May 20, 2020
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript May 20
Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois held a COVID-19 news briefing May 20. Pritzker announced Phase 3 changes like allowing restaurants & salons to reopen. Read the full transcript of his press conference speech.
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Governor J. B. Pritzker: (00:00)
… Springfield as the Illinois general assembly gathers here in our capital city. In addition to IDPH director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, I’m joined here by Julie Pride, administrator of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department. Sam Toya, the President of the Illinois Restaurant Association, Dr. Tei-Fu Shen, deputy director of IDPH’s Office of Policy Planning and Statistics. He’s also an MD PhD and a former CDC epidemic intelligence service officer who has been a senior epidemiologist at IDPH for over 20 years.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (00:42)
Before I hand it over to IDPH director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, for our medical update, I want to share some terrific news with you that will make a big difference for the 1.8 million Illinoisans who received SNAP food assistance benefits. To keep more families safe and healthy, my administration sought to expand the ways in which SNAP recipients can acquire groceries to include online purchasing.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:11)
As of this morning, Illinois’ plan to enable snap recipients to purchase groceries online has been approved by the federal government already. Walmart and Amazon have agreed to accept online orders from Illinois SNAP users. And we encourage any interested grocery retailer to use this program.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:33)
This access will begin June 2nd, without any additional legwork on the user’s end. LINK customers will receive an alert when they can use their card online. And the best part is that in addition to helping families shop a little easier and safer during this pandemic, this is a permanent new feature of the SNAP landscape in Illinois that will support our residents for many years to come. And now I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Ezike for today’s medical update.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (02:07)
Thank you, Governor and good afternoon everyone. I want to start off with some additional good news. We are seeing a decrease in the numbers of people hospitalized, the numbers of people in the ICU, and the numbers of individuals on the ventilators associated with COVID-19. As of last night, 3,914 individuals were reported to be hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state. Of those, 1,005 were in the ICU and 554 were on ventilators. This is the lowest number since we were capturing these numbers that we have had for COVID patients in the hospital.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (02:47)
Over the last 24 hours, 2,388 additional individuals have been reported to have COVID-19. We now have over 100,000 total confirmed cases, and unfortunately that includes 147 additional people who were reported to have lost their battle with COVID-19 over the last 24 hours. And again, our total for the state of Illinois is 4,525 deaths.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (03:17)
A total of 642,713 tests have been run statewide with 21,029 tests being reported in the last 24 hours. I really want to touch on briefly the type of test that’s being used at the state run community-based testing site. At these sites, like the one that just opened up in Champagne, a simple nasal swab is used. The swab looks like a long Q-tip and the person inserts it in the nose up to about the bridge of the nose, turns it five times, withdraws it and then repeats the same process on the other side.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (03:57)
This is not the same as what’s called the nasal pharyngeal swab or NP swab, which requires a trained medical professional to go further back into the back of the nasal cavity. Despite these two different methods, both of these methods or types of testing can be used and have similar sensitivity.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (04:20)
And as someone who has received the nasal pharyngeal swab, you should be happy to have the nasal swab. There has been some misinformation about these testing sites and the type of test being used. So I just wanted to clear up any confusion. It’s important that we’re dealing with the right information and the correct facts. I also want to highlight, I know we have many guests with us today, but I’m also flanked by the best of the best when you think of public health.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (04:48)
We have, and you’ll hear from them later, Julie Pride and Dr. Tei-Fu Shen, who represent over 50 years of service to public health departments, including taking the Champagne public health department to the next level and a world renowned cancer registry database created by Dr. Tei-Fu Shen. We are in the midst of an unprecedented public health emergency and the public health teams that have fought for years for additional resources to ensure that all of the public health functions could be met are now continuing to do more with less.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (05:25)
But that more in these times is a Herculean more that has spanned the last five months with no clear end to the pandemic in sight. I’m grateful for both our state health department staff and our local health department staff who show up every day or work virtually every day, all through the week, all times of the night. They’re spent and they might be tired, but they’re continuing to offer what they have in order to save lives.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (05:51)
This is happening all across the state. Whenever I talk to state or local health department officials, I try to remember to thank them for their incredible service. And so I am encouraging all the people of Illinois to show their love for their local health departments. We have 97 different certified health departments throughout the state, and they’re all doing God’s work right now. Some departments may have only five members that make up the team.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (06:17)
Others may have hundreds, but they’re all facing immense pressure as they battle this pandemic. Please let this serve as a call to action, to identify your local health department and send a card of thanks or some other appreciation gesture to the public health team that’s working day and night on your behalf. I thank Governor Pritzker for showing his love and support for team IDPH. He’s offered regular calls to support the team and offered other generous gestures while we took on this COVID-19 response.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (06:51)
Team IDPH and the local health departments are the Governor’s unwavering partner as we serve every corner of Illinois. Thank you for your support. And please don’t forget to show some love to your local health department. And with that, I will summarize comments in Spanish. [foreign language 00:07:24]. And with that, I will turn it back over to Governor Pritzker.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (10:19)
Thank you very much, Doctor. And thank you for the work that you do at IDPH and to all of your colleagues too, who really have been working over time to get it right for the people of Illinois. In the midst of this coronavirus pandemic, all Illinoisans have been forced to carry out a very difficult task of fighting against an enemy that you can’t see until you or your loved ones fall sick. Slowing it down has required us to stay home and to stay apart for two months already. And the virus has brought with it an enormous financial toll on workers and families. Somehow you have found the strength to do what’s been required to fight the fight, and you have done these things with exceptional grace and compassion for your fellow Illinoisans. You are slowing the spread. You’re bending the curve, keeping our hospital capacity from being overwhelmed.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (11:18)
All around the state, in our streets and our grocery stores, you see people wearing face coverings, knowing they are protecting each other, doing the right thing for their communities and their loved ones. And because of your perseverance, we have reduced our rate of spread tremendously in every region of the state. Since even just the beginning of May, we have seen our positivity rate drop. Our current seven day average is 10.3%. The need for hospital beds and ICU beds and ventilators has decreased. We are building up our ability to test and contact trace, which allows us to slow and eventually stop new outbreaks before they start.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (12:04)
When I introduced our reopening framework, I said that we can, and we will make our restore Illinois plan smarter as we move forward. That is as true today as it was a few weeks ago. We are by no means out of the woods. The virus is still causing sickness and taking lives, but directionally things are getting better.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (12:28)
And because of these advances, we are able to make some modifications to allow more activity during phase three of our reopening plan, restore Illinois, which all regions of Illinois appear to be on track to reach by the end of May. Every day from the beginning of this pandemic, my team and I have been in close consultation with public health experts, both inside and outside government to discuss when and how we can return different elements of everyday life for Illinoisans. Our mission has always been to get people back to work, get students back to school and return to as much normalcy as possible without jeopardizing the health and safety of Illinoisans.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (13:11)
