Apr 1, 2020
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 1
Governor Pritzker: (00:00)
… income families and college students just to name a few. It has never been easier to respond on your own to the census all without having to meet a census-taker in person. You can easily complete the census while social distancing. Online, you can visit my2020census.gov, my2020census.gov, and fill out the census now on your computer, your tablet, or your phone. By phone call, (844) 330-2020, (844) 330-2020 to fill out the census over the phone. The US Census Bureau offers assistance in 59 non-English languages including American sign language. By mail, fill out the census form that you received in the mail and return it free of charge to the US Census Bureau.
Governor Pritzker: (01:06)
So when you have an extra 10 minutes, take the time to fill out your census form. Let me also remind you that for those who wanted to get a response by text, you have questions that you want answered, you can text to 987987 and you will get an immediate response.
Governor Pritzker: (01:29)
You count. Everyone counts. No matter where you used to live, no matter what language you speak, no matter how old you are, you count and we are happy to have you in the state of Illinois.
Governor Pritzker: (01:43)
I also want to take a minute today to talk to you about healthcare. I’ve used this platform to describe the efforts that my administration is making to expand and simplify healthcare access for our residents in this time when every individual’s health care is essential for our collective wellbeing. To further that effort, I joined republican and democratic governors in asking the federal government to open a special enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act to expand healthcare access to Americans during this period of unprecedented health challenges. We have at least 800,000 uninsured people in Illinois, over 500,000 of whom could potentially sign up for the ACA tomorrow if the federal government opened up a special enrollment period.
Governor Pritzker: (02:37)
Some White House officials are saying that the president will not be reopening the insurance marketplace in response to the Coronavirus. Frankly, this is leadership malpractice. Now more than ever, we need as many people as possible to have access to healthcare to seek out testing, if we’re ever going to be able to fight COVID-19 and eliminate it as a major risk to our people.
Governor Pritzker: (03:05)
On that same note, the Trump administration’s continued pursuit of a legal case to destroy the Affordable Care Act, which has provided health care to tens of millions of Americans is a special insult to the people of this nation at this moment. To seek to kill the ACA at a time like this, not to mention ever, undermines everything that we’re trying to do to keep people safe. For Illinoisans who were recently laid off because of COVID-19, I want them to know that they are eligible to enroll in the ACA right now anyway, because of a clause in the act allowing those experiencing a qualifying life event to enroll at this time. If that may be you, please visit our healthcare portal in Illinois called getcovered. illinois.edu, getcovered.illinois.edu.
Governor Pritzker: (04:07)
I also want to provide an update on our search. Sorry. I want to give you that address again because I got it wrong. Getcovered.illinois.gov. Getcovered.illinois.gov.
Governor Pritzker: (04:21)
I also want to provide an update on our search for new or renewing healthcare workers. We have now received over 1,100 applications from both former healthcare workers looking to rejoin the fight, and from out of state professionals who want to help Illinois, many of whom are Illinois residents who happened to practice in a border city in another state. Right now, those numbers are running about half and half with more applications coming in everyday. It’s really incredible to watch. The people of this state are truly so deeply, genuinely caring.
Governor Pritzker: (05:02)
I want to remind healthcare workers already licensed in the state of Illinois to sign up for an emergency alert system so that in the event of an urgent need such as those created by COVID-19, our public health officials will be able to contact you immediately to ask that you volunteer your critical skills at that moment. The website to register for that is Illinoishelps. net.
Governor Pritzker: (05:32)
We’re also hard at work exploring options to allow some of our fourth-year medical students and nursing students at the end of their programs to join the fight against COVID-19.
Governor Pritzker: (05:45)
Finally, before I turn it over to IDPH director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, I want to draw attention to an announcement that my wife, first lady, MK Pritzker, Chicago first lady, Amy Eshelman, mayor Lori Lightfoot, and I made this morning. The launch of a new relief fund specifically dedicated to supporting artists and artisans and cultural organizations impacted by COVID-19. This partnership among the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois, and our philanthropic community called the arts Illinois Relief Fund, has already raised more than $4 million dollars to support grant programs for both nonprofit arts organizations and for individual artists, including stage and production members.
