May 6, 2020
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript May 6
Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois held a COVID-19 briefing May 6. Read the full transcript of his press conference speech.
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Governor J. B. Pritzker: (00:02)
Thank you, governor and good afternoon everyone. So, for today, we have over the last 24 hours run 14,974 tests with 2,270 being positive. That’s a 15% positivity rate. We’ve run a total of 361,260 tests for COVID-19 and we’ve had a total of 68,232 total cases. Over the last 24 hours, we were alerted to 136 new COVID deaths, which brings our death total to 2,974. In the hospital we have 4,832 individuals who are hospitalized with COVID-19 illness. Of those in the hospital, 1,231 are in the ICU and 780 patients are currently on ventilators.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:08)
I briefly touched on this yesterday, but I want to assure everyone that regardless of the ability to pay, not having [inaudible 00:01:16] curbed. As Latinx communities across Illinois are being hit hard by this virus, I urge trusted community leaders to help get the word out about the availability of COVID-19 testing. There are 120 federally qualified health centers conducting free testing. Many of them like the Greater Elgin Family Care Center in Northern Illinois with clinics in Elgin, McHenry, Sycamore, Hanover Park, Streamwood and Wheeling, more than 63% of the patients they serve are Latinx. These clinics are anchors in the communities of color and I thank Governor Pritzker for making testing a number one priority in these areas across the state, but of course, we need to do even more.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (02:08)
The Latinx population has become the group with the highest proportion of positive cases in Illinois. Of the data that we’ve collected, we know that there are some cases that we don’t have information so potentially, the numbers are higher. IDPH has created a data work group that is working on ways to improve the data collection for different racial and ethnic groups. Refining techniques and types of data collected helps us to better understand clusters of positive cases as may be seen in multigenerational living spaces. This will help us get a clear view of how COVID-19 is affecting our Latinx communities.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (02:51)
Our communication work group is focused on providing guidance on developing culturally and linguistically appropriate messaging around COVID-19. Please remember that the IDPH COVID-19 texting messaging program provides daily text messages in Spanish with testing guidance and self care information. Text COVID ESP to (312) 500-3836. Again, that’s COVID ESP, text that to (312) 500-3836 to get daily messages. Remember, there are things we can do to stop the spread of this virus. We must continue to stay home, we must cover our face. If we do have to go outside, we must frequently wash our hands for 20 seconds with soap. Let’s continue to do that. Let’s get through this pandemic and restore Illinois together. And now I’ll review comments in Spanish.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (08:40)
[foreign language 00:04: 00]
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (08:40)
And with that, I would like to turn it back over to Governor Pritzker.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (08:51)
Thank you Dr. Ezike. The doctor and I are joined here today by the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s president and CEO Jaime DePaolo as well as Dr. Marina Del Rios, who’s the director of social emergency medicine and associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. In Illinois response to COVID-19, I have said since the beginning that we are operating with a specific focus on our residents who are most vulnerable to the effects of this virus. Our seniors, our immunocompromised individuals and people who have preexisting conditions. And because of decades of disparities in healthcare access and delivery, we’ve seen the worst effects of this pandemic fall upon disproportionately upon the backs of the communities of color in our state. That’s especially true in our black communities, our Native American communities and our Latinx communities. Jaime DePaolo and Dr. Del Rios have joined our daily public update because I want to bring more attention to the work all of us are doing to support our more vulnerable populations, especially the Latinx community, which is now testing positive for COVID-19 at the highest rate of any demographic group in Illinois although nearly half of those who have been tested did not fill out their demographic information. Of those who did, 7.6% self-identified as Hispanic. Of these more than 26,000 individuals, nearly 16,000 of them have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s a positivity rate of 60%. That’s nearly three times our state average.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (10:54)
As a point of comparison, for the half of people who left their race blank on their forms about 18,000 tested positive for the virus. That’s 10%. We don’t know what portion of those unknowns might also qualify as Hispanic or Latinx, but what we do know is that our data from the start until today shines a concerning spotlight on which of our residents are most likely to get sick from COVID-19. Decades of institutional inequities and obstacles for members of our Latinx communities are now amplified in this pandemic. And while we can’t fix generations of history in the span of a few months, we must advance equity in our public health response today everywhere and anywhere we can.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (11:47)
My administration has made it a priority to enter into testing partnerships in as many areas around the state as possible with a focus on communities home to significant populations who are more vulnerable to this virus. We now have over 200 public testing sites in Illinois, a third of which are located in communities with a significant Latinx population, measured here as greater than or equal to 17% which is the Latino population number statewide. The reason many of our partners in Latinx communities have been chosen is not just for their locations, but also their accessibility to other services, particularly language services. Under the 1964 Civil Rights Act all U S hospitals receiving federal funds are required to provide language services to patients with limited English proficiency, but in practice, some are better equipped than others. Another bullet point on the long list of features about our national medical system that deserves extra attention in the post crisis management world.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (13:01)
So, in bringing in our public partners in the Latino communities, we are proactively focused on community health centers that prioritize accessible services and are often home to bilingual staff such as Alivio Health Center, Erie Family Health Center, VNA Healthcare, Esperanza Health, Howard Brown and Greater Elgin Family Care Center. Additionally, of the seven drive-through sites that the state does formerly run, each offers bilingual support for Spanish speakers and as we build on our existing contact tracing abilities at local health departments, we will continue to make a push for robust relationships with trusted partners in Latino communities and ensure our tracking capabilities reflect Illinois multilingual diversity.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (13:59)
