May 5, 2020
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker Coronavirus Briefing Transcript May 5
Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois held a press briefing May 5. Pritzker announced a 5 Phase Plan for reopening Illinois.
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J.B. Pritzker: (00:00)
I’d like to begin today by introducing once again Dr. Engazia Zeike to give our medical update. Doctor?
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (00:13)
Thank you governor and good afternoon. To start today we have run a total of 346,286 tests for COVID-19 with 13,139 being reported in the last 24 hours. Today we are reporting an additional 2,122 new cases of COVID-19 here in Illinois for a total of 65,962 cases in total. Unfortunately, I’m also recording the largest number of fatalities reported in a single 24 hour period with 176 deaths, which brings us to a total of 2,838 lives lost in Illinois associated with COVID-19. Regarding hospitalizations, in the hospitals throughout the state we have 4,780 people who were reported to be in the hospital. Of those, 1,266 patients were in the intensive care unit and of those intensive care unit patients, 780 were on ventilators. On the recovery front, cases who responded to our survey continue to report recovery from this deadly virus. 47% of those surveyed within 14 days from their positive test report, illness recovery, 74% of individuals surveyed 28 days after their positive tests, no longer experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are reporting recovery.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (01:51)
I know that May has signaled a change. Not only a change in the calendar month, not only a change in the weather, the season, but also a change in some people’s psyche. The change has highlighted an increased sense of cabin fever and the desire to get out and get back to what people perceive as what their previous normal was, and wanting that back so much. There’s so much pressure for us to get back to that normal because we have all faced this unprecedented disruption to our lives. I commend Governor Pritzker for getting ahead in this fight against COIVD-19. Without his leadership and his dedication to the people of Illinois, we would be in a much dire situation, but the truth is that we’re still in a significant war with an enemy. If this was a traditional war where there were soldiers outside of our doors in the streets, and people would be risking their lives to be outside of their homes, no one would think about the need to go to work.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (03:02)
No one would think about getting their dog groomed. No one would think about getting their car washed. But this enemy is so different. It’s invisible. And maybe, as a result of that, we have underestimated the power and the destruction of this enemy, despite the very visible fact that more than 2,500 Illinoisans have lost their lives in just two months. That’s an unprecedented amount of lives lost compared to any time within our Illinois history. So we all have a choice still to make. Despite the fact that the month has changed, I know that some places are more open in a limited capacity. Maybe you see your friends out. Maybe people are congregating, but let’s still take our personal responsibility. You are responsible to wear a covering if you’re out in public. You are responsible for helping protect elderly individuals who can suffer the most severe consequences from catching this virus.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (04:04)
You are responsible for finding other ways to still connect with these individuals who do need connection but cannot have physical contact. You are responsible for staying inside as much as possible. The fact is that we are still battling the same virus that we were all so united in fighting just two months ago. It’s the same exact virus that disproportionately kills older individuals, that targets people with diabetes or obesity or heart disease, and newsflash, many of us have these comorbidities making a large percentage of the population at risk. Yes, we’ve heard about some potential advancements and inroads in terms of treatment, but really there is no cure. There’s still no vaccine and we don’t yet have enough testing to rapidly identify everyone who’s infected and who has been infected previously. This is the reality of the situation before us and we have to continue to do the right thing.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (05:07)
We are very conscientious that there are people who cannot pay their bills and they cannot provide for their families and that’s extremely distressing and I understand that this is what leads some people to take their chances with the virus rather than continually lose income. But when they take that chance, it has repercussions for others who may not have been able to make that same choice. Right now there are a lot of unknowns. In some cases, there are more questions than answers and it’s due to this novel virus, but we’re working on how best to respond. My commitment is to you that we will continue to follow the data and we will make the best recommendations based on that data.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (05:53)
It will be incumbent on you as individuals to follow those recommendations. If there are signs that we are headed in the wrong direction, I will make sure to signal the alarm as soon as possible and we will have to make whatever course correction is necessary. We are still all in this together. Please continue to do your part for all of Illinois, and now I will translate into Spanish. [foreign language 00:06: 28]. And with that I will turn it over to governor Pritzker.
J.B. Pritzker: (11:12)
Thank you very much, Dr. Zeike. My fellow Illinoisans, in just the past two months, we have seen the world as we knew it turned on its head by an invisible enemy. We’ve been reminded every day of the preciousness of our collective health, and most of all what we’ve seen and what it’s meant for the land of Lincoln, nearly 13 million strong to pull together with the common mission of keeping each other safe until we can put this pandemic behind us. And the people of our state have proven your metal. You remain a testament to the very best of humanity by standing up for each other in the hardest of times. Under any circumstances, it would be phenomenally difficult to make the sacrifices that people have made in response to COVID-19, but fighting an unseen enemy with no firm end date and no parameters requires amazing fortitude and stamina.
J.B. Pritzker: (12:21)
As much as we can point to the success of having saved thousands of lives, because of that fight, we also carry the grief of having lost more than 2,800 Illinoisans to this virus so far. Those are our grandparents. Those are our loved ones. Those are our friends. This is a very real and terrible enemy that has forever altered families here at home and across the nation. And when we talk about what’s next, we cannot forget those we have lost and those we will lose in the days and weeks and months ahead. I know that we all have a passionate desire to return to the sense of normalcy that we felt before the world knew of COVID-19.
