Dec 14, 2020

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 14

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 14
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsIllinois Gov. JB Pritzker COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 14

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker held a press conference on December 14 to discuss coronavirus updates. Read the transcript here.

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Governor JB Pritzker: (00:00)
A very special day that should instill us all with optimism and hope. As of this morning, the first shipments of the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Illinois. There are many scientists and researchers who deserve our admiration and thanks. But today, I want to offer my gratitude to all the truck drivers and pilots, logistics specialists, warehouse operations managers and law enforcement officers who have spent the last few days and weeks deploying the largest national mission in a generation.

Governor JB Pritzker: (00:43)
In their humility, they would say they’re just doing their jobs, But by doing so, they’re saving lives. Earlier today, I joined the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois State Police teams receiving the Pfizer shipments on the ground at our strategic national stockpile warehouse. As we speak, our vaccine distribution teams are putting into action what they have prepared and drilled for over the past several weeks, carefully taking inventory of tens of thousands of vaccines, repackaging the vaccines and preparing those packages to ship out to our hospital distribution centers tomorrow and Wednesday, the timeline requested by our partners on the ground.

Governor JB Pritzker: (01:35)
Remember that the logistics of these first vaccine shipments are the most complex because maintaining ultra cold temperatures until the very last moment is essential. Once the packages are received by medical providers, they have only days to use the vaccines, which is why most hospitals have carefully planned their desired delivery schedules over the next several days. Illinois Health and Hospital Association president and CEO, A.J. Wilhelmi, will join me today to talk about our collaborative effort to ensure this vaccine gets into the arms of as many frontline healthcare workers as possible to minimize any waste.

Governor JB Pritzker: (02:23)
The shipment we received today is roughly half of our statewide allocation for this first round, excluding Chicago. At the recommendation of the CDC and medical professionals, a portion of our vaccine will be shipped directly from the manufacturer to four of our larger public health departments, in Cook, Lake, Madison and St. Clair counties. The federal government will deliver these shipments later this week, and we are working closely with these local health departments to prepare.

Governor JB Pritzker: (02:59)
In other words, today marks only the beginning of the national vaccination rollout. This week, the very first recipients of the very first phase will receive their first of two doses of this COVID-19 vaccine. To put it in perspective, in total, Illinois will be receiving about 109,000 doses this week. Nationally, there are approximately 24 million people who the CDC classifies as phase 1A. Our destination is clear, but the road ahead will be long.

Governor JB Pritzker: (03:39)
Starting next week, with the potential FDA approval of the Moderna vaccine, Illinois will begin reserving portions of our weekly shipments for residents and staff of Illinois long-term care facilities. The federal government is directing and managing that distribution and those vaccinations through federal contracts with CVS and Walgreens. Across the next three shipments, the federal government estimates providing enough doses for all the skilled nursing facilities that have signed up through the national program. From there, it’s expected to expand to other congregate care settings, such as assisted living facilities.

Governor JB Pritzker: (04:23)
CVS and Walgreens are reporting extremely high demand across the nation. And as they share information on their timetable with us, we will share it with you. Let me echo the CDC’s advisory committee on immunization practices, in emphasizing that while this vaccine has been developed at an incredible pace, it’s gone through the formal regulatory process in a very transparent manner, under arguably the most public scrutiny of any vaccine candidate in human history. Our own Illinois independent review board today released its findings after spending the weekend ferociously diving into all available FDA data on the Pfizer vaccine. And I’m pleased to say that the team has unanimously endorsed the CDC’s recommendations on the vaccine. These experts are currently working with IDPH to update our COVID-19 FAQ document on the IDPH website with answers about the vaccine. We want everyone to be able to access the facts as clearly as possible as we have them. One of our review board members is with us today, will join us a bit later, to speak with the public directly about the safe design of this vaccine, Dr. Michael Olson, an Assistant Professor of Medical Microbiology at Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine.

Governor JB Pritzker: (05:59)
I know that there’s a lot of information coming out about this vaccine all at once. So I want to quickly run through the recommendations that the CDC put out over the weekend, so that Illinoisans have all of the most up-to-date information for the decision when it’s your turn in line. To start with, CDC director Robert Redfield signed off on recommending the vaccine to all Americans 16 years of age and over. The CDC has also offered additional clinical considerations for certain groups, and I want to bring you up to date on those. For those who have had severe allergic reactions to vaccines in the past, the CDC said you can still get this vaccine when it’s your turn, but you should discuss the risks with your doctor if you choose to do so.

