Nov 17, 2020

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript November 17

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript November 17
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsIllinois Gov. JB Pritzker COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript November 17

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker held a press conference on November 17 to discuss coronavirus updates. Read the transcript here.

Transcribe Your Own Content

Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.

Governor JB Pritzker: (00:03)
Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the COVID-19 update for Tuesday, November the 17th. It’s been eight months since March 9th, when I first declared the state of emergency in Illinois to address the COVID-19 pandemic. I knew then that we were facing down a kind of challenge that we had never seen before, but even so, very few of us had any idea of just how much our lives would be disrupted in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

Governor JB Pritzker: (00:36)
In the spring, Illinoisans faced some of the most difficult months of their lives. People began to get sick. Others lost their jobs. Healthcare workers logged monumentally long, terrifying hours caring for their patients. Office workers shifted to online. Grocery store staff stocked and restocked shelves all night long. Restaurants, bars, concert venues, movie theaters began to face incredible hardship, even with federal stimulus.

Governor JB Pritzker: (01:15)
For many of those hurt worst by the pandemic, the financial challenges of paying your bills and staying above water still linger. Across Illinois, hundreds and then thousands lost their lives. We flattened the curve in about six weeks and brought down the infection rate, so much so that we avoided the second wave that hit many parts of the nation during the summer. But as fall approached, we began to see an upsurge, and now we are seeing a COVID storm that has set us on a course to a new wave of the virus that we all hoped wouldn’t come.

Governor JB Pritzker: (01:54)
But if you look at our new trajectories of COVID-19 hospitalizations, cases, and deaths, it’s clear that it’s here. There were predictions that we would have a fall resurgence that’s worse than the last spring’s, just like the 1918 flu pandemic, and those predictions turned out to be accurate. That’s true across the Midwest right now, from the Dakotas and Iowa, which are seeing unprecedented spread, to Michigan and Minnesota, facing down similar resurgences to Illinois. Our region is once again in the throes of the worst of this coronavirus pandemic.

Governor JB Pritzker: (02:39)
But here’s what’s different from last spring. By our experience and by the good work of our scientists and doctors, we have a greater understanding of how to protect ourselves from this virus. We have masks, and we know they work. We know that keeping six feet of distance helps. We know gathering in our home with people who aren’t close family members is very risky. We know that large gatherings, especially when people are not wearing masks, can be very dangerous, and there’s hope on the horizon, which became more real as of yesterday with the preliminary reports about success of a second potentially effective vaccine candidate.

Governor JB Pritzker: (03:25)
But between where we are now and that hopeful horizon is an enormous challenge that we must endure, because it may be months before we see mass distribution of an effective vaccine. Right now, we’re witnessing exponential growth in the number of people admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 statewide. What that means is that while linear growth is when the number of new patients in the hospital grows by the same number day over day or week over week, exponential growth is when daily or weekly percentage growth is constant or increasing. That’s what we’re seeing now here in Illinois.

Governor JB Pritzker: (04:14)
Think of exponential growth like a snowball rolling downhill, picking up speed and gaining in size. As it rolls, it gets larger and faster until it becomes something so big that it takes extraordinary effort to slow or stop it. Increases in cases and hospitalizations that used to take weeks are now happening in days. Over the last month, the rate of growth in COVID patients in the hospital has grown from a 9% increase between September 22nd and October 6th to a 69% increase between November 3rd and November 17th.

Governor JB Pritzker: (04:58)
This trajectory indicates that ICU and non-ICU hospital occupancy by COVID-19 patients could reach as much as five times our previous records from the spring, five times. All of our modeling groups, which collaborate with IDPH to evaluate our forward-looking outcomes in the COVID-19 pandemic, agree that without additional mitigations, this epidemic from now through September will continue to escalate as pictured here.

Governor JB Pritzker: (05:34)
These are the paths most likely to occur if current trends hold without additional intervention. On each of these plots, the gray shaded area indicates a zone in which the direction of the pandemic here in Illinois is particularly uncertain, meaning we can alter our trajectory significantly if we take real action, both on the individual and policy level right now. Models project that without additional mitigations, daily COVID-19 deaths may at least match the previous spring wave and could even rise up to four to five times that level, a risk that grows as hospitals become increasingly filled by more patients and as more of our heroic healthcare workers get sick, leading to staffing shortages. Without new interventions, projections show between 17,000 and 45,000 additional deaths in Illinois between now and March 1st of 2021, assuming hospitals are able to continue providing the optimal level of care. That is one to four times what has been experienced between the beginning of the pandemic and today. We can’t let that happen.