J.B. Pritzker: (13:11)
Here’s the truth, and I don’t like it any more than you do. Until we have a vaccine or an effective treatment or enough widespread immunity that new cases fail to materialize, the option of returning to normalcy doesn’t exist. That means we have to figure out how to live with COVID-19 until it can be vanquished and to do so in a way that best supports our residents’ health and our healthcare systems and saves the most lives.
J.B. Pritzker: (13:43)
With that very much in mind, I want to introduce you to our framework for moving forward. Restore Illinois is a public health plan to safely reintroduce the parts of our lives that have been put on hold in our fight against COVID-19. Science and data are our overarching guardrail for how we move forward, and within those guardrails, I’ve listened to people from across the state and the nation about what can be done to put us on a path toward normalcy. I’ve asked nonprofit organizations and school leaders and businesses for their best ideas.
J.B. Pritzker: (14:23)
I’ve spoken with kids and parents about how to make sure that there is summer fun. I’ve heard from Democrats and Republicans, mayors and members of our general assembly and congressional delegation about what their constituents are telling them. While there’s no feasible way to talk to every single official in the state of Illinois, I have made it a priority to listen to and read the plans that have been submitted from a wide ranging number of representative members of our society, and many of those ideas are incorporated into the executive order that I issued last week and many more are in the plan that I present to you today.
J.B. Pritzker: (15:15)
Many members of the general assembly proposed a regional approach to reopening Senate Republican leader bill Brady and his caucus suggested using our EMS regions to shape a reopening plan. Indeed, that’s the structure of the plan that I present today. Legislators from Metro East, like Senator Chris belt and representatives Latoya Greenwood and Jay Hoffman suggested that we reopen drive in theaters, these long beloved entertainment venues are an old way of doing things, made new again and they can now operate under our most recent stay at home order. The legislative Latino caucus recommended strengthening the COVID-19 safety protocols in manufacturing and our food chains, food supply chains, to keep help the health of our workers sacred and out of harm’s way. Mayor Joe Judge of Mount Carmel was one of the earliest leaders to recommend the expansion of elective surgeries in regions where hospital capacity is available.
J.B. Pritzker: (16:23)
The House GOP women’s caucus were right to suggest ensuring the availability of non-emergent health services like mammograms, so these potentially lifesaving procedures don’t have to be put off any longer. Mayor Jim Langfelder of Springfield offered early support for a grab and go pick up policy at retail businesses, an option now available to these businesses under my May 1st executive order. Representative Andre Tipett and other black caucus members requested that we bring more medical professionals into the black community, which has been so disproportionately impacted by COVID-19-
J.B. Pritzker: (17:02)
… which we’ve worked to do by expanding the healthcare workforce with retirees and out of state workers. Many regional and municipal reopening approaches have been submitted to me, such as the West Central Illinois plan from Adams County chairman Kent Snyder and Quincy mayor Kyle Moore. Or the consultations I’ve had with Peoria’s house democratic leader, Jehan Gordon Booth, and mayor Jim Artist. As well as many other great ideas that I hear from my regular conversations with other key stakeholders like Brad Cole of the Illinois municipal league. In short, this data driven approach follows the best epidemiological recommendations, but it’s also inspired by people across our state who carry real passion to make sure that their communities can begin thriving again even in the face of this pandemic. This is also a regional plan. We are one Illinois, but we are also one Illinois made up of 60,000 square miles and reality on the ground looks different in different areas of our state.
J.B. Pritzker: (18:16)
So moving forward with restore Illinois, we’re looking at the state as four regions, each of which can move through phases at different times. Northeast Illinois, North Central Illinois, Central Illinois, and Southern Illinois. To be clear, these regions were not arbitrarily selected. These reflect the IDPH emergency medical service regions that have existed for decades, the same regions that set parameters for ambulance drivers and hospital collaborations. Using the existing medical regional breakdown allows our public health professionals to manage and monitor capacity in an existing framework. Restore Illinois operates with five phases beginning with phase one where we saw a state of rapid spread and needed to impose our original stay at home order and ending with phase five and a fully reopened economy in a post COVID-19 world.
J.B. Pritzker: (19:20)
Let’s begin with phase one or where we were from early March to April 30th when Illinois moved to minimum essential operations to bend the curve to curtail the rapid spread of the virus, to acquire necessary protective and healthcare equipment and give us time to expand hospital capacity. We’ve been through this phase once and no one wants to go backward. Then there’s the phase we’re in now, that’s phase two. The phase that we entered into with the new May 1st modified to stay at home order. Many of our phase two mitigations are similar to phase one, but adjustments were made to offer flexibility where public health experts told us we could. That’s where we’ve been and where we are, so what’s next? Healthcare regions that meet certain thresholds over the next few weeks will be able to move to phase three. At that point with face coverings as the norm, nonessential manufacturing and other non-essential businesses can open in accordance with safety guidance.
J.B. Pritzker: (20:31)
Telework, wherever possible is strongly encouraged. Barbershops and salons can reopen. Health and fitness clubs can offer outdoor classes and one on one personal training all in accordance with DPH safety guidance. The region’s state parks can open, limited childcare and summer programs can operate with DPH guidance. All public health gatherings of 10 people or fewer can take place during this phase. And I want to stress this point, even as businesses reopen employers should do everything in their power to provide remote accommodation for older and COVID vulnerable employees. In phase four, a region would need to see continued declines in its positivity rates and hospitalizations and maintain surge capacity. And if so, restaurants, bars, spas, cinemas, theaters, retail and health and fitness clubs can open with new capacity limits and DPH approved safety guidance.