Governor Pritzker: (06:37)
Additionally, Arts for Illinois has launched a free online platform featuring performers and singers, poets, painters, writers, and other Illinois creatives who have made their work available for the public to enjoy while you’re following our stay at home order. There are musical performances called Quarantine Concerts, features from children’s theaters and even the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Really, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Governor Pritzker: (07:10)
Joining us today is Amanda Williams, a Chicago artist and an Arts for Illinois steering committee member who will talk more about this program in just a few moments. Art has always been of incredible importance to me and to my family, but of course so many of the usual ways of enjoying art together have had to be put on pause. And tragically, our creative communities have felt the financial hardship. When MK, who has always put others front of mind in any hardship, told me that she had an idea to support art and artists in the fight against COVID-19, I was really excited to see what she would come up with. Well, honestly, she’s blown me away and I encourage you to check it out for yourself.
Governor Pritzker: (07:57)
People interested in donating to the fund, artists seeking financial assistance, and those looking just to experience art remotely, should all visit the Arts for Illinois at artsforillinois.org. Thank you very much and now I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Ngozi Ezike.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (08:18)
Thank you governor. Good afternoon. Today, again, I bring sobering news with the report of 986 new cases, including 42 additional deaths related to COVID-19. That brings our total in Illinois to 6,980 cases and 141 deaths here in Illinois. Of course, we all understand that these deaths represent people’s mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers and children and coworkers and neighbors and teachers. These are people that are no longer with us and we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the families that they represent.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (09:05)
So many people are working so hard to help protect the health of Illinoisans. We salute our first responders, our military represented by our Illinois National Guard, our healthcare workers, the truck drivers who make sure that our stores are still stocked, sanitation workers. We’re grateful for all of you. But I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the hardworking staff at the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (09:32)
I stand before you each day providing data that our incredible team at IDPH has worked so diligently to collect, to investigate, and to analyze. I’m so proud to be at the helm of the agency at this time and alongside such a talented crew. Public health is like the stealth agency that flies under the radar. Our work is often invisible because of the illnesses and the injuries that we are successful in preventing through our work. But now, the whole world is getting a glimpse of the work that it takes to respond to a pandemic. We are running suspected COVID-19 lab specimens in each of our three state labs. We are tracking cases of COVID-19 throughout this state and every one of these devastating losses of life. We are tracking demographic data to keep ourselves honest and ensuring that equity and equal access occurs in testing. On a daily basis, IDPH collects hospital data on the number of beds and how many ventilators. Meanwhile, the nearly 400 babies that are born still every day in Illinois are still being tested at our labs for sickle cell or cystic fibrosis, and the 60 plus other diseases on the newborn screen panel. We continue to monitor cases of tuberculosis, conduct surveillance for pertussis, Legionnaire’s disease, and so many other infectious diseases.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (11:03)
We’re still processing and issuing birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, through our division of vital records. The work that we’ve always done can’t be stopped, so IDPH has been working tirelessly. Team IDPH, I salute you. I’d also like to give a big shout out to all of the local public health departments who work hand-in-hand with us. They are our essential partners in our fight against this virus.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (11:33)
The coming weeks are going to get more and more difficult as the number of cases and deaths continue to rise, but I’m not urging people to despair. Let’s be strong and courageous. Don’t be terrified. Don’t be discouraged. The courageous actions that we need to take are well within our grasp, and those actions are the ones we’ve been saying from the outset. Wash your hands. Stay at home. Clean frequently touched surfaces. All of these things seem minimal, but these are the courageous actions that are going to save lives and eventually end this pandemic.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (12:14)
We are blessed to be under the tremendous leadership of Governor Pritzker and his talented team, not to mention all the state agencies and community partners and business partners who are all helping Illinois weather this unprecedented event. No, there’s not a vaccine yet, and there’s currently no specific treatment, although trials are underway. But what we do have is science telling us that social distancing works, and it’s one of our best strategies to get on the other side of this unprecedented event. It is your behavior. It is my behavior. It’s everyone’s behavior that will turn this tide. We will see an end to this pandemic, and I thank you for your steadfastness. With this, I will now translate my comments in Spanish.
Dr. Ezike: (13:01)
Translate my comments in Spanish. [Spanish 00: 00:02].