On another note, I want to reiterate that we are providing housing for those who need assistance with self-isolation if they’ve been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19. Across the state there are multigenerational families of all backgrounds living under one roof and especially in our cities we have families and roommates living in smaller apartment units that make self-isolating much more difficult. To support our residents who need help to quarantine in a safe space, the state has made available thousands of free hotel rooms for residents who may need to move out of their home as a precautionary measure to make sure they keep their families or their roommates safe. These hotel rooms offer full wraparound services including meals and medical assistance and again, they are entirely free for anyone. They can access this housing support by contacting their County or City public health departments.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (15:06)
The Illinois department of human services has also utilized our Illinois welcoming centers as a hub for free resources for our immigrant communities, some of whom are also members of the Latino community. That’s everything from emergency funds to provide food and necessities, to enrollment in SNAP and WIC benefits, to testing location information. Additionally, the Illinois coalition for immigrant and refugee rights has worked with welcoming centers to distribute information about these services to a wider audience. For more information on our welcoming centers, I hope you’ll go visit DHS.Illinois.gov/helpishere that’s help is here. I want to say that again, DHS.Illinois. gov/helpishere and then click Help at Home.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (16:08)
In today’s conversation I also want to address workers’ rights in the midst of this crisis. This pandemic has exacerbated existing socioeconomic inequalities and that affects many communities including the Latinx community. I want to ensure that everyone listening knows where to go if you believe an employer in your area is not following CDC guidelines regarding safe and sanitary practices in the workplace. The Illinois Attorney General’s Workplace Rights Bureau, the Illinois Department of Labor and the U S Department of Labor are investigating and enforcing CDC guidelines in noncompliant facilities.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (16:51)
It is in everybody’s best interest for these essential workplaces to take every precaution necessary to protect their workers. Employers who are bad actors need to be held to account. For public employers such as this state or local governments, public works departments, police and fire departments, complaints should be submitted to the Illinois OSHA through the Illinois Department of Labor. For private sector employers, like gas stations, restaurants and manufacturers, direct complaints to federal OSHA. Both of those reporting mechanisms can be found on the Illinois department of labor website at Illinois.gov/IDOL. Employees from both the private and public sectors can submit a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s workplace rights Bureau also.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (17:51)
I want to also address the mask or face covering requirement that took effect on May 1st. At this time, face coverings are required in public situations where social distance cannot be maintained and that applies only to those who are medically able to wear a mask. I recognize that this is a new practice for many in Illinois and the entire United States, but it’s on us to change how we think about face coverings. Protecting your fellow Americans by wearing a face covering in public is a collective act of patriotism and doctors will tell you it’s one of the best things that we can do for public health right now.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (18:39)
There’ve been reports of misplaced assumptions about masks leading to incidents of racial profiling against Latinx and black Americans, especially men, as well as xenophobic attacks against Asian-Americans. And I want to call on the public to help us stop these hateful incidents by speaking out and standing up for others in your community.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (19:02)
Out and standing up for others in your community. If you witness or experience mask related discrimination or any form of discrimination, please report the incident to the Illinois Department of Human Rights at email@example.com. Let me say that again, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (19:28)
Finally, while there are so many individuals and organizations that are doing critical work at this moment, I want to recognize some of the folks who have played a particularly important role in shaping the state’s response in this pandemic. Especially to the challenges facing communities of color, ensuring that the Latino community is well-represented in our decisions as well as our solutions. First the IDPH COVID-19 Equity Task Force which works to develop plans and communication strategies to reach communities of color and other vulnerable populations including regarding the longterm mental and physical consequences of the pandemic. And of course I want to recognize the contributions of the entire legislative Latino caucus. Co-chairs representative Lisa Hernandez and Senator Omar Aquino. As well as a few individuals who have been incredible voices for justice and in helping with outreach in their districts. Representative Karina Villa on manufacturing issues, representative Fred Crespo on education. Representative Celina Villanueva on public health and representative Delia Ramirez on housing.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (20:45)
My team and I are working with communities across the state to address ongoing challenges as well as to strengthen the efforts of trusted leaders already advancing COVID-19 awareness and prevention. Yesterday would have been the annual Latino Unity Day in Springfield, my second as governor. Last year I was so proud to join the legislative Latino caucus. My deputy governors, Sol Flores and Jesse Ruiz, members of my cabinet who are teachers and nurses, our union workers and labor leaders, our police officers, our firefighters, state legislators and mayors, the people who help make Illinois the greatest state in the nation. This year we can’t gather like once we did. But I’ll say again what I said then. The Latino community is the Illinois community. We are in these fights and all these fights we are in together. Thank you. And now I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Marina Del Rios. Doctor.
Dr. Marina: (22:02)
Buenas tardes. I’m going to have some remarks in Spanish and then I’ll move on to English. [foreign language 00:03: 08]. And now I’ll say my remarks in English for the Spanish deficient audience. COVID-19 has had a profound impact in Latino community. Latinos represent more than 40% of new cases reported in the state of Illinois over the last week and our numbers are continuing to grow. I know personally I have been impacted losing friends and family members of friends. Many of us are unable to stay home because we work in essential areas of the economy including factories, healthcare, public transportation, service and public safety, and have a higher risk of getting exposed to COVID-19 and bringing it home to our families. But we can take measures to limit community spread. As Dr. Ezike shared, simple hygiene measures are our first line of defense. Wearing a mask and keeping a six foot distance while at work.
