May 27, 2020
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker Coronavirus Press Conference Transcript May 27
Governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois held a COVID-19 news briefing May 27. IL COVID-19 cases topped 114K with over 5K deaths, and Gov. Pritzker addressed the George Floyd death in Minnesota. Read the full transcript of his press conference speech.
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Governor Pritzker: (02:07)
… Illinois. That includes our 27 federally qualified health centers. Each day, this drive-through site can receive up to 500 samples from anyone who needs a test. These are free for the public to access. Tests are available to any essential worker, like a grocery store clerk, a nurse, or a pharmacy worker, any first responder, anyone with COVID-19 like symptoms, anyone with a compromised immune system or anyone with known contact with a COVID-19 positive case. We want testing to be as easy as possible for Illinoisans. You can find a testing site nearest to you. If this isn’t the closest one to you, you can find it online coronavirus.illinois. gov. Again, coronavirus.illinois.gov.
Governor Pritzker: (03:05)
And speaking of testing, over the last 24 hours, out of 17,179 total tests, 1,111 came back positive. That’s a single day positivity rate of 6.47%. Remember that these are pure diagnostic tests. Illinois does not inflate our daily testing reports with antibody tests. That brings our statewide total of confirmed positive cases to 113,306, with over 800,000 tests run to date. The vast majority of those individuals who tested positive have already recovered or are experiencing a mild enough case that they’re recovering at home. As for our statewide hospital numbers, as of midnight, last night, we have 3,826 Illinoisans in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 1031 are in the ICU and 592 are on a ventilator. I’m also saddened to report that we have lost another 160 Illinoisans in the battle against COVID-19, bringing our statewide total of lives lost to 5,083. These are real people whose lives came to an end because of this pandemic. They are grandparents and uncles and aunts and parents, cousins, children, friends. They had whole lives that were cut short because COVID-19 knows no boundaries and only seeks to destroy. We can never forget that. May the memories of those who were lost be for a blessing.
Governor Pritzker: (04:59)
For those watching at home in other parts of the state, East St. Louis is in St. Clair County, home to one of the pilot contact tracing initiatives the Illinois Department of Public Health has launched to help tackle a public health situation of this magnitude. In this work, I am proud to announce that IDPH and St. Claire County Health Department will be joined by the East Side Health District here in East St. Louis, a trusted organization that has dedicated itself to community- based health services here in Metro East for over 70 years. It’s exactly the kind of partnership that’s going to help us reach and support more people, and I’m glad it will become one of our first two major contact tracing expansions.
Governor Pritzker: (05:48)
I’m proud today to be here with the leaders of that [inaudible 00:05:51]. For more on that, I’d like to turn it over to one of the greatest county chairs in Illinois, St. County Chair, Mark Kern.
Mark Kern: (05:59)
I’m going to have to remove my mask for that one. So to put this in perspective, because I think all the days seem to run together. On March 14th in St. Claire County, we had our first COVID-positive diagnosis. March 16th, our governor came here to St. Claire County to talk about the state’s plan in the executive order that he had put into effect the day before we actually had our first positive, limiting what was going on in the state and allowing people to stay safe and telling them how to do that, whether it was through washing your hands or the cleanliness part or telling people to stay home, and it was on that day that we launched our effort here in the county. Through that point, we’ve worked diligently with all of our mayors or first responders, certainly with our state representatives, Hoffman, Greenwood, and Senator Chris Belt, all who have been an integral part of this effort to be able to get PPE.
Mark Kern: (07:05)
When we started out, we were seeking masks and hand sanitizer and hospital gowns. Those things were all in short supply. Their efforts through the governor’s office made sure that not only all our first responders in our hospitals and our dentists and our doctors and our longterm care facilities had what they needed, but they made sure they had it in a timely fashion. IDOT trucks pulled up and are pulling up on a regular basis in front of our EMA office delivering pallets of PPE to make sure that people are taken care of, the people that are out there fighting this fight for us to make sure they are safe.
Mark Kern: (07:46)
So we’ve now entered into, as the governor said, the tracing portion of this project. Testing has been ramped up. Initially, and Liz will verify, Eastside Health District area, Touchette Hospital, when the governor came here at first, we had 14 tests at Touchette hospital. 14 tests for that hospital to be able to run their operation. Now, tests are flowing and just at this site alone, we have the opportunity to do 500 tests a day. That is a major accomplishment in a fairly short period of time.