Governor JB Pritzker: (06:54)
The CDC does not recommend a special precautions for people with just non-vaccine allergies, like to bees or peanut butter. The CDC has also recommended that pregnant women have a discussion with their doctor, weighing the risk of taking the vaccine or waiting for more data on vaccine safety. A report from the CDC last month noted that pregnant women who get COVID-19 are at increased risk for serious complications compared to non-pregnant women of the same age, but we don’t yet have data on how the vaccine would affect pregnant individuals. While medical experts have traditionally recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women avoid vaccines made with live viral material, simply as a precaution, the Pfizer vaccine does not contain any viral material, and other vaccines like the flu shot are routinely recommended during pregnancy. As soon as the CDC or the FDA offers additional information regarding this vaccine and pregnancy, you’ll hear it from me. But with the data to date, they have determined that this is a decision between a woman and her doctor.

Governor JB Pritzker: (08:16)
Today marks a momentous occasion, not just this year, but in American history. 11 months after scientists, the world over, got their hands on the genetic sequence of the virus, we are seeing the beginning of the end of this pandemic. This is an incredible testament to our research institutions, to our scientists, to the medical professionals who worked tirelessly every day of this battle without ever knowing exactly when this day would come, but holding out hope in their hearts that it would. And here we are. May we all take a moment to feel that hope today. So thank you. And with that, I’d like to turn it over to IHA president and CEO A.J. Wilhelmi.

A.J. Wilhelmi: (09:07)
Thank you, Governor. Good afternoon. I appreciate the opportunity to join you today on this very hopeful day, as you just said very eloquently. And let me say at the outset how much we all appreciate your strong leadership, as well as the leadership of Director Ezike and how much the hospital community appreciates and values our partnership. As the governor has mentioned time and time again, hospitals and healthcare workers have been on the front lines in the COVID-19 pandemic all year, and we’re on the front lines again, as the vaccination process begins. Now the hospital community stands ready to play a major role in the vaccination process by serving as distribution hubs and vaccinating at-risk healthcare workers so they can be personally safe and also available to care for their patients.

A.J. Wilhelmi: (09:58)
Hospitals are preparing to receive vaccines this week, as mentioned by the governor, their teams have prepared internal vaccination plans, they’re communicating and planning with our government partners and with their local health departments to be sure this complex and logistically challenging process goes as smoothly as possible. And we know this a vaccine demand will far exceed supply in the first couple of months. So our hospital leaders are urging calm and patience as the vaccination process plays out. We also know that the vaccination of the people of Illinois will require a thoughtful process that will take months, not days, and we’re committed to doing this right. The stakes are too high to rush through it. And so hospitals will approach the vaccination process in a planned and orderly way that allows us to balance timely vaccinations of our most at risk healthcare workers with maintaining our ability to best care for our patients.

A.J. Wilhelmi: (10:57)
And of course, it’s critical as the governor said, to implement this process in a manner that doesn’t waste vaccine. The IHA and the Illinois hospital community stand with Governor Pritzker and Director Ezike in fighting this pandemic and in urging everyone to pull together for a few more months. Mask up social distance, wash your hands and when it’s your turn, please get vaccinated. We’re extremely pleased to be in a position to turn the tables on this virus and we look forward to working with Governor Pritzker and Director Ezike to do our part to effectively execute on the evacuation plan. And so again, Governor Pritzker Director Ezike, thank you for your strong leadership. It’s a real pleasure and an honor to work with you on this very hopeful day and in the days to come. Governor, I’ll turn it back to you.

Governor JB Pritzker: (11:47)
Thank you very much A.J., and thank you very much for all the amazing hard work that you’ve done to support our health care workers, our hospital systems, in preparation for the distribution of this vaccine. And now I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Ezike for today’s medical update.

