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Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* I’ll cover the governor’s weekend press conferences, but comments will remain closed. George will play us out

It’s not always gonna be this grey

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

McCormick place facility “larger than the largest hospital in Illinois” - New alt site in Springfield - 140 staff at McCormick Place site - “Wearing something to cover your face is a good idea” - Lightfoot says couldn’t have been done without DuPage Medical - Site director can’t say if PPE is adequate - 425 hotel rooms open for healthcare workers - Lightfoot: “We shouldn’t have to beg the federal government” - Pritzker explains modeling and the peak - EO waives liability

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* Gov. Pritzker held his press conference today at McCormick Place, the site of a new field hospital

The teams on the ground here have brought everything to the table for Illinois. In less than a week’s time, they’ve assembled 500 rooms and beds, 14 nursing stations, and full support rooms for supply storage, pharmacy needs and housekeeping. In one week’s time the heroes who came together to make this possible built us a facility larger than the largest hospital in Illinois.

One week, and they will be building out to 3000 beds, before the end of the month.

Again, please pardon all typos. Mistakes are most likely in transcription, not in what is being said.

* More capacity…

We’ve also launched work on three other sites in Chicago and the collar counties, the former Advocate Sherman Hospital campus in Elgin, the Metro South Health Center in Blue Island and Westlake Hospital in Cook County’s Melrose Park.

And today, I am proud to share with you our next site, Vibra Hospital in Springfield, Illinois, which will begin to add more beds to our capacity in Central Illinois.

* Staffing…

Preparing also means proactively assembling the healthcare workers who will bring these facilities to life. A hospital bed is just a bed until it has the staff and equipment to turn it into a place to treat COVID 19. We’ve already assembled the medical personnel who will staff these first 500 beds, nearly 140 healthcare heroes from around Illinois and the nation are ready to work here, and we’ll be adding many hundreds more as the need evolves.

* Masks…

There’s a reason that we’re raised to cover your mouth, or use your elbow, when you cough or sneeze. It’s a simple gesture to reduce the number of germs that you spread to those around you. The doctors all agree that this virus can be spread through droplets, like when you sneeze or cough. So blocking that by wearing a mask in public seems like a common sense way to do what’s right for everyone around you.

The most important thing you could do, frankly is stay home. But when you do go outside, or when you must go to the grocery store, pharmacy, wearing something to cover your face is a good idea, based upon what the science says. Maybe it’s a homemade fabric mask, or maybe it’s a manufacturer, general medical mask, really just something to cover your nose and mouth out of courtesy to those around you. In case you’re one of those who are asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, and who could be spreading the virus, wearing a mask is just one more way that we can help take care of one another in our state.

* Mayor Lightfoot…

I want to also acknowledge Paul Merrick, the CEO of DuPage Medical. Folks, we would have no staffing here without DuPage Medical, and the men and women from an executive team who have stepped up to provide the real services that are going to be necessary.

* More Lightfoot…

Starting Wednesday, we will be making 200 rooms in London House and 225 rooms in the Godfrey Hotel open for healthcare workers

* Major General Robert F. Whittle, US Army Corps of Engineers…

We have eight awarded contracts now across the United States. Three of them are here in Illinois, and this is a testament again to leadership here.

* Press release: “This is snapshot in time data captured at 10am on April 3, 2020. The numbers will change frequently as the state works to increase capacity and new patients need care”…

* On to questions for the governor and the mayor. Where did you get the medical personnel?…

Dr. Nick Turkal, who is the executive director of the new facility: The state has been very helpful at IEMA with helping us to provide test nurses and other providers. DuPage Medical is volunteering and bringing a number of their staff to help with both leadership, and then also to work here as doctors, nurses and other health care providers. We’re in discussions now with additional people who may be able to help us. And that may include local university medical centers. It may include people from out of state at times but our focus will be on staff with local knowledge and expertise, but don’t disrupt the local hospital ecosystem. We want the hospitals to be able to keep all their employees with them doing the work that they need to do there, so that we really become overflow or release of the strain on those hospitals.

* Dr. Turkal was also asked if the PPE supplies are adequate…

That I think is an ongoing concern for our entire nation. There are discussions at the federal level about how that will be distributed in the coming weeks. And I think we have to say ‘more to come’ on that. We will keep up with it, and do the very best that we can.