Mark Kern: (08:23)
The tracing grant that comes here now will allow us to take people and talk to them if they’re diagnosed COVID-positive, have people to call them on the phone, ask if they’re staying at home, ask who they were in contact with during the point, which they were contagious and be able to make this operation move into the next phase, which is containing COVID if there are hotspots to make sure they don’t break out so that our County can go back to as close to normal as we possibly can. None of this would have been possible without the state of Illinois and the strong leadership of Governor Pritzker and the strong leadership of his people that are, that are behind me, the state representative, the state senators that understand St. Claire County, its people, and work hard with it every day. Special thanks go out to Mayor Eastern, who’s been a strong part of the team, team St. Claire, as well as Liz Patton with East Side Health District. Hand in hand, we’ve worked on this issue, and we appreciate everybody’s support. Thank you.
Mark Kern: (09:28)
I have no X. At this time, I’d like to introduce the mayor of the city of champions, Robert Eastern mayor of East St. Louis. [inaudible 00:09:41].
Robert Eastern: (09:44)
Good afternoon. I’m very excited about being here. Thank you, governor, for all the hard work you’re doing, and I echo everything that Chairman Kerns. This COVID-19 situation and pandemic has been very fluid. We couldn’t have planned for this, so we just executed kind of on the fly, and your execution was well, governor, so I appreciate that for everything that you’re doing from our city, our state and our county.
Robert Eastern: (10:07)
Yes, the tracing grant will be very impactful here in East St. Louis, but the most impactful thing that we can do right now in order to make the grant even more impactful is get tested. We’re standing here at a phenomenal site here at JJK. We need to utilize the site. There’s different things that have came out of this COVID-19 that allowed the city and those around us to come together as one unit and unify. We were able to give out free meals with the Urban League. They’ll be back June 6th, but all these initiatives and all these things that are happening is a result of COVID-19 and those working together to make a better East St. Louis, a better St. Claire County and a better state, and we could not do this without State Representative Greenwood, State Representation Jay Hoffman, so we appreciate those people for working tirelessly on the behalf of East St. Louis and our citizens.
Robert Eastern: (11:03)
There’s been a lot of people working together. Like I stated, the clergy has came together. They started initiative, Six Feet in the Street, to see what is the new norm that’s going to be after the COVID-19, the new norm. So we want to make sure that everybody that has a part in this, I want to just give kudos to those people. I give kudos to everyone that has put their tireless effort in here, and make sure that we’ve got to make sure that we use this tracing grant to the best of our ability, so we can get back to the normality of the state of Illinois and the normality of the St. Clair County and the normality of East St. Louis. So at this time, I’d like to introduce Elizabeth Patton-Whiteside.
Elizabeth Patton-Whiteside: (11:47)
Good afternoon, everybody. As a public health administrator of East Side Health, who’s jurisdiction within St. Claire County is Eastern St. Louis, Washington Park, Cahokia, Brooklyn, Centerville, and parts of Fairmont City, I have been given the monumental task of trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus within my community, and I must say it is a monumental task. Everyone is aware that the Black and Latino adults are far more likely to experience serious illness and death from COVID-19. Underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity are some of the risk factors where I serve that community. The statistics amassed for the East Side Health District jurisdictional area only as of today is 324 positive clients, 1,792 negative clients, one pending case because we haven’t gotten the results for that case yet, and sadly to say, 19 deaths. Now, that might not sound like a lot to a lot of people, but for a community of our size, that’s a great dent in our community.
Elizabeth Patton-Whiteside: (13:20)
I recently addressed many reasons and myths that prevented people from my community from receiving the COVID-19 testing, and I urge them to get tested because in that article, I address the thing about, “I don’t want to get tested because I see police there,” or, “I’ve got warrants. I don’t want anybody to follow me,” or, “The test hurts,” or anything like that. I addressed all of those myths. The test does not hurt. It’s just a swab in the nose. The police, they’re here for you to help with crowd control. Nobody is trying to run anybody’s license plates and look …
[inaudible 00:14:00] is trying to run anybody’s license plates and look anybody up, okay? Now everyone knows to wash your hands, they know to cover your mouth, wear a mask refrain from shaking hands, use hand sanitizer and all of that. But we need to do a robust job of contact tracing. Now, Mark Kern said a little bit about what contact tracing is about. So I am thankful to the Illinois department of public health efforts to reinforce the need for this contact tracing in our community. Contact tracing is simply investigating who is who a positive COVID person came in contact with within 10 minutes or more. That’s all. Now, as we reach out to these individuals, we monitor them daily for 14 days for signs and symptoms of the virus while they are either in quarantine or in isolation. But that’s not all that we do.