To do so, we’ve listened and learned and tracked the science and the data every day to ensure that we’re taking the best possible approach. Based on that work, the experts have indicated that we can build onto our plan to bring back more activities faster. As long as Illinoisans continue to do as we have been doing, adhering to precautions and safety measures to keep each other safe. I want to begin by talking about bars and restaurants, many of which are the beloved institutions that make the cities and towns of Illinois so special.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (13:49)
The local diner, the corner bar with friendly servers and bartenders and owners known to the whole community. Tragically, they were some of the first and hardest hit by this pandemic. To date, my administration has delivered tens of millions of dollars of assistance to small businesses, including to bars and restaurants. The industry employs hundreds of thousands of people in every corner of our state and financial assistance isn’t enough. So it’s been important to me to reopen them, but only if it can be done in a way that keeps its employees and customers safe. Given what is known about how this virus spreads in closed spaces, our public health experts made the decision early on that bars and restaurants should not open their regular indoor food service.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (14:38)
And that’s still the case until we reach phase four. That has turned out to be a good public health decision, but we have to put public health first. That means the safety and peace of mind of consumers and employees alike. But the epidemiologists now believe that summer offers us an opportunity if proper precautions are taken by businesses and their patrons. So after listening to and working with restaurant industry representatives together with our epidemiologists, today, I’m announcing an additional option for bars and restaurants interested in resuming operations earlier, opening for outdoor seating when phase three begins likely for everyone just nine days from now.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (15:26)
With the right restrictions, tables, six feet apart, and away from the sidewalks, masks and distancing measures for staff, and other precautions. The experts believe that these services can open at a risk comparable to other outdoor activities and give our hospitality industry a much needed boost as they work to keep their businesses on their feet during this terrible crisis.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (15:52)
On that note, I want to encourage municipalities and mayors who are interested in helping restaurants expand their outdoor seating options to do whatever is in their power and best fits their communities to help these restaurants. We’ve seen an incredible outpouring of creativity from every corner of the state throughout this crisis. And I have no doubt that Illinoisans will continue that spirit as we pave our way forward. Looking ahead, I also want to elaborate on next steps for outdoor activities.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (16:23)
As laid out in restore Illinois, phase three permits all gatherings, not just essential ones, of 10 people or fewer. That means if you want to go enjoy a picnic in the park or walk with nine other people, you can. Just remember to wear a mask or face covering when social distancing can’t be maintained. With this new 25 person gathering limit, our restriction around outdoor activities in phase three will see some changes.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (16:52)
That means boating or camping with up to 10 people is welcome in boats that are an appropriate size to hold that number. Illinois is also allowing the reopening of indoor and outdoor tennis facilities with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits. As for golfers in phase three, courses can allow foursomes out on the same tee times. Carts will also be permitted with only one person per cart or one immediate household per cart.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (17:25)
With significant work to determine staffing and safety measures, all state parks will reopen on May 29th. All concessions will reopen as well under guidelines set for our retail and food service businesses in phase three. I know how important our state parks are to communities across our state and the staff and leadership of our department of natural resources are looking forward to welcoming Illinoisans back.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (17:54)
Additionally, in the coming days, we will be providing guidance on how other outdoor recreational businesses such as driving ranges, outdoor shooting ranges, and paintball courses can safely open their doors in phase three.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (18:09)
And on the topic of the days ahead, I want to remind everyone of the other businesses and activities already laid out for phase three. In phase three, personal care services like nail salons, beauty salon, spas, tattoo shops, hair braiders, and barbershops can open with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits. For health clubs, gyms, and fitness studios, one-on-one personal training in indoor facilities and outdoor fitness classes of up to 10 people are allowed with precautions adhered to.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (18:44)
And all retail stores, basically any store that wasn’t already open as an essential business can choose to open their doors to an in-person shopping with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits in place. Of course, there’s a whole lot of life outside these arenas, and I know people will have questions on the specifics of these announcements, as well as on topics outside of what I’ve outlined today. In the coming days, we’ll be releasing formal industry specific guidance developed in consultation with business owners and employees, particularly around workplaces and childcare.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (19:22)
IDPH and my office have also received many proposals from churches and religious organizations on how they could operate safely in larger gatherings, including outdoor and drive in settings. And we are working with them to help offer additional flexibility. Finally, I want to be clear that local governments have every right to establish stricter guidance to local businesses or for local recreation in any of these areas if they believe it would be in the best interests of the people that they represent. I want to offer just a note of concern that I hope everyone will take to heart. The virus has not gone –
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (20:03)
Take to heart. The virus has not gone away, other States that have thrown out restrictions and decided to just go without regulation are seeing rising cases and beginning to see rising hospitalizations. Here in Illinois, we have followed the science and we’re succeeding, but we can’t let up now. We’ve come too far and we’ve made so much progress, because we’ve kept social distance, worn face coverings in public, washed our hands frequently, and taking care of our most vulnerable to the best of our ability. We must persevere.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (20:36)
Illinois, this road is a long one, and I know that it’s hard to see the hate on display by recent protestors who ignore that we’ve lost thousands of Illinoisans to this virus. Thousands more are fighting for their lives in our hospitals, and our medical professionals are heroically working round the clock to save lives. Perspective is often difficult to find from up close, but the way the vast majority of the people of the State have come together in this moment is truly incredible. I have never been more proud of Illinois. Thank you. And now I’m proud to introduce a veteran public health administrator with decades of experience in infectious disease prevention, Julie Pride administrator of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health Department. Julie.
Julie Pride: (21:35)
Hi. Good afternoon. I’m Julie Pride administrator for Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. Thank you, Governor Pritzker for the opportunity to be here today for this welcome announcement on our path to safely restore Illinois, and for always leading with science and public health. I also want to thank Dr. Ezike for always listening to local public health departments and for valuing the input that we bring from our local communities all across Illinois. In Champaign County, as in all over Illinois, we are ready to safely transition into phase three of the Restore Illinois plan.
Julie Pride: (22:12)
The outdoor restaurant reopening carefully weighs public health concerns with the desire to open up the economy as well. Our local community partners are combining their entrepreneurial creativity with public health infection control guidance to craft innovative solutions for the challenging times that we find ourselves. New partnerships are being formed and old partnerships are being strengthened. There will likely be some changes made to how we do things as a society long after the pandemic is over. Not because they are required, but because they work better. Innovations made to accommodate social distancing and outdoor dining such as reservations and closing streets to expand seating may become the new way of life in vibrant downtown districts even after the pandemic ends.
Julie Pride: (23:07)
I have always been very impressed by the generosity and kindness shown by the restaurant industry. They are constant contributors to fundraisers, local sports teams and charities. They not only support each other, but they are often among the first to offer help in any type of emergency. On the very day that the Governor announced the closure of schools to help flatten the curve, many restaurants around the State announced free lunches for all school aged children. Now is the time that we all need to give back to our restaurants and all the businesses that are opening in phase three. They need everyone to follow the guidance and the new procedures that are being put into place. They need everyone to be patient with their staff and other patrons, as we all adjust to the new normal, and they need us to respect their health by wearing face coverings, when it’s required. Let’s all move into phase three together, and let’s do it safely and with intention. Thank you. And now I would like to introduce Sam Toia from the Illinois Restaurant Association.