Dr. Ezike: (16:40)
And with that, I am happy to introduce you to Amanda Williams, an Illinois artist with a very special message to share.
Amanda Williams: (16:54)
Good afternoon. I’m Amanda Williams. I’m a Chicagoan, but today I come to you as an Illinois artist. Art matters, but artists matter. I’d like to give my heartfelt thanks to Governor Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot for your relentless leadership during this pandemic and to thank you so much for your support that you’ve shown to the arts and cultural community today with the announcement of the Arts Illinois and Art for Illinois Relief Fund. Thank you. I’m here today representing tens of thousands of artists, brilliant, talented and passionate individuals across Illinois who had been separated from their livelihood as well. Exhibitions and performances from my friends and colleagues and for myself have been canceled, and I’m seeing firsthand how artists are hurting from this crisis. And it’s not just visual artists that I’m talking about, actors, musicians, dancers, choreographers, playwrights, lighting techs, costume fabricators, wig makers, carpenters, electricians, stage managers, box office staff, ushers, facilities workers, and the many more individuals and organizations that are immediately impacted when our theaters went dark, studios went silent, museums and galleries closed their doors. But arts and creatives are resilient. We too in some ways are the frontline of being the bellwethers of these moments where we all have to come together as humans. We will not stop making, creating, inspiring, challenging, bearing witness, and bringing hope. In fact, that’s all we know to do in these moments.
Amanda Williams: (18:55)
We are here not just to ask for your support but to also be part of the solution today in this moment of crisis. Even now we’re still creating and connecting, albeit, virtually and we’re sheltering in place, and we need the arts now more than ever. Again, thank you to the State of Illinois and Governor Pritzker, the City of Chicago, and Mayor Lightfoot, and the foundations and individuals who have already stepped up to provide financial support to my peers, the creative community during this time. I’d like to offer special recognitions to the Arts Alliance Illinois, which has been the leader in bringing together so many funders, artists, and partners to launch Arts for Illinois and the Relief Fund. I’m a member of the steering committee and I’m there to make sure that the artists’ voice is heard. This relief fund will provide immediate support to full and part-time creative community workers as well as arts organizations through a grant process, which will be awarded to individuals by 3Arts and to arts organizations by Arts Work Fund. Individuals and organizations can apply through the Art for Illinois website, artsforillinois.org. Again, that’s artsforillinois.org
Amanda Williams: (20:13)
We’d be remiss if we didn’t think all of the funders, including the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which has contributed $1 million to the fund, along with leadership gifts from the Walder Foundation, The John D and Katherine T MacArthur Foundation, as well as funding contributions from the Albert Pick Jr. Fund, the Chicago Community Trust, The Elizabeth Morris Charitable Trust, Exelon, the Field Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Iris Irving Harris Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, Cassie Davis, Paul Angell Family Foundation, Polk Brothers Foundation, the Richard Driehaus Foundation, State of Illinois, and the Terra Foundation for American Art. And if you’re tired after hearing that list, imagine all of the work that went into getting all of the entities and organizations and the understanding of how important artists and arts organizations are to the State of Illinois and to our society. There’s so much need in so many communities across Illinois. We are all hurting our country as well as the world. This fund is so deeply appreciated, but it’s just the beginning of what is needed. My fellow artists, I speak to you now and that my hope is that this emergency fund can help you keep your lights on, or bridge you until the next cell phone bill is due, or to put food on your table. This is a crisis and we understand the severity, but our hope is that this provides some light, some beacon of hope. I know the uncertainty and pain you’re feeling, but I hope we can all lean in on our generosity. For those of you wanting to help, you may also visit that site to make additional donations. In these unprecedented times, artsforillinois.org is not only a place to apply for relief or to make those donations, but also to be filled with art experiences generously made available by the creative communities and arts organizations that provide a viable platform for expression all the time in our normal lives.
Amanda Williams: (22:25)
And if you’re like my husband and I who are now suddenly teachers homeschooling our two small daughters, this is an invaluable site to expose your young ones and your loved ones to all of the breadth of what the arts community can create. This is something for everyone, for every age and new content will be added daily. If you’re an artist interested in adding content, please also reach out. And with that I’m going to turn the podium back over to the Governor for questions. Thank you so much for your attention.