J.B. Pritzker: (21:43)
Schools, summer and fall programs, childcare and higher education can open with safety guidance and all outdoor recreation programs would be allowed. Public gatherings in phase four will be limited to 50 people, although this limit is subject to change up or down depending upon what the science tells us at the time. IDPH will watch the identified health metrics closely to determine when regions have attained them so each can move from phase two to phases three and four and more specifically those metrics are, first a region must be at or under a 20% test positivity rate and increasing by no more than 25 percentage points over a 14 day period. And a region must have either not had an overall increase or must have maintained overall stability in hospital admissions for COVID-like illness in the last 28 days. And a region must maintain the availability of a surge threshold of 14% availability of ICU beds, of medical and surgery beds and ventilators.
J.B. Pritzker: (23:03)
Because May 1st marked the beginning of phase two in which we loosened and modified a number of mitigations, that is the first day for the 14 and 28 day measurement periods to begin. Meaning that the earliest that a region can move to phase three is May 29th. Changes to mitigation strategies in each phase will impact the data in each phase, so the assessment period begins when each new phase begins. IDPH will be tracking each of the four regions on these metrics and we’ll make that data available online to you every day so that the public can track it too. Importantly, just as public health indicators will tell us when to move forward at any time, they could also signal that we need to move backward.
J.B. Pritzker: (23:56)
IDPH will be tracking metrics here as well. Moving backward is honestly the last thing that anyone wants to do, but if the virus begins to attack more people or the healthcare systems are heading toward becoming overwhelmed in any region, swift action will need to be taken. We have named phase four revitalization because it is in this phase that everyone in Illinois will be rebuilding what school and work will look like for a while until we reach the other side of this pandemic. The only way that we can cross into phase five, Illinois restored, with all the sectors of the economy running with completely normal operations is with a vaccine or a widely available and highly effective treatment or with the elimination of any new cases over a sustained period of time. It brings me no joy to say this, but based on what the experts tell us and everything we know about this virus and how easily it spreads in a crowd, large conventions, festivals and other major events will be on hold until we reach phase five. I spent decades in business, so I understand the urge to try and flip the switch and reopen our entire economy. Here’s the problem, that switch simply does not exist with a virus that can’t currently be eliminated by medical science. And I won’t open the door to overwhelming our hospital system and possibly tens of thousands of additional deaths by exposing everyone to the virus today just because a loud but tiny minority would like to indulge in that fantasy.
J.B. Pritzker: (25:46)
On that note, I do want to touch on the enforcement of these phases. At the state level, we don’t have the capacity or the desire to police the individual behavior of 12.7 million people. Enforcement comes in many forms and our first and best option is to rely on Illinoisans working together to see each other through this pandemic. But we are also working with local law enforcement and I’ve asked for their assistance to monitor for violations and consider taking actions when necessary, but that is not the option that anyone prefers. It’s important to remember that we put this plan together not only because the state needs a plan, but because mayors need a plan. Because small business people need a plan, workers need a plan, everyday Illinoisans need a plan. But this plan as vetted and data-driven as it is, is a plan for responding to and recovering from a global pandemic in the 21st century.
J.B. Pritzker: (26:49)
There is no modern day precedent for this. We are quite literally writing the playbook as we go. The scientists learn more about this virus every day and we can and we will make our restore Illinois plan smarter as we move forward. I’m not afraid to redesign the playbook if the rules change. I know this is difficult, this virus has uprooted lives and caused immeasurable hardship for millions in our state and the weeks and months ahead will require our resilience, our patients, our persistence and our sense of solidarity. I still believe that our strongest weapon against COVID-19 is one that this virus can never take away from us and that’s the strength of the people who call Illinois home. Throughout our history Illinoisans have consistently raised the bar for the nation and we’ve done so graciously and humbly and creatively. We were the first state to ratify two of the most important amendments to the US constitution, one abolishing slavery and another one granting women the right to vote.
J.B. Pritzker: (27:57)
We developed the first cell phone here, the first zipper, the first dishwasher, all were invented here in Illinois. Illinoians created the first skyscraper and the John Deere tractor. What all these things have in common is that they were the product of a people who have always believed that it is possible to create a better future, to build a better tomorrow. Illinois over the past two months, you have dropped off groceries for your elderly neighbors. You’ve ordered meals from the family restaurants near you. You’ve raised funds for nonprofits, you’ve sown face masks and face coverings for your communities. You’ve delivered educational packets to children, danced from your driveways, practice your faith in new ways, cheered for our frontline heroes.
J.B. Pritzker: (28:46)
You’ve been all in for Illinois and because of your actions, Illinois will lead the nation in redefining what’s possible once more. So as we press forward slowly and steadily, let’s embody the spirit of our nation’s greatest president, Abraham Lincoln and the wisdom that he offered the nation in the final days of his presidency. With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in.
J.B. Pritzker: (29:24)
I believe in the people of Illinois now more than ever and together we will finish the work that we are in. Thank you. And now I’d be happy to take any questions from the press.
Speaker 2: (29:35)
Thank you. Of course the questions I had received was before this news, so let’s talk about this first. Of the four regions do you see any of them, can you look ahead and Dr. Ezike And think that any of those four regions on May 29th might be moving to phase three?
J.B. Pritzker: (29:55)
Remember this is a data driven and science driven plan and so everybody will be able to watch. It’s hard for me to just pick out a region and say what will happen in the future. There’ve been a lot of things that have happened that no one expected, so it’s hard for me to point at a region and say this one might go first. But I think that people will be able to follow it every single day. Going on the IDPH website, they’ll be able to see what the metrics are and whether they’re meeting those metrics.