Sam Toia: (24:31)
Thank you Julie, and thank you Governor Pritzker. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today. I’d like to first begin by thanking the hospitality industry for their resilience, their voice, and their commitment to community. Every day, we learn about operators and chefs throughout the State feeding medical workers, first responders, their industry peers, and the community at large. I’m astonished by the generosity and the spirit we see from our industry during this time of crisis, even when their own future hangs in balance. Our restaurant industry, the largest private sector employer here in the State of Illinois has been hemorrhaging for the past nine weeks. More than half our restaurants have closed and sales are down 70 to 80%, and more than 321,000 of the 594,000 people that work in the restaurant food industry and in bars have been laid off.
Sam Toia: (25:28)
By the most conservative estimate, statistics show that 20 to 25% of restaurants will close their doors for good as result of COVID-19. Representing nearly 26,000 restaurant, owners statewide have voiced their concerns to the IRA about the dire circumstances they face and the future of their business. I am pleased to say that Governor Pritzker and his team are listening. Today’s announcements provides a glimmer of light at the end of this very dark tunnel. The Governor’s action to allow for expanded outdoor dining options will be benefit to many at a time when every dollar counts.
Sam Toia: (26:06)
We recognize that this action will not provide a solution for every operator, but it’s a start in the right direction for restaurant, diners, communities around the State from Springfield to Carbondale, to Rockford, to Champaign, to Chicago. The outdoor dining strategies supported by this administration extend a lifeline, helping bring back jobs and offering diners the hospitality experience they’ve been missing, all the while maintaining necessary public health and safety measures.
Sam Toia: (26:37)
Throughout and before this crisis restaurant’s top priority has been the health and public safety of their guests and team members. We will be looking to our local municipalities leaders, like Mayor Lightfoot of Chicago, Mayor Langfelder of Springfield to discover creative ways to make our outdoor dining work for communities while maintain high standards of safety, to which they are accustomed, establishing further measures to protect public wellbeing. Let’s close down streets, let’s expand sidewalk cafes, let’s use parking lots and public ways. Let’s show the world how innovative Illinois can be. Again, while we recognize this solution would apply to all operators, it’s a step in the right direction and presents an opportunity for Illinois to demonstrate our leadership and innovation. The IRA appreciates the open dialogue and communication from Governor Pritzker and his team. As I always say, communication and education are truly the key to success, and Governor Pritzker and his team are always communicating education, so I want to thank them for that. We will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders, small business elected officials, public health experts, to work through this crisis, flattened the curve, and revive our economy. We look forward to getting our restaurants open for business, never underestimate our restaurants ability to rise to a challenge. We will open, and we will reopened safely. And again, go out, get online, make reservations to these outdoor cafes here in the State of Illinois, throughout our towns and municipalities and States cities. So we look forward to working with the Governor and his team, and we’re very happy about this next phase. And like I say, all restaurant too care about the safety and health of their customers and team members at all times. So thank you.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (28:35)
Thank you Sam. I want to address my administration’s emergency rule authorizing an additional compliance mechanism relating to our stay at home order, assisting local law enforcement and state’s attorneys in their work to keep people safe. The majority of States from our Midwest colleagues like Ohio and Wisconsin to other Republican led States like Georgia and Florida have, or have had a broader range of enforcement mechanisms relating to their stay at home orders. This temporary emergency rule brought Illinois in line with this national practice, giving local officials more flexibility in their ability to enforce this order with a simple citation.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (29:26)
That flexibility is the critical piece of this. The State already has enforcement authority through an IDPH closure order or the revocation of a business license, but those tools are harsher measures than anybody, including me, is interested in pursuing. A business that chooses not to follow the rules can recover from a fine, it is much more expensive to deal with being stripped of a license or forced to close. The General Assembly has now returned to its operations for the first time since March, and in consultation with leadership in the State House, my administration has decided to withdraw this rule in order to pursue legislation with the same intended mechanism in a phased manner, in line with the Restore Illinois plan.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (30:15)
Enacting this measure through legislation will allow us to have these tools throughout the Restore Illinois plan versus an emergency rule that would be withdrawn and rewritten at the start of phase three and then phase four. I’m here today with Illinois State Police director, Brendan Kelly, as well as leader, Bill Cunningham, who is sponsoring this legislation. I urge the General Assembly to take up and pass this legislation this week. Given the importance of what we are trying to do here, we will look to file an additional rule if legislation does not occur. Our only goal here is one that we all share, prioritizing public health while reducing the harm that bad actors can cause the broader small business community, so important to the strength of our economy. And with that, I’d like to turn it over first to Leader Cunningham.
Leader Bill Cunningham: (31:14)
Thank you Governor, and thank you for your leadership throughout this crisis. My name is State Senator Bill Cunningham. I’m the State Senator for the 18th district that covers the Southwest side of Chicago and several Southwest suburbs. I want to focus on a point that the Governor just made, that being that the legislature is back in session this week. As we all know, that has not been the case for several weeks. In the absence of the legislature, the Governor and his administration in the various agencies in the administration have had to promulgate emergency rules. Many of those rules are meant to be aligned with the Governor’s executive order related to staying safe during the Coronavirus crisis.
Leader Bill Cunningham: (32:01)
By virtue of the fact that we’re here in town, we’ve talked with the Governor, both the members of the joint committee on administrative rules, which I am the co-chairman of, and the leadership in both chambers, and we think it’s appropriate that we deal with this problem through the regular legislative order. And that’s what we’re committed to do this week. I think I can speak for myself and I believe a number of other legislators that we agree with the intent of the Department of Public Health when it comes to enforcing the Governor’s stay at home order, we’ve had some disagreements about the exact process, but now we’ll be able to delve into those things here in the legislature. That’s the way the process is intended to work, and we’re looking forward to working with the Governor on developing a really important and sensible piece of legislation. And with that, I would ask the Director of the Illinois State Police, Brendan Kelly to come to the podium. Thank you.
Brendan Kelly: (33:14)
Thank you, Governor, thank you Leader. I wish I could speak the beautiful fluent Spanish that Dr. Ezike does every day, but I do speak a couple languages, but all very badly, including English. So I will do my best to try to articulate to all of you today where law enforcement has been through the pandemic, and where we are today. Let me just first say, the men and women of the Illinois State Police, indeed, all law enforcement throughout this pandemic, have done simply an amazing job. The level of professionalism that they’ve shown, the compassion that they’ve shown, the patience that they’ve shown in an incredibly difficult situation is something that we should all be grateful for and something that we should all be very proud of.
Brendan Kelly: (34:02)
This is probably the most difficult public policy problem that law enforcement has faced, certainly in our lifetimes, balancing the need for public health and public safety, as well as the need for personal rights and personal concerns and the ability for people to live their lives. This is an extremely difficult problem, and the men and women of law enforcement have risen to the challenge at every stage to do everything they can to protect the public health in these very difficult circumstances.
Brendan Kelly: (34:32)
Now, during this phase, during the pandemic, the word enforcement in law enforcement has come to mean many different things. So let me just remind everyone what the incremental steps are, the various actions that have been taken by law enforcement, both at the Illinois State Police and the State locally, federally, at every level in terms of enforcement. And that has always begin with a conversation between the members of law enforcement and the public or businesses that may be not compliant with the health requirements that have been put forward by the Department of Public Health and through the executive order. That increases to perhaps a verbal warning, or written warning, or a notice to cease and desist that type of activity, which may be violating the health guidelines that have been put out by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Brendan Kelly: (35:26)
Eventually, that moves to the level where you have an impact on someone’s license. We have worked with the Illinois State Police and other agencies, I’ve worked with State agencies like liquor commission, the Department of Public Health, DCEO, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, when it gets to the point where that conduct is impacting someone’s license. There’s also been the process of working with local health departments to initiate temporary restraining orders or closure orders.