Dr. Ezike: (12:14)
Good afternoon. Today has been highly anticipated. It’s the day that we start seeing the vaccine delivered and distributed across the US. We have been praying for this day and preparing for this day for months. And we’re working with our local health departments and our hospitals to get the vaccine into the arms of those who need it most as quickly as possible. However, I want to remind people, as you’ve heard already this afternoon, that there is only a limited number of doses of the vaccine for right now. And so we will be following the recommendations of the advisory committee on immunization practices, on who should be prioritized. In this round, vaccines-

Dr. Ezike: (13:03)
Prioritized. In this round, vaccines are prioritized for individuals who are at the greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19, workers in the healthcare setting, and those who are at the greatest risk of severe illness, and we all know that to be our loved ones in the long-term care facilities. As more vaccine becomes available, more individuals will be eligible to receive the vaccine, but until that time, please, again, you’ve heard this word, patience. Let’s exercise patience, and understand that there may be others who will get the vaccine before you.

Dr. Ezike: (13:43)
We continue to learn more each day about the virus, which helps us inform future vaccine administration. As more vaccine becomes available, local health departments will evaluate the makeup of their communities and will tailor their vaccination plan, while following the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendations. And as more recommendations come out, we will continue to urge all of our partners to follow those.

Dr. Ezike: (14:14)
I definitely look forward to the day when the vaccine is widely available to every single person in this state. Until that time, we still need to continue with our masking, avoiding crowds, watching our distance, and washing our hands. Let’s work to protect and not infect those that we love and those around us.

Dr. Ezike: (14:38)
And I’m also so glad to have our own Illinois Vaccination Advisory Work Group, who has been working so hard, as the governor mentioned, to review the information, to give their approval and support for this vaccine. It’s been an honor working with all the members of that group, that span from academic institutions throughout the state and involve infectious disease experts, vaccinologists, virologists, immunologists, biostatisticians. Again, thank you for all of your dedicated service.

Dr. Ezike: (15:16)
Today we are reporting 7,214 individuals who were newly diagnosed with COVID-19 for a total of more than 856,000 cases in Illinois. Over the last 24 hours, we unfortunately received notice of an additional 103 individuals who lost their battle with COVID, and that brings the total number of lives lost to more than 14,300. Overnight, 4,951 individuals were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19, 1070 in the ICU, and 621 individuals on ventilators. This is another milestone in terms of being under 5,000 for the first time in about nearly six weeks.

Dr. Ezike: (16:08)
In the last 24 hours, more than 92,000 tests have been reported, for a total of more than 11.8 million tests in Illinois. Today is a great day in our fight against COVID-19. It is the beginning of the end of this pandemic, but we are not there yet. There are still many months ahead before we eventually end this pandemic, but we will get there together as soon as we can by all working together. Thank you for your support.

Dr. Ezike: (16:42)
[Spanish 00:16:42] And now I’ll turn it over to Governor Pritzker.

Governor Pritzker: (19:49)
Sorry, we just have one more guest. So first thank you, Dr. Ezike. And last but not least, I’d like to introduce a distinguished member of our state’s vaccine review board. So joining us from Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine, Dr. Michael Olson.

A.J. Wilhelmi: (20:13)
Thank you. Here we go. Thank you, Governor Pritzker. On behalf of the Illinois Advisory Work Group, I would like to highlight a couple of aspects of the COVID vaccine that are important as we move on to this new phase of the pandemic. The Illinois Vaccine Advisory Work Group, as stated by Dr. Ezike, included experts with backgrounds in microbiology, immunology, epidemiology, biostatistics, and infectious disease, and represented institutions across the entire state. We have independently reviewed the available scientific data, supporting the authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine. We are in full agreement with the FDA authorization and CDC recommendation of the vaccine.

A.J. Wilhelmi: (21:02)
This two dose vaccine passed a rigorous study involving over 30,000 volunteers, demonstrating 95% efficacy in preventing severe COVID-19 infection, all the while maintaining an excellent safety profile. The trials involved people from various ages, races and ethnicity, weight, and various medical conditions. Given the current available scientific information, the work group believes that COVID-19 vaccination will prevent COVID-19 infection in people across the entire state of Illinois, including the Black and Latinx populations that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

A.J. Wilhelmi: (21:46)
The COVID-19 vaccine is a key step to protecting the people of Illinois and stopping the pandemic. And the Illinois Vaccine Advisory Work Group recommends that eligible persons receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available and it is their turn. Our team worked together to try to distill a lot of information and knowledge down into that FAQ sheet that will be available on the FDA website… Not FDA. IDPH. Get my acronyms straight here. On the IDPH website. And it will have information about what you can expect when you get a shot or when you get the vaccination. Typically local side- effects were mild for redness and the arm and that other side effects that were more systemic involved fatigue and headache. And those are most common in the younger subset of the population that was vaccinated, and then were a little bit stronger upon receiving the second dose.