Speaker 2: (30:21)
I thought we were already having gatherings of 10, why is it phase three that it’s only 10?
J.B. Pritzker: (30:28)
We actually have not, we have essential gatherings of 10 that are available now. Things that fit in that essential category, but in the next phase it would be any gathering of 10 that people want to have.
Speaker 2: (30:40)
And then phase four is 50, not exactly a huge crowd either.
J.B. Pritzker: (30:47)
Again, I’ll remind you the virus is still out there and if maybe things will change, maybe we will have a very successful treatment to offer to people and therefore we’ll be able to change the guidance for that phase. But as for now, that’s what we see going forward.
Speaker 2: (31:04)
But to go from 50 to then everything’s open with phase five is a huge leap.
J.B. Pritzker: (31:10)
It is but remember that the gate for getting to phase five is that there’s a vaccine or a highly effective treatment or that by virtue of herd immunity there just aren’t any new cases coming up.
Speaker 2: (31:23)
So schools, are you saying schools should not open until phase five?
J.B. Pritzker: (31:28)
No, no. Schools can open in phase four but again, things going forward Marianne will look different. There’s no doubt about it. I mean already as you are walking the streets, you can see people are wearing face coverings. They will still need to do that in phase three, they’ll still need to do that in phase four if there’s no effective treatment that’s available because people will still have the ability to get sick.
Speaker 2: (31:52)
It doesn’t sound important obviously with so much going on and so many lives lost, but when you say conventions, festivals, let’s just say the word Lollapalooza so that folks who ask, you’re saying, no way.
J.B. Pritzker: (32:04)
I’m saying that if you follow the data and you look at how fast things could happen, I mean like I said, if there is an effective treatment that comes out and people can see that really you won’t get that sick if you get COVID-19, then I think all bets are on. Things could open up in a significant way.
Speaker 2: (32:23)
Let’s be honest, I mean we’re in may right now and that’s July, August. That’s not going to happen.
J.B. Pritzker: (32:30)
Look, I mean I think people will make their own projections going forward about the likelihood of it. I’m hopeful I must say when I see things like [inaudible 00:32:38] are getting approved and it having some effect for people who get sick not dying and being able to recover. That’s just one of 70 treatments that’s being examined right now and under trials. So I have some real hope that one of those or several of those will become available widely.
Speaker 2: (32:56)
We went from such few deaths the last couple of days and still every single death is important I’m not trying to minimalize, but to go to 176 is so many overnight. Is every single one of those Dr. Ezike, are they all COVID, COVID symptom? How are they classified? Because some are questioning truly are they all COVID related?
J.B. Pritzker: (33:17)
Can I just answer just the first part and then I’ll turn over to the doctor. Which is that one thing I think people should note is they should really look at a multiday average because as you saw, we had 46 one day and 172 another. And I even said yesterday I think in answer to a question from Dave McKinney that you can’t look at one day’s results and think that you know what direction things are going. And so you really need to look at a multiday average. But I’d be happy to turn over to Dr. Ezike about the validity of whether somebody is considered COVID-19 or not.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (33:52)
No, everyone that is listed did have a test that was positive for COVID-19. So it’s not assumptions or guess, there was a positive COVID test to confirm-
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (34:03)
… guess, there was a positive COVID test to confirm that the person had COVID.
Speaker 4: (34:05)
Thank you. All right, so many questions that I’ve received, obviously before all of this. Let’s start with masks. Lots of questions still about masks. Do you need a mask every time you’re in a public place or only if you cannot socially distance?
J.B. Pritzker: (34:22)
The suggestion here is that knowing that it is, for many people, unlikely that they will be able to socially distance when you get into certain public places, they should take a mask with them. If they aren’t expecting to be able to socially distance, or even if you think that it’s possible you might not be able to, just carry a mask, it’s a very small thing to put in your pocket.
Speaker 4: (34:44)
What should people do who cannot wear a mask? Those with sensory disorders, perhaps cerebral palsy or autism. And should stores train workers about this in case they see someone? And should enforcement be heavy-handed?
J.B. Pritzker: (35:00)
Well on the last point, no, of course not. And of course there are people who cannot wear a face covering for one reason or another, often for medical reasons. And so I would just suggest that we all take a breath here about being kind to the people who may not be able to wear a face covering, to try to help people out wherever we can. It is true that there will be a few people, some people unable to wear a face covering, but it is also true that we are keeping each other safe and healthy. For those who are able to wear a face covering, they should.
Speaker 4: (35:35)
We are hearing, this is from Elizabeth Matthews at Fox 32, again about masks, that IDOC facilities are being asked to bring in their own masks from home, even homemade masks. At the Taylorville Correctional Center, inmates are getting KN95 masks once a week, but not the staff. Is that what is being instructed from the state?
J.B. Pritzker: (35:57)
Oh no, that’s not being instructed. I don’t know why that would be. I’ll certainly look into it. But I can tell you that we are providing PPE to every facility, Taylorville and every other facility that we control as a state to make sure that we’re protecting people who are either staff members at those facilities or residents.
Speaker 4: (36:17)
Several people have asked me about the Chicago Tribune article about a mutant, more contagious coronavirus. Have either of you heard about this? Is it possible that it’s a threat here in Illinois?