Brendan Kelly: (35:54)
Let me say from the very beginning, it has been the Governor’s intent and the Governor’s direction from day one that no one be arrested, no one be taken to jail, no one be put in that situation for violating the conditions of the executive order or any emergency rule. And that is the case today, the Illinois State police have not taken anybody to jail for violations of the executive order or for any of the conditions related to emergency rules promulgated by any agency during the pandemic.
Brendan Kelly: (36:28)
It has also been understandably clear that everyone is reluctant to pursue a full closure order and completely shut down a business, and put that business out of business for whatever period that may be. That is a pretty harsh remedy, and there’s not anybody who has it in their heart to want to pursue that remedy in the event someone is violating the health rules that have been put forward during the pandemic. In addition, there’s been no one who’s had a desire truly to be able to pursue violations of the licensing requirements. No one wants to take somebody’s liquor license permanently and put that business out of business. Absent that act, absent those measures, the Illinois Department of Public Health Act, which has been in the book for many years, we are left with enforcement of any type of rule that falls under the Illinois Department of Public Health Act.
Brendan Kelly: (37:23)
Now that the Senator, the Leader Cunningham and the Governor have, as they’ve mentioned today, are moving forward with some type of legislation. What’s important is that we get what all law enforcement has been seeking throughout this process, and that we hope to see at the end of this process is consistency, clarity, and fairness. And now that the legislature is stepping up and offering something in addition to what we have in the health act, these emergency rules, we will work with them, we will work with the administration, and we will work with all the legislators to provide some type of feedback and process going forward so that we have that consistency, so we have that clarity, so we have that fairness.
Brendan Kelly: (38:08)
The men and women who serve in law enforcement are in an extremely difficult position, but they handle it very well, they handle it very smartly, and they’ve handled it very patiently. And we need to give them the tool as this process moves forward so that we have consistent outcomes, so that we have fairness, and we have clarity. And now that our Leader Cunningham is stepping up to move forward, that we kook forward to working with him, and of course, encouraging all sheriffs, local police department, state’s attorneys, to provide input on that process as well. And we hope that will get us through the next phase, and we’re all very much looking forward to the next phase. God knows I need a haircut.
Brendan Kelly: (38:47)
So I appreciate everyone’s patience. And again, if you see someone who’s working in law enforcement, don’t go up to them violating social distance, but tell them if you can, say thank you for what they’re doing, because their job is extremely difficult, and we all need them to continue to be safe and healthy so they can keep everybody else safe and healthy. Thank you. Thank you Governor.
Speaker 1: (39:08)
We’ll start with [inaudible 00:39:13].
Oh, thank you. Hi Governor, welcome back.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (39:19)
Hi John. Nice to see you again.
Thank you. Bear with me, I haven’t seen you for a while, so my questions go back to mid March.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (39:25)
Well, you’ve been asking questions, [crosstalk 00:39:27].
The first question is from my mother, who’s seen my hair, and wants me to ask you where you’ve got your Flowbee.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (39:33)
I never was able to get ahold of a Flowbee, Although I know that a colleague of yours in the media happens to have one, so we may need to borrow his.
Given the style choices that many of us in the media get, there probably is a Flowbee around. First question, a lot of questions about the JCAR rule from Greg Hinz of Crain’s, and Rick Pearson of the Tribune, and Doug Finke of the State Journal Register, and Mark Maxwell added one in our collusion beforehand. Those have been answered in large part, but.
Speaker 2: (40:02)
[crosstalk 00:40:01] In large part, but I guess what remains is for you or Senator Cunningham to explain what this new bill will do and why you think it will have Republican support, or do you care whether it has Republican support?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (40:16)
Well, I would go back to the original intent here anyway, which is to make sure that we had some enforcement mechanism. And as I’ve said all along, nothing that would involve arresting somebody. It’s really an ability to issue a citation of sorts. But I want to turn it over, if you don’t mind, to Leader Cunningham for his input, since he’s going to be the sponsor. He is the sponsor.
Senator Cunningham: (40:36)
Thank you, Governor. I think it’s fair to say that there was a bit of an overreaction to the original rule and that, I think, it was created by the fact that it referred to a Class A misdemeanor. Now, as the director said, never any intent to see anyone arrested. There is a provision of a misdemeanor that allows for a fine. That was the intent. That was the intended enforcement tool, not a criminal charge that would end up in detention. So we want to clarify that that is not part of our effort, that if there is any sanction in place, it would not be anything beyond a fine that would be adjudicated in the civil court system or through some administrative system and not through the criminal courts.
Senator Cunningham: (41:27)
We also, as has been mentioned, want to avoid revoking licenses. That could have, I think, a long lasting negative effect on a business. What we want to have is something that our public health departments and the police departments that they work in concert with to have tools to enforce the stay at home order, make sure businesses are following aspects of that order, and I think it’s fair to say. We would like to do it with a soft touch. That is the intent of the legislation.
Senator Cunningham: (42:01)
Obviously we will go through the process with both chambers going back and forth, but again, we’re looking to land on the intent of the rule. We’ll just do it through the regular lawmaking process.
Speaker 3: (42:15)
Governor, when challenged on your executive authority before, was this one where you finally said, “I’m not going to die on this hill?” That let’s let the legislature have a say.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (42:26)
No, I think the Senator Leader really expressed it well. The challenge of the existing legislation, which was originally enacted, I think, in the 19th century, is that it only allows for a Class A misdemeanor, and that’s a pretty large amount of latitude as some have pointed outright, that even as much as potentially jail time. Although again, that was never my intent. And you can go back to press conferences two months ago, and you would hear me say that it’s never been my intent to have law enforcement to prosecute somebody, or arrest somebody, put them in jail. So, we wanted to have some kind of enforcement mechanism, and I think a citation is the right way to do it. I think the Senator has described it well. And we’ve never looked for the maximum penalties under even a Class A misdemeanor.
Speaker 3: (43:22)
The committee met in pre-meeting for three hours. This is the kind of thing that taxpayers just rouse them. They want issues debated in Springfield and they want it to be open. Was your staff in that meeting? Was any of your staff in that meeting and why don’t you condemn that kind of lack of transparency?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (43:45)
No, I would just say, I mean, I think that the JCAR, we can talk about the procedures of JCAR, but, I think they were just contemplating what the options are with regard to an emergency rule.
Speaker 3: (43:58)
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (43:59)
Speaker 3: (44:00)
Senator Cunningham: (44:02)
JCAR is, I think, fair to say somewhat obscure legislative body. I want to just explain a little bit about it first. It is really a bridge between the legislature and the executive branch. We pass bills in which we give rulemaking authority to agencies. The agencies then promulgate those rules. JCAR looks at those rules and determines whether or not we believe they’re in compliance with the law. The process contemplates cooperation and negotiation between the legislature and the executive in this area.