* Dr. Turkal on staffing levels…

We are planning on 12 hour shifts. And part of the reason for that is to reduce the use of PPE. If we have three shifts a day we have more people coming in and out for nothing more than materials that are so critically important right now. So, we believe 12 hour shifts are the best. And if you look around healthcare today, 12 hour shifts are the norm in many places, not very concerned about burnout. As far as days on and off. We will flex that according to the needs of the staff, and that that is not finalized yet.

* For the governor: How many people should Illinois be testing a day, and how long is it going to take to get to that point? Is the state struggling to test its population at a sufficient level?…

Well I have been saying I think every single day that I’ve had a press conference and maybe days before that, that we are, we do not have enough tests. The federal government said they were going to provide millions of tests, and all the states relied upon that promise and it still hasn’t happened.

So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to grow our testing capability, as you know in our first days we used our state labs in one shift which is all we ever had in our state labs to begin with, with three labs, 200, a day at each lab that was all we could do at the very beginning today. Now we’re doing around 5000 on average per day. And we’re trying to get to 10,000 per day, frankly, I’d like to be at 100,000 per day if we could but right now the testing supplies the swabs everything about the tests are very difficult to come by and there’s no federal plan for this.

So every state is on their own, as I said, it’s the Wild West out here, but my plan and our plan working with our experts and scientists epidemiologist is if we can get to 10,000 per day, that helps us both test the people that will you know come forward with symptoms on any given day, and give us meaningful data, which is a hugely important tip so we know where the outbreaks are taking place. And when we need to, on an emergency basis test for example at a nursing home or in some congregate facility we can test everybody all at once, 200 or 300 people at a time. So it’s extraordinarily important that we build up that testing capability as I talked about yesterday. We’ve bought machines we’ve bought tests we’ve reached out to every company. I’ve been on with CEOs of all the companies that do it Roshan Abbott and so on. And we’re doing everything we can to build up our testing capability, because we’re getting no help from anywhere else.

* What is the responsibility of residential building managers to communicate to their tenants, when there are positive COVID cases in their buildings?…

Chicago Health Director: If someone is living in a multi-unit apartment building for example, and they’re able to return to their home and be isolated at home. There is not a need to notify across that whole building, as long as we believe that the individual is able to be isolated at home just as they would.

* What about what Jared Kushner had to say from the White House, that some states don’t know what they have in their inventory before requesting equipment from the federal government?…

Well, let me start with this. I don’t know if Jared Kushner knows this, but it’s called the United States of America. And the federal government, which has a stockpile, is supposed to be backstopping the states. He apparently does not know that.

Now at the state level, we have stockpiles at the city level we have stockpiles. And, you know, we’re using them now. I don’t think anybody expected a respiratory pandemic. That would deplete, all of the respiratory stockpiles that exists and that we would be, and that the federal government would abdicate its role and have 50 states, five territories. On top of that, all competing with one another and competing against the federal government to get the PPE that’s necessary. So I think Jared Kushner just does not understand this issue. He does not understand what the federal government’s role is supposed to be in a national emergency.

* Mayor Lightfoot…

I think the governor just showed incredible restraint under the circumstances. He’s 100% right. We shouldn’t have to beg the federal government to step up and assume his responsibility here. When we hear from the head of the CDC, that the Federal stockpile, the Federal stockpile only has 10,000 ventilators. The question we should ask is what the heck has the Trump administration been doing over the last three and a half years? What that tells me, what that tells public health professionals across the nation is that the federal government has failed to do the planning that it needs on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to be prepared.

So we’re not waiting for the feds, we’re doing what is necessary. The governor and his team have been working tirelessly to source, the materials that we need to bring to Illinois. But my own mind, somebody like Jared Kushner casting aspersions on the hard work of governors across this country who have been working tirelessly, night and day to be leaders, and to care for the residents in their states that tells you a lot about the character of him.

* Can you tell us what models you’re looking at?…

Pritzker: We’ll look at any model that is well put together and you know the mayor has developed a model for the city we develop one for the state. We’re looking at the regions of the state, we actually have a team that works together now looking at all their statisticians, mathematicians physicists, scientists, we’re looking at that, to make sure that we’re it evolves as we know more information. So, you know, we looked at the University of Washington model, that’s one model to look at. We had a University of Illinois UIUC model as well. There was one that was developed by a consulting firm here in the city of Chicago as well. So, collectively what we’re looking at is, and remember what we’re trying to determine with these models. We’re trying to determine is, what is the height of this look like what is the peak look like, and therefore what resources are necessary for us to have on hand, and to treat the people who are going to be hospitalized. Those who will need ICU beds, those who will need ventilators. And so collectively I think the mayor and I both have said in different ways, in different press conferences over the last couple of days that we believe based upon the various models that we’ve looked at, and the collective one that’s still being worked on that somewhere between the middle of April, and the end of April, might be the peak.