Governor JB Pritzker: (07:02)
We will continue to see a rise in both hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 for weeks ahead because of the infections that have already happened, but we can change our longer term outcome. We can save potentially thousands of lives in the next few months if we make changes right now to stop this in its tracks. In other words, this new wave of the virus brought on by the national COVID storm cannot be addressed properly with the Tier 1 or Tier 2 resurgence mitigation plan that was designed to suppress infections regionally that were growing in a linear fashion. We must once again work together on a statewide basis to bend the curve.

Governor JB Pritzker: (07:52)
So starting Friday, all of Illinois is moving to Tier 3 resurgence mitigations. This is not a stay at home order, but the best way for us to avoid a stay at home order is to stay home. We are asking you to choose Zoom instead of packing people in a room for Thanksgiving. Make alterations to your routines now so that we can be together later. The virus thrives when we gather indoors without masks with people that we don’t normally live with, and you’ll see these Tier 3 mitigations reflect this reality.

Governor JB Pritzker: (08:35)
To slow the spread and until we can begin to bring down the infection rate, you should not attend dinners, events, gatherings, or meetings beyond your own household. This is a temporary set of rules that are designed by doctors to keep you safe. To be very clear, we are relying on you here. Nobody will go door to door to check on you, but we’re asking people to hold themselves and each other accountable. The more we can avoid gatherings now, especially indoors with the people that we don’t already live with, the more likely we are to be able to celebrate the December holidays with less risk to our loved ones and ourselves.

Governor JB Pritzker: (09:21)
Tier 3 boils down to this. If you don’t need to do it, don’t. That is especially true when it comes to gathering with people outside your household, because the terrible truth is that getting together with people in this way is exactly how the virus spreads. To stop the spread and preserve our December holidays, all of us need to do more than just wear our masks now, though masks are mandatory throughout the state of Illinois. The simple fact is that COVID-19 is spreading quickly and widely. Our hospitals are beginning to experience real strain, and at the current infection rate, they will be overwhelmed. We must not let that happen.

Governor JB Pritzker: (10:10)
So whenever possible, we need you, we want you to stay home. I’m hopeful that by limiting our in-person interactions now, we will succeed at avoiding a stay at home order like what we had last spring, when the choice between saving lives and saving livelihoods was even more stark. Tier 3 may allow us to do both. Similar to new restrictions announced over the last few days in Michigan and California and Washington, Tier 3 is Illinois’ effort to avoid a stay at home order.

Governor JB Pritzker: (10:51)
Meanwhile, no matter what we do, there will be unnecessary economic pain. The virus rages on while Senate Republicans in Washington continue to block additional aid that families and healthcare institutions and small restaurants and nonprofits and cities and states in every corner of our nation desperately need. Their inaction is unnecessarily turning a pandemic into a twindemic. While states with and without mitigations are experiencing a new wave of the virus, the economy is on the verge of taking another step downward, potentially costing millions more jobs across the United States, and all because of the US Senate’s refusal to push genuine, meaningful, significant stimulus across the finish line. This will go down as a travesty in American history, because many people in this country cannot sustain one more blow.

Governor JB Pritzker: (11:51)
While we wait for Washington to hear the pleas of American families, we must keep each other safe from this disease. As painful as it is, we must hold the line, avoid another stay at home order, battle through these next few months, give our hospitals some breathing room, and save thousands of lives until we can get to the other side of this difficult time.