Senator Cunningham: (44:47)
It is not uncommon at all for an agency to submit a rule and for JCAR to engage in discussions with the agency promulgating the rule, and maybe not be completely happy with what they’ve proposed, and urge them to amend that rule. That happens all the time. We did that today with a rule that the Secretary of State’s office submitted. So this is essentially a negotiation, like something that goes on every day in the legislature between the executive branch and the legislative branch. And when we take any action, those actions are taken in public where it can be viewed by citizens. That’s what happened today. That’s what has happened all along with the JCAR process.
Speaker 3: (45:39)
Governor, the new rule on outdoor eating and dining was exactly what a bar, tavern, restaurant in the Quad Cities was doing, and I think they sued you, there’s this lawsuit, because they were down. They had picnic tables 10 feet apart and they were serving carry out, and then patrons were… Did that restaurant’s experience or any other restaurant’s experience make you look at it again, and if it did, why not give them credit and say, “Look at me, I’m open to suggestions.”
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (46:19)
I’ve been listening to restaurateurs and bar owners for quite some time. I’ve known Sam Toya for more than 20 years, 25 years. I know quite a number of owners as well as people who work in those establishments, and I have been listening all along here because I want to do the right thing. The most important thing is that we’ve got to make sure that the epidemiologists, the experts here, feel that we can execute this in a way that keeps people safe. That’s the number one consideration. That was why we originally had to close bars and restaurants, because the feeling back then without knowing much about this novel coronavirus, was we needed to stop restaurants and bars while we figured out what the best way to proceed was.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (47:03)
And even now, as you know, there are challenges, and the restaurant industry has been terrific at proposing safe ways for people to dine and to go out and enjoy themselves. And the summer offers us the unique opportunity, according to the epidemiologist, for us to begin to bring those restaurants back online. So the credit really goes to the leadership of the industry. It goes to the many restaurateurs, who frankly, have been good actors all along. And remember, this is nine days away, so those people who have tried to flaunt the rules, don’t in my opinion, deserve to be rewarded. But I think the entire industry has acted in a proper way. The vast majority, just like the vast majority of Illinoisans, have been doing the right thing to keep people safe.
Speaker 3: (47:52)
All right. A followup from Jim Leech from WMAY. Why’d you feel that not getting legislative involvement, especially from Republicans, in the stay at home and shutdown orders has contributed to a growing backlash against these orders? Should you have sought more legislative input sooner?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (48:07)
Actually, I’ve been speaking to legislators throughout this process.
Speaker 3: (48:12)
They say they can’t get any epidemiology studies. They can’t get [crosstalk 00:48:16] Dr. Ezike-
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (48:17)
Speaker 3: (48:17)
The House Republicans say they can’t get any documents out of you. And we say, “The governor says this,” [crosstalk 00:48:23]-
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (48:22)
That’s not true. How many press conferences have I had? I’ve held up. I’ve shown with the experts-
Speaker 3: (48:26)
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (48:26)
And they had the opportunity.
Speaker 3: (48:30)
The one day you held up the model. You said, “This is all available at the Governor’s Office. Come see it.”
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (48:35)
No, that’s not true. Here’s what I said. [crosstalk 00:48:38] Excuse me, yeah, the lawmakers got a briefing about it, but let me just say, [crosstalk 00:48:43]-
Speaker 3: (48:42)
All right. I believe you then.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (48:45)
Yeah, we have, as you know, three different groups of experts who were bringing forward their models. And then we had a number of epidemiologists that we brought forward, and we even provided for Republican legislators, as well as anybody else who wanted to join, the ability to ask questions of those experts. And they did. And it was a satisfactory event. Nobody complained during the event or even after the event. Maybe now, because they’re acting in a hyper political fashion, they now want to complain.
Speaker 3: (49:18)
This question is from Charlie Meyerson at Chicago Public Square. Please elaborate on the decision to exclude Amy Jacobson from these media briefings. And please explain the guidelines going forward for determining who will be allowed and who will be excluded.
Hi. It’s Jordan, Press Secretary. That was my decision, and so if he has that question, I’ll take that to my inbox later. The Governor doesn’t make decisions on his press conferences. That’s my job.
Speaker 3: (49:43)
Well, you agree with it though. You could overrule her.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (49:47)
Look when you stand up at a rally where people are taking a political position, holding up Nazi swastikas, holding up pictures of Hitler, and taking an extreme position as she did, it strikes me that that’s not objective in any way. It’s not the way you act. It’s not the way that your colleagues in the media act who are reporters. That is not a reporter. She represents a talk show that has a particular point of view. We allowed her to ask questions because once upon a time, she was a reporter, but she proved that she is no longer a reporter.
Speaker 3: (50:29)
Dr. Ezike could probably take this… Governor Pritzker, you’re welcome to. This is from Jonah Meadows at patch.com. The Governor said Monday 29% of known cases are currently involved in tracing, and that the industry standard was 60%. To move to phase three, the Restore Illinois plan calls for, “Begin contact tracing and monitoring within 24 hours of diagnosis.” While moving to phase four of the plan, and open schools and restaurants, requires the government to be able to “Begin contact tracing and monitoring within 24 hours of diagnosis for more than 90% of cases in region.” Charlie says, “But IDPH does not publish any data on the status of that metric either by region or statewide.” So in what percentage of cases does tracing begin within 24 hours statewide, and will that data be published by region?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (51:23)
I’ll let Dr. Ezike give you the last half of that, but I just want to be clear that it’s the 90% of the possible context. Remember, many people who are contacts of people who have COVID-19 aren’t reachable, or don’t want to be reached. And this is the case if you look at the Massachusetts contact tracing collaborative, and really all contact tracing, anybody who’s been in that world will tell you that just because you call somebody, it doesn’t mean they’re going to pick up the phone. Just because you knock on their door, doesn’t mean they’re going to answer the door. And there are many people who don’t give their information or we don’t have information for. So I would be happy to have Dr. Ezike give you the rest.
Dr. Ezike: (52:02)
Yeah, thank you for the question. So, of course, this is a robust effort that we’re laying all the seeds now. Obviously we have said before that the amount of staff that we will need to be able to reach all of the people who test positive exceeds what we have within our local health departments and our state health department. And so that is why we’ve put out the interest letters to identify people in the state who would like to participate in this effort. We’re working with academic institutions. We’re working with medical schools to identify medical student and nurse volunteers who want to participate in this effort. So all of that is being laid, that foundation, so that we can start getting up to those very ambitious goals, which we need, which will help us decrease the transmission of spread by identifying people early and having them stand down once they find out that they’ve been exposed.
Dr. Ezike: (52:56)
So again, all of this is happening. The work is going around, again, 24 hours a day, people are working to get this in place. We want it to get those goals that you cited, and so that’s what we’re aggressively working on as we get to phase three. So the clock is ticking on us so that we can try to meet those metrics. And we will be sure to keep you posted as we go along that journey.
Speaker 3: (53:14)
All right. If I can find it. Pardon me for a moment.
John, this will be your last one [inaudible 00:53:25].
Speaker 3: (53:33)
And I am… I’m sorry. Smartphone’s too smart for me. I can’t find it.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (53:45)
Hold on [inaudible 00:53:46].
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (53:48)
Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah.