Now I want everybody to understand that just because you say you’re going to hit a peak does not mean that you’re then precipitously going to fall on the other side of that peak to zero. That does not happen. What we need to know about the peak and the reason we’re all looking at it is because of the resources necessary at the height, because that’s what you need to have on hand. That’s how many ventilators you need. And so once we get to that peak, we’re all going to be praying that we come off that peak quickly, but we might not, we might be flattened at that peak.

That is flattening the curve. And then we want it to fall of course but I just, I think people may misunderstand what the use of a model, it isn’t going to tell us exactly everything that’s going to happen every day. It does help us to know how well we’re doing against what our projections were so that as we move forward we can move resources around. You heard Governor Cuomo in New York talk about the when they come off of their peak they may be able to send ventilators to other parts of the country. I hope that’s true. And certainly, if we can do that if we come off of our peak, and we can help some other hotspot across the country we’re going to try to do that too. We want to be helpful to everybody across the country as best we can, but our first and foremost duty is to protect the people of the city of Chicago in the state of Illinois, and we’re going to do that.

* What about legal liability?…

Dr. Nick: I might ask the governor to address that we’re very pleased about the executive order. I’ll say most healthcare professionals come with liability insurance, but in a crisis like this, we’re very appreciative of the state’s efforts to say, we’re going to take care of liability.

Subscribers know more about this week’s executive order.

* Is it possible that we might see not a lot of patients here and it’s just preparing for the worst. Is that part of discussions?…

From your lips to God’s ears. That is honestly what we are praying for. If no patient ends up at McCormick Place, then we will have done our job people, will have stayed at home, they will have done what they needed to do to bend this curve and for people not to get sick. So I pray that that’s an accurate assessment.


- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

1,209 new cases, 53 additional deaths

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 1,209 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 53 additional deaths.

    - Christian County: 1 female 80s
    - Cook County: 1 male 30s, 1 female 50s, 4 male 50s, 4 females 60s, 6 males 60s, 1 unknown 60s, 2 females 70s, 6 males 70s, 2 females 80s, 1 male 80s, 4 females 90s, 1 female 100s
    - DuPage County: 1 male 50s, 1 male 70s
    - Kane County: 1 female 90s
    - Kankakee County: 1 female 40s, 1 male 80s
    - Lake County: 1 male 40s, 2 female 60s, 4 male 60s, 2 males 70s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
    - Will County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 male 90s

DeWitt, Effingham, and Jersey counties are now reporting cases. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 8,904 cases, including 210 deaths, in 64 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

The opposite of crying wolf

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* Let’s start out by stipulating that Mayor Lori Lightfoot has done a tremendous job of convincing Chicagoans to stay home. She has inspired her city like no other mayor before. Nobody could ever dispute that.

But, Lightfoot also has a habit of saying things that appear to be so rosy as to flatly contradict the evidence at hand. For instance, this is from February 26

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday she’s “very disappointed” in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for fanning the flames of fear about the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, is warning Americans to start preparing now for “the expectation that this might be bad,” triggering a severe disruption in their daily lives.

Messonnier argued the question was no longer if the coronavirus will start spreading in the United States, but when.

That may require what she called, “social distancing measures” that include smaller classes or closing schools, canceling meetings and conferences and allowing employees to work from home. […]

“I will candidly tell you that I was very disappointed with the comments of the CDC yesterday and members of the Trump administration around coronavirus,” Lightfoot said.

* You’ll recall that she resisted closing schools.

And then she said this on March 23rd

Lightfoot also said the city is OK right now with hospitals, bed counts and ventilators.

“So far, we’re fine,” Lightfoot said.

But Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite of the Army Corps of Engineers said this yesterday about the new hospital beds at McCormick Place

“At the end of the day, though, the single biggest reason why we would come to Chicago or somewhere else is that governor feels that there’s a very, very critical requirement,” Semonite said. […]

About a week ago, Semonite said he was notified by the secretary of the Army that Pritzker was “very, very concerned about the bed shortage up here.”

A division commander, Major Gen. Mark Toy, then met with Pritzker, and construction was launched on the McCormick Place’“alternative care facility,” which is short of a full-blown hospital.

So at about the same time Lightfoot was saying “we’re fine,” the governor was frantically urging the federal government to stand up a massive field hospital in the city.