A.J. Wilhelmi: (22:50)
So not everybody is going to have a reaction like that. For headache and fatigue it was 51 and 39% in the highest bracket of those experiencing the symptom. And that’s just your body deciding that “I need to respond to this and have an immune response.” So one could view that as something positive taking place. Pain in the injection site was not terribly frequent. And like I said, older patients had less severe reactions or side effects than younger.

A.J. Wilhelmi: (23:28)
Long-term side effects are unknown at this point in time, given the length of time that is available to study the vaccine. The report was very careful to state that we have watched this for two months post-second vaccination, and so the data at this point in time reflects what is currently known, and that was the questions that were designed to be asked.

A.J. Wilhelmi: (23:55)
It’s often asked why a vaccine like this could be developed so quickly. And there’s a lot of factors that come into play here. Just to highlight a few things. The scientists were ready and prepared. There were people already working on MRNA vaccines, the type of this vaccine that is being used, and it was showing good results in flu studies and other studies as well. But then there became a large need and demand, an influx of money that are able to use trial sites that were already existing, and last but not least, there were volunteers and a pandemic going on.

A.J. Wilhelmi: (24:34)
So to gain statistical significance, one needs to have people who took out the placebo come down with COVID-19 at a higher rate than those who received the vaccination. And when there’s a lot of disease burden going on, then you’re able to assess that. So that was kind of a bonus but unfortunate consequence of the pandemic.

A.J. Wilhelmi: (24:59)
So a question we often get is that will you get the vaccine? And as an advisory committee or as a work group, we would say, yes, we will. And we will get that when it’s our turn. As Governor Pritzker also pointed out, there is not the ability for you to come down with COVID receiving the vaccine or for you to pass COVID on to anybody else due to the vaccine. This vaccine only provides a very small subset, or a small piece of one protein, or just a part of the virus. And so as your body responds to it, there is no way for a new virus to form. There’s no way for that to be passed on. So a lot of safety concerns that people have are answered on this FAQ, and some of them, another one would be, is this going to be a yearly shot like the flu? Given the data right now, we don’t know how long the protection’s going to be. At least two months and likely longer, but there’s a…

A.J. Wilhelmi: (26:03)
… could be at least two months and likely longer. But there’s a lot of differences between the flu and coronavirus at a genetic level that explain some of those differences. And the trial is ongoing; they will be monitoring people that were enrolled for the next couple of years, and at a later point in time, they’ll be able to advise on how frequently, if at all more vaccines are needed. That’s just some of the highlights. There’s more on the FAQ, and so I thank you for your time, and I’ll pass it back to Governor Pritzker and he’ll be taking questions.

Governor Pritzker: (26:36)
Thank you very much, Dr. Olson, thanks for all your hard work on behalf of the state and happy to take questions from members of the media.

Speaker 1: (26:43)
Thank you, governor. Yeah. As we watched today, doses have already been given in places like New York and even Madison, Wisconsin, and Pittsburgh. We’re pretty close to Kalamazoo. Why is no one getting the dose today? What are the plans for giving it tomorrow? Will you witness it and where?

Governor Pritzker: (27:06)
The first dose will be given out tomorrow. We’ll put out all that information shortly. My press office will make sure that you know where and when that is. Same will occur in the city of Chicago. There’ll be something outside the city of Chicago. One of the reasons that you see a difference in where the first vaccinations are taking place is that there were shipments made directly to certain hospitals by the federal government that arrived in your typically large cities. And then there were shipments that were made to the states to distribute among in our case, 96 public health departments, all across the state, excluding Chicago, which got a direct shipment. So that’s one of the reasons that you see a difference in arrival times and shipment times that we have to receive it here and split it up into 96 different packages to go to those public health departments.