Speaker 4: (53:54)
Thank you. Hi Governor, [inaudible 00:53:55] with IAPH. About this emergency rule. You’ve addressed this somewhat. Walk us through the thinking there. It labeled these businesses like restaurants, gyms, hair salons, high risk. You said that’s already in the law as Class A misdemeanor. Then why file the rule at all? It seems you’re searching for some way to punish businesses who defy your order.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (54:16)
Again, looking for an enforcement mechanism for people who aren’t following the rules, right? They’re putting their communities in danger by opening their doors when they are not eligible during phase two to open their doors. So then they’re just flaunting the law. And so the idea here was to give some methods short of the very draconian methods of closing the business, or taking a license away. So that was the intent.
Speaker 4: (54:44)
It’s true. You have said all along for months that you didn’t wish to jail anyone, but you did say you could yank their license, and in fact, some state licensing agencies have already reached out to businesses who defied them and threatened that very thing.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (54:57)
Speaker 4: (54:58)
So I guess in repealing this rule, are you acknowledging that you exceeded your executive power?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (55:04)
No. What I’m acknowledging is that we would rather not take away somebody’s license, that we’d rather have an enforcement mechanism that was at a lower level. And again, that’s what I think Leader Cunningham’s bill will allow us to do.
Speaker 4: (55:16)
So, all prior communication from state licensing agencies, should those businesses accept that those are also being repealed and no longer valid?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (55:24)
Well, again, if somebody continues to be a scofflaw, if someone continues, if some business continues to not follow the rules, there is the potential for those other enforcement mechanisms. We’d rather start with something that’s lower level.
Speaker 4: (55:39)
I know you’ve said you’ve listened to these business owners and certainly to the protestors, do you worry about the political implications of the position you find yourself in here? As President Trump urges many governors to reopen more quickly, some of them are. Many of these states that had lesser restrictions than we have in Illinois are moving in that direction. I know you’ve said you want to err on the side of caution and science, but at what cost do you worry, come November, that President Trump can look at states like Illinois and say, “Look, they were holding businesses back longer.”
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (56:11)
First of all, President Trump isn’t following science or data. And second, if you look at really all the polling data, as you’ll see, the vast majority of people in the United States want us to follow the science and the data to get this right. And of course, we also want to reopen businesses. I’ve been doing that all along, looking at figuring out how we can open more and more businesses. This is another way, the announcements that we made today, is another way to make progress, but we’re doing it right in Illinois.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (56:39)
We know we’re not the last or the first. I think we’re cutting the right path here so that we can, again, the number one consideration, keep our people safe. Make sure that our first responders are taken care of. Make sure that we’re not overwhelming them. These are our heroes. I mean, these are the people on the front lines who are risking their lives every day. And when there are scofflaws out there, when there are people who don’t follow the rules, they’re literally thumbing their noses at healthcare workers. And so I want to follow the science and the data because we want to make sure keep people safe and we’ll protect the people who are on the front lines, who are keeping all of us safe.
Speaker 4: (57:18)
I see. A question from the managing editor at Channel 5 in Chicago. With these rules that you’re relaxing, outdoor gatherings and businesses, allowing some outdoor seating, and this modified phase three you’ve announced today, how does that change your plans for childcare and summer day camps?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (57:33)
So we’re continuing to look at the rules for childcare. We’ll be issuing some of those rules. I talked about the industry groups that we’ve gotten together all along here, not just the restaurant industry as we’ve talked about today, but many of the others, manufacturers and so on, including childcare. So those rules will be issued and there’ll be for childcare providers. There’ll be able to see what is available and how they can expand their operations.
Speaker 4: (57:59)
Perhaps you can elaborate on the contours of what that may look like. You said you were in touch with faith leaders, another example. We were hearing a lot of questions from reporters as well, asking, one example, the Bank of Springfield center is a big venue. Many churches might have similar floor space like that. They’ve got more than 150 people in there today, but right now churches are limited to 10 people in their building. What if they’ve got other rooms or more space, if they have expansive venues, can your phase three or phase four account for that?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (58:28)
You can see Dr. Ezike nodding her head, too. She too is a person of faith and we all want churches, and mosques, and synagogues to be able to open safely. And so we’ve been looking at all the ways in which to do that safely. As you know, the Catholic church came out with a plan. It’s a rather comprehensive plan that includes a webinar and how you perform a funeral or wedding and so on. And each one of the faiths have come forward, or at least a number of them have, to ask, “How could we do it safely?” And to put forward their ideas for getting it done. And we’re trying to work through all of those because as you know, each building, each situation is slightly different. What we did want to do though is make sure that people understood outdoor is much easier. Drive through, drive in is much easier, and setting rules around that immediately or very soon.
Speaker 4: (59:24)
A lot of questions about the legislature they’re convening here today. From Timon Bradley at WGN, how disappointed will you be if the legislature does not pass meaningful ethics reform in this special session? And if I can add one more, you promised at the start of this session as well, significant property tax relief for Illinois homeowners. Those two things are not clearly labeled on the special session agenda. Should lawmakers make the time to get it done before they dismiss?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (59:49)
What I can say, and maybe the Leader wants to weigh in, but I’ll just say this, that look, there are three days of session planned, as I understand. And it’s because of this pandemic, right? I mean, this is highly unusual. I think all of us are recognize-
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:00:03)
… epidemic, right. I mean, this is highly unusual. I think all of us are recognizing that, the circumstances in which the legislature is meeting. I’m glad that the legislature is meeting, but in order to get everything from the highest priorities done, there’s a limited number of things that they can get done. I think you’ve heard some of those already from the leaders themselves.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:00:23)
I would very much like to see ethics legislation get through. I think we all think that you can’t get ethics if you don’t get something done in the next three days, it can’t possibly be done this year. And the answer is that’s not right. There is the rest of the year. I think the legislature is meeting these three days in particular, at least the number one concern is the budget. And the number two concern is a COVID relief package because we’ve got to help people across the state.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:00:51)
But there’s an opportunity. And you know that I’ve worked across the aisle for the entire time that I’ve been governor talking to, listening to Republican legislators, as well as my friends in the democratic party. I really believe that there’s much more that we can get done later in the year.
Speaker 5: (01:01:06)
On the budget making process from Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line, the proposed budget, I think she’s referring to one bill that’s been filed, would cut the state’s breast and cervical cancer screening program by 40%.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:01:17)
No, I won’t stand for that. I read her column this morning. You can let her know and I won’t stand, I mean, that’s just wrong. I know that the intention was good. The intention was that the money hadn’t been spent, the money that had been appropriated, it wasn’t being spent because so many more people who need that service are actually being covered by insurance now.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:01:39)
Having said that, we need to make sure that that fund, that those dollars are available for everybody who needs them who falls into that gap that, that Hannah talked about this morning in her column.
