Dec 16, 2020
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 16
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker held a press conference on December 16 to provide coronavirus updates. He announced that the federal government cut half of the expected supply of COVID-19 vaccines for the next two shipments. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Governor J.B. Pritzker: (00:04)
Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the COVID-19 update for Wednesday, December the 16th. Today, Dr. Ezike will kick us off with today’s news from IDPH, but I want to first provide our most updated scheduled vaccine delivery figures from the federal government.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (00:26)
Previously, federal authorities had notified us that they planned to ship out nearly eight million Pfizer vaccine doses, to states, large cities, and territories across the country next week. However, as of this morning, I’m disappointed to learn that the US Department of Health and Human Services informed us that per the direction of Operation Warp Speed’s General Perna, that estimate was tightened significantly, down to 4.3 million doses shipped nationally next week. The following week, originally projected for another 8.8 million doses is also now scheduled to be 4.3 million doses. This development will likely cut our state’s projected Pfizer shipments this month by roughly half. The same is true across the rest of the nation. This does not affect vaccine shipments that already arrived at our strategic national stockpile on Monday as part of our initial 109,000 doses for this week. Shipments to regional destinations across the state remain on schedule.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (01:41)
Again, this is the latest from the federal government, so I wanted to make sure that all Illinoisans had the most up-to-date information on this rollout as soon as I do. I will continue to update you with new information as we learn it from the federal government. Thank you, and with that, I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Ngozi Ezike.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (02:09)
Thank you, Governor, and good afternoon, everyone. Thank you. Today, we are reporting 7,123 new individuals that have been diagnosed with COVID-19 for a total of 870,600 cases statewide. Sadly, we also received report over the last 24 hours of 146 individuals who lost their life to COVID-19, for a total of 14,655 deaths in Illinois. Overnight, 4,793 individuals were in hospitals across Illinois with COVID. Of those, 1,045 were in the intensive care unit, and 590 were on ventilators. In the last 24 hours, more than 93,000 tests have been reported, and we have just passed the 12 million test mark since the beginning of this pandemic. The excitement of the week continues as more vaccine gets pushed out across Illinois and into the arms of our workers and healthcare settings. And each week, although it may be reduced, but we will continue to receive new allocations of vaccine, and the number of people eligible to be vaccinated will expand.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (03:25)
The news of the vaccine is cause for celebration, but of course, again, I reiterate that it does not signify the end of the pandemic. Not yet, but it is the beginning of the end. It’s this last mile, but that last mile of the super marathon has quite a few bumps and hurdles, but we will get through it together. First, we do need to get enough vaccine and have it readily available to the public at large. You’ve just heard about some of the decreases in the coming allotments, so we will continue to endure those challenges. Second, we need to make sure that people are actually getting vaccinated. There is a clear difference between vaccine and vaccination. Even if we had doses in the ultra cold freezers for every individual in Illinois, if they don’t come out of the ultra cold freezers and get into the arms of individuals, we make no progress on this pandemic. Thirdly, we cannot forget the important foundational things that we have to continue doing, and that of course includes wearing our mask, avoiding gatherings, and keeping our distance to reduce the amount of virus circulating in our communities.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (04:40)
Using this very layered approach will get us to the end of the pandemic, and then we truly will have that time for celebration. Thank you.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (04:49)
Now, comments in Spanish. [ Spanish 00:04: 53].