Governor Pritzker: (22:58)
Thank you. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t also add that in addition to Amanda’s help and so many of the organizations that Amanda was calling out, I just want to acknowledge Nora Daley who’s been a real leader in the arts in the city of Chicago who stepped up and was quite involved in helping to organize this and get something important done for the artist community. So I know she didn’t get mentioned in our remarks, but I just wanted to make sure that you knew how involved she was in that. So with that, happy to take any questions from members of the media.
Speaker 2: (23:30)
And the Governor is going to repeat the questions from the room so that everybody on the live stream can hear.
Governor Pritzker: (23:34)
Wan [inaudible 00:23:35] with the Korean TV. President Trump mentioned the timeframe for possible recovery time. What’s your prospect of recovery of Illinois?
Governor Pritzker: (23:46)
It is very hard to know, to be honest with you. I mean, I think you’ve seen that as I put in a stay at home order and when we started with the closing of schools and so on, we were relying upon what we knew at that time, which seemed like it was just weeks perhaps that were necessary. We’re continuing to follow the science to know what date we ought to be extending to. There are states who have chosen different dates for their stay at home order.
Governor Pritzker: (24:15)
And so, we’re looking at all of that. If there was a definitive answer, I would hope that the CDC would put that forward to everyone. It’s unclear to be frank with you, and so we’re listening to the best minds that we can to get the right answer. Right now, we’ve extended our stay at home and all of the other orders to April 30th. But as I have said, we’re going to continue to evaluate every day whether we’ll need to extend that at any point. But right now, I think that that seems like the right period of time. Again, not knowing exactly when we might peak and come off of that peak, which is a very important point at which we’ll be making new evaluations.
Speaker 3: (24:58)
I’ve got a couple of questions actually for Dr. Ezike.
Governor Pritzker: (25:00)
Speaker 3: (25:00)
If could put some perspective on the sharp rise in the number of deaths, 42 which I believe is the largest single day increase. Are they connected to one particular location or facility? And then a second question regarding masks. With the CDC guidance that you mentioned, one to three days out, someone who is not symptomatic prior to having symptoms could be contagious, and the earlier guidance that if you are ill, you should probably wear a mask to protect others. With that logic, shouldn’t all people be wearing masks if they could be contagious prior to knowing that they’re even going to be symptomatic?
Dr. Ezike: (25:36)
Yeah, I appreciate that-
Speaker 2: (25:36)
Doctor, can you try and repeat the first question-
Dr. Ezike: (25:38)
Speaker 2: (25:38)
And, then we’ll do that again.
Dr. Ezike: (25:39)
The first question was the perspective on heightened number of deaths, I think I have said, I hope I have said every day that we knew we would see more cases and we knew we would see more deaths. So as we develop more cases, we are going to have more deaths. I can’t predict exactly the number.
Dr. Ezike: (26:03)
I can’t tell you… I can’t predict exactly the number that it will be, obviously, each day, but we know generally following data that we have from around the world, unfortunately, we have a lot of information from all the situations, all the cases from around the world. We know that approximately 20% end up requiring hospitalization and more severe care. And that about 5% require ICU care. We know that the mortality rate is somewhere between maybe one and 3%. so I think our numbers are unfortunately going to bear that out, and we will see growth in the number of deaths, most unfortunately, until we get to that peak. And hopefully we have done all that we can in terms of staying home and doing all these mitigation efforts, so that the peak is lower than what was originally anticipated. An additional question was regarding the CDC’s guidance. They said 48 hours, you said three days. It was 48 hours, potentially before onset of symptoms that you could potentially be transmitting the virus. Of course, the best way to not get ill is to stay at home. It’s to stay at home. If you wash your hands twice a day, you’re doing a great job. If you wash your hands five times, 10 times a day, you’re doing an even better job. If you clean the frequently touched surfaces. All of these measures, obviously, are helpful. When we say cover your cough, the point of covering your cough is that you’re not letting those droplets go onto the person standing in front of you, go on to the person in front of you. The covering your cough, covering your sneeze, and the social distancing are essentially similar to the advice of wearing the mask.