Governor JB Pritzker: (12:15)
Our single best weapon in the weeks ahead is all of you and the individual and collective actions that we take as a state to get through this. Those will really matter. As always, these mitigations are based on the latest science and data focused on what will keep people safe. You’ll notice that retail stores as well as personal services where you can keep your mask on will remain open at limited capacities. Gyms can allow individuals to schedule workouts as long as they wear masks throughout. Schools and daycares can choose to remain open, but with the precautions set out previously by IDPH and ISBE. We continue to rely on local school board-

Governor JB Pritzker: (13:03)
We continue to rely on local school boards to determine the right approach here. We’ve provided extensive IDPH attendance to schools, and I urge local officials to carefully consider that, as well as the unique needs of their students and their communities. So far, most public schools have chosen e-learning and hybrid learning solutions, and daycares continue to operate relatively safely. Safety and health is my primary concern, and with Tier 3, the doctors have struck a careful balance based upon what the data and studies show about the risk of contracting the virus in various settings. Unfortunately, no matter what we do to mitigate the potentially damaging effects of this virus, it will require some sacrifice. These mitigations pause a number of indoor activities, where the science shows us this virus can most easily spread. Museums, theaters, and casinos will need to temporarily close.

Governor JB Pritzker: (14:11)
Indoor recreational activities, including youth club and adult sports will need to take a pause until we can get our spread under control. All workplaces that have remote capabilities should have their employees work remotely. If you are able to work from home, we need you to do so. For businesses affected by the virus, please apply for the business interruption grants that we created to help you through these times. They can be applied for on the DCEO website at dceo.illinois.gov. Folks, this is not a time to be out and about. Stay home as much as possible, whatever your job or school will allow. While we fight this latest COVID storm, our guiding principle about interactions outside your family bubble remains this. If you don’t need to do it, don’t do it. I know that this virus is taking its toll in so many ways. We all want this to be over.

Governor JB Pritzker: (15:21)
We want to fast forward to a world where masks are once again, things that only doctors wear, where grandparents can hug their grandchildren, where Thanksgiving tables are full of loved ones and friends and neighbors, and where handshakes don’t add fuel to the fire of a worldwide pandemic. But I know with my whole heart that we will get through this. A vaccine is coming, we just have to keep going a little bit longer. We have to keep going so that when we get to the other side of this pandemic, we will have done everything we can to get everyone there with us safely. So thank you, and with that, I’d like to turn it over to our director of the Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngozi Ezike. Doctor.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (16:13)
Good afternoon. Well, we anticipated it and we warned about it and we all knew it was coming. The second wave is now here. But it’s not only here, it’s more dire than what we saw in the spring. To slow the spread of the virus and to help prevent more cases, more hospitalizations, more deaths, more mitigation measures are being implemented. The science is there and it’s pretty simple, if you’re not in the physical presence of other people, the virus can’t spread to someone else. It can and will spread at a party, it can and will spread at a dining establishment, it can and will spread at a large Thanksgiving gathering, it can and will spread at a wedding, and it can and will and has spread at funerals. It’s like dominoes. If you take one or two out of the line, the dominoes stop falling because there’s not something to hit. We’ve got to take things out of the line so there’s not something to hit. Nobody takes this lightly. No one is ignorant to the acute difficulties that so many people and industries will face, but we are really hoping that these additional mitigations will do the trick. We were hoping not even to get here, but as the numbers climb, we cannot in good conscience let our behaviors and activities go unchecked. Today, we are reporting 12,601 new cases for a total of 597,849 cases in Illinois. We’ve received report of 97 additional lives lost for a total of 10,875 deaths. Overnight, 5,887 people were in the hospital with COVID-19, that is 1,000 more than we had at our peak in the spring. Of those 5,887, 1,158 patients were in the ICU and 545 patients were on ventilators. In hospitals throughout the state, one out of every four patients has COVID and that number is only going to grow. So if those COVID numbers grow, and flu hospitalizations will grow, where will someone go with chest pain?

Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (19:03)
Where will they go if they acutely notice facial droop after a car accident? We have to be able to take care of all of the people of Illinois and have the hospital capacity to do so. In the last 24 hours, 94,205 tests were reported for a total of more than 9.25 million tests in Illinois. People are going to be frustrated, people are going to be upset, people are going to be downright angry. Right now, this virus has backed us into a corner and we are left making insanely difficult and weighty decisions. We all want to get back to normal, but we can’t get there just yet. I urge people to turn their frustration and their anger into something positive. Instead of trying to buck the mitigations, can we all just follow them, acknowledging that these are what are needed to get back to some semblance of normal.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (20:08)
If we can look out just a little bit further, we are starting to see the finish line. There’s definitely still lots of hills and hurdles ahead of us and the race is not over, but we’re going to get there if we keep pushing. Let’s push back on the COVID fatigue. We need to stay home as much as we can and break the cycle of transmission. Implementing additional mitigations was not an easy decision and was not entered into lightly. But speaking as a health professional, as a public health professional, as your director of public health, my job is to protect the health and wellness of the people of Illinois, and I’m supposed to protect that through prevention and through the control of this disease. We have tried to do it one way and it’s not been enough. We all see that it’s not working and that we’re going in the wrong direction and headed over a steep cliff. Please stay at home, please wear your mask. We can get there. Thank you.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (24:25)
[foreign language 00:08:21].

Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (24:29)
And with that, I will turn it back over to Gov. Pritzker.

Governor JB Pritzker: (24:32)
Excuse me. Before I take questions today, I want to discuss my personal plans for the Thanksgiving holidays. I think you all know that I try very hard to keep my high school age children out of the spotlight. They were not elected to anything. They did not choose this public life, and I have a reasonable expectation that their privacy will be protected. I was taken aback by yesterday’s question about my family’s holiday plans, in part because my wife and I were in the process of making the very hard decision that we may need to celebrate Thanksgiving apart from one another for the first time ever, and it was weighing heavily on my mind. I will be celebrating Thanksgiving in Chicago with our son. Our state is at a crisis point when it comes to the COVID pandemic and as leader, I believe that the situation is simply too grave for me to be elsewhere.

Governor JB Pritzker: (25:45)
My wife and daughter are in Florida and they will remain there indefinitely. Let me tell you why. Last week, my-

Governor JB Pritzker: (26:02)
Last week, my daughter came under attack in an attempt to have some political effect on me. A parody Twitter account posted a picture of a group of individuals eating outside a Chicago restaurant supposedly breaking the COVID rules the city put in place. And the person posting the photo claimed one of the people in it was my daughter. That was a lie. It wasn’t her. But the picture falsely identifying her started making the rounds on social media, helped along the trolls who permeate these social media platforms these days.

Governor JB Pritzker: (26:44)
My office put out a statement making clear this wasn’t my daughter, but that didn’t stop Republican elected officials, a network of propaganda publications in the state, and some radio shock jocks from telling people that the picture was of my daughter despite knowing that this was a lie, which lent permission to a slew of strangers who sent hateful threatening messages to my daughter over the subsequent few days. If that wasn’t bad enough, then a well-known lawyer who cares more about headlines than winning his cases, posted a bounty on his Facebook page, offering money to harass my family at Thanksgiving, an actual cash bounty, including my kids, harassing them, my high school aged kids.

Governor JB Pritzker: (27:38)
Put yourself in the shoes of a high school girl who is being weaponized against her father by his political opponents, weaponized with lies. Put yourself in my shoes. We have threats that stream into my office daily while we have watched the kidnapping plot against the Michigan governor unfold just a state away. I’m the Governor. I was elected to this job and while I don’t think it should come with a fear for my health and safety, I accept that sometimes it does. I’m an adult and I can handle people throwing my face up on anti-Semitic picket signs, likening me to Hitler. This kind of vitriol is apparently what I have to deal with to keep the state and its people safe.

Governor JB Pritzker: (28:28)
But my kids? My kids are off limits. Among elected officials and people in positions of responsibility, that didn’t use to happen. There was a time in American politics when the rule was sacrosanct. Kids are off limits. This should not be controversial. So I’m appealing to our collective sense of decency and our fundamental understanding of right and wrong to keep my child out of political disagreements. And to understand that I’m going to fight like hell to protect her privacy. I ask that you all respect that privacy. I’m willing to make the hard decisions that sometimes brings on vitriol from political opponents. But my children shouldn’t have to come under attack. Just like all of you, I want to be with my family for the holidays. And just like all of you, because of COVID, my family is having to make sacrifices to stay safe. This is not a political fight. This is a fight to save people’s lives. Let’s remember that as we enter the holiday season.

Governor JB Pritzker: (29:42)
And now I’d be happy to take questions from the members of the media.

Speaker 1: (29:45)
How did you come to the decision about canceling travel sports? I mean, I have high school kids too and I got to go home and tell them that they can’t play travel sports as we’ve been playing since June, zero COVID cases, zero spread. They’re not super-spreading events.