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (07:27)
And with that, I’ll turn the podium back to Governor Pritzker.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (07:34)
Thank you very much, Dr. Ezike. And today we’re also joined by our DCEO director, Erin Guthrie, as well as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. I want to thank both of you for being here today.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (07:50)
We sit at a defining moment in our history. This week marks the first COVID-19 vaccinations of our frontline healthcare workers, and the beginning of the end of this pandemic that has stolen so much from us. It has also unveiled and exacerbated some of the deepest fissures in our pre-pandemic normal. Months remain in our battle to get to the other side of this ocean of challenges, but we are now at a point where we can finally see the other side. I know so many of us are eager to get back to normal in many facets of our lives, but it’s incumbent upon us to not forget the ways that COVID-19 has highlighted the inequities that low-income families have long faced, and the ways it’s accelerated the need for us to respond.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (08:45)
One of the largest gaps, made even more significant in this pandemic, is the digital divide. How can your child learn from home if you don’t have internet access? How can you shop for groceries safely online if you don’t have a computer? Accessing the digital world has become essential for students, for small business owners, for patient-doctor communications, for job applications. Really there’s no realm in which connecting online hasn’t become absolutely necessary in the modern era. That’s why we don’t stand a chance of achieving equity if it isn’t accessible to everyone.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (09:26)
Long before we had ever heard of COVID-19, I set the ambitious goal of bringing broadband digital infrastructure to every corner of Illinois by 2024 through a program called Connect Illinois, the largest and most ambitious state matching grant program in the nation for development of our broadband infrastructure. And we are well on our way toward the goal of making broadband accessible for every Illinoisan. We’ve launched $100 million in capital this year alone, with $50 million in capital grants deployed to communities and another $50 million of matching grants being offered to further connect communities early next year.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (10:13)
I’m very proud of the work that my administration is doing to ensure broadband is available to everyone across our state. But even with that, the ability to plug into broadband means nothing when you don’t have a device to start with. And in our state of nearly 4.9 million households, an estimated 1.1 million of them currently do not have access to a computer. That means 1.1 million families can’t connect and communicate by email, use e-learning resources, do a job search, work online from home, pay bills electronically and so much more.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (10:56)
So today I’m announcing a first of its kind statewide initiative to put computers in the hands of those who need them. The Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network is what it’s called. This new collaboration between our Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the nonprofit PCs for People will provide refurbished and modernized computers to those in need. And I’m excited to say that PCs for People’s CEO, Casey Sorenson, will be streaming in today to talk more about this program and the critical nature of this work.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (11:32)
Today, we’re announcing an initial commitment of 20,000 devices to families in need all across the state. As we grow the program, it’s businesses and philanthropists that will make this program successful. So I want to put the call out to all them to help us. In the spirit of this holiday season, I’m asking Illinois companies to join us in this effort to build on our initial down payment. When your upgrade cycle gets renewed and your-
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (12:03)
… [inaudible 00:00:12:00]. When your upgrade cycle gets renewed and your old technology in your company no longer fits the needs of your employees, you can donate it and it will be upgraded for use by a family in need. By doing so you put us one step closer to ensuring that all Illinoisans can participate in the 21st century’s digital economy. And of course everyone is invited to donate your outdated home computers too, just visit illinois.gov/computerequitynetwork, that’s illinois.gov/all one word, no spaces, community, sorry, computerequitynetwork.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (12:44)
That same website, it also contains all the information on eligibility to receive a device from this program and a full list of community events for dropping off or picking up devices in your area. Events are already underway in Metro East, in Cook County, and in other parts of the state. More distribution events will kick off next month with the list of locations updated regularly. So check in on a regular basis. Importantly, events will take place in all 102 counties of Illinois in 2021.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (13:23)
Earlier this year, PCs for People began its pilot at a facility in Metro East, an initiative of the Illinois COVID-19 response fund that I launched at the beginning of this pandemic. Under President Toni Preckwinkle’s leadership, a counterpart to the Metro East operations has now been established in Cook County, which will serve as the clearing house for the North and Central regions of our state. The Jewish United Fund is another one of our early partners in this initiative. In the context of the pandemic, they saw an immediate need for these resources, and I want to personally thank them for committing $250,000 to the Computer Equity Network.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (14:10)
I launched the Connect Illinois program last year with $420 million, focused on addressing digital inequity everywhere, wherever it is needed to be addressed and wherever it exists. We’re targeting capital dollars to rural and urban areas lacking connectivity, expanding local broadband capacity, providing computers to households in need, and building digital literacy and skills. This is a multi-pronged assault on the digital divide with the hope of ending it once and for all in the State of Illinois. With that, I’d like to turn it over to one of the leaders in this fight, DCEO Director, Erin Guthrie. Erin.