Speaker 5: (01:01:50)
You’ve already illustrated the budget holes as income tax, sales tax, corporate income tax dry up during these coronavirus closures.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:01:56)
Speaker 5: (01:01:56)
How then, pardon me, how then do you account for that in this budget making process? Where are you going to go? Do you have to make cuts? Do you have to raise some fees? For example, I believe the CTBA has suggested fees on attorneys practices. Are there any ways you can go that might be more progressive in nature that target maybe like white collar jobs that are more insulated from the coronavirus? Can you look for revenue in those areas?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:02:20)
Yeah. So as you know, I put forward a budget back in February. Things have changed quite a lot, but an outline of that budget, the outline of which the legislature took upon itself and then worked in their working groups to try to figure out how do you address the shortfall of revenues across the board?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:02:39)
They have talked to many members of my administration to get help in putting those numbers together. So there really is a cross functional effort to try to get a budget agreement put together and you see a lot of work has been done by legislators, even though they haven’t been able to meet.
Speaker 5: (01:02:58)
You’re getting a crash course in the regionalization of politics in Illinois right now. Part of that was that the minimum wage fight, a lot of regional Democrats and Republicans asked about that. I think Senate Majority Leader, Kim Lightford mentioned that she’s looking at, what she’s hearing about this idea to modify the tax credits that were in part of the $15 minimum wage to go from 50 employees up to 200, to expand that, considering many of these restaurants and bars are the ones who are paying these wages. Do you support an idea like that, to raise the threshold up to 200 or so?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:03:29)
I do. In fact, I’ve been talking about that really since early on here, expanding. There’s an original tax credit that was put in place when the minimum wage was raised. As you know, this is a five year, there are roughly five years left in the ramp of the minimum wage. And I think it would be helpful if we were able to expand that tax credit, to give businesses the opportunity to get a little bit back on the increase in wages that they’re offering to people.
Speaker 5: (01:03:58)
A question on ethics. You’ve addressed a number of businesses already in the last two days, that the Pritzker Group has invested in that provide COVID-19 testing in some cases, or in others may be working with major biotech or pharma companies as they raise to produce a vaccine or treatment in these ways here.
Speaker 5: (01:04:13)
On that potential conflict of interest, before your inauguration, you pledged that anytime a company of yours has proceeds or profits from government contracts you’d give that money to charity. Does that pledge still stand today? Does it extend to other reimbursement or funds that come from government in addition to contracts?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:04:33)
Well, let me be clear that, as you know, three and a half years ago now, I stepped away from my business interests entirely. And then about a year and a half ago, a blind trust was created so that I really have had no involvement with any of these businesses for three and a half years. I don’t know what they’re pursuing or what their interests are. And so to be clear, this is not something that I’m engaged in in any way.
Speaker 5: (01:05:04)
[crosstalk 01:05:04] it’s on a public website. It’s on [crosstalk 01:05:04] economic interest.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:05:04)
I don’t even know that they’ve gone into that business, except for your report.
Speaker 5: (01:05:09)
It’s public information. It’s in their press releases and it’s on your statement of economic interest. It’s in your tax returns. Would you then pledge to release your full tax returns just so Illinois can see?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:05:20)
Well, as you know, the way that you know all that information is a statement of economic interest. And I did in fact release a multi page, I don’t remember how many, a dozen or more pages of …
Speaker 5: (01:05:31)
Four pages of tax returns.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:05:33)
Well, no, no. A dozen pages or more of my statement of economic interest, which is where you see listed each interest that I have any interest in. In fact, much more comprehensive than anything that you would see in a tax return. To be clear, I have no involvement in these businesses that you’re alleging that are owned and operated or doing something. And as far as I know, there’s no business being done by any of them with the state of Illinois.
Speaker 5: (01:06:04)
But just to reiterate, they are a part of your portfolio today? Will you donate any of those proceeds from government contracts or reimbursement to charity?
Speaker 6: (01:06:12)
Speaker 5: (01:06:14)
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:06:15)
I mean, I’m happy to, if there’s something that they’re doing in Illinois, yeah.
Speaker 5: (01:06:19)
A question for Dr. Ezike real quick. We’ve been monitoring …
Speaker 6: (01:06:22)
This is going to be your last one. [crosstalk 01:06:24].
Speaker 5: (01:06:27)
Okay. Understand. You mentioned today a decrease in ventilator use, but we’re also hearing from a lot of doctors who say that they’re going to the ventilator a lot later on and not quite as often. Why then is that an important metric to still follow if the ventilator itself isn’t being utilized as heavily? And if I can just ask a question about the interaction to a two parter here between you and the governor. The state law gives IDPH a lot of discretion and authority in these times of emergency. Are there any examples or illustrations where you’ve cautioned more severe restrictions and Governor Pritzker has pushed back because he wants to get perhaps business going faster? Are there any examples that you can share with us?
Dr. Ezike: (01:07:04)
Let’s start with the first question. So when we talk about the metrics that I’ve been talking about for all these days, we’ve been talking about both the number of people in the hospital with COVID as well as the ICU, people in the ICU, part of the hospital, as well as people in the ICU on ventilators. And so for the number that I cited, which was the number of people in the hospital, that is the lowest number since we’ve been calculating total number of COVID patients in the hospital.
Dr. Ezike: (01:07:32)
So yes, what you cited is true in terms of some of the science of what we’ve learned about in terms of taking care of COVID patients, the very severely ill patients, is that the response on the ventilator has not been good.
Dr. Ezike: (01:07:45)
I’ve talked to many pulmonary ICU intensivists who are actively on the battleground, on the battlefield, and they said, “Yes, we’re trying to keep them off the ventilator.” But these other metrics still are significant that we have decreased the number of people that are in the hospital. The total number of people are under 4,000. That’s the first time we’ve reported that. And that usually that would follow that the amount of people in the ICU would go down because that’s usually a pretty consistent number.
Dr. Ezike: (01:08:18)
Facing your second question, we work in lockstep. I mean, we’re even coordinating outfits, as you can see. So everything that we do is working towards the good of public health. As I try to mention my public health champions, let’s not forget that we would absolutely induct Governor Pritzker as a public health champion. He’s a master of laboratory science, knows everything about COVID testing and he’s followed the science, knows the parameters, knew all of the different plans that the White House had, the metrics that we should be following, has been such a proponent of contact tracing. We are on the same page.
Dr. Ezike: (01:08:57)
All of these decisions that have to be made, they’re so nuanced, and there’s no bible that says what is absolutely the right answer and the wrong answer. It’s all about thinking through, applying the science, applying the epidemiology, getting input from local health departments, modelers. It’s such a collaborative effort on so many levels. And so you come to a final decision after weighing all these things.
Dr. Ezike: (01:09:24)
I support his decisions. If I have something that I think is a very important consideration, I absolutely bring that up. He’s always hearing what I have to say. So yes, we’re working together and we will continue to do that throughout this.
Dr. Ezike: (01:09:39)
This is really the hard stage, closing, doing the shelter at home, stay at home, that’s easy. Stay at home. It’s not nuanced. It’s pretty clear. But now as we get into this nuanced stage, there’s a lot of different ways to go and so we’re working together to find the best way forward.
Speaker 6: (01:09:55)
Okay, we’ll go to some questions online. Chris [Tides 01:09:59] of [inaudible 00:09:59]. Suburban Chicago mayors outside of Cook County ask to not to be a part of the Northeast health region. They say you won’t meet with them to discuss their concerns that they [last 01:10:08] to normalize. Do they have a point? Why not meet with them? I don’t know what that last to normalize means [inaudible 01:10:15].