Governor JB Pritzker: (30:00)
Okay. Happy to have the doctor answer the question about why that decision was made.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (30:08)
As we’ve stated, all the numbers are going in the wrong direction, right? And we’re actually worried that we won’t have a bed for everyone to be in the hospital. So we need to stop infection transmission. Anytime there’s a gathering, there’s an opportunity for transmission and we are falling short. We’re not doing a stay at home order. We know that that worked, but we are trying to start from there and move and allow people to do some things. But the goal is to stop infection from spreading. And so that means halting people in their tracks. So we can’t have hundreds of thousands of kids moving around for practice and games and travel. We can’t have hoards of people looking at an exhibit in a museum. We can’t have groups. I mean, if people are canceling Thanksgiving with their family because we know that that can be the cause of spread, it should be clear that these larger entities of hundreds of thousands of kids moving around for sports also portents some spreads.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (31:16)
So I’m begging everyone’s indulgence to understand that we have to halt as much as we can. This is even beyond what we’ve put forward. People have to make their own personal choices to halt even more. That’s the only way we’re going to get to. We all have kids that play sports. This is a pause so that when their parents or grandparents want to go to the hospital for something, there’s actually a bed, that there’s actually a healthy nurse, or a doctor, or respiratory therapist, or food service worker to tend to those people in the hospital. That’s the simple goal that we’re all achieving. That’s all we’re trying to get.

Speaker 2: (31:51)
Dr. Ezike, any update on the vaccine rollout in Illinois? When can you that the first doses would be given and who will receive them?

Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (32:01)
Yeah. I hate to over promise and under deliver. What we have been told is that the Pfizer vaccine is about a week or two away from submitting their application to the FDA for the approval. We’ve heard that the Moderna vaccine should be going before the FDA in the beginning of December. If that process takes two to four weeks for revision to evaluate the data, to evaluate all the information, two to four weeks for that, that means if everything goes well, and the FDA looks at all of those materials favorably, we could have the Pfizer vaccine by the end of December. We could have the Moderna vaccine potentially at the beginning of January,

Speaker 2: (32:45)
You said you’re not doing a stay at home order. It’s pretty close. Why not just go there? Just from the feedback I’m receiving, people are saying, as you said, you know that works, then let’s do it.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (32:59)
And what would you be saying if we said we were doing that? Then there would be like, why do we have to close everything? We need to get our hair cut. We need to be able to take care of ourselves. I mean, there’s no way to win in this. These are all impossible decisions. We have stepped back from a full stay at home order. That’s the final trigger, obviously. But if everyone cooperates with us on this pause, we don’t have to go to the full extreme. And so I hope everybody sees how much we’re trying to give some people something while trying to make sure that we protect the health and safety of the people of Illinois.

Craig: (33:35)
Dr. Ezike, can you perhaps address, obviously, you’re making a very strong point here. What are the metrics that you’re looking at? In other words, what trips the trigger for the full shutdown that you say you don’t want to go to right now?

Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (33:50)
Right. So obviously I’m already getting calls from hospitals that there’s not a bed, right? So we are trying to look at how far that goes. We know that even when we implement mitigation… First of all, implementing mitigation, putting words on a paper, saying that we’re supposed to do this, we’re supposed to do that, that does absolutely nothing to interrupt infections and interrupt disease transmission. It is the individual people that have to adhere to those words on the paper, that have to fulfill the words on the paper that will actually make a difference. So we are going to be looking to see that people have embodied these mitigations for the sake of their fellow humans, and that they are going to help us have the numbers decrease. So we are looking for a decrease in the number of hospitalizations, a decrease in our test positivity. We’re looking to see that there’s increased availability of beds in the hospitals. So we will create the new metrics that people can follow along on our website.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (34:53)
If they have been careful to do that, we will continue to make that available as we transition into this tier three. But obviously, we will all know that as the numbers, 10,000 new cases, 15,000 new cases, 12,000 new cases today, clearly that’s not the direction we want to go in. As we see those numbers decrease, that will definitely tell us that we’re on our way. We have to be patient, because this is not something that if everybody just hunkers down for, today, they wore the mask for the whole day, that’s not going to be enough. We’re going to have to hang in there and keep doing this. I can’t say exactly how long it’s going to be, but the numbers will not lie to us. They have consistently given us the story so clearly. Everything moving in the same direction. There’s nothing to really argue. And when we see what we need to see, we will be the first people to come up here and say, “Look, we can pull back.”