* As we discussed yesterday, Mayor Lightfoot claims the city budget is just fine, even though it’s undoubtedly not fine.

Also from yesterday

“We prepare all year round for these kinds of emergencies. I mean, this is unprecedented, of course. But we are doing OK in terms of our stockpile of the personal protective equipment, the PPE that you hear a lot about. Ventilators, we’re in pretty good shape for now. But all of it is with a qualifier – I just don’t think the federal government has kept up its strategic stockpile, so I don’t think they have the resources and equipment to actually help us if they were so inclined.”

I just don’t think I believe the city’s PPE and ventilator stockpile is adequate.

- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      

COVID-19 roundup

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* Hannah did a great job this morning…

Click here to read the piece.

* The Fight Back for a Better Tomorrow PAC has a new TV ad in support of nurses

* From UIUC Chancellor Robert Jones…

Dear Members of the University Community,

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and continued guidance from both local and state health officials, we have made the decision that all Summer 2020 courses will be conducted remotely via alternative delivery mechanisms.

We know that this decision about summer courses may generate additional questions about summer research, programs, travel, housing, events, remote work protocols, etc. We are not ready to make those decisions at this time, but as soon as we are ready, you will be notified.

* Select headlines from the Tribune’s live blog

Amid coronavirus outbreak, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says no plans to close Chicago streets to traffic and open them to exercise

College cafeteria workers seek help amid mass layoffs

Landlords are asking tenants for coronavirus diagnoses. Can they do that?

‘To us right now, time is life.’ Chinese community mobilizing to provide medical supplies to Chicago-area hospitals.

* News-Gazette

Christie Clinic is placing about 225 employees on a temporary furlough due to coronavirus-related losses, Chief Executive Officer Kenny Bilger said Thursday.

“It is our intention that these furloughs will be short term, with a current expectation of all team members returning to work no later than June 1, 2020,” he said in a letter to Christie employees that clinic officials shared with The News-Gazette.

The temporary furloughs will affect about 25 percent of Christie’s 900 staff members, according to Melissa Tepovich, the clinic’s marketing and public relations manager.

* Press release…

Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim is warning residents of potential scams that attempt to prey on people during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Nerheim said his office has been advised that scammers are making phone calls posing at health care workers or companies offering COVID-19 tests. In many cases, these scammers claim they are able to either obtain tests for people or are able to get test results to people quicker. In these cases, the person is asked to pay in cash or hand over personal identifying information in exchange for the test.

“In most cases, these crimes are preventable by using common sense,” State’s Attorney Nerheim said. “People should always be wary of any business, charity, government or individual requesting payments in cash, wire transfers, or gift cards through the mail. In addition, people should never share identifiable personal or financial information with any unknown sources.”

* More here….

* A little levity…

* Related…

* Rapid coronavirus testing starting in Illinois

* ‘Surreal’: NY funeral homes struggle as virus deaths surge

* ‘I just don’t understand’: Anthony Fauci shows support for more state stay-at-home orders

* 3-star general on new McCormick Place coronavirus hospital: ‘We don’t know when this one’s going to end’: About a week ago, Semonite said he was notified by the secretary of the Army that Pritzker was “very, very concerned about the bed shortage up here.”

* Most crime is down during COVID-19 pandemic, but there’s reason for concern: In Elgin, domestic battery calls are up 47% compared with the same March 21-30 time frame in 2019.

* Chicago police officer’s death linked to COVID-19 will be considered on-duty, entitling family to greater benefits

* What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage: It isn’t really about hoarding. And there isn’t an easy fix.

* UI, others taking measures to curtail ‘Zoom-bombing’

* Essential business supplies essential workers

* Manor Court resident with COVID-19 died Thursday; 2nd Manor Court resident tests positive

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

Republican leaders not enthused about statewide vote by mail

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* Press release

Senator Morrison (D-Lake Forest) will soon file a measure to further expand Illinois’ vote-by-mail program. Illinoisans would have the option to forego traditional polling places and cast their ballot from the comfort of their home. Under the proposal, each registered voter would be mailed a ballot, which would then be returned to the county elections office and counted on Election Day.

However, this does not preclude in-person voting opportunities on and/or before Election Day.

* The governor has already said he’s open to changing Illinois laws on vote-by-mail. Greg Hinz followed up with the four legislative leaders. The two Democrats seemed at least somewhat supportive. Senate President Don Harmon has long supported ideas like Morrison’s.