Dr. Marina: (25:32)
Wash your hands frequently, remove your clothes and shower immediately upon returning home. These measures will reduce the risk of transmission of the virus among your coworkers and your family. Having a baseline state of good health is your best chance to protect yourself from COVID-19. If you have any chronic illness such as diabetes, hypertension or asthma or others, continue working with your primary care doctor to manage your health. Hospitals and doctor’s office are still open for business and many offer options for telemedicine. Finally, we recognize that for many of us taking a day off from work can have significant financial repercussions. However, there are larger repercussions in delaying medical attention when you are sick. Knowing this my final take home point for my community is if you have any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 take time off from work and seek medical attention immediately for your own safety and for that of your coworkers and family.
Dr. Marina: (26:31)
There are more community sites that are offering testing at no cost and are available to our community members regardless of citizenship status. And while we do not have a cure for this virus, there are therapies we can offer to manage your symptoms and avoid progression to more severe disease. Thank you for the invitation to speak today and I welcome people to visit the Illinois Latino COVID-19 coalition’s website, Illinoisneedles.com for information on resources available to our community. Stay safe everyone and I’d like to invite to the podium now Mr. Jaime di Paulo.
Jaime di Paulo: (27:16)
Good afternoon. Thank you Dr. Del Rios for the kind introduction. Governor Pritzker thank you for inviting me to speak this afternoon. The Latino Hispanic business community really appreciate what you’ve been doing for us. Thank you so much. Second, I’d like to thank the Illinois Hispanic chamber of commerce board of directors. Those are fully committed people with the right heart, fully committed to our vision and where we’re going. My name is Jaime di Paulo, I am the president and CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to cultivate knowledge, connections and collaborations to affect transformational change to achieve sustainable economic impact throughout entrepreneurship. In 2019 we helped thousands of business opens and get started and we helped create hundreds of jobs, served over 760 businesses in coordination with Illinois small business development center that we happen to have in our office and provided over 2,500 hours of counseling hours of bilingual programs and resources to our clients.
Jaime di Paulo: (28:23)
Over the past few weeks, we have received thousands of inquiries from Illinois business owners across Illinois. This is why we activated a bilingual phone call center so business owners can call and inquire and get the right answers. Our team has dedicated a hundred percent of our efforts in working with the Illinois small business development center and have answered hundreds of clients with the necessary tools for them to access our loan programs in particular, the PPP program. We have developed close relationships with few financial institutions and I must say about 90% or more of our referrals have obtained the very important loan. And this is why they like what we do because we arm people with the right tools, the right applications and the right things to ask and this is why our community is getting the loans.
Jaime di Paulo: (29:22)
All businesses stay open with one on one coaching. Pretty soon we’re going to launch a new program we are developing to work on it. So what we’re trying to do is go to phase two of our chamber to work with businesses one-on-one and get them the right tools and information so they can stay in business. As you know, many Hispanic businesses have been impacted by this public health crisis and the majority are small businesses. Well, the amount of information can feel overwhelming and the need for more business community will continue to grow. Our focus has been and guide our Hispanic small businesses owners to available resources and give them the right information. We are here to help and we will continue to assist Hispanic business owners across the state. All you got to do is give us a call, (312) 423-9500. Feel free to call us if we don’t answer the phone, leave a message, we’ll get back to you.
Jaime di Paulo: (30:20)
Or send us a note at info@ICCbusiness.net. Small businesses play an absolutely critical role in the fabric of our communities in our state. This is why I urge all small businesses to follow the guidance issued by governor Pritzker and his administrations as many businesses start to reopen. The safety and wellbeing of our communities is priority number one. I urge all employees of small businesses to contact their local health department or local authorities if your employer is not following the guidance issued through the governor’s executive order. As business begin to safely reopen, we have a plan to provide personal assistance to many Hispanic business owners that continue to struggle. Our organization and community have overcome many crisis and together we will overcome this one. Thank you.
Jaime di Paulo: (31:18)
And [foreign language 00:31:19]. Now I’m going to say in Spanish for Spanish community listeners. [foreign language 00:00:31:26]. I will turn it over to governor Pritzker to answer any questions. Thank you governor.
Speaker 3: (34:28)
Craig we’re going to start with questions online today and then we’ll go to you. Jim Haggerty at Rock River Times. Governor, what would you say to those who say democratic governors are trying to keep their states closed for as long as possible in order to make better cases for federal bailout funds?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (34:43)
I can only speak for this democratic governor and I certainly have talked to a number of others and I’ll just say that we are listening to the scientists and the epidemiologists, the doctors about what’s best for the people who live in our states and that’s what we’re doing all of us. Indeed I’ve talked to many of the governors across the nation. They have shared their epidemiological findings as well their experts with us and we have terrific ones here that we’ve shared with them.
Speaker 4: (35:12)
Cisco Cotto from WBBM Newsradio. Can the governor provide more clarity to churches regarding holding services? Should they plan not to hold services larger than 50 people until their region has moved to phase five?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (35:26)
Well, you know that in phase three there can be gatherings, church gatherings of 10 or fewer in phase four 50 or fewer. So that’s the guidance that’s been given to me. I’m not the one providing that guidance. It really is what the scientists and epidemiologists are recommending.