Craig: (35:47)
[crosstalk 00:35:47] Can I just follow up the question? Maybe I didn’t ask it long enough. And the question is what you’re telling people to do all these things. So what’s the line of the sand drawing. In other words, if hospitalizations get available beds below a certain point, or is there at that point that you can say, if we get here, we’re going full shut.

Governor JB Pritzker: (36:08)
Do you mind if I take this? Because I think it’s important to recognize that there’s nothing exact about this virus. Okay? And so it is hard. It is hard to set lines in the sand, and especially when we’re at the levels that we’re at now. What we’re attempting to do here is, again, these are mitigations that are recommended by a variety of doctors. And they have said that with these mitigations, we believe that we can bend the curve, and it’s different than the spring, because we know more about where the infections spread most and what kind of exposure, for example. We’ve seen, I’ll just give you an example, that in barbershops or in hair salons, that there hasn’t been as much transmission. It’s been relatively limited. That’s when they’re wearing their masks, by the way. But you know, in other places where you take your mask off for a period of time, and there are lots of other people inside, for example, we’ve seen the transmission.

Governor JB Pritzker: (37:05)
So this is different than the spring when we did not know. Remember in March, literally the novel part of novel coronavirus was real, so novel that we just didn’t know what we knew was that you can’t transmit the virus if you’re not with somebody else. So let’s stop as many interactions as exists. Now we know there’s a low level of risk with certain kinds of activities. If you’re not packing people in doors, if you can do some of it outdoors and so on, and you see that reflected in the decisions that were made about this tier three mitigation. But Craig, to your question, if these numbers don’t start to curb, if they don’t start to bend this curve, then it is clear that we’re going to have to take more difficult measures and go to a stay at home order.

Speaker 3: (37:57)
Can you explain the gyms? So gyms can stay open at 25 [inaudible 00:37:59] classes-

Governor JB Pritzker: (38:00)
I’m not going to have individual discussions right here about each one of these items [crosstalk 00:00:38:03]. Happy to have you review them all and then come back, talk to a doctor, find out what they say, and then come back. I mean, we’ve tried very hard over time to show you what kinds of things work and what kinds of things don’t. These kinds of things work.

Speaker 3: (38:20)
Is this a 30 day order? And what about those, especially Republicans, who have said they’d like to be in on some of this discussion?

Governor JB Pritzker: (38:28)
Oh, they have, believe me, about each one of these things. I have had discussion after discussion with individual members of the Republican caucuses. And we’ve taken those things into account. You see here, there are a number of industries that we’re making sure we have enough capacity or we’re making sure that they’re fighting to make sure that certain businesses stay open. They seem more interested in some than others. But either way, we took their ideas, and then we went back and talked to the doctors, and they’ve given us the right flow here. And you’ll see that in most industry-

Governor JB Pritzker: (39:03)
… and they’ve given us the right flow here, and you’ll see that in most industries things are still operating, but at much lower capacity because we want small retailers, for example, unlike the spring to be able to stay open when you need to have the Walmart that has a grocery store in it open. Because we haven’t seen that much transmission in retail stores. And so, again, what the doctors are trying to do is measure the risk and then take action based upon how we can limit risk, but still keep things going.

Speaker 2: (39:35)
Pausing casinos will be especially effective in places like Joliet or other towns that have a casino. And it’s been sort of this [inaudible 00:39:45] for you, people asking you, “Why are they open, now you’re going to close them?” But why now did you put casinos in that category?

Governor JB Pritzker: (39:52)
Well, again, because the question is why did we make changes in any of this? And the answer is the numbers don’t lie. The numbers tell us that we need to slow down and stop interactions wherever we can. The truth is that people were packing into casinos, just like they were in other places. VGTs, right? Many of the reasons that some of the bars or restaurants were keeping their doors open is because their video gaming terminals were providing them with a lot of income, and so they were just defying the orders, keep those open. Those will be closed. Again, it’s all temporary and it’s all for the purpose of bending the curve so that we can all come back in the December holidays and really be able to gather and do the things that we would like to do, or at least within the limits of Phase 4.

Speaker 4: (40:39)
We’ll get two more in the room, and then we got to go online.

Speaker 2: (40:41)
So this is 30 days, right?

Speaker 4: (40:43)
Yes, every-

Governor JB Pritzker: (40:43)
No, there’s not a 30-day limit on it.

