* 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