Speaker 4: (35:43)
Shea, Politico. Governor as an entrepreneur at heart could you talk about what areas of business and industry you see emerging post pandemic and if and how they might benefit state government?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (35:55)
Well that is really interesting. So I guess I’ll just say that I think there are going to be a number of new businesses that get started as a result of this. I think you’ve already seen that at least before there is a vaccine there are lots of entrepreneurs who have started mask and face covering businesses. Others who are trying to address the medical needs that are associated with people who are in isolation or people who are COVID positive. And of course I think there’s no question there’s going to be an advanced effort to provide to make sure that we are ready for the next pandemic. And all the things that may be required for that, whether it’s technology on your iPhone or other device or making sure that we’re producing the PPE in the United States that will be available. So I think there’s an awful lot that I can see happening after this pandemic is over.
Speaker 4: (37:00)
Kelsey Landis at the Bellville News-Democrat. We’ve heard reports saying IDPH’s hospital resource numbers are incorrect in the Edwardsville region. Is IDPH aware of any discrepancies and if so are they working to correct them? She mentions that the numbers on the resource website are higher than some of the hospitals are saying they have available.
Dr. Ezike: (37:23)
Thank you for that question. So of course IDPH is the repertoire of a lot of information and the information that we have is what information has been given to us. So we have information that comes from each hospital. Every day we pull that information at midnight. The information we get from whoever is assigned to give it to us is what we have. If there are errors we recommend people have the people who are entering that data give the correct information. But information out is what was the information in.
Speaker 4: (37:55)
Ellie at Block Club for Dr. Ezike, how can people safely open their quarantined circle if at all to family and friends who have also isolated? Can we say-
Speaker 5: (38:03)
…teen circle, if at all, to family and friends who have also isolated. Can we safely hug or visit moms for mother’s day?
Speaker 6: (38:09)
The whole point of where we are now is that I think we’ve tried to stress that we still don’t have a cure. We still don’t have a vaccine. So we really aren’t that far from where we were a month ago or before we started the stay at home order. So our elderly people are still at high risk and we’ve had them essentially, shelter in place. The kids can only drop something off at the door because we don’t want to expose her to any additional risks. So that really hasn’t changed. And so we really don’t want to put anyone at risk, especially our most vulnerable.
Speaker 6: (38:54)
So that really hasn’t changed virtual hugs are still, I would say the order of the day, expanding your circle will increase your risk of infection. It’s that simple. The more people you’re around, the higher the risk of contracting the virus from someone in this new expanded circle. So again, we are trying to minimize the risk for everyone. That’s why staying home with that nuclear established cell that you’ve had is the best way forward. As you expand that, you are absolutely increasing the risk of contracting the virus.
Speaker 5: (39:33)
Oh Dr. [inaudible 00:01:33], this questions also for you from Tina at the Sun Times more tests mean more cases, but with several days of 2000 plus cases a day. When might we see that reflected in our hospitalization numbers? Is there a good percentage of how many people will enter hospitals from these counts? Also is there a percentage of COVID-19 fatalities that have included comorbidities?
Speaker 6: (39:55)
I missed the last part, but in terms of [inaudible 00:39:58] cases go on to have a certain percentage of people who end up in the hospital, a certain percentage of the people who end up in the hospital end up in the ICU. So we know that about 30% of our cases of our total positive cases have ended up in the hospital. So potentially we could see that going forward. Again, we’re looking at the number of people who have been tested and as we’ve expanded testing, we have some less sick people who have had testing. So maybe that 30% won’t hold going forward. But from previous numbers we’ve had about 30% of people end up in the hospital. So assuming we had the same mix of people getting tests, that could be the same. But again, as the number of people tested, have expanded maybe the illness, the baseline status of those people might not be exactly the same.
Speaker 5: (40:50)
The last question was, is there a percentage of COVID-19 fatalities that have included comorbidities?
Speaker 6: (40:58)
Almost 90 of the fatalities have had an associated comorbidity. And we’ve seen that in data across the world. I actually have to add age, so age isn’t necessarily a comorbidity, but it puts you in a higher risk status. So we have seen people over the age of 65 we’ve talked about heart disease, we’ve talked about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, diabetes. So there’s a list of conditions which are quite common in our population along with elevated age. Please don’t forget, pregnant women or people who have been recently pregnant, are also at high risk. Anybody who has an immunocompromised status, maybe a recent cancer patient or somebody who’s actively going through chemotherapy. So there are a lot of people that form that group that are in a higher risk category. Thank you.
Speaker 5: (41:53)
Hannah at the Daily Line, governor, the restore Illinois plan will last for months or even years until we have a vaccine, a treatment or heard immunity. Do you plan to continue issuing 30 day disaster declarations and executive orders the whole time or would you rather legislate the plan with the general assembly knowing you might have to negotiate on some points?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (42:12)
Look, I don’t want to be in the position that I’ve been in, which is to put in emergency orders, but I’ll say that we’re going to work through this together. I’ve certainly been in communication with many, many legislators have worked with them to determine what aspects of these emergency orders need to be changed, altered. I talked yesterday about how we’ve included their opinions in the restore Illinois plan. I hope that we’re out of this situation of COVID-19 being prevalent and no treatment and no vaccine. I hope we’re out of the situation as soon as possible and I’m watching very carefully to see if there’s a treatment or a vaccine that will come available very soon. But no doubt about it, we’re going to have to keep, on top of this, do it as best we can. I’ll work with the legislature in any way that they would like to work together. But my job and their job is to help keep the people of Illinois safe and healthy.