Dr. Ezike: (27:56)
The idea of wearing the mask, as you said, would be to keep those droplets potentially from spraying on others. I understand what you’re saying, that is logical. And so we want everybody to do the most that they can to prevent potentially infecting others before they know it. And we know that covering your cough, staying away from people, and potentially some kind of covering of your mouth and nose would also potentially be helpful as well.
Speaker 5: (28:25)
[inaudible 00:28:25] guidelines in the coming days [inaudible 00:28:25]?
Dr. Ezike: (28:26)
We are working closely alongside our public health champion and federal partner, the CDC. We know that we’ll see … They’re looking at guidance now, and so we will be coming forth with our guidance as well. But these are very important issues that we’re discussing, and want to be ahead of the curve in doing all that we can to protect the people of Illinois.
Speaker 5: (28:50)
Are there guidelines right now, with regard to masks?
Dr. Ezike: (28:54)
Okay, so the information in terms of what is out there, in terms of what masks can do, show that of course if something is going to cover droplets and help prevent the spread of droplets, that that would be helpful. We know that that is part of a mitigation strategy, as well as staying home and social distancing, as well as washing your hands, as well as the infection control practices. We know that not one practice alone will do it. We know that we need the full cache of all of these practices. Everything will be additive, cumulative in helping decrease … Decreasing the spread and flattening the curve.
Speaker 6: (29:38)
[inaudible 00:29:38] any update on Stateville, Cook County [inaudible 00:29:40] people positive in Stateville. Any updates on those?
Dr. Ezike: (29:46)
Yes, so we had 127 that were tested. There’s some test results that are still pending, but we did have a … We sent some tests to different places and so some of the tests are still pending, but bottom line we had like 45% of the tests that I have that are back were positive. We do have 19 individuals that are hospitalized at different hospitals throughout the state and we’re working with area hospitals to make sure that if additional people require hospitalization, that they will get timely transfer to a local hospital to get the services that they need.
Speaker 6: (30:25)
19 [inaudible 00:30:27]?
Dr. Ezike: (30:28)
19 in the hospitals, yes.
Speaker 6: (30:30)
And in Stateville [inaudible 00:30:33].
Dr. Ezike: (30:32)
Oh, I’m sorry. The Stateville. Yeah, sorry. 19 Stateville.
Speaker 6: (30:35)
And then still just one death?
Dr. Ezike: (30:36)
Yeah. So yes.
Speaker 8: (30:40)
Governor, there are a number of states, [inaudible 00:30:43] Texas in particular, that have instituted 14 day self-quarantine for people coming from Chicago, or other hotspots. Have you considered instituting any kind of self-quarantine for people traveling from hotspots like New York, New Orleans, Detroit, California?
Governor Pritzker: (31:01)
Well, we would certainly encourage people who are moving about the country if they’re coming home or they’re planning to stay here, that they should in fact stay at home and they should try to self-quarantine. We’re not identifying people, marking them that they came from one particular place or another. Because honestly, even though you might say that, well, someone from New York, there’s a higher percentage perhaps of people from New York. The truth is that this virus really knows no bounds. You can come from anywhere and have it. You can come from anywhere and not have it. So we are encouraging everybody to stay home. That is really the purpose of the say home. And I guess I want to add to something that Dr. Ezeke said, that while the question about masks, is it effective to wear a mask? Sure, more effective than not wearing a mask but, but it does not replace staying at home. Staying at home is the best mitigation strategy. Please stay home.
Speaker 8: (32:00)
Are you changing the Illinois policy with regard to masks? Are you imposing a policy?
Governor Pritzker: (32:07)
We’re thinking about these things all the time. What are the best strategies? We obviously look to the CDC to start with, right? These are tremendous scientists who have been working on these things for many years, how viruses get transmitted and so on. We obviously have some terrific expertise right here in Illinois, so we sort of take the CDC and then we take the expertise that we’ve got in the state of Illinois, meld that together and try to come up with the best answer. Sometimes we’re ahead of the CDC with the answers that we come up with and so that’s certainly something. I would not discourage people from wearing masks. In fact, I think that there’s some evidence to show that it can be effective. And are we thinking about changing policy?