Yes we contact them daily, but we are a resource for them. We are there to help them. This is a very important and needed job within our community. We are their lifeline for continued resources for help. We are not there to blame you or create any stigmatism that goes with one knowing that you have or may have been exposed to this virus. We don’t care we’re there to help you. Any help that may be it mental, physical or emotional we are there for you. So when we call you if necessary, be willing, ready and able to participate in this process of contact tracing, it is to help everybody. So thank you again to governor Pritzker and the IDPH team, St. Clair County team and the health district family for having the confidence in our agency to allow us the opportunity to follow up on the positive clients and all of the contacts within our community and St. Clair County. Now I will have governor Pritzker to come back up.
Governor Pritzker: (16:24)
Thank you very much. Thanks so much, Elizabeth for the fine work that you’re doing to protect this community from COVID-19 and to help people who might get COVID-19. I want to remind everybody that the tests are free. And indeed if you are COVID positive, your treatment will be free either through Medicaid or through your insurance. And we will make sure that no one is stuck with a bill for COVID-19. We really just want the people of Illinois to be safe and healthy. Before I take questions, I feel compelled today to use this platform to address what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis and to Briana Taylor in Kentucky and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and Christian Cooper in New York city and countless others whose memories we cannot allow time to erase. Events that echo what we have seen happen to too many people, too many times in too many places.
Governor Pritzker: (17:37)
And yet we as a people have not yet found the humanity to stop these vile horrid acts from happening. To truly contend with the racism that permeates our society and then to root it out. As a white elected official, I feel a special responsibility to speak out today and to own the obligation that I have to shape public policy in a more equitable direction. Being black in America cannot be a death sentence, but it is in some ways it is. And it’s dangerous to pretend otherwise. We must actually do something to change that reality to make it so that men like George Floyd are not killed on a street corner gasping for air in broad daylight, one moment alive and the next moment gone. People deserve to breathe, they deserve to live. George Floyd’s family should not have woken up today in a world without him in it.
Governor Pritzker: (18:48)
This investigation requires all possible accountability and transparency to deliver the closest thing sincere. But it will never bring George Floyd back. I’m especially saddened that amidst all the other challenges that we are facing right now that people of color have this extra burden to bear as they have for too long. This moment must become a call to action for Illinoisans, for Americans to see the humanity in every person, no matter their race, their religion, their socioeconomic status or their sexual orientation. To George Floyd, to his family, may his memory be for a blessing. And with that, I’ll take questions from members of the media.
Speaker 1: (19:40)
So we’ll be taking questions from [inaudible 00:19:41].
Speaker 2: (19:48)
Good afternoon governor. Welcome back to Downstate. It’s good to see you again. So first, where’s Dr. Ezike Today?
Governor Pritzker: (19:55)
She was not able to join me, but she’s hard at work trust me. We’ve got a lot of work going on on contact tracing and everything else at IDPH.
Speaker 2: (20:04)
Good to know. First comes a question from my colleague, Lexi Cortez at the B and D. So we’re hearing from readers who say that nursing home residents and their families are just devastated that they’re not able to see each other because of the restrictions on visitors. What’s your message to those families and residents? How do you answer questions about when they can see their loved ones again?
Governor Pritzker: (20:27)
This is so incredibly difficult. I think you know and the readers at B and D know that it was even before we put the stay at home order in place. Indeed one of the very first things that we had to do to deal with COVID-19 that we had to cut off visitation visitors to nursing homes and longterm care facilities. Because it was clear early on that one of the most vulnerable populations is our elderly. And it was in nursing homes in places like Washington state, where we had already seen outbreaks that were taking people’s lives too quickly, without any ability really to treat them fast enough or to rehabilitate people once they’ve gotten sick. So this was something we were trying to prevent desperately in the state. We had to shut down visitors. We also started doing medical checks on every staff person on every shift so that we could try to prevent people from bringing COVID-19 in.
Governor Pritzker: (21:23)
That was in early March. I mean that seems like years ago now, and I’m sure for family members too. As you know, we’ve continued that policy and indeed we’ve made it even more difficult for people to enter into longterm care facilities because COVID-19 doesn’t live in a facility, it comes in with somebody and then it spreads. And so the 1200 plus longterm care facilities, nursing homes across the state we’ve tried to make sure that we’re on top of wherever the outbreaks are and also where there are no outbreaks to keep the people out and to make sure that we’re keeping COVID-19 out.
Governor Pritzker: (22:06)
When will visiting resume? I must admit to you the CDC is telling every state that this may be one of the last things in dealing with COVID that will happen is new visitors or visitors being able to come back into those facilities. Because it is precisely from those visitors, even those who are asymptomatic, who may not think that they have COVID-19 that you get an outbreak. And so I can only tell you I’m listening to the Dr. Ezike and others and the CDC when I tell you that at least for the time being, we can’t allow visitors back in.