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (36:30)
I’m not sure I’ve read the exact article that you’re referring to, but in my discussions with intensivists, I do understand that there are two varied presentations that they’re seeing of this virus. So whether that’s different strains, but there’s a much more lethal strain that’s harder to deal with on the ventilator. They’re seeing just a more aggressive illness that again, the settings, as they try to adjust the settings on the ventilator, they just can’t get the right settings to be able to help appropriately oxygenate these people and deal with the acute respiratory distress syndrome. And then we see others that don’t have that more malignant course.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (37:18)
And so I don’t know if that’s what you’re referring to, but I had definitely have heard that described at this H variant and this L variant. And so I know there’s some articles that have come out about that and I think that is well described in both the literature and in what I’ve heard from clinicians.
Speaker 4: (37:32)
Here in Illinois?
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (37:32)
Speaker 4: (37:33)
Also, today in New York, Dr. Ezike, that there has been some discussion of children, of a different kind of virus that children are experiencing. Are you seeing that?
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (37:44)
I know there were some recounts about a Kawasaki-like picture in kids. Again, Kawasaki, from my pediatric hospital days is a syndrome that was associated with high fever, red eyes, swelling of the hands and feet, and then also thrombosis, like clots in the major vessels of the heart in the coronary arteries.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (38:11)
So I don’t know exactly how that connects to this virus. I know that coronavirus has been said to connect, to cause thrombosis and clotting, and that a lot of people, I’ve heard even amongst the adults that people are starting to treat coronavirus patients in those severe stages with blood thinners, with heparin. So I don’t know if there’s a connection between this thrombosis and coronary arteries that they’re seeing that’s typical of Kawasaki’s and coronavirus. I don’t know if it just looks similar, if there’s a connection. Again, I guess as things, more information, more cases, we get more data and then we can know more.
Speaker 4: (38:50)
Thank you. From CBS 2, Steven Graves, Governor, wants to know that they’re hearing that some businesses are already quietly opening with under 10 people and socially distancing. What kind of action might the state take against those businesses?
J.B. Pritzker: (39:05)
Well, again, what we’ve asked is local law enforcement, other officials on a local level should remind people that they can have their permits, their licenses removed from them for opening. There is action that the state can take an enforcement, but we’re trying not to. We’re looking to ask people in their local communities to remind the folks who are going against the order that they’re putting other people at risk. And of course, as we know, most people in Illinois are doing the right thing and they won’t be patronizing those stores knowing that they may be spreading the virus.
Speaker 4: (39:42)
There are several questions about the Cicero lawsuit. There was a hearing today. From Jim Williams, what is your reaction to the lawsuit from that nursing home? Can you give us some kind of update?
J.B. Pritzker: (39:54)
I don’t have an update on the lawsuit. I mean, I don’t know if you anything about the Cicero Nursing Home. I’ll simply say that we work with all the local departments of public health to try to make sure that nursing homes are doing the right thing. As you know, nursing homes are most often privately owned. They are regulated by the state, and it is our responsibility to make sure that they’re doing the right thing. But as you know, we’re providing PPE, training people on PPE, giving guidance to everybody in the facility about how to separate patients, people who are COVID positive from those who are not, and we are counting on those facilities to do the right thing. They obviously are also subject to liability when they don’t.
Speaker 4: (40:41)
Well at the hearing, apparently there was surprise, this is from Dane Placko, that someone from IDPH or Cook County has not yet gone inside to inspect that Cicero Nursing Home.
J.B. Pritzker: (40:53)
I can’t speak to what the Cook County [crosstalk 00:40:57].
Speaker 4: (40:54)
Dr. Ezike, do you have any word on that?
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (40:59)
I don’t have the details on that.
Speaker 4: (41:01)
There is also those who are still pressuring to move some of the folks out of there to an alternative care facility.
J.B. Pritzker: (41:07)
Well, the alternative care facilities don’t take patients from, or residents from nursing homes. That’s not how they work. If someone had to leave a nursing facility, they would either go home, assuming their COVID negative. Or if they had symptoms or needed to be moved elsewhere for some health reason, they would go to a hospital. And then a hospital could transfer somebody once they’re released from the hospital to an alternate care facility.
Speaker 4: (41:35)
Any reaction to President Trump last night, speaking about cities and states that are run by Democrats, that the Democrats and blue states are implying that they are the only ones asking for a bailout. Does Illinois need a bailout from the federal government for police fire and teachers?
J.B. Pritzker: (41:56)
It’s just so sad that the President has made this political. The fact is that every state, and I talked to Republican governors and Democratic governors, you can imagine what’s happened in every state. Revenues have fallen off a cliff, because of stay-at-home orders or because people don’t want to go out. Those states that are dependent upon sales taxes alone and no income taxes, they’ve gone really, truly into the deep end of the well. And then income taxes. As you know, in Illinois we had to postpone collecting income taxes here, and did so because the federal government postponed federal income taxes until July. So everybody’s got this problem. It’s not a Democratic or Republican problem.
Speaker 4: (42:43)
But you are looking for more help than from the federal government or to get through this. How much?
J.B. Pritzker: (42:48)
Indeed. I was on a call with Governor Hogan, the Republican Governor of Maryland, as well as many other governors with the White House and we all were expressing the same thing, which is we’re all going to need help in this next package of relief. Because remember, states and local governments are providing the supports that people need. We’re the ones who are keeping the police on the streets. We’re the ones who are making sure that firefighters are available. We’re the ones who are providing the healthcare supports that people need when they’re having trouble with COVID-19, recovering from COVID-19, or just need to isolate because someone in their household may have COVID-19.