Governor Pritzker: (32:46)
Again, we’re evaluating these things every day. What are the ways we can tighten policy? You heard just the other day that we gave guidance, we worked with the grocers to give guidance in grocery stores, because we were seeing so many people packed together in a grocery store, people not always following social distancing guidelines. And so the grocery stores did quite a lot. They put marks on the floor, many of them, showing what six feet is so that you could stay apart from one another and so on. I’m sorry, I haven’t repeated the questions I get asked. I’m getting that from my press secretary over there. But we are constantly looking at things like whether you should wear masks, whether gloves are effective, how often you ought to be wiping down surfaces in your own home.
Governor Pritzker: (33:33)
People think, “Well, gee, I’m alone in my home or I’m with the same people. Do I really need to wipe down those surfaces?” Well guess what? Everybody’s touching different things, right? And then they go and sit maybe in the same place they sat three hours earlier, but now you’ve got things on your hands, perhaps, that you’re transferring to surfaces and may not realize it, or someone else transferred it to a surface in your home and you’re now touching it and then you touch your face. So it’s just very important that people wash your hands, wipe down surfaces, follow our social distancing guidelines when you go outside.
Speaker 9: (34:05)
Okay. We’ve got to get to some questions. We’ve got to get to some questions from online.
Governor Pritzker: (34:09)
Speaker 9: (34:10)
Orders for social distancing.
Governor Pritzker: (34:11)
Speaker 9: (34:12)
Are you considering taking action to delay the deadline for the second installment for property tax payments currently around August 1st or do you think that is one deadline the state can not afford to push back?
Governor Pritzker: (34:23)
That is not a state function, just to be clear … You heard the question everybody. So the fact is these are functions of local governments and county government state does not collect property taxes and those decisions would get made by local governments, county governments.
Speaker 5: (34:40)
Would you encourage them to delay any of these property taxes? You’ve got landlords being asked to help out [inaudible 00:34:48] the landlord, they’re [inaudible 00:34:51]
Governor Pritzker: (34:53)
Well, all I can say if we’ve made changes obviously at the state level too, we’ve moved back our income tax date due date to July 15th, we’ve given people who owe sales taxes to the state and local governments, some leeway there, a couple of months and so on. So I think those will be decisions. A lot of it has to do with the local county and city governments and whether they can function without the cash flow that comes at that time and how they would actually get that done.
Speaker 9: (35:21)
Director, can you please explain the numbers in a more clear fashion for people on the cases at Stateville? And then there are also questions about what the national guard is doing at Stateville.
Dr. Ezike: (35:36)
So we had … We have tested 127 individuals. 80 of those samples were sent to a university lab. Another 47 were sent out elsewhere. Of the 80 that we were able to get back, we had 44 … 36 were positive, which gave us about a 45% positivity rate. We have 19 individuals who are hospitalized at different hospitals throughout the state, and we’re continuing to monitor other individuals that are still in the facility. I’ll turn it over to Brigadier Neeley.
Brigadier General Richard Neeley: (36:26)
Good afternoon. The question concerning what the National Guard’s doing to support the Stateville Penitentiary is really we’re providing about 30 individuals, primarily medical technicians that will be able to support establishing tents that we’ll be able to separate out the inmates and provide them a little bit more distancing and to kind of quarantine them off into a different area in the prison. Those tents will be supported by National Guard medical technicians. We’re also providing some support within the actual penitentiary with both visitors that are coming in as such as vendors and that, making sure that we’re doing health checks before they come in to the president as well as employees that are returning every day. And so we’ll be assisting out in those areas. Just really augmenting that staff that’s been kind of depleted the last several days due to the flu and the COVID-19.
Speaker 10: (37:25)
[inaudible 00:37:25] the tents are they staying in the tents, or [inaudible 00:11:31]?
Brigadier General Richard Neeley: (37:31)
Well, what they’re looking at is I believe one of the scenarios is to actually put the tents into the gymnasium area and then that way we could put eight patients at a time into those tents and then that way they get them out of the general infirmary area and kind of segregate the COVID-19 patients away from the rest of the patients and then we’ll be able to monitor them more closely, watching their temperatures real closely, and if they need additional help.
Speaker 11: (38:02)
Can you just say your name and spell it?
Brigadier General Richard Neeley: (38:05)
Yes, Brigadier General Richard Neeley, the adjutant general for Illinois. Thank you.