Speaker 4: (40:46)
The executive orders are 30 days.

Governor JB Pritzker: (40:47)
The executive order is 30 days. That’s right. I’m sorry. But this Tier 3 mitigation is bounded by the numbers, and it’s on the plan itself as it’s been released. It’ll tell you exactly how you can step down each region, stepping down from Tier 3, several are in Tier 2, all of them are in Tier 1 and how you can step down from each of those tiers back down to just the plain old Phase 4.

Speaker 4: (41:14)
All right. This will be the last one.

Speaker 2: (41:15)
You talked before. You did this by region. Now it’s statewide. Why?

Governor JB Pritzker: (41:19)
Well, these are statewide mitigations, right. Because the entire state, frankly, is covered with positivity rates and case numbers. The community spread is wide. So at this point, we need to have a widespread statewide order. Having said that, each region has the ability to pull out of this faster than another region by doing the right things, by enforcing the mitigations that we’ve put forward.

Speaker 5: (41:43)
What about calling a special session via Zoom or Google Meets? Because I talked to a lot state representatives who say we have one branch of government right now. We need to get that-

Speaker 4: (41:55)
State representatives should have voted for that because the House isn’t able to meet virtually.

Governor JB Pritzker: (42:00)
Yeah, they did not vote for that. Can’t do it.

Speaker 4: (42:01)
So we’re going to go online. Governor, you mentioned during the Mask Up video announcement that the Midwest is now the epicenter of the current outbreak. Is that because-

Governor JB Pritzker: (42:07)
I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear because we’ve got somebody talking over here. Sorry.

Speaker 4: (42:09)
You mentioned during the Mask Up video announcement with the other Midwest governors that the Midwest is the outbreak epicenter right now. Is that because of the situation in the Dakotas, or is it something else that’s caused us to see this spike?

Governor JB Pritzker: (42:21)
Look, nobody 100% knows exactly where things emanate when we have these outbreaks. You saw the Sunbelt this summer. There was a tremendous wave that hit the Sunbelt. Nobody knows exactly. So whatever I answer here, I want you to understand it’s extraordinarily difficult simply to say this happened and therefore everything else occurred after that as a result.

Governor JB Pritzker: (42:47)
But I will say that there’s a good deal of information about the fact that the Dakotas have been kind of an epicenter. If you look at where the waves have come and look at the dates in which states have had their positivity rates and their case numbers rise, it all seems to emanate seemingly around the Dakotas. So if you look west of the Dakotas, the states that are west of the Dakotas and east of Dakotas in the Northern states of the United States seem to have been the first ones affected, and then it starts to move sort of south from there. You saw Wisconsin and Iowa before Illinois started having our double digit positivity rates that we were seeing Wisconsin first and then Iowa. I think Iowa I read was at about a 60% positivity rate, at least I saw that recently. And so there are no boundaries here. This is why we needed a national strategy to begin with.

Speaker 4: (43:50)
Mark Maxwell said, “We could all see the rate of rise in new infections, hospitalizations for weeks. You acted much sooner in the spring. What took so long? How did your recent court victories play a role in this decision?”

Governor JB Pritzker: (44:05)
First of all, these snake oil salesmen who are trying to take the state to court and take money from bars and restaurants and other people claiming that these orders aren’t proper, we’ve told them all along that the orders are proper, and indeed the courts have ruled such. So that really has nothing to do with the decisions that we make. We have been watching the linear growth and we have been imposing mitigations to try to bring down the curve on a linear basis and doing it regionally. That has worked in the past, but it stopped working at some point when the linear went to exponential, or at least we saw, and you heard me talk about this days past, in fact, a couple of weeks ago about that tipping point from linear to exponential. We were watching that very closely, and so it’s at that point that it was clear that we needed to put significantly more restrictions in with tier three mitigations.

Speaker 4: (45:07)
He had a follow-up as well. The JCARR rule empowers local governments to find businesses who defy IDPH guidance. Do you expect local governments to issue fines to enforce these new rules?

Governor JB Pritzker: (45:17)
Yes, they should. Just as they should enforce state laws, state executive orders are also enforced by local law enforcement and local state’s attorneys.