Erin Guthrie: (15:00)
Thank you so much, Governor. Good afternoon, everyone. I’m-
Speaker 1: (15:04)
Erin Guthrie: (15:04)
Good afternoon. I’m Erin Guthrie, Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, also known as DCEO. I’m thrilled to be here today to join the governor, Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, and PCs For People as we launch the first ever statewide network for computer refurbishing in Illinois. DCEO is the home to the Office of Broadband where we play a central role in delivering the broadband capital program called Connect Illinois. This program, envisioned by Governor Pritzker, puts forward $420 million to bring Illinois communities universal access to broadband infrastructure by 2024. I’m proud to report that we’re well on our way toward this goal.
Erin Guthrie: (15:47)
However, there’s much more that needs to be done to fully bridge the digital divide as we see it here in Illinois. Given the urgency of these challenges, especially at a time of economic crisis, our department is operating on a three-pronged strategy for digital equity. First, by building high speed infrastructure, as I just mentioned. Second, we’re issuing grants to help communities with digital literacy training through our Digital Navigator program. And now with the launch of the Connect Illinois Computer Equity Network that the governor just announced, we’ll complete the missing piece in our strategy to build capacity and connectivity for all Illinoisans.
Erin Guthrie: (16:28)
Our program addresses what is currently one of the biggest barriers facing households that are lacking digital and broadband access and that’s access to device at home. As the governor said, about 23% of households do not have access to a laptop or desktop computer in Illinois. The State of Illinois will host community distribution events in every county across Illinois to get these upgraded devices to eligible families. And I want to be clear, these are more than just handoff events. In addition to closing the gap on devices, these events will provide onsite support to help families access low cost internet service and digital literacy courses, ensuring that we don’t just give people computers, but also an understanding of how to make the most of them. Casey from PCs For People will describe this process in just a few minutes, but because we know that sourcing hardware is a limiting factor in this work, we are here today to call an Illinois companies to help us meet this challenge. Just like our broadband infrastructure program, which asks for matching, the Computer Equity Network relies on corporate partnership to accelerate this urgent work.
Erin Guthrie: (17:35)
So if you take anything away from our announcement today, it’s our message to Illinois businesses. We are counting on you to maximize the impact of this initiative. Your donation is essential as we work to close the gap. For those interested in donating or applying, again the website is illinois.gov/computerequitynetwork … to read more about how to support this cause. Finally, I want to close by saying that the work of the Office of Broadband would not be possible without the support of many, many local partners from the philanthropic community and at the local level. This includes the Jewish United Fund, the Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, and the Urban League who have helped stand up the Metro East hub. And locally our cities and towns play a crucial role as we build a universal broadband plan that truly matches the needs of their residents. Cook County has been leading the charge on addressing issues of digital equity since the time before the pandemic hit. And now they’re joining us in standing up the hub of a statewide network to support more residents in Cook and across the state. We thank them for their continued partnership. And with that, I’d like to turn it over to President Preckwinkle. thank you.
President Preckwinkle: (18:54)
Thank you, Director Guthrie and good afternoon everyone.
Speaker 1: (18:56)
President Preckwinkle: (18:58)
I’m pleased to be here today to launch an important new initiative to expand digital access to low income families in Illinois. Thank you Governor Pritzker and Director Guthrie for your partnership on these critical intersecting issues of digital equity and economic development. I often talk about how we can advance racial equity in government through policy and practice. During such a difficult year we’ve seen how existing inequities in our system are worsened during a public health crisis such as one we’re experiencing.
President Preckwinkle: (19:33)
This year these intersecting challenges have come to the forefront as many residents have had to transition to digital work or learning this year. In many households, having one shared computer device is not enough to meet the demands of working parents and multiple children who are learning virtually. Through our partnership with PCs For People, Cook County and the State of Illinois are proud to be taking action. Today represents the launch of a statewide effort to distribute refurbished computers, digital literacy programs, and workforce training to residents who need it most.
President Preckwinkle: (20:15)
This initiative will help narrow the digital divide in our communities while providing new work opportunities. These efforts will connect hundreds, hundreds of Illinois residents with the devices necessary to access the internet for learning, remote work, tele-health and more. But we can’t do this alone. I join Governor Pritzker in asking public, private, and philanthropic partners to donate equipment to this initiative. Everyone needs to do their part as we look toward a long-term equitable recovery.
