Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Pritzker announces private-sector PPE acquisition; Says online unemployment insurance claims issues “taken care of”; Spoke with “responsive” Trump today; No weapons for National Guard; “Decent shape” on hospital beds today
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Pritzker announces private-sector PPE acquisition; Says online unemployment insurance claims issues “taken care of”; Spoke with “responsive” Trump today; No weapons for National Guard; “Decent shape” on hospital beds today

Monday, Mar 23, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Pritzker began by going over what I told you late yesterday about the lack of PPE supplies from the federal government. But he also announced that the private sector was coming through. His conclusion…

Illinois is acquiring PPE to compensate for what we haven’t received in our federal requests. But we are doing so while running up against obstacles that should not exist. I have medical professionals and first responders begging for things that they need to keep them safe, but so does Governor Cuomo in New York, so does Governor Dewine in Ohio, so does Governor Inslee in Washington State.

We’re all doing everything that we can to do our jobs, which is to protect our residents and to make sure our health care workers have what they need. We need the federal government to use the defense production act, to help the states get what we need. It’s the federal government’s job to make sure that a nurse being properly equipped in Illinois doesn’t come at the cost of a doctor being ready for work in California.

It’s the federal government’s job to make sure that we have a cohesive, prepared, robust national response. It’s the federal government’s job to make sure that cash-strapped states are not paying more than they should have to for supplies. That we are not watching prices go up by the hour, because we’re competing against one another, yet for the common good.

I’m an Illinoisan and I’m the Governor of Illinois. And I’m going to do everything that I can to protect our residents and get us through this crisis. I said I’d fight like hell for you. And I’m doing that every minute of every hour of every day. One way or another. We need these supplies, and I have a whole team of people whose singular focus right now is working the phones across the world to get as much PPE as possible shipped to Illinois. They’re the force behind the 2.5 million N95 masks, 1 million disposable surgical masks, 11,000 gloves and 10,000 personal protection kits that I just announced.

And again, I’m an Illinoisan, but I’m also an American. And so long as I know that there’s action that the White House can take things like aggressively wielding the defense production Act, or actually buying and distributing the supplies that they say they’re going to buy and distribute. I’ll do everything in my power to make that clear on behalf of the people of this state, and the more than 300 million Americans who don’t call Illinois home. Because that’s the very baseline of what we all deserve.

* Press release…

In another effort to build supply to protect those on the frontlines, battling this pandemic, Gov. Pritzker announced today that the state has executed contracts to purchase 2.5 million N95 masks, 1 million disposable surgical masks, 11,000 gloves and 10,000 personal protection kits.

While medical facilities across the state do have their own stocks of PPE and uses their own vendors to source additional PPE, the administration’s procurement effort aims to supplement their existing supply during this period of heightened need.

* Mark Denzler with the IMA was able to find 171,000 MREs and 350,000 N95 masks…

Thank you Governor Pritzker for your calm and steadfast leadership during this pandemic. I’d also like to thank the brave men and women who are on the front lines every single day, including women and men in manufacturing, Illinois is facing extraordinary times the rival, some of the greatest challenges in our history. Well the headlines are grim and the task is daunting. Illinois manufacturers once again stand ready to answer the call conquer obstacles and lead the way forward.

Over the last few weeks, the Illinois Manufacturers Association has been inundated with offers from companies across Illinois. Some manufacturers are ramping up production of current products, while others are repurposing their facilities to meet the need. Liquor manufacturers are making sanitizer, clothing manufacturers are making masks and grounds plastic injection molding companies are making parts for testing kits. This new essential equipment task force will help these companies collaborate, break down regulatory barriers in Washington DC or Springfield, provide medical standards and testing and help review the validity and safety of these products. Importantly, these products will remain in Illinois, to help our families and our neighbors.

* On to questions. Pritzker was asked about the crush of people trying to file for unemployment insurance and couldn’t get through…

First of all this is just an unprecedented number of people that are seeking Unemployment Claims during this time period. I don’t think we’ve ever seen this before even in periods during the 2008-2009 crisis. Having said that, we found over the weekend and over the last you know couple days of the week that the systems that we had that were supporting the online applications wasn’t robust enough to take all of the applications that were coming in at one time. And so we’re porting that system entirely over to a much more expansive foundational software system and server. So we won’t have any of those problems going forward. So we’ve taken care of, I think the online problem.