House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman said he would “support emphasizing that method in November.” Madigan has so far resisted a statewide mail program unless some standards can be set. As we’ve discussed, different counties treat them differently. Some are more persnickety about signatures, some toss out ballots for minor clerical issues, etc. Also, Madigan does his own VBM program for Democrats.

The Republicans were not enthused

“Ballot access in Illinois has and will continue to be strong. There is no need to change this November’s process,” House GOP Leader Jim Durkin said in a statement relayed by his spokeswoman, Eleni Demertzis. She added, “The Ds already have all the advantages they need. Just not sure what additional mail ballot provisions we can undertake as any voter can currently request a mail ballot for no reason.” […]

“There will be a time to discuss that in the future,” [Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady] said in a statement relayed by his spokesman Jason Gerwig. “Right now our focus should remain on rebuilding our economy and containing the COVID-19 virus.”

Another prominent Republican, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, said such a change could well help Democrats because elderly people, who tend to vote Republican, are more comfortable with the current system.

“But it may be necessary, he added. “I think we have to prepare for the possibility that people’s behavior is going to change.”


- Posted by Rich Miller   26 Comments      

The defiant Dr. Pliura

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* News-Gazette

A physician who wants to offer drive-thru coronavirus testing for the public is searching for a new location after his plans to hold it Wednesday at a Champaign church were scuttled.

“We will be looking,” said Dr. Tom Pliura, a LeRoy-based doctor and lawyer who owns CampusTown Urgent Care in Champaign.

Pliura had planned to begin a daily drive-thru Wednesday morning at First Christian Church in Champaign, making thousands of COVID-19 tests available to the public — regardless of whether people have symptoms of the disease or not. […]

Pliura said he was irritated at what became of his plans, and he called the governor’s office for guidance about how to proceed.

I asked the governor’s office yesterday if Pliura had called and after checking for a few hours I was told nobody had talked to him.

* WICS TV outlines why this plan could be in violation of CDC guidelines

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), testing for COVID-19 is based on priority, starting with hospitalized patients and healthcare facility workers with symptoms.

Then, patients in long-term care facilities with symptoms, patients 65 years and older with symptoms, patients with underlying conditions with symptoms and first responders.

The third priority is for critical infrastructure workers with symptoms, individuals who do not meet any of the above categories with symptoms, healthcare facility workers and first responders and individuals with mild symptoms in communities experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The CDC lists people without symptoms as a non-priority.


Pliura said he believes the number of COVID-19 cases at the University of Illinois is being kept artificially low.

“I also believe that the U of I doesn’t want it known that there are 10,000 foreign nationals over here that left in December before the break, came to their homeland countries and now returned prior to the travel ban and they had exemptions anyway and they brought a little present back with them,” Pliura said. “I guarantee you that if there’s testing done at the U of I, broad-scale testing, you are going to see a hot spot.”

[Champaign-Urbana Public Health District administrator Julie Pryde] disputes that. She said the U of I took aggressive action to limit COVID 19’s spread, including isolating students who traveled overseas.

* Also

“Isn’t all health care a money venture?” Pliura asked. “If you look at the tax returns of every hospital isn’t that a money-making deal?

“Aren’t we all in it to make a buck? Because I’m certainly not a not-for-profit.”

Most hospitals are not-for-profits.

* From Dr. Pliura’s Facebook page on March 26

Sky-is-Falling….Henny Penny….Chicken Little…..regarding claims of nationwide shortage of ventilators….

* March 28

Truth #4…..Re: Lack of Test Kits…the Media is saying there are not enough ‘Test Kits’ available……that is a bunch of malarkey…it takes 30-seconds to make a kit…SHARE THIS VIDEO

This video is the Gospel Truth…the whole truth and nothing but the truth….so help me God…I challenge anybody in the media to disprove anything here

Um, he’s not showing a test in his video, he’s showing a swab to collect samples for tests that are placed in a test tube. The actual tests are done at a lab, where there are indeed shortages and severe backlogs.