President Preckwinkle: (20:49)
While we’re proud of these efforts, we know this will not be enough. That’s why earlier this year, Cook County launched CODE, Council on Digital Equity, a body of local members and senior advisors to provide expertise and guidance as we address digital inequities. We appreciate their service as we build on our commitment to support sustainable action to advance digital equity. I look forward to the work ahead and to make digital equity a reality in Cook County and across the State of Illinois. I’d like to thank Michael Albert and Mark Motyka … I think I did that right … for being sign language interpreters. I want to thank all of you and return the podium to Governor Pritzker.
Governor J.B. Pritzker: (21:29)
Thank you very much. So thanks, especially to President Preckwinkle for her leadership, not just on this subject, but on so many things during this pandemic. And it’s been a terrific partnership, and I know that the people of Cook County are very grateful as well. It’s now my honor to introduce our next guest, a great ally in the battle to destroy the gap in the digital divide, and that’s the CEO of PCs For People, Casey Sorensen. Casey.
Casey Sorensen: (22:05)
Thank you. PCs for people is honored to be partnering with Governor Pritzker, Cook County, and businesses across Illinois. The State of Illinois and its Office of Broadband have been leaders in the US with an ambitious plan to get broadband to every corner of the state. However, to be able to use broadband for things like education, jobs, and tele-health, a household needs a computer and technical skills.
Casey Sorensen: (22:31)
That’s where we come in. For those who have not heard of us, PCs for People started 22 years ago when a computer was given to a troubled youth. The computer transformed the boy’s life. He went from being expelled from school to having a job creating webpages for churches and local businesses. It’s easy for many to take for granted access to a computer and internet, but the pandemic has shown us millions of kids cannot access education, and many people need tech skills to find new jobs.
Casey Sorensen: (23:02)
Over the last 22 years, PCs for People has built a sustainable digital inclusion program that starts by offering certified IT recycling. We currently partner with over 1,500 businesses, from banks and hospitals to high-tech firms and local government to collect their retired tech. Data is securely sanitized, then incoming computers are cleaned, tested, and re-installed with a new licensed copy of Windows. Work has already begun to get tech to families across the state. We received a COVID relief grant in the Fall, which has allowed us to launch a distribution center in Metro East. From this site, there are scheduled computer distribution events in each of the 41 counties in Southern Illinois, including one today. We’re now building a second distribution center in Cook County. Northern Illinois events will begin starting in Q1 of next year.
Casey Sorensen: (23:57)
Eligibility for our program is the 200% federal poverty level. Visit our website at pcsforpeople-
Casey Sorensen: (24:03)
… federal poverty level is at our website at pcsforpeople.org/illinois, to learn more. In our first year in Illinois, we will connect at least 20,000 homes. A key to growing this program is building partnerships. We have received a warm welcome from local corporations, and now with the governor’s call to action, we are optimistic about announcing many new partnerships in the near future to help us sustain supply, to reach Illinois families. This has been a challenging year for many here and across the US. We’re, again, honored to work with the governor on this initiative to provide connectivity and opportunity for the future. I would like to welcome the governor backup to take questions from the press.
Gov. Pritzker: (24:45)
Thanks very much Casey and happy to take questions from members of the media. Chris.
Governor, can you speak a little bit about what you said off the top about the reduction in Pfizer vaccine. Does that mean we’d expect starting Christmas week and New Year’s week to see Illinois numbers drop from 109,000 to 55,000?
Gov. Pritzker: (25:01)
I want to say that the drop is in the projected numbers for the future weeks. But I’d like to have Dr. Ezike address that. Thank you.
Dr. Ezike: (25:12)
So we know that the federal numbers in terms of what will go out to all of the states and territories has been decreased. So consequentially, we will have a resultant drop. Our final numbers have not been concluded. And I think the governor has mentioned many times that he’s not comfortable speaking too much about numbers because things do change on literally hourly basis. This is information from just this morning. So we can’t really give any more of our projection. It’s probably not helpful to do that. As the, I guess, doses actually come in, that’s when we can guarantee the actual numbers.