J.B. Pritzker: (43:32)
And so we’re going to need help to make sure that we’re able to do all of those things and going forward. This is not ending, as you know. This virus is still out there and until we see a vaccine or a serious treatment, this is something that the states are going to be dealing with, and it is extraordinarily expensive. What we’re looking for though is support for the lost revenues that all the states have experienced. Nothing more, nothing less.
Speaker 4: (43:59)
I would not go to serve to help pay the pension problems in Illinois.
J.B. Pritzker: (44:02)
No. That is not what I’m seeking.
Speaker 4: (44:05)
T.A. Ewing from Fox 32. State representative Kam Buckner, perhaps you’ve seen on Twitter. He has profiled a story of what it was like for him shopping with a mask. When he left, asked for ID, questioned, made to feel as if perhaps he was not there honorably. What do you think of that?
J.B. Pritzker: (44:24)
Yep. I’m saddened by it. I read the tweets. And truly, I think this is happening, and it’s something that we’re looking into. We obviously believe that there is discriminatory behavior taking place here. So we’re going to make sure that we try to address it
Speaker 4: (44:45)
Jennifer Roscoe: (44:47)
Okay, Governor Pritzker taking more questions from reporters. You can continue to watch that if you would like on wcia.com. That’s where we are streaming that. Lots coming out of today’s briefing. We’re going to start with how they did the grim news. The numbers that came out today in Illinois. More than 2100 new cases, almost 66,000 total. And we have had our largest death toll to date in 24 hours. 176 people died in Illinois. 2,838 total have died in this state.
Jennifer Roscoe: (45:22)
Dr. Ezike definitely taking a more forceful, frustrated tone, I would say. She still talked about we are in a significant war, urged people to continue to follow the recommendations and do your part. She also did point to the fact that 74% of people have recovered from the coronavirus a month after testing positive.
Jennifer Roscoe: (45:44)
Then the Governor stood at the podium and talks about what can be done to get this state back to normal. So many of you are wondering that very same thing. He talked about a plan. It’s called Restore Illinois. The state has been split into 11 different regions. This is a regional plan to reopen Illinois. He said it is a data-driven approach. Our viewing area, you see there, we are in the two, three and six zones right there. You can see where your county lies if you take a good look there.
Jennifer Roscoe: (46:21)
Now, we want to put up the phases. This is a five phase plan. We were in phase one, so we’re not even actually going to go over that because we’ve moved on past phase one. Let’s stick to phase two. This is where we are right now, flattening the curve, hospitalizations. And this all started May 1st. Some surgeries being allowed to happen, face coverings have to be worn if you cannot social distance.
Jennifer Roscoe: (46:49)
This is where he said we’re moving to, phase three. Let’s take a look at this. In phase three, if the data shows that we can do this, manufacturing non- essential businesses will reopen, manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops, salons, if they can maintain safety precautions. Gatherings of 10 people or fewer are allowed. How that’s different, the reporter asked that question right now. Gatherings of 10 or fewer are allowed in essential places like churches. Now that would be in non-essential places. You can get together with your friends, 10 of you. Facial coverings, face coverings will still be required. Social distancing is the norm in phase three.
Jennifer Roscoe: (47:35)
Phase four, revitalization. Now we’re talking about larger groups, 50 or more restaurants and bars reopen, travel resumes, childcare and schools reopen. And I just talked to Mark Maxwell who contacted the Governor’s spokesperson, and I said, “Okay, so what does that mean if it’s just 50 or fewer, but schools can reopen?” They said with guidance from a public health. So schools may reopen but we don’t know what that is going to look like. We’re going to get more guidance on that as we get closer to phase four in the fall.
Jennifer Roscoe: (48:11)
And then phase five, the economy fully reopens. Safety precautions continuing. Conventions, festivals, large events permitted. Businesses, schools, places of recreation can all open with new safety guidance and procedures.
Jennifer Roscoe: (48:25)
Now, of course, all of these phases, he said, are dependent on the data and the numbers that are coming forward. And he said that can change whether those numbers go up or down. What I did hear that I thought was interesting, he said at the earliest we could move from phase two to phase three would be May 29th. That is the earliest that that can happen. Of course, we’re going to go through all of this and they have much more on this in our later newscast, five, six and nine and 10.
Jennifer Roscoe: (48:56)
I also want to tell you in those newscasts, we’re going to be talking about the number of people who are crossing the Indiana border to get services since Indiana has reopened more than Illinois at this point. Some grocery stores are now limiting how much meat you can buy. We’re going to tell you about that. And there are only five counties right now in Illinois that don’t have a confirmed case of the coronavirus. Edgar County is one of those. We went to Edgar County, and so we’re going to find out what’s happening in that county for that to happen.
Jennifer Roscoe: (49:30)
So, so much to get to and I know so many of you are talking about this and wanting to know when we can get back to normal. Illinois does have a plan. The Governor just laid it out, and we will further lay it out for you in our newscasts. We now get you back to your regular programming.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (49:46)
Additional round table groups involving nursing home administrators, medical directors, people who are expert geriatricians. We’ve been consulting all of the most committed, passionate minds around this. But as you’ve seen across the country, this has been a consistent challenge.
Speaker 4: (50:07)
Also, another question.
J.B. Pritzker: (50:07)
Sorry, just want to add two things to that answer if I may. One is, the overall number has not jumped to 60%. There may be days in which that may have happened. But I would say one other important thing is, you asked the question or I think Amy Jacobson asked the question about whether we’re reassigning people to help out with nursing homes.