Dr Ezike: (28:07)
In terms of just a little more detail on the logistics. When is it going to the 10 regional hubs? Is it going right now as we speak tonight? And then from there to the local health departments, how does that work out?

Governor Pritzker: (28:19)
So I don’t want to talk about the specifics of timing because I want to make sure that we’ve got full security associated with the delivery. But suffice to say that the RHCCs, those are the 10 hospitals that you’re talking about will receive those packages. And they’re the ones from which the 96 local health departments will then pick up their packages and bring them back to their counties. And as you know, we’ve focused on the 50 counties with the highest death per capita and the hospitals that are nearby some of those counties to make sure that we’re covering them as best we can with first shipment. But you’ll see that there are going to be more and more shipments. I think that’s one of the reasons you hear everybody saying, have patience. Is that this is going to take a little while because in Illinois in particular, because we have a very large state and 96 local public health departments in many hospitals, just takes a little longer than it does to go to a big city, for example.

Speaker 2: (29:23)
Governor, I don’t know if you could answer this or Dr. Ezike, but are the hospitals being advised to stagger the number of people they’re vaccinating right away so that if there are any kind of reactions other than low grade fevers that would cause people to need to stay home for a day. So they don’t vaccinate all right away and then we have problems?

Dr Ezike: (29:45)
Yes. Thank you. I know you’re referring to the potential for the side effects of malaise that can last for up to a day or two after administration. So, there have been many provider webinars and in-services by the CDC, both all through the weekend, even several today to go over that. And just to remind people have been made aware of that. That you have to think about the potential for those side effects. So maybe you wouldn’t take everybody on your COVID floor and do them all at that same time, in case you had a significant number of people that do need to take a day off, that you wouldn’t be without a workforce. So, that calculation has been done. I’m appreciating that that has been done by the hospital in terms of deciding who’s getting the vaccine on day one, who would get it on day two. Making sure that you spread it out between many different units, just to protect the workforce for the patients that are in the hospital that continue to need their care while the staff is being immunized.

Speaker 3: (30:52)
And why the four counties plus the city of Chicago getting their own separate shipments?

Governor Pritzker: (30:58)
I can take that. Yeah. We actually were advised that this would be advantageous. And I think in particular, because they were concerned about would all the shipments arrive in totally intact and so on. But also these are those particular counties have the ability to put the vaccines into ultra cold storage.

Speaker 4: (31:25)
Would there be a state or county wide registry, and how will that work?

Governor Pritzker: (31:31)
There is a registry I’ll let Dr. Ezike [inaudible 00:05:34].

Dr Ezike: (31:35)
So there is an existing state immunization registry. And to be part of this vaccination effort for COVID, you have to have registered with that, signed off on all the agreements. That you will follow ACEP guidance, that you will follow IDPH guidance. That you will log every single dose that’s given and give all the information on every recipient, name, address, date of birth, ethnicity data. All of that information has to be put in for every single person within 24 hours and uploaded into our system.

Dr Ezike: (32:11)
You will also maintain your inventory tracker and let us know every single dose that’s removed from inventory in that separate database, that we will have that and make sure that those numbers correlate. So at the state level, we will be able to see who has been immunized and which parts of the state, where there’s more uptake of the immunization, which areas that maybe don’t have enough uptake and identify whether it’s an outreach issue, where we need to go and do more education because people are not sure about this vaccine, or if there are not enough providers in that area to provide vaccine. Then we will know for future allocations, where to now push further distributions of this vaccine.

Speaker 5: (32:53)
Do you anticipate in weekly shipments of the Pfizer vaccine specifically, or what are you talk about next week or the week be after that, that’s Moderna or some combination of both? Because there’s some question as to whether this week is Pfizer, then they were going to wait a few more weeks for more Pfizer?

Dr Ezike: (33:09)
Obviously this week we got Pfizer. There is no other FDA authorized vaccine to distribute for this week. So if there is another vaccine, I know that there’s deliberation by the FDA for another potential EUA for the Moderna vaccine. So if that is approved, then in subsequent weeks, then we might have the modern vaccine as well. And then any other vaccines that get approved that get authorized, could then be added. So again, every week we expect to get certain allocations of all the available vaccines. So if next week, fingers crossed, if we’re dealing with two vaccines, there may be two vaccines that we could be receiving specific amounts of.