Speaker 2: (22:43)
This is from me, what’s the amount of the grant to St. Clair County for contact tracing, how much money?
Governor Pritzker: (22:48)
Actually I’ll get you the number I don’t have it on me. But I mean we’ve allotted I think a reasonable amount of money, because this is not going to be a short term endeavor. And it is going to the mayor’s credit and to Elisabeth’s credit, there’s going to be hiring involved here. So there are people who are looking to enter the health care industry, where there are job opportunities. This is actually a good way to enter. You don’t have to show up with any training right now, when you show up Denovo as somebody who’s never done this before you get trained. It’s free, the training is free. You get trained and then you become a contact tracer. And that’s the beginning potentially of a career path for many people.
Speaker 2: (23:33)
One thing that I’d like to clarify from your statements earlier was that Illinois does not include antibody tests in it’s numbers statewide, but we’ve heard from our local health department the St Clair County health department that they do include positive and negative antibody tests and their numbers.
Governor Pritzker: (23:49)
So at the IDPH when we receive our numbers from laboratories and so it’s different at the local level they’ll get all of those results. When we report results, we take all the serology tests, the antibody tests out of those numbers. And we only report those that are what are called PCR tests. Basically it’s the test to tell you whether you have COVID-19 now. The antibody test tells you whether you may have had COVID-19 in the past.
Speaker 2: (24:24)
This is the last question from me and then I’ll get to the reporters. A lot of pools in our area are really antsy to either have a decision one way or the other whether they can open or not. Do you have any updates on that?
Governor Pritzker: (24:33)
In the fall you’re talking about for schools in the fall?
Speaker 2: (24:35)
I’m sorry, pools.
Governor Pritzker: (24:37)
What’d you say?
Speaker 2: (24:37)
Pools, swimming pools.
Governor Pritzker: (24:39)
Sorry I thought you said schools. It’s a great question. It’s not a decision that I’m going to make. Again I’ve left this to the doctors, but I will say that what you want to watch for is on the DCEO website, that’s the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity where we have listed all the guidance for phase three. And then we’ll continue to update that guidance and guidance for phase four. That’s where you would find when the release of information about when pools might be able to open.
Speaker 2: (25:10)
This is from Monica DeSantis from WJOL radio in Juliet. There are nursing homes that still haven’t tested their residents or staff yet for COVID-19 like our lady of angels in Juliet, where are the tests? And shouldn’t nursing homes be a priority for tests to protect the most vulnerable in our society?
Governor Pritzker: (25:30)
They are a priority. And I think actually there’s an article today about the challenge, right? There are more than 1200 nursing homes in the state. If you think about the numbers of people that are represented in those nursing homes, you’re talking about more than 20,000 people. Indeed it’s actually many more than that staff and others. And so in order to be able to test all of those people we’re only doing about averaging about 23,000 a day. And that’s statewide in every capacity. So that includes all the other congregate settings in which we’re testing. So in order to do it, we’ve got to set aside tests, which we’ve done and then go and get to every single one of those facilities. Now, we would send the swabs, because that’s all we’re really doing is collecting specimens. We’ve got to get enough swabs and then send them.
Governor Pritzker: (26:20)
And we have been doing that as we receive enough swabs to each one of those nursing homes. So we will get to every nursing home. We are doing it in fact as quickly as we can with the supplies that we have. But it is our intention to test everybody across the state. First of all we’re we starting with staff everywhere. We’re also starting with the facilities that don’t have COVID-19 in them so that we could keep it out. If you find one or two people have it, you can segregate them, get them to isolate and save facility from having an outbreak. In the facilities where there are outbreaks we are testing staff first and separating the residents in those and ask the private owners of those nursing homes to separate the residents. So we’re getting to it. And again I’d like to do it all at once. If we had the national leadership on the subject, if we had the supplies available, we could do this much more quickly, but we’re getting to it as fast as we can.
Speaker 2: (27:26)
This is from John O’Connor at the AP. The CDC says that the current antibody test is wrong half the time. What is the status of the antibody tests in Illinois? How many have been done? And does the fact that up to half of them could be wrong affect any of the state’s policy decisions?