Governor Pritzker: (38:09)
The best adjutant general in the country, I might add.
Speaker 8: (38:14)
Who are the people who are receiving SNAP benefits are not getting them? And what, if anything, can or is the state doing? Because we’re getting a number of calls in the newsroom saying people are not receiving those benefits first of the month, they need them.
Governor Pritzker: (38:27)
Well all I can say is we’re, we’re working fast and furiously. As you know, there’ve been an increase in the number of people who are eligible for SNAP benefits. But suffice to say that to the extent there’s any delay, I’ll make sure that I work with my staff so that we address that, and we understand how vitally important it is. Unemployment, SNAP benefits, WIC, these are people who are already on the very edge of not being able to survive, really. And so we want to make sure we do it as fast as possible. So here on the first of the month, to the extent people are not receiving that, I want to know about it and we’re going to make sure to address it.
Governor Pritzker: (39:03)
… not receiving that. I want to know about it and we’re going to make sure to address it.
Speaker 12: (39:03)
Governor, 12 of the 52 cases in Kankakee County are at one state-run facility there. What do you say to the families who feel that the communications breakdown inspired this spread within that facility and to the staffers who feel that they’re being put at risk because of what they see as lax PPE policies?
Governor Pritzker: (39:24)
Not only do we have actually a very strong PPE policy, but we also provided significant amounts of PPE.
Governor Pritzker: (39:30)
Look, there is no doubt, and you’ve heard this from our medical experts, that sometimes congregate facilities are difficult because of the very nature of people living in the same facility. But, as you know, we’ve provided some folks to you who are engaged in that facility and who have felt like we are actually running it reasonably well, doing the right things at the right time.
Governor Pritzker: (39:59)
This virus is so, it’s an invisible virus. You just don’t know where it’s going to come from. We’re doing everything we can to try to separate people out who may have contracted the virus, to detect it. You just heard General Neeley talk about taking temperatures and checking people’s medical situation before they enter a facility. We’re trying to do that in as many places as we can. We’re doing the best we can. We’re certainly trying our best to take care of our seniors, our children, people who are in our care as prisoners too. We’re addressing it as best we can.
Governor Pritzker: (40:36)
Again, in each of these situations, our number one concern is the welfare of the people who are in our care. Again, we’re, we’re providing all of the facilities that we can and all of the PPE and supplies that we can in order to address these challenge
Speaker 13: (40:52)
Reporters in the room, I’m working on behalf of your colleagues. I’m going to try and get some of their other questions in.
Speaker 13: (40:58)
We may not have as many confirmed cases downstate but already clusters of cases in a senior home in Taylorville outnumber the available number of ICU beds at the hospital in town. What is your administration doing to coordinate the response in rural areas with critical-access hospitals and should County officials make those numbers of available ICU beds public?
Governor Pritzker: (41:18)
Our ICU bed situation in the state, as you know this is as we move toward the peak of this, we are going to be filling up ICU beds across the state. It isn’t the same in every area. There are critical-access hospitals that may have fewer ICU beds. There are other hospitals in other areas of the state that may have more availability, just as a percentage of what they’ve got.
Governor Pritzker: (41:45)
As far as nursing homes and making sure that we’re providing the right care in the right places, we are working really expeditiously with all of the hospitals. Whenever whenever they’re moving toward filling up all of their ICU beds or filling up all of their available beds across a whole hospital, we’re trying to make sure that we’re either offloading the non-acute people who are in the hospital, the patients in the hospital or we’re providing additional facilities for people to have ICU capability.
Governor Pritzker: (42:26)
With regard to nursing homes, you’ve heard, I mean these are challenging situations. What we do in nursing homes typically is if the nursing home will allow the separation of people who are COVID positive from people who aren’t, in other words literally in separate wings or in separate floors, we’re attempting to do that. Certainly there is a quarantine going on in many of these facilities to make sure and PPE that’s been distributed across the facilities to make sure that we’re keeping people as safe as possible. It is hard, as you know, in a nursing home situation to move some people, just because of their current medical condition. Again, trying to isolate those who are not sick and don’t have COVID-19 from those who are sick and do is something that we’re again working at constantly all the time because we really want to make sure that the infection doesn’t spread.