* This morning

We are performing case-by-case testing for Coronavirus at CampusTown Urgent care…631 E. Green St., Champaign, IL (217) 344-9909 Internet Pre-registration is required….go to: We hope to find a new location for broad scale public testing this morning

Someone asked in comments if he was “Testing for people with no symptoms to see if they are carriers?” Dr. Piura’s response

well, now the IDPH has asked me not to test people who don’t have symptoms….so during the registration process….you will be asked if in the last 7-10 days, have you had: a runny nose, cold symptoms, a cough, a scratchy throat, head ache, sore throat, fever, or if no fever have you felt warm….if you have any of those symptoms…I can test you…if you check the box ‘No’…then you will need to make an appointment with Champaign Public Health Department and ask their permission before we can test you….but if you tell me you’ve had one of the above symptoms…then I can test you…obviously I don’t know what symptoms you have had….and it’s all on the honor system…so you either check the box stating “yes”, I’ve had the symptoms….or you’ll need to go down to the Public Health Department and bring me back a note from the administrator allowing me to test you….I don’t think there is any licensed doctors down there…but I told them that I would not knowingly test anybody if they told me they have no symptoms…so you’ll either have to check the box as having had symptoms….or you need a note from Public Health…it is kind of like having a note from the teacher allowing you to go to the bathroom down the hall

Wink wink, nudge nudge. Get it?

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      

Like Charlie Wheeler says, always read the bill

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* 42 U.S. Code § 247d–6b. Strategic National Stockpile and security countermeasure procurements

(3) Procedures: The Secretary, in managing the stockpile under paragraph (1), shall—

    (A) consult with the working group under section 247d–6(a) of this title and the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise established under section 300hh–10a of this title;

    (B) ensure that adequate procedures are followed with respect to such stockpile for inventory management and accounting, and for the physical security of the stockpile;

    (C) in consultation with Federal, State, and local officials, take into consideration the timing and location of special events, and the availability, deployment, dispensing, and administration of countermeasures; […]

    (E) devise plans for effective and timely supply-chain management of the stockpile, in consultation with the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the heads of other appropriate Federal agencies; State, local, Tribal, and territorial agencies; and the public and private health care infrastructure, as applicable, taking into account the manufacturing capacity and other available sources of products and appropriate alternatives to supplies in the stockpile; […]

    (J) provide assistance, including technical assistance, to maintain and improve State and local public health preparedness capabilities to distribute and dispense medical countermeasures and products from the stockpile, as appropriate.

Emphasis added.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

Illinois Kidney Care Alliance Welcomes Nephrology Associates

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

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- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      

A complete waste of resources

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* Yet another rural safari by urban reporters

The idea of secession has long simmered in Illinois’ more rural and Republican counties, periodically flaring up around issues such as raising the minimum wage, the establishment of sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants and gun ownership. And though Illinois’ secession movement — or, movements — isn’t exactly united, many who believe in the principle share a general sense of feeling underrepresented in a state dominated by Chicago’s Democratic stronghold.

The coronavirus outbreak, which has yet to touch some areas of the state, has become the most recent flashpoint, inspiring both serious promises to reintroduce secession on the ballot and Facebook memes that call for building a wall around Chicago.

* And ProPublica Illinois justifies this coverage with these stats

That spider web, which he’s crafted to function as a sort of social media ecosystem of secession sentiment, includes “Illinois Separation,” a page Cliburn runs that has garnered nearly 27,000 Facebook likes; “Illinoyed,” a page for more general venting about the state, which has about 11,700 likes; and also dozens of county-level pages for local organizers. Lately, Cliburn said, he’s been using coronavirus news to bring attention to the effort to kick Chicago out of the state. […]

Another post, shared on the “Illinois Separation” page on March 25, shows an image of the state of Illinois with the Chicago-area blocked off with a line. “Make Illinois Great Again … build a wall !!” the graphic reads. Comments included individuals blaming Chicago for positive COVID-19 cases in their own counties and criticizing the shelter-in-place order in areas with few if any positive cases.

The post has nearly 800 likes and 400 shares.

Nearly 800 likes? Oh my. It’s a movement!

217 Problems has 103,583 followers. Where’s its big writeup?

* One of the “leaders” of the “movement,” Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) let the cat out of the bag in February

But realistically, the House and the Senate, the state would have to pass it by a two-thirds margin and then it has to go to the federal, I mean, so it’s not gonna happen.

You find out sometimes when… you’re being a legislator that sometimes you can introduce a bill, then you get some attention.

* Also, the person profiled at the top of the ProPublica piece lives in Vermilion County, which is 13 percent African-American. These sorts of safaris almost always ignore those voices

“Often the monolithic portrayal of rural America amounts to a whitewashing along racial lines,” [reporter Sarah Smarsh] said. “In fact, rural areas are much more racially diverse than one would think from reading national headlines. …Those parts of the country have always been much more than white people, and as we speak they are diversifying, in some places quite rapidly, often due to an influx in immigrant populations taking jobs in industries like industrial agriculture and meatpacking plants.