Governor Pritzker: (27:44)
So from very early on, what we’ve said is although we receive the serology information, in other words the results of those tests. We set those tests aside. We actually have a committee at IDPH that has reviewed and come up with their own view of what to do with those serology tests. John O’Connor is correct. Half of-
Governor Pritzker: (28:03)
Serology tests. John O’Connor is correct. Half of those tests seem to be inaccurate. So what does one do? Well, if we could segregate the ones that we think are inaccurate. In other words, there are different types of serology tests and know which ones are accurate. And we’re trying to go through and figure that out. We could then take the accurate ones and determine some things, but I must tell you, and something I said several weeks ago in one of my press conferences, serology tests tell you perhaps whether somebody had COVID-19, but it doesn’t tell you whether they’re immune from COVID-19, even though originally that was the hope and thought.
Governor Pritzker: (28:40)
It’s still not proven that if you have the antibodies that you can’t get it again. And so that’s the challenge here and so we’ve put those aside. We’re looking at trying to keep people from getting COVID-19 in the first place. We’re certainly looking at all of the studies that are being done of serology tests around the world, not to mention around the United States and we’ll make some decisions based upon the results of those research projects.
Speaker 3: (29:09)
This is from Kelly Hoskins with KTVI Fox 2 News in St. Louis. What are you doing for communities like East St. Louis? Are you getting them … You addressed this a little bit. Are you getting them enough testing? How about economic help and what are you doing to clear the gap that exists? This is a second part of the question. What are you doing to clear the gap that exists in downstate Illinois as far as lower case counts, lower death counts? And what are you doing to help those communities that are frustrated by having the same rules applied to them and maybe not getting as much aid as cities like Chicago?
Governor Pritzker: (29:45)
Hopefully, I’ll remember. I think that was three questions. Let’s start with East St. Louis. East St. Louis is very important to me. From the earliest moments that I came here, I was just saying this to some folks earlier from the National Guard that East St. Louis is a community that’s been forgotten, frankly. And so when I think about what we need to do to assist East St. Louis, I think about trying to first create economic activity. Put aside the moment we’re in, which is COVID-19 in which we need to secure people’s lives and their health.
Governor Pritzker: (30:24)
And you’ve seen we have a facility here at the Jackie Joyner Kersey Center where people can get tested and we’ve provided free treatment and so on. And we’ve worked together with St. Clair County and other other facilities, other hospitals, but I’m thinking about the economics of this area. From the beginning, my thought has been that we’ve got to make sure that people are able to start businesses, that there are people that are able to get on their feet and actually get economic activity going in the communities of East St. Louis. So we have low interest loans.
Governor Pritzker: (31:04)
We have loans for communities of color that are dedicated to communities like East St. Louis. That’s one thing from an economic activity perspective. In this moment when so many people have lost jobs, so many people are struggling, we’ve banned evictions across the state of Illinois. We’ve provided rent assistance for people. We’ve made sure that people have health care, whatever they need available to them. We’re trying to build up the resources of healthcare within communities of color in particular here. And really, we could go through a whole big, long list and I’ve got it too about the economic supports that we’re providing for people and particularly those who are most impacted financially by COVID-19.
Governor Pritzker: (31:47)
And those happened to be, guess what, the same as the communities that have the highest rates of death, where the highest rates of COVID positive tests, and those are communities of color. So this has been a focus from early on. I think the minute that we heard and saw statistics that showed that in particular, the black community had a higher incidence of death on a per capita basis than any other, that was the moment we began to put in testing sites everywhere that we could in black communities and making sure that we were educating people about the importance of washing your hands, of putting a mask on and so on and focusing that on communities of color in particular.
Governor Pritzker: (32:35)
There were a lot of people who had been told, and you can actually read articles about this, where those who run bots, the foreign countries that run bots to convince Americans to fight each other. That one of the things they were promoting was that the black community was immune from COVID-19. You remember this? And so there were many people who had heard this, that the black community was immune, and then had not heard that no, actually the black community is most susceptible in some ways, at least to the terrible consequences of COVID-19.
Governor Pritzker: (33:08)
So there’s so much that we’re dealing with at the same time to try to address this challenge in East St. Louis and for communities of color across the state.
Speaker 3: (33:17)
This is from Katie Kim at NBC Chicago. Can you be a little bit more specific about where we’re at with the contact tracing program? How many people have been hired? When will the program be fully up and running? And also, can you address people who are concerned about their privacy and people who are unwilling to share sensitive information? What kind of questions can they be expected to answer?
Governor Pritzker: (33:44)
Sure. So let’s start with I did a press conference talking specifically about contact tracing, I think, about a week ago. So I would refer you back since they’re recorded online. You can see everything that I said in my prepared remarks and answers to questions there. Having said that, the goal … So today with the contact tracers that we have in the state today, we already have contact tracing just for people who don’t understand. Because we were doing contact tracing before COVID-19 ever. Contact tracing for HIV, for example, is one thing that was done for contact tracing.