Can you speak at all just about what the hiccup might’ve been? Was it from Pfizer or was it from HHS? Do we have any knowledge on that?
Dr. Ezike: (25:52)
Don’t have information on that. Just reporting what we were told this morning. Thank you.
Speaker 2: (25:56)
To make it clear, what you’re talking about has absolutely nothing to do with the shipments that are already here-
Dr. Ezike: (26:01)
Correct. That’s correct.
Speaker 2: (26:03)
Can you give us a status on the hospitals and how many have received the vaccine and for those who have not, why not?
Gov. Pritzker: (26:11)
Well, let me first say that as you know, there are four specific counties that the federal government is shipping directly to. And those are under the federal government’s control as were the shipments that have come to the State of Illinois up to now and will be frankly going forward. As you know, we have been working with the local public health departments all across the state, practicing for weeks with them, putting a schedule together for weeks with them and in coordination with the Illinois Hospital Association and the local public health departments work with their local hospitals. So all of this has been pre- planned appropriately.
Gov. Pritzker: (27:01)
As you can imagine, there are certain counties, certain areas of the state that have asked to not have them delivered as early as, for example, the ones that were delivered to Chicago Department of Public Health, who got their shipments directly from the federal government. So the local public health departments across the state get theirs after they’ve been repackaged and delivered to the RHCCs. Those are our regional hubs that have ultra cold storage. No County or hospital wants these pulled out of ultra cold storage until they are absolutely ready to put these in the arms of people, the healthcare workers that are going to be vaccinated. And so that schedule has been set for some time now and the deliveries have ensued.
Speaker 2: (27:50)
Do you think there’s too much of bureaucracy and red tape in the process? I know that several states got the shipment the same time that Illinois did and began vaccinating on Monday. And there’s a lot of hospitals, major hospitals are still waiting to get vaccinated.
Gov. Pritzker: (28:08)
Well, let me be clear. The federal government is the one that decides that big cities, for example, which are in those states, get those shipments directly. So big cities typically have been faster than other areas of a state that is receiving shipments because they’re going directly to the big city and the big cities’ area of coverage. And the closeness of hospitals within a big city allows it to deliver much quicker. We have, as you know, 58,000 square miles of the state of Illinois. And in order to cover the 96 public health departments, the 50 counties that are within range of a hospital, the 50 counties that have the highest death rates per capita, in order to get all of that done, again, the repackaging had to occur at our strategic national stockpile with the refrigeration units that we had to acquire for the entire state. And then, of course, according to the schedule, delivered to the regional hospitals. And once again, the regional hospitals are awaiting pickups from local public health departments.
Speaker 3: (29:17)
Governor off topic. Can we talk a little more about the budget announcements, the cuts that you said are going to have to be made today. Union suggesting that they’re going to be digging in their heels on this and that there just needs to be more revenue fountain and not cuts. Can you respond to that?
Gov. Pritzker: (29:32)
Yeah. I mean, let’s be clear that we wouldn’t be in the situation of needing to work with the unions on furloughs and other cost reductions if the Fair Tax had passed. And the Republicans worked tooth and nail to defeat it. And so here we are. And so look, I’m going to work day in, day out, my administration will to make sure that we’re getting this right. But these are the consequences that have been brought on by the Republicans’ failure to have their own plan in lieu of the Fair Tax.
Speaker 3: (30:15)
They would counter and say that you put forth your budget counting on money that was smoke and mirrors.
Gov. Pritzker: (30:20)
Well, they countered that, but had no plan of their own. It’s easy to criticize when you have no plan of your own, no proposal of your own. They say, well, cut government, but then they don’t want to say what they would cut. And so we’ve put forward proposals for what needs to be trimmed from state government. They’re hard, they’re painful. And some evidence of that is, as you say, the workers and their representatives are concerned about the future of their jobs.
Speaker 3: (30:48)
Can furloughs be avoided?
Gov. Pritzker: (30:52)
I’ll be happy to work with anybody in the legislature that has ideas for how we would avoid furloughs. But again, we’re looking for cost reductions. So what are you going to trade off in order to make that happen?