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:10:15)
I’m not sure either. The whole state is moving forward, it appears, if you look at all the metrics from phase two to phase three in less than nine days. So that’s going to happen.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:10:29)
In terms of meeting with people. I mean, as you know, I’ve been in isolation for the last, I’m not sure, 10-12 more days. And furthermore, I’ve been willing to listen to really everybody. I’ve made calls. I’ve discussed this with mayors all across the state, some who agree with me, some who disagree with me. Most importantly, people have offered me good ideas that are being incorporated. In fact, you saw that on May 1, we made changes to the stay at home order that included things that had been asked of me by Republican legislators and by Republican mayors, as well as democratic mayors and legislators.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:11:05)
I’ve been willing to listen and make a lot of changes. People have sent me, I can’t tell you the number of plans that have been submitted to me by different individuals, cities, counties, groupings of cities. It’s been a helpful exercise, but my job here is to try to synthesize all that and then go to the epidemiologists and say, “What can we do?” In many ways, and maybe this is in part in response to Mark’s question, in many ways I come to Dr. Ezike and her team, and I say, “What about this? Can we do more of this? I got this idea from a mayor or from a business owner or an employee of a business.” And I say, “Can we do this? How would you do this? When could we do this? Why would it be allowable then and not now?”
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:11:57)
Those are kind of the dialogue that we have about quite a lot of things. My expertise, if I can claim one, is that I was in business before I became governor. That’s something that I know a lot about. I’m not an epidemiologist, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a public health expert. There’s one thing I’ve learned in life, know what you don’t know and be willing to ask for help.
Speaker 6: (01:12:19)
[inaudible 00:12:21], can you talk about what the gaming board is up to? If they’re not furloughed or overseeing closed casinos, are applications being approved for them to come out of the gate to start building casinos approved in the capital plan?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:12:32)
We’re very interested in making sure that the gaming board moves forward. In fact, we’ve made changes so that they have the ability to meet. And so there’ll be rules that’ll be promulgated going forward.
Speaker 6: (01:12:49)
We answered [inaudible 01:12:50] these. Jim Hagerty at Rock River Times, Governor, will [inaudible 01:12:55] offering financial assistance to business owners of restaurants, gyms and salons, who could be forced to reinvent themselves in order to operate under potentially significant social distancing guidelines?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:13:05)
That’s my hope. And in fact, I think the PPP program in Washington, which missed a lot of these smaller businesses, that’s where I want to kind of try to fill in the gaps. PPP seems to have only been available to medium and large sized businesses. And the very smallest businesses are the ones that really need help. That’s why you heard me last week ask the legislature for help in the COVID relief package that they’re talking about to provide that kind of support.
Speaker 6: (01:13:36)
[crosstalk 01:13:36] Sun Times. Can you detail the fines on the new legislation? Is it a daily fine? Should businesses not follow the order? Also regarding the bars and restaurants, can a bar that does not serve food have outdoor seating during this time?
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:13:46)
Still being worked out. On the outdoor seating, I defer to Sam if I may in a moment, but I just want to say, but we’re talking to the legislature, to Senator Cunningham, Leader Cunningham, about exactly how we would implement that. He’s given you some broad parameters, but obviously he’s got colleagues he needs to work that out with as well. So Sam, if you want to talk [inaudible 01:14:11].
Excuse me again. Outdoor seating, obviously it’s the local municipalities that give those licenses out. So we’re working with cities throughout the city and towns throughout the state of Illinois here to see what they’re going to get creative, because I’m sure there might be restaurant bars that might apply for an outdoor sidewalk cafe, and then we’ll see if the local municipalities, what they’re coming up with. Like the governor says, there’s still nine more days before we can open up slowly, the economy here.
The one thing is that I know that the governor and his team and all municipality leaders know social distancing. That’s number one. So if they come up with a plan, [inaudible 01:14:54] that they apply for a sidewalk cafe, maybe we close parking lots, maybe we close bus lanes, bike lanes, streets. We don’t know yet, but social distancing is number one.
And then can we do the social distancing and do drinks? They used to be called bartenders, now they’re called mixologist, so yes, people would like to go visit some places and have some drinks on mixologist.
Speaker 6: (01:15:15)
Marni Pyke has one that you could probably answer too Sam. Should people have to wear masks while they’re outside at these restaurants? Should servers wear masks?
We’re working on PPE. It’s very important, obviously hand sanitizers, obviously face covering, gloves, social distancing, like I said, is number one. So yes, we always say, “Do not go against the governor’s executive order, so everyone should wear their mask.” Obviously they need to take their mask off when they’re eating. But if they go to the bathroom, when they leave, they put their mask back on. So yes, again, we are working on guidelines, but we’re listening to the scientists and doctors because the number one thing is we don’t want to open the economy and then close it again. That is what restaurateurs, bar owners totally understand. That would be the death. So again, we want to listen to the scientists, doctors, work with our local leaders to help the bars and restaurants.
Speaker 6: (01:16:09)
This will be your last question because I just got an email from a viewer who watches this live, who said, “This is going on too long.” Yvette Shields at Bond Buyer, “Governor, can you provide additional details on a proposal to issue up to $4.5 billion of short-term debt through the Fed’s Municipal Liquidity Facility? Is it the state’s intent to issue the full amount?”
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:16:29)
We hope not because there is a state and local funding bill that is working its way through the Congress even now, whether the entire Heroes Act gets adopted by the Senate, unclear, but it is reasonably clear to me that Republican governors and Republican senators need to support their States just as much as Democratic governors and Democratic senators do. And so I think that we’re going to see a state and local funding bill go through the Senate, can’t tell you exactly when. Our hope is to not have to access that window that’s been made available to States, but we will if we need it.
Speaker 6: (01:17:10)
Speaker 5: (01:17:10)
[inaudible 01:17:11]. Can you respond to that or [inaudible 01:17:15] the risk of even being in that building with so many people without a mask on? What’s the danger there and what’s the political ramification?
Dr. Ezike: (01:17:23)
I think all of us have been educated on why we want to use face coverings and what that does. I think Governor Pritzker has explained that eloquently many times before, that when you put on a face covering, you’re trying to collect your secretions from when you talk, laugh, cough, whatever you might do that’s going to release these droplets. And so being able to kind of capture that really can decrease spread of whatever we’re harboring. We don’t know, as we know, there’s a growing percentage of infection that’s transmitted when someone is not even visibly ill, doesn’t know that they have the virus, it’s asymptomatic or presymptomatic.
Dr. Ezike: (01:18:06)
If we want to try to be as respectful as we can to people around us, and if your health situation allows you to wear a face covering, a mask, that’s a very simple gesture, which helps you protect people from what you may know to have, or may not even know that you have.
Dr. Ezike: (01:18:23)
And so anyone who doesn’t want to do that, it brings into question what that signifies, but I’m just saying that when you do do it, you’re definitely decreasing your risk of transmitting any kind of virus. And there are other viruses besides just coronavirus, but transmitting anything that could be harmful to someone else.
Governor J. B. Pritzker: (01:18:44)
The representative has shown a callous disregard for life, callous disregard for people’s health. You just heard a doctor tell you why people wear masks in the first place, it’s to protect others. So clearly the representative has no interest in protecting others.
Speaker 6: (01:18:59)
Thank you everyone.