Speaker 13: (43:20)
Who is going to staff the McCormick Place facility if it’s needed? Are you getting the numbers of healthcare professionals you need to staff the 3000 bed facility?
Governor Pritzker: (43:29)
Well, let me say just broadly, there are not enough healthcare workers in the workforce today. If you have the capability, if you are somebody who is nearing the end of your medical training, whether it’s a nurse or a doctor, if you’re somebody who has been inactive but had a license at one time and if you’re somebody who lives in Illinois but works in another state as a healthcare professional and are willing perhaps to do some of your work here in Illinois, we need you. That is my broad answer.
Governor Pritzker: (44:01)
With regard to McCormick Place, we have been in process of attracting some of those healthcare professionals, taking existing professionals who work with contracting entities. There are companies out there that have healthcare professionals that are on contract with them and they actually contract groups of healthcare professionals to organizations just in normal times, and so we’ve done some contracting with them in order to staff what we need at McCormick Place. Once again, we believe that we have enough to staff the first 500 beds, which will be coming online this coming week, or during this week I should say. We have some for the remaining beds, but we need more. There’s no doubt.
Speaker 14: (44:49)
Is there a list of locations where people in Illinois can get tested?
Governor Pritzker: (44:55)
I actually don’t know if there are lists. I know we have drive- through facilities, but remember that the way to get tested is you have got to contact your healthcare professional. Right? Whoever that may be. Or if you don’t have one that’s your doctor, you can certainly contact the Department of Public Health in your county to find out how you can connect with a healthcare professional and over the phone determine what the symptoms are and whether or not you would qualify and then sometimes get a flu test or some other viral test other than a COVID test because they’re so limited the number of COVID tests.
Governor Pritzker: (45:33)
Once that happens you would get essentially a slip to go get either in a drive-through facility or in a hospital or even from your own doctor, a swab taken. Remember, where your swab is taken and where the test is actually determined whether you have it or not are often in different places, unless you happen to be at a hospital.
Speaker 13: (45:54)
Are you considering calling the General Assembly to meet someplace else or to meet virtually?
Governor Pritzker: (46:00)
The General Assembly leaders are talking about how they might be able to accomplish a General Assembly legislative session. It is something that I think may be very important to do. It’s hard to do. There are 177 members of the General Assembly and we’re asking people to stay home and not congregate in groups of more than 10. Some governors might think this is a dream that you can’t get your legislature together, but we have things that we need to get done in the state of Illinois. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to figure out how we might be able to get them meeting. I know that the leaders are thinking about that as well.
Speaker 13: (46:38)
How would you recommend churches handle Easter Sunday services?
Governor Pritzker: (46:44)
Well, I would suggest that many people will need to attend services online. That churches should try their best to provide a connection on the internet. It may be the best way in order to make sure that you’re abiding by the stay-at-home rule, which is so vitally important. I understand how important worship is and especially in these moments, but it can be done virtually. I would suggest that people should never, despite the desire on Easter to get together, to celebrate together, to worship together, I would still tell people, please stay home. Please stay home and contact your pastor to find out if they have services online that you can participate in or at least view.
Speaker 13: (47:33)
All right, this will be our last question. Have you been in contact with the legislative leaders and budget committee chairs to talk about a revised FY21 budget? What, if any, major changes from your original budget proposal do you think the state will need?
Governor Pritzker: (47:45)
Oh, I don’t think I could list all the changes that would need to be made to the original budget. Our budget proposal was put together in January, presented in February and weeks and weeks before the COVID crisis came upon us, or at least we were all aware of how serious it was.
Governor Pritzker: (48:04)
I have had conversations with various members of the General Assembly and leaders just to begin. We are obviously working on our end to figure out, what is the revenue shortfall? What are the challenges that we’re going to go through? When do we think that we’ll begin to see revenue return? Trying to make estimates of that, as you can imagine, at this moment are very difficult when I couldn’t tell you two days ago that we were going to extend the stay-at-home rule that we put in place. We’re still working on it. There’s no doubt. It will be a vastly different budget. There’s no doubt about that as well.
Speaker 13: (48:44)
Thank you, everyone.
Governor Pritzker: (48:46)
Thank you. Thank you.