Speaker 4: (31:06)
All right. We’ll go online. Dave Dahl, WTAX. “What legislative solution could be available to the budget problem you discussed yesterday and will the legislature even come back in January?”
Gov. Pritzker: (31:17)
Well, that is the schedule for the legislature to come back in January. I fully expect them to. They need to, because there is too much that needs to be done in this state that has not been addressed. I’ll just give one example of that, hospital transformation which should have occurred back in May during the very abbreviated session because of COVID-19, which was put off to the veto session. And then the legislature decided not to have a veto session. So hospital transformation is just one. I mean, criminal justice reform, social equity legislation needs to be passed by the legislature. Those are two things. We have to address the budget. And these matters associated with the budget. Most of them, many of them are really matters, the legislature, a coequal branch by their own admission, should be engaged in.
Speaker 4: (32:09)
John O’Connor at the AP. “You probably saw the Northwestern Stanford study that restaurant’s limiting to 20% capacity produce 58% of business without spreading the virus. Science is evolving. Might Illinois revise its rules, or is tier three here to stay?”
Gov. Pritzker: (32:24)
If John is suggesting that we should open up bars and restaurants at a moment when we’re losing literally 3000 people per day in this country and when other states are closing down indoor bar and restaurant service because all of the studies show that there is a tremendous spread that occurs in those locations, I would suggest to him that he’s just wrong. Certainly as the numbers get much better as we get back to where we were perhaps before this second surge that’s occurred in Illinois, that we could pull back to a place where we’re allowing some indoor bar and restaurant service. Look, I want to be clear with everybody. Bars and restaurants have suffered mightily because this virus really takes hold in places where people are not wearing masks and are together indoors for a long period of time. And I’m deeply concerned to make sure that we save as many lives as we can, that we keep people alive and keep people from getting sick. Especially now that we have a vaccine so that we can distribute that vaccine and get beyond this pandemic without more loss of life.
Speaker 4: (33:39)
Jim Hagerty at the Rockford Advocate. “Governor, looking back, how important was it to impose restrictions on bars over Thanksgiving now that we aren’t seeing a huge spike in cases since that weekend, which is a very big one for gatherings and drinking establishment?”
Gov. Pritzker: (33:53)
How important was it that we closed bars and restaurants to indoor service? Well, are you looking at the numbers? Did you see where the peaks went to in Illinois? Where we had 6,175 people in the hospital at a peak. In the spring, when we thought that was something, we had a little more than 5,000 people. Now, we got to 6,175 people in our hospitals across the state of Illinois. And when we imposed closure of indoor bars and restaurant service, you saw, it takes several weeks. In fact, one to two incubation periods for it to take effect. And then guess what’s happened? We’re now below 5,000 hospitalizations across the state. I mean, there is cause and effect to the mitigations that we’ve put in place. And they’ve been proven time and time again, the scientists have been right, and we’ve been following their advice.
Speaker 4: (34:52)
Matt Roy at WICS. “With the pandemic still ongoing and small businesses struggling, has there been any consideration to suspending the increase to the minimum wage that begins January 1st?”
Gov. Pritzker: (35:03)
No. The people of Illinois deserve to follow. We have a very long path, longer than some would have liked for the raise in the minimum wage. The city of Chicago, I think, is at $14 now. The state of Illinois has been gradually increasing from $8 and 25 cents. So look, this economy is going to recover and we want particularly people who are working at the lowest wages in our economy, the poorest working people in Illinois, we think that they deserve a raise.
Speaker 4: (35:39)
Mark Maxwell at WCIA. “This February, you proposed lower spending levels for K-12 education and higher ed if the graduated income tax didn’t pass. Why weren’t those included in your budget cut proposals yesterday?”
Gov. Pritzker: (35:53)
I’m sorry. I didn’t quite catch the first part. In February, what was the question?
Speaker 4: (35:57)
In February, you proposed, in your budget, lower spending levels for K- 12 and higher education if the graduated income tax didn’t pass.
Speaker 4: (36:03)
… K-12 and higher education if the graduated income tax didn’t pass. Why weren’t those included in your budget proposals yesterday?