Governor Pritzker: (34:16)
But we have across the state hundreds of people who are in contact tracing. We start with that as a base. These are community health workers that are in St. Clair, SIU. They’re also all over in counties across the state. So we start with that as a base. But when you need to do something as big as we need to do for COVID-19, what we need is technology so that we’re all connected to the same database. That is everybody’s got the same app, the contact tracers, that there’s privacy built into them. Meaning that if someone tests positive and they have five contacts in the last 48 hours, that the five contact names and phone numbers, which come from this person who was COVID positive, that those five contacts are contacted, but not told where they may have come in contact with somebody who’s COVID positive.
Governor Pritzker: (35:14)
So the privacy is maintained for the patient and then the contacts are made directly to the people who need to be contacted. It’s an enormous endeavor. Think about it. Today, we had 1,100 reported positive cases. In prior days, we’ve had 2,000, 2, 500, even 3,000 on one day. Think about that, multiply that by three or four or five contacts over the prior 48 hours. And remember, 2,000 every day times three or four or five, that’s a lot of contacts to make, so you need more than the hundreds of contact tracers that we have. So what we’re doing is working with local departments of public health to make sure that they get contact tracing dollars so that they can hire up contact tracers and a few other community resource workers and so on to make sure that we’re contacting everybody and then that we’re providing those people with resources in the local community.
Governor Pritzker: (36:13)
Because if you have to isolate for 14 days, that may not be an easy thing for many people. And so if you need a hotel room, motel room to separate from your family for 14 days, we want to make sure you get fed. We have wraparound services, everything is taken care of for you. If you’re going to remain in your own home, maybe you live alone. We need somebody to deliver groceries and other services, pharmaceuticals and so on that you may need. So that’s all the case. One last thing. Yes. How, how big is it and how long is it going to take? We’re at about 30% of the contact tracing that we need today. We’re doing about 30% of the contacts.
Governor Pritzker: (36:50)
We need to get above 60%. You might say, why not 100%? There are many people who don’t want to be contacted, who never will answer the phone, lots of reasons. Some people who are COVID positive who won’t give you names. So we’re going to get to hopefully about 60 plus percent. It’s going to take us weeks and weeks. I can’t tell you how long. I mean, some people think it will take through August to do it. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to do it much faster than that. But as fast as we can, we’re getting the dollars out to those counties so that they can do the hiring that they need.
Speaker 4: (37:26)
Governor Pritzker: (37:26)
It was a three part or something and I wanted to make sure I give you a full answer.
Speaker 3: (37:37)
This is from Jamie Munks at the Chicago Tribune. Over the weekend, IDPH began posting a statistic called the recovery rate, which was 92% as of Tuesday. Can you explain that further and figure, and what does it tell us about the nature of the virus?
Governor Pritzker: (37:56)
Well, again, we’re what we’re trying to do is to make sure that people understand that when you get COVID-19, it is not a death sentence. When you get COVID-19, in fact, about 80% of people who get COVID-19 experience via mild symptoms to moderate symptoms and then recover. It’s really 20% or so get it and have something more serious. That doesn’t mean they’re going to a hospital necessarily, but I think all of us at this point know somebody who has had COVID-19, who’s been sick at home and had a hard time and then recovered. Also, some of us know people who have had to go in the hospital and then have passed away.
Governor Pritzker: (38:39)
And so about 1%, little less than 1% of people who get COVID-19 pass away. That’s the international statistic, anyway. So what we’re talking about is trying to report a number that shows how many people have already had COVID-19 that have recovered. Now, what I just gave you is a statistic of if you took a snapshot of somebody, of a bunch of people who got it at the same time, you’d have 1%, 19% and 80% roughly speaking. So the 92% is a reflection of many people who’ve recovered and have gone about their lives and haven’t gotten COVID-19 again.
Governor Pritzker: (39:17)
So we’re trying to give a number. We had not before provided a recovered number, recovery number, but people have asked us to try to put that number out, so we are.
Speaker 3: (39:29)
Just one more sports question.
Governor Pritzker: (39:30)
Speaker 3: (39:32)
Governor, this is from Kevin Powell at WGN Radio. Would it be feasible for Chicago to serve as a hub city for NHL when it returns to play?
Governor Pritzker: (39:41)
NHL? I have my baseball mask right here.
Speaker 3: (39:46)
And how much have you been in contact with Mayor Lightfoot, the Blackhawks and the NHL about Chicago hosting games, players, and team staff?