* Not to mention that these stories often usually wind up bringing ridicule on rural people in general

Trump is not the president of just rural America. He won office because his message took root in coastal cities and suburbs, too. But national reporters found few occasions to explore the ascendant conservatism of these places. Consider Collier County, Florida, and McDowell County, West Virginia, two counties that voted heavily for Trump. Despite the fact that Collier County’s voter turnout was more than twice that of McDowell County, only the latter drew national attention. The wealthier, more suburban residents of Collier County did not inspire the derision of liberals—nor did they command the attention of conservatives, who were eager to pin Trump’s success to the reactionary yearnings of the mythologized heartland worker.

This selective interest in a particular type of Trump voter—and the synonymization of white conservatives with rural geographies—reinforced perceptions many onlookers already possessed. Location alters a place’s material needs and shapes the struggles of its inhabitants, but rurality does not make a community simple. To many consumers of the mainstream press, however, rural communities seem to be benighted places where the light of liberalism could not reach.

- Posted by Rich Miller   36 Comments      

Change Is Often Fast Amid National Crisis

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

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The credit union industry has adapted to the needs of its members and staff through numerous times of national crisis – and the current COVID-19 crisis is no different. Credit unions across Illinois are acting swiftly to accommodate the unique needs of their members while also putting preventative measures in place to help curb the spread of COVID-19. When the federal government made recommendations to limit crowds, credit unions like Community Plus Federal Credit Union quickly acted to cancel their annual meeting and shift it to a digital format. When recommendations were released to encourage social distancing, many credit unions like Alliant Credit Union, shifted to drive-up only service, while still offering unique solutions and individual appointments to serve the needs of their members.

The transition to life at home has proven to be a challenge for many Illinoisans, but credit unions have showed up in force to help alleviate financial worries during this trying time. Additionally, credit unions are communicating digitally with their members to ensure that members are up-to-date on the credit union response to COVID-19. Access Credit Union, among more than twenty others state-wide, have enacted immediate improvements to their email communication efforts to make important information immediately accessible to members. Multiple credit unions across the state continue to utilize social media to keep members informed and stay connected. The credit union industry will continue to honor the “People Helping People” philosophy as we navigate these unchartered waters together. Rest assured that even in these trying times, your credit union remains a trusted partner in ensuring your financial well-being. To ensure the security of your funds, all state and federally chartered credit unions maintain deposit insurance covering at least $250,000 per depositor, per account category – even in uncertain economic times. To learn more about the credit union difference, and to find a credit union near you, please visit today.

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COGFA reports revenues up in March, but there’s a big catch

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* Finke

The General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting said general funds revenues increased by $174 million in March.

“That performance will surprise many given the dire economic straights in which the country and state finds itself,” said COGFA Revenue Director Jim Muschinske in a monthly update. “It does, however, illustrate the inherent lag between economic activity, or lack thereof, and actual performance.”

But Muschinske said people should not be misled.

“The eventual impacts of COVID-19 are unavoidable and will quickly manifest in the coming weeks/months,” he said.

* From COGFA’s report

Similar delays occur after a change in tax rates or policy—usually at least a month from date of implementation. This “receipts in the pipeline” varies by revenue source, but the eventual impacts of COVID-19 are unavoidable and will quickly manifest in the coming weeks/months.

* This will help cushion the blow a tiny bit, but the news isn’t all good

Despite the expected abrupt changes ahead, through March, gross personal income taxes are ahead of last year by $864 million, or $765 million net. Gross sales taxes are up $204 million, or $249 million net, while gross corporate income taxes are up $105 million, or $104 million net. The performance of the remaining revenue sources have been mixed, but have experienced a combined $112 million decline.

* More

Overall transfers fell $64 million for the month. A $6 million gain from miscellaneous transfers was more than offset by a decline of $40 million in lottery transfers, and a $30 million drop from riverboat transfers. In fact, due to the Gaming Board’s action to temporarily close casino operations, no transfers were made this March.

* And

In addition to underlying disruptions to the economy related to the virus, a few corresponding policy decisions will interrupt some well-established revenue patterns. With the State following the federal government’s lead related to pushing back the “tax day” filing period to July 15 , a great deal of variance will be injected into the timing of “final payments”. It is unclear at this time how the extension of the due date will change taxpayer filing behavior, but to the extent it does, it would act to suppress final FY 2020 income tax revenues in April, while moving corresponding receipts into early FY 2021. Further complicating the picture is that simultaneous to this aforementioned timing issue, tax revenues will likely begin to reflect job losses/income losses/and business profits related to the economic shut down.