Gov. Pritzker: (36:07)
Well, again, we’re going to have conversations with the legislature as was the beginning of that conversation from our budget proposal. These are things that need to be worked out with frankly, people on both sides of the aisle.
Gov. Pritzker: (36:18)
K-12 education is something that affects most families in Illinois. And I think that’s something that we should decide upon together as would the budget have been decided upon together.
Speaker 4: (36:32)
Tony Arnold at WBEZ. As healthcare workers received vaccines yesterday, when can Illinois nursing homes expect to see vaccinations for their residents?
Gov. Pritzker: (36:42)
Do you have the schedule? I know that CVS and Walgreens… So I’ll just say this, CVS and Walgreens are directly contracted by the federal government to deliver those vaccines, to vaccinations, to our long-term care facilities.
Gov. Pritzker: (36:57)
The original schedule showed that they would be the week of December 21st. I know that there has been talk of some delay, so I’m going to turn it over to Dr. Ezike to further answer.
Dr. Ezike: (37:11)
So the plan is to, again, we know that we have this federal partnership with Walgreens and CVS and MHA, and the first vaccinations by the pharmacy teams into long-term care, starting with the skilled nursing facilities, will begin the week of December 28th.
Dr. Ezike: (37:31)
We will be pushing the allotment for next week, the week of the 20th, to the pharmacies. And so then they will get it and then begin the actual vaccinations the week of the 28th. So that has been the plan. And that is still what we know of the plan.
Dr. Ezike: (37:49)
The only changes might occur if, with these decreased in allocations, it might slow the process for the skilled nursing facilities. But again, we have to wait for more information to see where that lands.
Speaker 5: (38:01)
How will the Moderna vaccine, which is likely to be starting to ship out next week if all goes as planned, how will that affect the supply?
Gov. Pritzker: (38:11)
Well, again, we’ve saw some early projections. I now no longer fully believe projections that are put in front of us by the federal government. Having said that, we’re hopeful that they’re accurate, but those projections showed that we would see hundreds of thousands more vaccinations, vaccine doses delivered to the State between the time that they would be released, which may be early next week.
Gov. Pritzker: (38:38)
Obviously there’ll be some decisions made on Thursday of this week, but assuming they are released, I do want to say one thing about the Moderna vaccine that’s different than the Pfizer vaccine.
Gov. Pritzker: (38:51)
When you open up a package of the Pfizer vaccine, you literally have five days between the time that you open that package and take it out of ultra cold storage, I should say, and the time that it needs to be pushed into people’s arms, and that has the tendency to cause spoilage if you don’t manage it properly, which is why there was so much organization and practice that went into the weeks before the deliveries of these Pfizer vaccines.
Gov. Pritzker: (39:18)
The Moderna vaccine, once you open a package and take it out of the regular freezer storage, that most vaccines go into, you have a 30 day window in which to vaccinate people.
Gov. Pritzker: (39:33)
So that’s something we’re very hopeful about it, it certainly makes things easier. And so with the hundreds of thousands that may arrive as a result of approval of Moderna also comes the ease of the local public health departments being able to get it to locations and push it into people’s arms without as much concern about the waste that may occur.
Speaker 5: (39:56)
Governor, given the restrictions of Pfizer [inaudible 00:40:00] still, and [inaudible 00:40:01] back to my question that I asked you before about the bureaucracy involved-
Gov. Pritzker: (40:04)
Speaker 5: (40:04)
… with trying to distribute this vaccine, does it make sense to have it go through so many… The regional thing and the health department [crosstalk 00:04:13]?
Gov. Pritzker: (40:11)
Well, I would have rather had the… You’re asking about the steps that have to be gone through?
Speaker 5: (40:18)
The steps. It seems to me there’s lots of extra steps in the State of Illinois.
Gov. Pritzker: (40:20)
Right. The federal government decided that they’re not going to deliver directly to local public health departments other than to big cities. And they’re not going to deliver directly to hospitals and rather just ship it to the state and the state send it out.
Gov. Pritzker: (40:35)
So in our case, in the State of Illinois, we have 97 local public health departments, one of which is the City of Chicago, but 96 others. And the Illinois Department of Public Health works together in collaboration with those 97 public health departments, but they’re not controlled by the Department of Public Health at the State.