Governor Pritzker: (39:52)
So actually, as you know, the state is the one that sets the parameters for any play that might exist in the state. And then the city of Chicago, of course, has the ability to be more stringent than the state’s parameters. So we’ve gotten contacted by all of the major leagues, by NHL, as well as MLB and NFL and so on. And look, I am as anxious as I think many people are to get our sports up and running again. The problem is we can’t put spectators in the stands today. There’s just no way to do that safely, according to the doctors.
Governor Pritzker: (40:28)
What the leagues have asked is not for that. What they’ve asked is for the ability to run games, whether we’re talking about hockey or baseball or football. At this moment, they’re asking for the ability to run games televised with no spectators. Even that, as you can imagine, think about two teams, all of the surrounding people who work for the team involved. It’s a lot of people. So we’ve worked with them. They’ve actually come up with reasonably good plans, each one of the leagues. And I’m anxious, starting with baseball to get baseball up and running again and I’m hopeful that we will be able to do that going into July.
Governor Pritzker: (41:09)
But NHL, I can’t answer what the timing will be when the Blackhawks will be at it again. But again, we’re working with every league, NBA included and NHL included.
Speaker 4: (41:21)
This question is from Joe Ostrowski at 670 The Score. Earlier this month, Las Vegas casinos started offering drive-through services so Nevada residents could set up [inaudible 00:41:31] accounts with sports books. Is that under consideration at Illinois casinos so customers will have [inaudible 00:00:41:38]?
Governor Pritzker: (41:40)
It is and we’re working on that and we’re also working on the ability for people to do it in person somewhere to sign up for the app to allow them to bet.
Speaker 4: (41:51)
This is from Gabrielle Franklin at WCIA. DCEO’s personal care guidelines call for massage therapy treatments to last 30 minutes or less. Many massage therapists-
Speaker 5: (42:03)
…to last 30 minutes or less. Many massage therapists are commissioned by the hour. The new guidelines can cut into their pay. And some therapists say that they would likely make more money on unemployment and avoid the exposure to COVID-19 by not returning to work. Is there any way the 30 minute guidance could be reconsidered or a more protective way could be mandated to keep the therapist safe?
Governor Pritzker: (42:25)
I’ll bring that to the doctors. I’m not making those individuals specific decisions about massage therapy, for example, but as it’s raised here and I’m sure that people have communicated with IDPH on the subject or with DCEO who has a hotline that you can call if you’re in the industry. So I’ll bring that back to the experts and raise the issue to them.
Speaker 5: (42:48)
This is from Dave McKinney at WBEZ. “Assuming you sign the casino legislation lawmakers approved what is the earliest point when you think a Chicago casino can be up and running? And do you have any thoughts for the mayor to consider about where the best location in the city would be? Also, can you provide an update about what Illinois’s existing casinos will be open and what specific social distancing steps will they need to take for that to happen?”
Governor Pritzker: (43:16)
Well, the first part of that question I can’t, I’m not going to dictate to the Chicago City Council or the mayor when they would start. They have to contract with a lot of people before they could even begin to. They have to choose a site and then start building, but they also have to have a partnership with a casino operator. So I can’t tell you when that will happen, but I would certainly encourage them to do it as soon as they can. Now, let me say that I’m not going to dictate the location of that either or try to discourage or encourage. I’m very interested in making sure that we create the most number of jobs. The sooner that they’re able to get it up and running, by the way, the better off the people of Illinois will be, the people of Chicago too, because there’s a benefit not just to the city of Chicago, but a lot of revenue that will come to the state of Illinois. Some of which will come here to St. Claire County as a result of its funding of infrastructure because that’s where a lot of those dollars will go. And the last part of that question?
Speaker 5: (44:25)
Last part was, can you provide an update about when Illinois, when the casinos will be open and what specific social distancing steps will they take?
Governor Pritzker: (44:33)
No. I mean, I honestly, it’s not something in phase three. There certainly are casino owners in the state of Illinois who have presented their ideas for that, but it does, it’s not going to be happening in the next phase. So I have to admit I have not focused specifically on it. And in the end, I don’t know what the doctors will say or how long it will take them to agree on something. I know that everybody’s looking at Las Vegas and wondering how they’re going to be able to do it. They’ve got rules in place. And I have to say it looks difficult to me, but I am anxious to see what the plans are that the casinos will present.
Speaker 5: (45:11)
While on topic, Mitch [inaudible 00:03:13], he asks, “Governor will live horseracing restart on June 1? If so, what might that look like?”