Speaker 5: (33:52)
Specifically Pfizer has committed to next week or the week after-

Dr Ezike: (33:57)
Again, we will know it for sure when we see it. The number that we’re sure of is the number that we got for this week. And so we’ll be waiting to get additional information as it gets closer, then we’ll know what the confirmed numbers are.

Speaker 6: (34:10)
You don’t know when you’re getting the second half? You mentioned today, we got the first half of Illinois shipment is the second half due in a couple of days or next week?

Dr Ezike: (34:18)
Sorry. Later this week we will be receiving the remainder of our allocation.

Speaker 7: (34:29)
Is that the four counties plus Chicago, or that’s also separate to the state?

Governor Pritzker: (34:30)
Chicago is receiving it separately and should have been today or tomorrow as my understanding, is that correct? And then the other counties receiving theirs. Thursday, just to clarify about the Moderna. And again, we are reacting to the information that we get from the federal government about this. They are telling us that if the Moderna vaccine is approved on Thursday is the day that it seems like they’re going to consider it. Then we may receive a shipment in the coming two weeks as the first shipment of Moderna, but that we would receive continuing shipments of Pfizer, because at least that’s what they’re telling us. And that that’s what seems to be in the system today.

Speaker 7: (35:26)
Is there a number on Moderna yet? I know I asked that last week.

Governor Pritzker: (35:29)
They have not confirmed numbers.

Speaker 8: (35:32)
Just to follow. We saw the video of you watching the vaccine, get packed and put away and stored and all that. It seemed like you were pretty amazed by watching it. Can you just give us a perspective of what it was like to actually see the vaccine here and today’s the day?

Governor Pritzker: (35:52)
Well, let me say just how excited I was getting up this morning and going to watch this. The people who were there, the troopers, the logistics managers, the folks who were packing and unpacking the boxes, they all recognize as I do, that this is history in the making. And they’re all so well-trained, and they’ve been practicing this for a couple of weeks, several weeks, and they’re very good at their jobs. I was very proud to be in Illinoisan and to also to be governor at a time when something this momentous is occurring. So, it’s an amazing thing that we’ve done. I’m talking about the United States and the researchers and scientists to be able to come up with a vaccine like this in such short order. And for us to now be embarking on distributing it, and hopefully over the next several months to most of the population.

Speaker 9: (37:00)
When do you expect to take the vaccine?

Governor Pritzker: (37:03)
Whenever I am assigned a place in line. As you know, ACEP hasn’t come out with all of its guidance. We still have a lot of healthcare workers and a lot of long-term care facilities that need to be covered. The people who work at those long-term care facilities, as well as the residents. So it’ll be some time and I’ll take it whenever my turn comes up.

Speaker 10: (37:24)
We’ll do one more in the room and then we have a bunch of online.

Speaker 11: (37:27)
[crosstalk 00:37:27] schools open in the next school and his first 100 days. Do you think it’s possible to get the majority of Illinois students back in school within the first 100 days?

Governor Pritzker: (37:34)
I can’t speak to whether it’s possible. As you know, in Illinois, we’ve not prohibited schools from being in session. And indeed, we’ve tried to create all of the circumstances so that people could. School districts are choosing whether they want a hybrid program or a fully in-person or e-learning system. So I don’t know, 100 days, three months, it’s possible. It’s possible. I know that as I’ve seen drafts of what the ACEP is looking at, teachers are in that list and prioritized. But I wouldn’t want to pass some judgment on it. I don’t know, but I think it’s a worthy goal. We want to get kids back in school that’s for sure.

Speaker 12: (38:20)
Can I just ask you. Over the weekend, there was a wrestling tournament. There’ve been others, of course, but this one was in Illinois. A lot of people at the South One Center in Linwood, the Ho-Chunk casino, parents, children, teenagers-

Governor Pritzker: (38:34)
At the Ho-Chunk casino? So it was in Wisconsin.

Speaker 12: (38:38)
It says the South One Center in Linwood. And a lot of people there who are ignoring your rules. Having a wrestling tournament. What do you say? They were served with apparently a … not a fine, but an admonishment-

Governor Pritzker: (38:55)
Warning.

Speaker 12: (38:57)
[inaudible 00:38:57].