Speaker 5: (43:14)
She had one more follow up in terms of determining whether a certain region is ready to move to the next phase. Will infection data be weighted for congregate settings like prisons and residential homes since they’re not necessarily representative of the community?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (43:26)
I’ve heard this question before, but I want to point out that there are staff people who go in and out of these facilities all the time. And so even if you were to keep everybody in a nursing facility, that’s a resident, which is the case now, unless somebody checks out and goes home with their family that you have staff coming in and out literally every day, multiple shifts. Many of those people live in the areas that those nursing homes and prisons exist. And so I don’t think people should ignore the idea that there’s an infection in one of these congregate settings thinking that it doesn’t have any effect on the community. So no, we’re not ignoring those when the calculations are made about infection rates and the number of people who go into the hospital with COVID 19.
Speaker 5: (44:16)
Trudy at Bloomberg, the CME plans to reopen its option [inaudible 00:44:19] as early as three weeks after Illinois stay at home order lifts, the exchange is asking traders to sign waivers and accept the risks because it can’t guarantee safety once the floor opens. Can you comment?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (44:30)
I really can’t. I’m not sure what the circumstances are that are requiring that.
Speaker 5: (44:37)
Tiffany Walden at TRiiBE, one of our readers had to communicate to a fearful and scared group of employees that the office would be opening up June 1st. Will employers be given guidelines about how to safely open up offices?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (44:48)
Yes. In fact, we’re working with industry groups and with workers, representatives, unions and others as well as obviously with IDPH and experts in epidemiology and understanding COVID-19 to make sure that the rules that are put in place for each industry manufacturing is different than warehousing is different than offices and so on, that all those rules will be made clear to people. And indeed as you look in the plan that we put forward, you’ll see reference to IDPH safety guidance and of course social distancing and face coverings will be the norm.
Speaker 5: (45:27)
Greg Hinz at Crain’s, would you please reply to some of the pushback from business groups, especially restaurants who say giving them no hope of even partially reopening until the end of June is much tougher than nearby States and near certain to result in mass permanent closures?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (45:44)
Well, my first response to that is that I’m not the one that’s writing those rules for restaurants and bars. It is doctors and epidemiologists that I’m listening to. And indeed as many people I think understand these are situations where you are naturally going to be putting people close to one another, their servers who will be serving food, which can transmit the disease, the infection, bartenders and so on. And so all of these things are playing a role in the decision making I think by the doctors and epidemiologists.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (46:27)
And look, I also think that the public understands this and even if you flung the doors open on bars and restaurants today, I think many people would say, I don’t want to be in a public location like that where it is more likely that things might be transmitted. But we very much want to get to opening the restaurants and bars. We need to see what the effect is on our hospitalizations and infection rates across the state. As we gradually open the economy. And as we saw it is written into stage four, phase four which is just the next phase right after this phase three that might come up, for some regions in June.
Speaker 5: (47:12)
Jim Leach at WMAY governor you are in charge of the state fair. Given your own criteria, is there any realistic way to consider holding the fair this year?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (47:20)
I think it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be able to hold our state fairs. I’ve been to the state fairs, I think many people have, you know that this will be many people packed together in buildings or even on pathways. So I do not believe that we’ll be able to open the state fair. But I do want to point out to people that something I said yesterday and I’m very hopeful for, and that is we have many treatments that are in the works. The researchers and experts are hard at work now. There’s one that’s been emergency approved by the FDA called Remdesivir I hope there will be many others. And maybe by the time these larger events roll around we might be able to have a treatment that’s very effective. And then I think there is the possibility.
Speaker 5: (48:09)
Barney Pike, at the Daily Herald. Some suburban Republicans say the four groups, hamstring communities with low COVID-19 numbers by lumping them with Chicago. Could you respond?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (48:20)
Remember that these regions are based upon the hospital regions for the emergency medical service regions that have been set up for decades by the department of public health. So really they’re not based upon how many COVID positive people are in your particular village or town or city, but rather how many hospital beds and healthcare workers, how much healthcare is available if and when there is a surge? And let’s be clear, the virus hasn’t gone away. It is still out there and nothing that we’re doing now is changing that fact. What we have changed, what has made things better, what has reduced the number of potential infections and the number of people going into the hospital and dying is the fact that people have adhered to the state at home order.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (49:14)
And so the more we turn the dial up of allowing more and more interactions to occur in business and otherwise, the more risk that we’re taking, we’re going to be watching very closely. We all want the economy to open. I want it as much as anybody and I’m the one… Remember, I’m a business person, at least before I became governor, I was a business person and I’m the one who’s debating these things with the scientists and epidemiologists and they’re making cogent, well founded arguments and I’m listening to the science.