Gov. Pritzker: (40:56)
And so that collaboration, which is a good one, and is ongoing for many years, does mean that, Illinois has a different system perhaps than some other states. Here’s what I know though.
Gov. Pritzker: (41:08)
You want this kept in ultra cold storage as long as possible until local counties are ready to push these vaccines into people’s arms. And that is what we’re accommodating, making sure that there is the least amount of spoilage and that there is the greatest number of vaccinations that are given all across the 96 public health departments.
Governor, there’s been a lot of ramp up to this moment in time. I sense a little frustration, tongue in cheek, saying you don’t really believe projections from the federal government anymore. How would you grade where we’re at 48 hours into this rollout compared to what you thought it might look like? How would you grade it?
Gov. Pritzker: (41:48)
You’ve heard my frustration with the federal government over the last nine months, have you?
Gov. Pritzker: (41:54)
And how would I grade it? Look, everybody is working extraordinarily hard. Everybody, at every level of government cares deeply about making sure that we’re protecting as many people as quickly as we can. So I don’t want to express frustration with this… Pfizer, no doubt, is manufacturing as fast as they can, as safely as they can, right, to make sure that we have safe vaccines for us to distribute.
Gov. Pritzker: (42:18)
I think, General Perna at the Operation Warp Speed, the same. I think that he wants to make sure… This is a massive logistics operation. And I think that the Operation Warp Speed and the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, they all want this to go well.
Gov. Pritzker: (42:36)
And again, there are complications, difficulties on their end to try to get all of that organized, to get those thousands of trucks sent out to the right places, make sure the deliveries occurred, make sure they go into ultra cold storage immediately, et cetera.
Gov. Pritzker: (42:52)
So I have urged from the beginning patience, and I think that’s really the watch word that we all need to keep in mind. Look, would I like everybody to be vaccinated today, or this week?
Gov. Pritzker: (43:03)
I would. I would like it if it could happen, but I think we need to recognize that this is a complex process and it’s being handled as best it could be.
Speaker 4: (43:14)
Rich Miller is asking why did IDPH refuse to testify at today’s House Veteran’s Affairs Committee hearing? My understanding Dr. Hart was there. Dr. Ezike-
Dr. Ezike: (43:24)
Speaker 4: (43:24)
… so he did testify, correct? Okay.
Speaker 4: (43:28)
Kelly Bauer from Block Club, can Dr. Ezike or Governor Pritzker say how much the Chicago supply of the vaccine has been cut by?
Gov. Pritzker: (43:37)
It’s the same amount. It’s all done in a proportionate population, proportionate basis.
Speaker 4: (43:43)
Dan Petrella at the Tribune, looks like he’s our last one. Earlier this week, Dr. Ezike talked about all of the data on vaccinations that must be reported within 24 hours.
Speaker 4: (43:52)
Will IDPH report those figures on daily vaccinations as it does with COVID-19 cases and deaths?
Gov. Pritzker: (43:58)
As quickly as we have the data.
Dr. Ezike: (44:00)
Yeah. We are working with the data team, the immunization team, the web team to work on the visualization of that information for our website. I know everyone has a lot of interest.
Dr. Ezike: (44:13)
Let me just add that, putting that info… In terms of who’s getting the vaccines and whether it happens on Monday versus Friday, please understand that the getting to the end of this pandemic is not going to be based on this part here.
Dr. Ezike: (44:29)
It’s going to be when we get it to the masses on the backend. So whether people get the vaccine on Monday or Friday, of course there’s excitement, and we want it to happen as quickly as possible, but that’s not where…
Dr. Ezike: (44:42)
This is not going to make the pandemic end sooner, because it happened on Monday instead of Friday. And what we’re calling bureaucracy, a lot of it is logistics for a very difficult product that no one has ever dealt with in the vaccine world.
Dr. Ezike: (44:56)
So we want to get it right. Not just fast. And so please exhibit the patience that you’ve heard Governor Pritzker talk about so that we can get this right. Not just fast, but right for all the people of Illinois.
Speaker 4: (45:10)
All right, thanks everyone.
Gov. Pritzker: (45:10)