Governor Pritzker: (38:59)
Look, you’ve asked me questions like this before, and I would just say-

Governor Pritzker: (39:02)
You’ve asked me questions like this before and I would just say, putting parents and teachers and coaches and the kids in danger is a terrible idea, especially when we are now experiencing a number of deaths per day in the United States that is equivalent to a 9/11 every day, 3,000 people every day. We need to survive in order for us to be able to take the vaccine. We want all the people that would like to wrestle or all the people that are coaching and all of their parents to be able to get this vaccine so that they can have a great wrestling season when it should be available to them. But, they have to stay safe until then and that’s why we’ve got to follow the mitigation.

Facilitator: (39:49)
All right. We’ve got a bunch of questions online.

Governor Pritzker: (39:50)
Sure.

Facilitator: (39:50)
Dan Petrella, the Tribune. It’s been two weeks since the Thanksgiving weekend. What impact has the holiday had on the fall surge and what metrics are you using to judge that? Do you need another two weeks to really know?

Governor Pritzker: (40:02)
Well, I think I’d like to ask Dr. Ezike to talk about that because this is really medical judgment that is ruling the day here. So, Dr. Ezike?

Dr Ezike: (40:14)
So again, as we have said from the beginning, it takes at least one or two incubation periods to be able to assess with the Binax test, which give us more rapid results. We think that we are starting to get information obviously even sooner because of the turnaround time. So for this last week that ended on Saturday, there was not a significant spike or surge in the cases from the previous week. So, that is good news. When I break it down by individual regions, it looks like there was only… I think it was Region 3 and maybe Region 5 that had a tiny increase in the number of cases from this last week over the previous week. So, we haven’t seen something significant to talk about now. We’ll see for sure in this coming week, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed that maybe we’re not going to see a big bump. Unfortunately, time is what will give us more data. And so, we’ll have more information after we accumulate this week’s information.

Facilitator: (41:25)
Dr. Ezike, you can just stay there because there’s two more for you. Dan had one followup. What was discussed with hospitals on the IDPH webinar today?

Dr Ezike: (41:33)
So, there’s one today. I wasn’t on that one, but I know my team was talking about the rollout obviously of the vaccine. We just wanted to review all the things that you’ve already heard here, that every single dose has to be accounted for, has to be put into eyecare; for other hospitals that haven’t registered, again, reminding them of the process for getting registered to be a COVID vaccine provider; being able to make sure that the hospital staff are thinking about the possible side effects and how they’re planning out their staff that will get it, not vaccinating an entire unit at the same time but staggering this unit with some people from a separate unit, somebody from clinical teams and nonclinical teams mixing it up so that if anyone does fall ill, we don’t have a decimation of our workforce; talking about some of the information that came through over the weekend. So, just continuous updates are necessary, get the questions that people may have. So, that will be an ongoing process because information keeps filtering in.

Dr Ezike: (42:42)
As we go through this process of week one, we’re going to need to solicit feedback and have that continual bilateral communication to make sure that we keep making the process as best as it can be so that we can get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible and as safely as possible without wasting vaccine.

Facilitator: (42:59)
Amy Jacobson just had one for you. If you get the vaccine, can you still spread COVID to others?

Dr Ezike: (43:05)
Right. So, that’s a great question. I think that is not specifically one of the endpoints of the trials that were done with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine trials. So, we know that the endpoint of does it stop severe disease from happening, we know that that’s the case. And so, with ongoing information, ongoing data being accumulated, we will be able to have more definitive answers to that question and other important questions.

Facilitator: (43:38)
Hannah Meisel. Can you provide an update for the voluntary reallocation of vaccine doses from the small counties on that list of 50 without hospitals through the regional medical centers? Is there a list you can provide of the counties giving up their vaccine doses?

Dr Ezike: (43:51)
Sure. We can get that list of put out in terms of who are the initial hospitals that will be receiving allocations to start with the vaccination process this week.

Facilitator: (44:04)
And then, Kelly Bauer at Block Club. We’ve seen more than 100 people dead daily for a week now. Roughly, what percentage of deaths reported per day are delayed? And in general, how long are reports of death delayed?

Governor Pritzker: (44:18)
Well, I’ll let Dr. Ezike come in. I could give you the answer there.