Speaker 5: (49:50)
Mark Maxwell at WCIA. You’ve said all along that a 14 day decline is the benchmark you need to see to lift restrictions. Now it’s 28 days. What changed?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (50:02)
I would say a couple of things. There are a lot of differences between the white house plan that was put forward and our plan, but as you can see from the various plans across the country, each one has a slightly different set of criteria. What we’re watching for is the effect on hospitalizations, on infections and so on. But remember we made changes just on May one. So even if we were to watch this for just 14 days, what we’ve seen already is things are flat not declining. So if I were to follow the white house plan to the letter, we would not even have begun the 14 days that is suggested in the white house plan.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (50:48)
But instead what I’m suggesting is that if we have hospital beds available, if we have the ability to provide healthcare for people and we can see that there’s a maintenance of that ability over a period of time, then we will be able to open things up. And I think honestly it might even be because it’s different than the white house plan. Indeed, makes things more available to open up than the white house plan would in Illinois. I think we’re going to have to be very careful. That’s why we have these 28 day periods.
Speaker 5: (51:23)
Brittni Clemons at WMBD news. As you know, some mayors decided to open up their city on May one could businesses still lose their license if operating before the IDPH approves their region for their respective phase?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (51:36)
They could. And the state often licenses some of these businesses so they absolutely could. And we will be looking at each of those businesses to determine whether we have the ability to do that. And when we could do that.
Speaker 5: (51:51)
Emily Coleman, the Lake County Sheriff’s office said Monday they will not issue tickets or be able to enforce the two person a boat rule because they have not received any guidelines for specific citations. Will you be providing more guidance to local authorities for enforcement?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (52:05)
We can. We absolutely can do that. I mean, it’s important that people adhere to the two person per boat, guideline. We wanted people to be able to go out, to go fishing, to be able to enjoy being on the water. But it’s important that people be able to enjoy social distancing while also being safe out there on a boat. So we do want enforcement to take place and we’ll certainly be working with law enforcement as they ask us for assistance.
Speaker 5: (52:33)
Molly Parker at the Southern Illinoisan will be our last question from online with bordering States opening earlier in many cases, how will that affect your restore Illinois plan both health wise and economically?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (52:44)
Well, it certainly may make it more difficult because we will see potentially infections across the border. I can’t speak to the decision making that’s been made in those States. What I can say is I know that Governor Holcomb in Indiana shares the same goals that I do, which is to make sure that we’re keeping people safe and healthy, but I’m listening to the epidemiologists about what their best recommendations are in terms of timing and how we open these industries up and I’m going to do what’s best for the people of Illinois. I know the people of Illinois want to do what’s best for themselves, which means to me not going into these places that clearly are going to be, potential hotbeds of infection and then coming back into your community or into your home.
Speaker 7: (53:33)
Hello governor. At least I don’t have to worry about being asked how many more questions I’ve got.
Speaker 5: (53:42)
[inaudible 00:53:42] might get cut off so don’t get excited.
Speaker 7: (53:47)
So this morning you’re well aware I’m sure the house of Republicans held a press conference, they’re calling on a couple of things. One, they want the legislature to come back into session. They say IDPH has now provided a safe guidelines for doing that. What would you say to Speaker Madigan and Senate president Harmon about getting lawmakers back into session? Republicans want to work with you and compromise you as legislators for how we go forward and they feel you’re kind of just dictating a one person show.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (54:14)
Well, that’s kind of crazy. Let’s just start with this. I have talked to the leaders on the Republican side, many Republican legislators. I’m frequently reaching out listening to them. I take a lot of notes and I’ve done a lot of the things that they’ve asked along the way. They are legislators. I have great respect for the legislators on both sides of the aisle and I am listening to them. They are acting as legislators and as a legislature they are meeting in working groups. I know that Republicans and Democrats are sitting down talking about the budget. They’re sitting down talking about the department of human services. They’re talking about the various functions of government. They’re doing it, in committee style, zoom conferencing and elsewhere and otherwise. So they’re doing exactly what I think they would be doing if they were in session having committee meetings and they absolutely have the ability to get together in session.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (55:11)
That’s one of the reasons that we didn’t just provide that, for no reason. We wanted to make sure that the legislature knew there are ways to do this. Now, let’s also be clear that there are legislators who are concerned about getting together 177 of them add in staff and all the other, the staff that worked for them. Not to mention all the other people who work in the Capitol and maybe members of the public. I mean that could be a potentially dangerous situation. That’s why we need the legislature to ask us for, what guidance they may need in order to get together, which we’re, showing you that we’re willing to provide.
Speaker 7: (55:50)
So a number of questions that also kind of go into some of the things that you’ve talked about and the question for some of these regions, you’ve loved all 11 of your EMS [inaudible 00:56:01] regions into four separate regions. For example, mayors out in DuPage County are saying, “How can you lump us in with the Chicago? You’re going to kill our businesses.” Other communities are saying, “We’re being lumped in with larger areas where there’s a bigger problem. Why not break it down closer to the 11 separate EMS districts and do it that way?”
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (56:20)
Well, again, this is all based upon hospital availability. We thought it would be better and more manageable for everybody if it was done in this number of regions. I’m sure that there are a lot of opinions about how you could draw the lines. I know I spoke with one or another DuPage County mayors who wanted just to draw the lines around their city, and so my view is that no matter how we drew these lines, there were going to be people who might complain, but remember why they were drawn. They were drawn because we want to make sure that there is health care availability. I had to point out to some mayors in areas that are around the Chicago land area that…
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (57:03)
Some mayors in areas that are around the Chicago land area that many of the people that live in their villages or in their towns or in their cities, go into the city of Chicago on a regular basis, perhaps on a daily basis. So when they say, “Well, but they’ve the problems in Chicago but not here,” that’s just wrong. You know, the people who live there are going to places where there is a maybe a higher infection rate and coming back to their village or their town.