The phone line problem is another issue. We had to take non essential staff and push them up to the front lines to answer phones to make sure we answered any questions we would like anybody who needs to apply for unemployment though, to go to the website it really will be. It’s now a, you know, as I say it’s on a new platform, we’ll be able to take many more at the same time, we want to fulfill on people’s need during this crisis and we’re going to.

* How do you balance protecting the public health, while protecting civil liberties…

So to be clear, we’re trying to protect people’s health and safety. That’s our number one job here. There’s no attempt here to limit peoples’ civil liberties. People can go outside, they can do an awful lot of the same things that they were doing before was simply asked that non-essential businesses closed during this time period, and that people make a special effort to stay home.

* He was asked about supplies…

I was on the phone trying to get ventilators. I talked to two CEOs yesterday afternoon, speaking to them about acquiring ventilators from that we need to build up as many ventilators as we can. I should also point out that earlier today, I reached out to the President of the United States, he returned my call a little [later in the] afternoon and I spoke with him directly about our need for N95 masks and for ventilators. And as you know, it’s very important that we acquire as many of these as we can. I have called for him to invoke the national defense production act and actually utilize it because I know he’s invoked it but not utilized it in any industry. And when I call these ventilator manufacturers and I gave this example to them. In one case, they told me I was competing with FEMA to acquire ventilators, so I’m competing against the federal government to get ventilators for the state of Illinois, and the federal government is not distributing ventilators to the state of Illinois so I’m literally working against, you know, a competitor.

I just want to give you the second example if you don’t mind, I called another manufacturer of ventilators, and he pointed out to me that well I would be competing with countries other than the United States, so as I put an order in I better put in as big an order as possible in order to put myself higher on the list of priority to get ventilators from that manufacturer. Now, here I’m competing with my own federal government, I’m competing with countries outside the United States to get things that we need to, to keep our people safe and healthy.

The President was very responsive, frankly. He didn’t so much like the idea of invoking the defense production act, but he did say, you know what do you need. Let me see if I can get that for you and I, you know, gave him some numbers I told him what we had ordered from the government already. And he said let me work on that. And so I really thought it seems like he’s being very responsive to what I asked for and I hope that we’ll be able to receive those items in relatively short order.

* The governor was asked about rumors that the National Guard was armed. He deferred to his Adjutant General…

It’s great to actually get that out in front of the media today, dispel any rumors that the National Guard has any weapons. We’re not doing any police action, we’re not, you know, doing any kind of work at all like that.

What we are doing is supporting testing within the Rosemont area this week where we just stood up a new testing facility. We have 100 personnel that are taking care of testing now these are professional doctors or nurses or medical professionals that are supported by logistics folks. They’re there to manage that line and to help our neighbors, our community, folks in our community to get through and be tested. Today they started out with the first responders, they started testing them early this morning to get them through and make sure that they’re good to go on their test. And then they’re opening more and more up to the public as we go forward. They’re also supporting as the governor talked about PPE that personal protective equipment. They’re also supporting accounting for that distribution, as we get more and more of that coming in as governor talked about the large orders coming in. They will be helping warehouse sad they’ll package that up, they’ll ship that out, along with one way Department of Transportation, in conjunction with Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois State Police will be moving that distributed around the state to different drop areas. We’re also doing hospital assessments, we’re going in with our specialized engineering team that we have out of our civil engineering team out of their national guard. And they’re going around the state assessing hospitals that had been closed down previously that maybe provide additional capacity so they’re actually looking at the heating, the plumbing, electrical throughout those facilities and identifying which ones are easy to quickly turn on if we need that additional capacity and which are not. We’re also providing support with operations planning and management so when the governor talks about the professionalism that’s brought out by the National Guard, these are these are your citizen soldiers your, your soldiers that work for the Army and your Air Force SOC personnel that work for the Air Force, that are trained in many different skill sets. And unlike a flood where a lot of times we’re doing a lot of security and management and supporting flood operations. This time they’re bringing out some really key healing needed specialties such as medical and logistics and transportation. That’s what your National Guard brings, unique capabilities and capacity, when the state runs out of capacity, because we have so many people working. They come forward and they provide that extra lift. So you’ll see trucks around the Chicagoland area, you’ll see when we show up in camouflage we tend to draw a crowd.