Dr Ezike: (44:21)
Okay. So again, it is very different. We’re getting the deaths from all of the counties of the state, right? So, there are different processes in different areas. Some will be given to us by the coroners going through our vital records database. Some are coming in through I-NEDSS. So, there are multiple inputs that are aggregated. Sometimes, there’s a process where the certifying physician has to sign off. Then, it has to go to a coroner. Again, there are multiple protocols that may happen at the hospital, at the morgue, before it comes to IDPA. So often, what we are reporting is what we have received in the last 24 hours. But, does that mean that those happened the day before? Usually, all of those processes that I described did not happen in 12 hours or 24 hours. But every day, we share the numbers that we’ve gotten for the last 24 hours.

Dr Ezike: (45:18)
We know that in certain situations where maybe there’s someone not working on Sunday, so that information wouldn’t get transferred on Sunday, but then we’d get transferred on Monday. So, there can be lags. Sometimes, the county might have the information sooner than us. Because within a county, the coroner might directly call the public health department and share information. So again, there is some lag built into that. We don’t necessarily get it the day before. But as soon as we get it, we are reporting the information that we have received in the last 24 hours through these various channels.

Facilitator: (45:52)
Jake Griffin at the Daily Herald. This is for you, Dr. Ezike, as well. Who should people contact to get in line for a vaccination? Once pharmacy chains are involved, how will people be able to prove that they’re eligible for priority vaccination?

Dr Ezike: (46:03)
Right. So, that’s a very great question. I can’t wait to get to that point where there’s many more people who are eligible to get the vaccine. So, a lot of information is still yet to come. We’re still waiting for the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to give us more detailed guidance on who exactly is in that next group. Right now, we know that maybe essential, critical infrastructure workers, people over 65, people with multiple medical conditions. So getting clear instructions on who that next group is, as soon as we have that information, we can share that with the public. And then, we will, on an ongoing basis, let you know how we’re doing with the group we’re doing now, which is the individuals and the long-term care settings and the workers in the health care settings. So as we get finished with that, then we will let you know who is in that next group and that we’re starting that next group.

Dr Ezike: (46:58)
In some situations, it will be providers who will be able to make some of those determinations. Some, it might be where you will use your badge to certify that you’re in this critical infrastructure work. It could be your badge that could tell us the kind of work you do, that you work with waste and sanitation and keeping our communities clean, that you’re an educator, et cetera. So again, as we get there, and we can’t wait to get there, but we know that this current stage we’re in, it’s going to take quite a bit of time and we’ll get you plenty of information before we get to the subsequent phases.

Facilitator: (47:28)
Shruti at Bloomberg. Republican leaders in Congress are questioning the need for aid to state and local governments, given that revenue for states, including Illinois, has held up better than expected. Can you respond?

Governor Pritzker: (47:40)
Sure. Well, Republican leaders have, for quite some time, been opposed to supporting local governments and state governments, so any excuse they can come up with those folks. But, there are many other Republicans, I might add, that have worked with Democrats to craft a solution for local governments and state governments. So, I’m hopeful for that and I do think that it’s going to be necessary. When you think about all the challenges of all the states all across the United States, it will be necessary for the federal government to do something for state and local governments.

Facilitator: (48:22)
Olivianna at WAND. When will Central Illinois get vaccines? Will just doctors and nurses get the first shipment or also general hospital staff?

Governor Pritzker: (48:34)
Doctors, nurses and general hospital staff will all get the vaccine.

Facilitator: (48:39)
Okay. Matt Roy will be our last question from WICS. The first doses of the vaccine will be going to healthcare workers and long-term care facilities, but what about IDOC and correctional officers? There have been 2,900 COs infected thus far due to close proximity and IDOC facilities between them and the inmates. Have you given any thought to IDOC workers and the vaccine in the first wave too? If not, when will they be on the list of recipients?

Governor Pritzker: (49:05)
Once again, the ACIP, this is the CDC committee that has come out with these recommendations, is scheduled and expected to come out with the recommendations regarding first responders. We include corrections officers among first responders, and then recommendations about people who are detained in jail or in prison.

Facilitator: (49:28)
All right. Thanks, everyone.

Governor Pritzker: (49:29)
Thank you.