Speaker 8: (57:27)
Greg Bishop with Center Square. Is it realistic to hold some parts of the economy at bay for a vaccine that doesn’t exist or may not exist for 18 months? And can you provide more information on what a highly effective therapy looks like?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (57:40)
Well, I’m not the one holding back the economy from stage five. The COVID-19 virus is. That’s the thing that’s been causing the very high infection rates, the hospitalizations and the deaths. So I would pay attention to the fact that that’s still out there And the fact the reason that these rates have come down over the last two months has been because of orders that we put in place and the fact that people across Illinois are obeying those.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (58:09)
I’m sorry there was a second part of that question.
Speaker 8: (58:12)
Do you have more information on what a highly effective therapy might look like?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (58:16)
I would love to turn it over to the doctor for that because I can’t probably describe it well enough but happy to have her describe.
Doctor Ezike: (58:22)
I mean I think it’s pretty clear. If we had something that would decrease the rate of fatalities, if it could decrease the rate of people ending up in the hospital, something that maybe can shorten the severity such that people don’t end up hospitalized, don’t end up in the ICU, anything like that would be a complete game changer in terms of people could say, “Well, maybe I could go out because it’s less likely that I’ll end up hospitalized. It’s less likely that I’ll end up in the ICU. It’s less likely that I’ll die.” That maybe something that would cause a situation where elderly people weren’t so disproportionately hit.
Doctor Ezike: (59:05)
So if you interacted with grandma, you think that there’s a treatment, should she get the virus, there’s a treatment that she wouldn’t die. So it’s pretty clear like if we have something that is effective, that we know can actually decrease either hospitalization rate or fatality, that would be a completely different story than what we have now.
Speaker 8: (59:25)
Doctor Ezike, while you’re up there, another question that was directed towards you. Indiana is not using nursing homes, healthcare workers or prisoners when it comes to their positivity rate. Is that a better way to determine the rate in the general public?
Doctor Ezike: (59:38)
Again, I think, I think Governor Pritzker answered that very, very appropriately. People work there. There are hundreds and thousands of people in a single facility, whether it’s a group home or a prison or a jail or a nursing home, people are going in and out every day and those people return to communities.
Doctor Ezike: (01:00:02)
So those facilities are not separate from the communities in which they’re part of the community. People make deliveries to those communities. It’s definitely part of the community, so I can’t separate it and say that that’s not part. If there are significant outbreaks in the community, that is a significant warning sign because we know that that infection is in the community, it’s in the staff that work there that go back to their homes every night.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:00:30)
If I may just add to that. Remember that the nursing home residents that live in that area get sick and need a hospital and they need a hospital bed and they need an ICU bed and they may need a ventilator. So that’s part of why we have to include those because you’re talking about the availability of healthcare when people get sick in that area.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:00:52)
That’s also true for prisoners in a prison, inmates in a prison. That’s also true for group homes. So it doesn’t make sense to me to exclude the people who live in those residential communities or in those congregate settings from the calculation.
Speaker 8: (01:01:09)
This is from Lauren Stauffer with NBC 5 and here’s the context for you. Hinsdale approved a plan to close a downtown streets so restaurants can have more space for outdoor dining. Under your plan, restaurants can open and Phase Four. Can they have their outside seating only and can that count for social distancing and can they open prior to the phase if they do that?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:01:30)
That’s not been the recommendation again of the epidemiologists. And you know, curbside delivery, pickup, drive through, delivery to the home, those are all things that have been considered acceptable by the experts.
Speaker 8: (01:01:51)
From Tim McNicholas with CBS 2. The latest unemployment numbers published by the state or from mid-March and show it under 5%. What do you realistically think the unemployment rate is in Illinois and how much do you believe the pandemic is costing the state every day?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:02:06)
Well, I think the unemployment rate is much higher than the rate that was in published in March.
Speaker 8: (01:02:12)
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:02:15)
The numbers will be published at some point and you’ll be able to see. I think that, I mean this has had a terrible toll on the entire United States and of course on the people of Illinois. And as to what it’s costing us, I mean, look beyond the cost to the state, this has cost so many families, so much. Their savings, many of their savings are gone. Many of them have businesses that they’re trying to keep alive. Many of them have lost their jobs or are in danger of losing their jobs soon and that’s one of the reasons why so much help needs to come from the federal government. They’re ones who have a monetary policy, have the levers that they can pull that are so much different than what states can do.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:03:07)
We are going to need help. There’s no doubt about it. In order to deal with the cost of this pandemic.
Speaker 8: (01:03:15)
Tara Molina from CBS 2. What has IDES completed to make sure that the system will be up and running Monday for 1099 workers. And just in addition to that, we’re hearing there is continual, continual problems with the website. People just cannot get through. They’re having to make hundreds of attempts to even get through.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:03:34)
So a couple of things. One is we’re going to talk about this later in the week. We’re going to have a complete presentation so people can see what’s being done.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:03:45)
In terms of people trying to get on the website, the website actually has a very good uptime. So the idea that the website is crashing for everybody, that shouldn’t be the case. That doesn’t seem to be the case. Having said that, I’m sure there are people who have had trouble, but remember that the many, many, many applications have been processed. 800,000 applications or more and the numbers of people, that we’ve seen that are having trouble are a fraction of that. That doesn’t make it any easier, I know.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:04:19)
So that’s why we’ve increased so significantly the ability for people to call in and I know that even that can be difficult sometimes but I would ask for people’s patients and those who are having significant difficulty, they may be logged in but not able to get their benefits. That may be because there is an arbitration that needs to take place that hasn’t yet taken place and we’re working through all of those.
