legislature gives them whatever they need in order to effectuate more male imbalance.
Speaker 7: (50:14)
We also have a question from, hold on one second, Shia at Politico, governor, how do you see the handling of COVID-19 effecting political discourse in Illinois and across the country as we lead up to the November election?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (50:36)
I think that I can see that people want to make this a political issue. From my perspective, this is a matter of life and death. We all ought to be on the same side on those subjects. And so I’m hoping that this doesn’t evolve into the politics that I think often people at the federal level like to make it. And obviously you can see that there are legislators who don’t understand this, who think that everything is fodder for the political world. But I must say that there are Republicans that I have worked with who are genuinely concerned to do the right thing in the state of Illinois. And of course Democrats have been terrific working with some of those Republicans working with me to make sure that we’re making progress at lowering our hospitalizations, and all the other things that we’re trying to do here. But it is vital, vital that we work together to keep people safe, and that means following the orders that we put in place, which obviously, Darren Bailey has now put at risk.
Speaker 7: (51:40)
This will be our last question. It’s from Kelsey Landis at Belleville News-Democrat. Will the state start reporting Coronavirus cases at correctional facilities the way they do nursing homes? We already do that, but you can [crosstalk 00:51:51]
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (51:51)
Will the state, what?
Speaker 7: (51:51)
Start [crosstalk 00:51:51]
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (51:51)
Speaker 7: (51:52)
Yeah. Reporting cases at the department of corrections. We do that.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (51:57)
Speaker 7: (51:58)
It’s on the correction’s website, but you could talk a little bit [crosstalk 00:51:58] about what we do, what we’ve done at corrections otherwise too.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (52:02)
Yeah. I mean, we have been very focused on all congregate settings, developmental disabilities, sites, prisons, nursing homes, assisted living, the list goes on. With regard to prisons, we’ve deployed the national guard, medical units, tents, making sure that we can separate people who get COVID-19 from people who don’t have it. I’m making sure we’re doing wellness checks and taking temperatures. A lot of testing has occurred. We want to keep our staff safe at all these facilities. So there’s been quite a lot of work done for, I guess it’s probably seven weeks or more now to make sure that there’s been no visitors and all these other facility restrictions in order to make sure that we’re keeping everybody safe, especially our staff and the residents or inmates.
Speaker 7: (52:55)
Right. Thank you everyone.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (52:57)
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (52:57)