But we’re not bringing weapons, we’re not bringing anything like that we’re bringing our professional skills to help out.

* What is the Illinois hospital bed capacity and how close to reaching it are we right now and what is the state’s ICU bed capacity and how close are we to reaching…

We’re going to be talking about that tomorrow. We’re right now we’re in you know decent shape across the state



  1. - 33rd ward - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 2:54 pm:

    Amazing job by the person at the top. Can’t imagine how this would play with out with our last governor.

  2. - Nagidam - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:01 pm:

    The Governor is really doing a great job leading. I wish he would do less attacking of the President. Not that I agree with the President…I think the President can’t handle the stress and will act out against his “perceived” enemies. Also, I’m watching the presser today. All four speakers touched the podium therefore negating the great social distancing they are doing on camera.

  3. - Perrid - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:02 pm:

    Does MRE mean something besides Meal Ready to Eat, or is there a food shortage that I’m unaware of?

  4. - Chicagonk - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:08 pm:

    He’s not wrong, but the state needs to keep taking the initiative on this. I think Illinois is doing a good job so far, but it only gets harder from here.

  5. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:13 pm:

    Great to see Pritzker and Trump working together. No matter how we feel about either of them, so many people need to be helped and so much work needs to be done to make things better.

  6. - Idealist - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:16 pm:

    Wise of the Governor to get Denzler involved. Super smart guy who can be very helpful.

  7. - @misterjayem - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:18 pm:

    “Does MRE mean something besides Meal Ready to Eat, or is there a food shortage that I’m unaware of?”

    They are ready to eat meals for when healthcare providers no longer have 1) time/opportunity to make their own food, and 2) anywhere to go for food that doesn’t involve undue risk to themselves and others.

    It’s part of the plan for when things get very, very dire.

    – MrJM

  8. - Dakota - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:20 pm:

    PPE is made in the private sector, why wouldn’t you go there to get it? Going through the feds only increases bureaucracy and cost.

  9. - SOIL M - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:20 pm:

    Now you understand the frustration that Local Officials go through during a disaster and dealing with IEMA. Now you understand why those Republican State Reps and Stats Senators were calling your office on a daily basis during last years floods. You are now experiencing the other side of dealing with a crisis. Resources are always slow to go through the bureaucratic process and to be recieved where they are needed yesterday. Try to hold down the rhetoric and work through it. We have to do that when dealing with your staff, you can too. Keep fighting, keep leading, and remember the lessons you learn when the next disaster comes and the Locals are needing resources.

  10. - Perrid - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:25 pm:

    Thank you misterjayem

  11. - HelloFriend - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:27 pm:

    Have they updated on how many tests the state has - especially the quicker tests?

    Not to discount what JB has done, but testing is essential, too!

  12. - Almost the weekend - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:30 pm:

    Happy to see Pritzker not score cheap political points when talking about Trump and the federal government. Pritzker had done an excellent job being a leader and taking advice from his advisors.

    It’s scary to imagine how Rauner would be handling this.

  13. - Arock - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:38 pm:

    Cash strapped State, not the Feds problem as we made that bed and it has come back to bite us in the ass. The Democrats wouldn’t work with the previous Governor to correct the problems in Illinois but expect the President to solve the Illinois problem of mismanagement and come up with supplies that Illinois should have had a stockpile of as well. We used to have manufacturers in this State that would have been capable of switching over operations to make PPE and ventilators but they are long gone, some because of their own greed and some by over regulations by the State government. Pritzker is whining all the time that the Feds are holding up their end , isn’t that what he complained about Rauner is his whining?

  14. - Retired - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:40 pm:

    This may be a too simplistic analogy but look at toilet paper. There is a finite supply and everyone wants some. Think 50 states, at least that many countries and hundreds of private entities all fighting for a finite supply. With no control (federal govt) to ration the equipment, those in most need may not get any and those with less need, but more money, get entire supply. I think the argument over nationalizing manufacturing is wrong argument. The fed govt should be controlling distribution to insure equipment is going where most needed and not being hoarded.

  15. - My New Handle - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 3:43 pm:

    Dakota @3:20
    The states are going to the private sector where they have to bid against each other, which drives up prices. Using the feds keeps the price level for all states.