Governor Pritzker: (45:22)
I don’t think it will restart on June 1. I think live horse racing will restart. I can’t tell you what date, but again, it will be like other spectator sports where it would have to run without spectators, at least to begin with and just end. At least in the horse racing industry that can be done. The most, all the betting gets done really not at the location of the horse race, much of the handle as they call it, the dollars bet are bet all over the world on races that occur in Illinois.
Speaker 5: (45:52)
This is from a Craig Wall at ABC7Chicago. “Governor today Dr. Willie Wilson sent a letter to president Trump and attorney general William Barr asking them to intervene on behalf of churches to help “those that desire to worship consistent with the recommendations and guidelines issued by the CDC”. Your reaction.”
Governor Pritzker: (46:18)
Well, we’ve done a lot to open churches, to provide guidelines for churches. And indeed we’ve asked churches to bring us their plans for how to open safely. I want as much as anybody to make sure that people who want to worship in church or in a mosque or in a synagogue to be able to do that. I think it’s an extraordinarily personal important thing to so many people across the state of Illinois. I also want to make sure that people don’t get sick doing it. And so we’re, we’ve guidance for drive up services. We are working with churches on outdoor services. And then the question is what’s the population that you can get inside? What’s the capacity that you can have inside a church on any given Sunday, as they say any given day, that one is having a service? And we just want to make sure that people are safe.
Governor Pritzker: (47:10)
So we’re doing that. The doctors are working on that. As you have heard, Dr. Ezike say she would like very much for services to go back to some sort of indoor services. So I am hopeful that we will be able to accomplish something even more than we’re already doing, but we’re working very hard to get there.
Speaker 5: (47:30)
This is from Joey Donia at KWPQC. “The John Deere Classic is scheduled to begin July 6th in the quad cities. The PGA tour has yet to announce that fans will be able, will be allowed to attend the event. What conversations, if any, have you and your staff had with the PGA tour about the event? And is there any scenario in which fans would be allowed to attend?”
Governor Pritzker: (47:54)
I can’t answer that question. I know the PGA has been in touch with my staff, the Illinois PGA has any way. And I just don’t know what the status of those discussions are.
Speaker 5: (48:04)
This is from Amanda [inaudible 00:06:06]. “What does that mean for the future of health healthcare that a hospital transformation program was not approved during the spring session, particularly for hospitals on Chicago’s South side that say they can no longer go move forward with a plan merger now. Should the legislature have passed the transformation program? What can or should be done to help residents in these areas?”
Governor Pritzker: (48:29)
And this is extremely difficult because I want that transformation to take place as soon as possible. The four hospitals that we’re looking to merge for in total, a billion dollars in order to make that transformation take place. At this moment with so many things in flux about our state budget it was nearly impossible for the general assembly to go forward with a billion dollar program. And I know that, that timing makes it very, very difficult for those hospitals. We have a real challenge in this state simultaneously with the introduction of Obamacare, which has been so tremendous for expanding healthcare in our state, we also have had challenges for hospitals that now are doing much more outpatient and not inpatient. And so the result of that is the hospitals are, don’t have as much business revenue coming in the door as they were before Obamacare became the law.
Governor Pritzker: (49:33)
Now, so you’d have hospitals transforming, trying to figure out how to operate with more outpatient procedures, to specialize a little more and so on. And then along comes COVID-19 where now that some hospitals have closed here we have COVID-19 where we need more healthcare providers. And we have an outbreak and a pandemic and something that’s really affecting much of the population. And so these things are kind of crosscurrents occurring with a budget that is, has been very, very difficult, revenues dropping off and so on. And so I just say, this is a situation none of us wanted to be in. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to get to hospital transformation with the assistance. Again, with federal government help to replace revenues that are lost. We want to get back to transforming healthcare across the state so that everybody gets it and that we have enough facilities.
Speaker 5: (50:27)
Now, the last question is from a Benjamin Zamora at Telemundo. “The National Association of Theater Owners in Illinois is asking to reopen movie theaters and theaters under phase three with new safety protocols in place. Is that something that the state is considering?”
Governor Pritzker: (50:44)
Yes, but not for phase three. It’s something that we’ve contemplated for phase four, lower capacity and so on, but not in phase three. And I know that the theater owners would like it to be in phase three. It’s just, it’s very difficult to imagine it happening. Having said that as we look at how we might do things in churches, the kind of the seating, the way that seating works out in a church looks very much, acts very much like it would in a theater, for example. And so we’ll be looking at how we can work these out in churches and then move to the question of theaters.
Speaker 5: (51:19)
Great. Thank you very much.
Governor Pritzker: (51:20)
Yup. Thank you.