* Conclusion

The one revenue area that is expected to see some upward pressure from this economic upheaval is federal source revenues. An apparent retroactive increased federal matching rate, along with some lump sum federal assistance, will serve to mitigate revenue losses in economic areas. However, at this time, it is unclear exactly when, into what funds, and what attached federal “strings”, will mean for the state’s bottom line.

At this stage of the battle with COVID-19, the greatest State concern is with saving lives, and doing what is necessary to mitigate its impact. Once the tide turns, and economic engines can again be fired up, it is hoped that the previous trajectory can be re- established. Unfortunately, at this time, it’s unclear when that may be, to what extent permanent damage has been done, and what form a recovery from this pandemic will look lik

The federal Medicaid match has been increased from 50.14 percent to 56.34 percent.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

“We all need somebody to lean on”

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* RIP…

* Not that you’d want to, but you couldn’t get away from this song when it was released. And it seems to me to be a perfect anthem for these trying times

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

#AllInIllinois launches

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* From a Nexstar station

The governor also launched a new statewide effort called “All in Illinois” to reinforce staying home.

“I’ve taken virtually every action available to me to protect our residents and slow the spread, and now, our strongest weapon against COVID-19 is you,” Pritzker said. “For everyone in Illinois, we as individuals must commit to stay home, stay safe and practice social distancing to stay healthy. I’m asking you to join us and be all in for Illinois.”

All in Illinois is supported by a series of public service announcements featuring famous Illinois natives, including Jane Lynch, Deon Cole, Jason Beghe, Jackie Joyner Kersee, and Matt Walsh. The PSA videos reinforce the importance of staying at home during the COVID-19 crisis and encourages everyone to do their part to stop the spread of the virus.

People can also show their solidarity by updating their Facebook profile photos with the All in Illinois frame image and share messages with friends and family on social media using the #AllinIllinois hashtag.

I really didn’t expect it to amount to much, but the Twitter hashtag trended nationally for a while yesterday. It’s still going pretty strong today. The website is here. You can download window and yard signs here.

It’s actually kinda brilliant. Illinoisans are mostly a pessimistic lot about our state and have been for a very long time.

And as a commenter noted yesterday, it’s also a play on words. People are all-in for their state as they all stay in their homes to avoid spreading or contracting the virus.

* Capitol News Illinois

Pritzker said he is “very, very proud” of those working and learning from home and essential personnel helping residents.

“I see you as tough as you are kind, as courageous as you are creative,” he said. “… All In is our anthem and our point of pride — Illinoisans staying home for the good of each other and for our state.”

* I scrolled down to the very first use of the hashtag yesterday and saw this…


…Adding… From a senior administration official…

As we’ve been going through different country models of how to flatten the curve - we are being walked through what China, South Korea, Singapore etc. have done. Some of those things are possible in the US and some just aren’t. But it occurred to us that we have to think creatively about what an AMERICAN model for getting social distancing to work looks like. I came from campaigns and so did a lot of people here and on campaigns - you use social pressure to persuade people to vote and vote for your candidate. We thought - why can’t we apply that to this? If everyone on your block has a sign out front saying they are staying in, has a Facebook profile filter, uses the hashtag - we know those things influence people on campaigns - no reason they can’t do the same here. It also gives people something proactive to do to help the effort. Anyway, wanted you to know the thinking behind it. Not just an interesting social media idea and a way to promote state unity but another piece of a bigger strategy to keep people inside.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

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Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* McCormick place facility "larger than the largest hospital in Illinois" - New alt site in Springfield - 140 staff at McCormick Place site - "Wearing something to cover your face is a good idea" - Lightfoot says couldn't have been done without DuPage Medical - Site director can't say if PPE is adequate - 425 hotel rooms open for healthcare workers - Lightfoot: "We shouldn't have to beg the federal government" - Pritzker explains modeling and the peak - EO waives liability
* 1,209 new cases, 53 additional deaths
* The opposite of crying wolf
* COVID-19 roundup
* Republican leaders not enthused about statewide vote by mail
* The defiant Dr. Pliura
* Like Charlie Wheeler says, always read the bill
* Illinois Kidney Care Alliance Welcomes Nephrology Associates
* A complete waste of resources
* Change Is Often Fast Amid National Crisis
* COGFA reports revenues up in March, but there's a big catch
* "We all need somebody to lean on"
* #AllInIllinois launches
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* OK, I'm ordering a lockdown
* Yesterday's stories

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