Speaker 4: (45:28)
Christopher Carter, WAND, IHSA has said they invited Dr. Ezike and members of your office to meet to discuss on how to move forward, but that request has been denied. Can the governor or Dr. Ezike address this and how are they expected to move forward without?

Governor JB Pritzker: (45:42)
Okay. Well, as you saw today with the Tier 3 mitigations, we obviously are asking people not to have youth sports operating in any significant fashion, so I think that’s probably moot at this point.

Speaker 4: (45:56)
Joel Ebert is asking if you were considering implementing a statewide curfew, similar to what Ohio governor, Mike DeWine, announced today.

Governor JB Pritzker: (46:04)
No. We have asked that bars and restaurants close at 11 o’clock and don’t reopen until 6:00 AM if they do open at 6:00 AM. But there’s no statewide curfew.

Speaker 4: (46:15)
Jake Griffin at the Daily Herald, where is the state on the rollout of saliva testing elsewhere in the state, outside of the University of Illinois?

Governor JB Pritzker: (46:21)
Working very hard on it. By the way, it’s the University of Illinois’ saliva tests. So to be clear, it all emanates from the SHIELD program at the U of I, working very closely with them and working with the other universities across the state and labs where we can roll it out. As soon as that is available, we’re going to make sure to roll it out and you’ll know all about it.

Speaker 4: (46:47)
A few different people are asking Dr. Ezike for the hospitals that are running out of beds or say that they have no beds available and what region they’re in.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (46:57)
Just talked to friends in region one. We have issues in region seven, and then there are other places that are just a stone throw away from the same.

Speaker 4: (47:10)
Shruti at Bloomberg is asking what is the state’s projection for job sales and revenue losses from the additional restrictions on industries, including retailers and closure of casinos?

Governor JB Pritzker: (47:24)
Sorry. We have made our estimates going forward based on a down case scenario. There are three types of scenarios that you can base your projections on. So we’ve had a pessimistic projection. It builds in the idea that we would have either a prolonged or interim periods of more mitigations.

Speaker 4: (47:50)
Charlie Meyerson at chicagopublicsquare.com, is the state fully prepared for a surge of demand for testing post-Thanksgiving, or will they be modifying the guidance on who should get tested when?

Governor JB Pritzker: (48:02)
Well, since we’re one of the best testing states in the country, the answer is that we have about 100,000 tests get administered every day, and we’ve been encouraging people to use that. They have been, which is terrific. We also have new kinds of testing that are coming online. You heard somebody ask about saliva testing. We have the BinaxNOW antigen test, which happens to be manufactured right here in Illinois, which has already come online and will expand our ability to test. So I can’t tell you that we have enough tests. I mean, certainly we’d all like to have as many tests as anyone would ever want and I am working our way toward that. Remember we started out with nearly no tests. I think we were the first state to actually get a test in the country. That’s way back in February, I believe. And it was very hard to ramp up because the federal government wasn’t helping us. Now we’re one of the best states in the country. So I hope people will utilize that and I hope we’re able to continue to be the best.

Speaker 4: (49:09)
All right. Dan Petrella at the Tribune will be our last question. Forgive me, I can’t remember if I asked this one or not. What is the evidence supporting 25% for retail capacity, and how do you expect to enforce these rules when previous measures have been ignored?

Governor JB Pritzker: (49:21)
Well, remember, just like in the city of Chicago, just like in other parts of the state where mayors, law enforcement, state’s attorneys are following the mitigations and the rules and the orders, we would expect everyone in the state to do so. That’s number one. How would they be followed? That’s how they get followed. And we also know that the public listens and the public knows that they don’t want to be in a place that is crowded. And so you don’t want to go to a store that you think is going to be crowded or at a time when you think it’s going to be crowded. So that’s one thing.

Governor JB Pritzker: (49:57)
And how did 25% get decided upon? I don’t think I need Dr. Ezike for this one. I’ll just say this that, look, we had a stay at home order back in the spring, and it’s clear that the limitations on indoor activity works. And so looking at each industry and the risks involved in each industry, the doctors basically tried to craft solutions here that would allow industries to keep going, people to still use services that are available, especially where they’ve been proven to be safe, or at least relatively safer. And so that’s how they came to the decision. Listen, I’m sure that someone could say it should be 22% or 30%. These are the numbers that they arrived at.

Speaker 4: (50:53)
All right. Thanks, everyone.