Speaker 8: (01:04:47)
This from Elizabeth Matthews at Fox 32 and I don’t know if this is for you or Doctor Ezike. Does your reopening plan address longterm care facilities? When can things get back to normal at nursing homes and one can families visit their loved ones living in those homes?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:05:00)
Yeah, it doesn’t address that. I mean obviously when we get to Phase Five, we will not have the same issues. But look, the great concern here is that this epidemic, this virus, is so dangerous for elderly people and particularly those in congregate settings. So I’m deeply concerned about it. I couldn’t speak to what the timing would be for lifting restrictions on nursing homes but perhaps Doctor Ezike has an opinion.
Doctor Ezike: (01:05:37)
So again, it ties into the same thing that we’ve been saying, I guess all afternoon, that nothing in this situation has changed to decrease the risk for that most vulnerable population. When there is a game changer, when there is a treatment that would be able to counter the devastation that we have seen thus far in our longterm care facility, we can think about loosening it. Right now trying to open up visitation to create more contacts for this group that has already been so hardly hit it, it doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. It doesn’t seem like an act of protection. It actually seems that it would be increasing their risk.
Speaker 8: (01:06:21)
While you’re there. Doctor Ezike. From my colleague Michelle Gallardo at ABC 7. How quickly do you expect to hire the 3,800 people that you say you need for contact tracing and there’s a second part to that if you just want to address that first if you will?
Doctor Ezike: (01:06:36)
Sure. So the contact tracing effort, which we have been talking about is a robust, we gave the estimate about maybe needing maybe 4,000 people. We are not going to have 4,000 people start at once this month. We will start to onboard some people. Of course remember that contact tracing is something that is done by every local health department already now. People are trying to identify the cases but the problem is as the numbers have grown, we’ve gone larger than the staff that’s in place can do.
Doctor Ezike: (01:07:12)
So we have people at the local health department, we have community health workers, we have a different people who have already been engaged in this kind of work before. We have some of the grantees of IDPH that already does this kind of work. We have people who have signed up to be volunteers through Illinois health.
Doctor Ezike: (01:07:32)
So we are going to be using the resources that are in place to get started and then we’re going to scale up with time to get the full number that we need. But it’s going to be a gradual process and not something where we’ll have 4,000 in place next week
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:07:48)
I’ll just add that there are hundreds, as Doctor Ezike’s implying, hundreds of people who do contract tracing even now who will be part of that broader effort.
Speaker 8: (01:07:57)
This was for maybe Jacobson and also for Doctor Ezike. I’m sorry you’re doing the dance to the microphone.
Speaker 8: (01:08:04)
What percent of nursing homes are in compliance with the state regulations, their preparedness for a viral outbreak?
Doctor Ezike: (01:08:12)
Right. So everyone is supposed… There’s a list of infection control guidelines that have been reviewed and reviewed. We have weekly webinars. We have obviously been sending people in to look at that. We have people who have been talking, teams that are talking to the infection control teams at the facilities.
Doctor Ezike: (01:08:31)
So again, I think everyone is aware of these standards. There’s regular surveys that occur for these longterm care facilities. So we identify deficiencies on the regularly scheduled surveys. But as with anything, if you don’t keep up the things you’re supposed to be doing, there could be lapses. So sometimes that is what is causing some of these outbreaks. Some is just that with asymptomatic spread, it is very difficult to even know that someone potentially is spreading the virus.
Doctor Ezike: (01:09:02)
So there really isn’t a perfect solution where you could prevent every case and once it has gotten into the facility, it’s probably already started to spread again before we know because of that asymptomatic transmission and not clear what percentage of transmission is asymptomatic, but we know that that is a part and so it makes it very hard to contain something that you can’t even see in the form of an infection or transmission by someone that you don’t even know is transmitting at the time.
speaker 4: (01:09:31)
This is your last one.
Speaker 8: (01:09:32)
This will be the last one. Let me ask this for Maria [Palma 01:09:36] from Telemundo. It says, we border the state of Indiana and Wisconsin. Does the state of Illinois get notified when Illinois residents die or test positive for COVID-19 in either Indiana or Wisconsin?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:09:48)
Do we get notified when someone from Illinois dies?
Doctor Ezike: (01:09:51)
Yes. Yes. It’s based on their state of residence. So if somebody was out of state but they’re an Illinois resident, that would be added to our count. If someone was here, we sometimes we’ve had to adjust our numbers because we’ve later found that their principal residence is not, in fact, Illinois, and then we let the corresponding state know and make the adjustments in our numbers.
speaker 4: (01:10:11)
Okay. Thank you.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:10:13)
Doctor Ezike: (01:10:51)
Is it up here?
Speaker 8: (01:10:53)
Just kind of like when you’re speaking.
Doctor Ezike: (01:10:56)
Okay. [inaudible 00:14:05]. Am I smiling? Is it legit? Turn this off. I don’t know what I’m doing.