J.B. Pritzker: (50:26)
And the answer is that we are in fact providing some healthcare personnel in a variety of locations where there is a staffing problem. You understand that when people are tested positive, staff at a facility are tested positive, perhaps multiple of them, they need to isolate. Right? And there aren’t a lot of healthcare personnel available these days because everybody is dealing with this crisis. Every healthcare person or every member of the healthcare profession, even those who are retired, have come back into it, and still there is a bit of a shortage here. So we are providing wherever we can, some help to these facilities.
Eric Hong from WLS asks, “How do we know this long plateau that we seem to be experiencing is not in fact a baseline level of infection until there’s a vaccine or stronger mitigation?”
J.B. Pritzker: (51:18)
What was the first part of that question? How can we tell-
How do we know this long plateau that we seem to be experiencing, how do we know that that’s not in fact a baseline of an infection?
J.B. Pritzker: (51:28)
Yeah, what I can say is that we’ve seen directionally a significant reduction in the are not You’ve heard us talk about that. We’ve seen directionally that coming down to a plateau in other places has led to a drop off on the proper side of the curve. We anticipate that this is not much different than that.
Speaker 5: (51:58)
[Leanne 00:00:58], how many more do you have?
I have several more. People are sending them in now that they’ve heard about all of this. One of them in fact is from Mark Maxwell. “How can a school with more than 50 students open safely in phase four? I’m assuming you’re saying that schools don’t have to abide by the 50.”
J.B. Pritzker: (52:15)
Right, and there would be strict DPH guidelines for schools. We talked about this back early on when we were trying to figure out if we needed to close schools or not, that could you have classrooms of 25, 20, 25, 30 kids meeting if the restriction was 50, for example, and would that work? The answer is DPH is going to be working with schools on how they can best do this coming into the fall, assuming that we’re in phase four.
I’m almost done. From Mark Congel, “New data compiled by the COVID tracking project shows only 19% of white people tested in Illinois came back with positive test results. Meanwhile, 61% of Hispanics, 35% of African Americans who were tested had positive results. Some elected officials say despite the increase in testing, minorities are not given equitable access to tests compared to whites and that the state’s decisions on where to locate the testing haven’t been based on the data. Can you explain more on this [crosstalk 00:02:21]?”
J.B. Pritzker: (53:19)
Well, I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Ezike. To be clear, we’ve been ramping up testing in a significant way. There isn’t enough testing period, end of sentence. Still even now, even though we’re the second highest number on a per capita basis among the top 10 most populous states. I want more testing, and indeed we’ve been aiming that testing at black and brown communities, but I want to turn it over to Dr. Ezike to give a more comprehensive answer.
Dr. Ezike: (53:48)
Yeah. The points you raise are very, should be of concern to everyone. I think we’ve talked here about our health equity work group that’s part of the COVID-19 response. That is a work group that was an IDPH work group but brought in other state agencies, brought in community organizations, many legislators, people from the black caucus, many different community groups. The Latino caucus heard about this group and have all joined. We now have a very robust health equity work group that’s broken into sub-work groups.
Dr. Ezike: (54:23)
The point is that some of the disparities are due already to the previous economic disparities that we have amongst communities. Many of the people that continue to go to work, that are essential or in central critical infrastructure or whatever term you use. The people who are still going to work, whether they’re operating mass transit, whether they’re working in the grocery stores, whether they’re working in the pharmacies, whether they’re working in manufacturing plants, those often are from our minority communities. Yes, they are in harm’s way every day as they continue to go to work, as they’re considered essential or critical infrastructure workers. They have been at risk and have as a result had more exposure to the virus in certain settings and in work settings where maybe social distancing wasn’t done.
Dr. Ezike: (55:10)
That is why one of the critical work groups within our health equity work group is the safety and workforce team, which is making sure that’s why we have to have social distancing within the workplace, where you have to wear masks or face coverings within the workforce because we want to decrease the risk. We want people who are in the highest risk category in terms of maybe their age or their comorbidities to be able, if there’s an option, to be able to not work or work remotely.
Dr. Ezike: (55:41)
Again, some people don’t have an option to work remotely. Some people are considered essential staff, and so not coming to work might mean losing their jobs. Again, there are many factors that lead to these disparities in the positivity rate. We also know about multi-generational living in some communities more than other communities. We know population density in certain areas. All of these things unfortunately have resulted in those data that you have just recited.
Thank you. Dana Rebik from WGN wants to know, “With the four regions, coming back to this news today, that you’ve identified, Chicago and Cook County alone have by far the majority of the cases. How is it fair to group, let’s say McHenry County with only 800 cases into that region when neighboring Winnebago County and Rockford had a close 680? Are these four regions set in stone? Are you willing to look on a closer county level?”
J.B. Pritzker: (56:41)
They are set in stone. They were set many, many, many years ago as part of the IDPH plan for emergency medical services. That’s why they’re in the regions that they’re in. I know that someone living on the border of a county that might be in another region might have a differing opinion, but this is the way that the IDPH and public health professionals look at the state because it’s really about hospital bed availability and the ability for us to manage a surge if there are a surge of cases.
And just finally as so many folks are hearing about this, they see phase four. That’s 50, gatherings of 50. The next phase is opening it all up. Anyone who might be planning perhaps a wedding this summer, an event of some kind, the chances of that happening in Illinois before there’s a vaccine, you would tell them what?