  16. - Ducky LaMoore - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 4:04 pm:

    ===It’s scary to imagine how Rauner would be handling this.===

    We all know it would have been horrible. Can we leave this where it belongs, in the past, please? There really is no need to ever mention him or Rod ever again, unless you just want to make somebody angry over our own collective ignorance.

  17. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 4:06 pm:

    ===Can we leave this where it belongs, in the past, please?===

    Exactly right.

  18. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 4:09 pm:

    This is what governments are supposed to do- work hard to protect the public.

  19. - StateWrkr - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 4:28 pm:

    Thank you Rich for reporting this. As a state employee, these are challenging times because I am wondering if I am still going to have a job or my coworkers will in a few months. My heart and prayers goes out to people who have children or who take care of a parent. Remember everyone, love also means not keeping a record of wrongs. Easier said than done sometimes.

  20. - Still anon - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 4:49 pm:

    One problem of asking the Feds to acquire supplies is that Feds may decide to allocate those supplies in a manner you disagree with. It is clear that Feds are allocating the majority of their resources to assisting New York.

  21. - Shemp - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 5:21 pm:

    I think the Governor and President in last week have been surprisingly on target. The private sector is already converting to manufacturing masks/PPE etc, so not sure what more Governor wants the Feds to do short of nationalizing the industries (which never works out well). And as mentioned, if the Governor really wants the Feds more involved, he’s just going to see the resources shifted to other states like NY, CA and WA anyway. The Governor has been out front and I applaud him for everything but the few political jabs. So much is happening so quickly and government can only be so nimble (and within the law).

  22. - Lefty righty - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 5:30 pm:

    Hopefully the Governor has learned that his rhetoric towards Trump and the federal government wasn’t helpful. We need to working the problem not try to score cheap political points. I get the frustration Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s not like all the state agencies are ready to handle this problem completely and without setbacks.

  23. - Hickory - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 5:34 pm:

    Give me the name of the company selling to foreign governments so I can stop doing business with them when the virus is under control.

  24. - Huh? - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 5:45 pm:

    Feel much more confident about Pritzker as governor than I ever was with ruiner. Get sense that Pritzker is telling us the facts, telegraphing his moves, and has the interests of the people in mind.

    Ruiner wouldn’t have been able to pivot or clean up his act fast enough to be a credible source of information in this time of crisis.

  25. - Captain Obvious - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 5:45 pm:

    So a polite and reasonable tone got a better result for our esteemed governor? imagine that.

  26. - Pundent - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 5:56 pm:

    Well considering it was only a couple of weeks ago that the President was calling the Governor of Washington a snake, I think I’ll give Pritzker a pass.

  27. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 5:58 pm:

    ===got a better result for our esteemed governor?===

    Now imagine what that same tone could do for the president.

  28. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 6:03 pm:

    Using the federal law does not nationalize an industry, it makes the company prioritize production of a product that’s needed by governments in a national emergency.

  29. - Clem - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 6:34 pm:

    I want to thank President for doing the governor’s job for him.

  30. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 6:49 pm:

    === I want to thank President for doing the governor’s job for him.===

    This makes no sense, the White House has said its on the governors, as their policy.

    This is Facebook type, Covidiot thinking

  31. - Flapdoodle - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 7:14 pm:

    ==I want to thank President for doing the governor’s job for him.==

    POTUS can’t seem to do his own job, let alone anyone else’s — maybe it’s better to let this go, d’ya think?

  32. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 7:29 pm:

    “I want to thank President for doing the governor’s job for him.“

    This statement is 100% true, in the opposite way it’s intended.

  33. - Cadillac - Monday, Mar 23, 20 @ 7:48 pm:

    I’d like to know when the Gov entered into all these contracts for the equipment from private sources. Before Jake Tapper or after? Before Today Show or after?

    I believe JB has performed well, but 4 days after sending your citizens out for a primary election, you go on national TV to score political points against the President has a sour taste in my mouth.

  34. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Tuesday, Mar 24, 20 @ 8:34 am:

    We’ll always be energy independent based on all the gas lighters we have.
    === We used to have manufacturers in this State that would have been capable of switching over operations to make PPE and ventilators but they are long gone, some because of their own greed and some by over regulations by the State government.===
    Those factories moved abroad, not to Indiana, son.
    === The Democrats wouldn’t work with the previous Governor to correct the problems in Illinois but…===
    Tell that to Christine Ragdogno. Lol.

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