J.B. Pritzker: (57:31)
I would tell them to watch the data. We’re all watching the data day to day. They can see it online. They can see how fast things are moving for a particular region in the right direction or if they’re not moving in the right direction. That would be what I would suggest to everybody. But as I said, it’s clear that people are going to have to kind of monitor for themselves and make their own conclusions about large gatherings and whether or not there is a treatment. I know you might think that, “Well, gee, we don’t know when that’s going to happen.” It’s true. There’s so much about this novel coronavirus that we don’t know. But one thing we know is 70 treatments are being trialed right now out in the world, and at least one was already approved. My hope, my prayer, in fact, is that we will have that, or a vaccine would be the best solution of all of course, but a very successful treatment I think would make it possible for people to do lots more than we’ve even outlined here. Thank you.
Okay. Peter Hancock at Capitol News, Illinois. “Base revenues in April fell 2.6 billion below last year. COGFA says it will put out revised estimates soon for FY ’20 and ’21. When will we see specific plans from the administration for adjusting this year’s and next year’s budgets?”
J.B. Pritzker: (58:51)
We’re again talking to members of the general assembly, working together with them. I know they have plans, thinking about getting together in May. My hope is that we’ll be able to work together on a budget for the year. This is clearly the most unusual budget that anybody will have ever seen because who has ever seen, at least in our lifetimes, the dropoff of revenue because of a pandemic? There’s no doubt there’s going to have to be a lot of collaboration even across the aisle to get things done.
Molly Parker at the Southern Illinois, “And where do things stand with your commitment to coordinate reopening with other Midwest governors? Have you been meeting? What will this coordination look like? What areas are you focused on?”
J.B. Pritzker: (59:34)
Well, again, the coordination is a sharing of best ideas and a common set of principles that we’re all operating on that we don’t want to lift restrictions too fast and have an overwhelming of our hospitals and so on. All the things that we’re talking about, and you can see those reflected in the plans that other Midwestern governors have put out.
“Can you please explain in detail the testing and hospitalization thresholds to move from phase two to phase three and then phase three to phase four?” That’s Jake Griffin at the Daily Herald.
J.B. Pritzker: (01:00:05)
I would just direct you to the, there’s a plan that we put out and sent out to all the members of the media. If you don’t have it, certainly our press secretary will send it to you, but that’s got the details in it.
Jamie Munks at the Chicago Tribune. “As regions of the state reopen, if some are progressing through the phases in your plan more quickly than others, how do you address people moving between the different regions? Would you implement restrictions to prevent infections between regions?”
J.B. Pritzker: (01:00:30)
We’re not restricting travel here, but this is an opportunity for people to start to move toward more normalcy. Certainly we want the entire state to enjoy more normalcy, and it’s just a matter of making sure that people who live in certain regions have access to healthcare and that those hospitals are not overwhelmed.
John O’Connor at the AP. “What are the state’s plans for operating nursing homes if workers follow through on their plans to start striking on Friday? Has your administration talked to the owners? Who will ensure the residents’ care continues?”
J.B. Pritzker: (01:01:05)
We certainly have encouraged both sides to reach an agreement. I think there’s a desire on the part of both sides to reach an agreement, but I wouldn’t put a plan out there. I think that they know that they must reach an agreement to make sure we’re taking care of our seniors.
Phillip Sierra asks, “State Representative Karina Villa mentioned there is a citizenship question being made at IDPH COVID testing sites. Is this info being shared with federal authorities? In your opinion, will this discourage sick people from getting tested?”
J.B. Pritzker: (01:01:36)
Dr. Ezike: (01:01:43)
We hope for sure that no one will be discouraged from getting testing. Anyone who qualifies to get a test can have a test. I want to be emphatic about that, that anyone who needs a test can get a test. All COVID testing is covered regardless of citizenship. If anyone needs treatment for a COVID-19 illness, all of that is covered. No one will be denied treatment at any hospital. I just don’t want that to be an impediment to people seeking care. Hospital care will be covered. No one will turn somebody away because of citizenship. Testing is covered. Please get your COVID test. If you need to be hospitalized, if you need to talk to someone and they say that you need to refer for emergency care or hospital care, please let the hospital or the provider know that you’re coming so that they can adequately prepare and be in appropriate PPE and so that you can get the care that you need.
This question is from Rich Miller. Dr Ezike, it’s for you. “The Franklin Williamson Bi-county Health Department says it has asked IDPH about enforcement guidance after West Frankfort mayor Tom Jordan gave the go-ahead to all city businesses to reopen. What guidance, if any, is IDPH offering?”
Dr. Ezike: (01:02:54)
Again, I have talked to local health department leads. My local health department partners, they’re not law enforcement. We are trying to advocate the best things for overall the public’s health. I don’t want to put people in harm’s way by instigating altercations. I know that there is law enforcement that hopefully is supporting this order, supporting the measures and is going to be able to encourage people. It is not anybody’s goal to round up people and put them in jail, right? We already, we don’t want to put somebody in a congregate setting to start with, so let’s just work together. We’re looking for people to take responsibility and do the right thing. We’re not looking to create a police state where we’re marching around and trying to put people in jail. We want to protect people’s health, and we want everyone to help us do that. I hope that we can all understand why these things are in place so that we can effect the best possible outcome for the people of Illinois.
J.B. Pritzker: (01:03:59)
I would just point out that elected officials who are encouraging people to gather, to break these rules, are in fact encouraging people to get sick. That’s what’s going to happen if you tell the people of your city, of your township, of your county to just go out and ignore these orders. These are doctors who are issuing these, who are suggesting these things. This is science and data, and I guess if you don’t believe in science and data and you’re an elected official, you’re not doing the public service that you ought to be doing for the people that elected you.
Thank you, everyone.
J.B. Pritzker: (01:04:35)