* From the governor’s press conference was held today with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot…
The mayor and I would like to give you a further update on the work that we’re doing to stand up our alternate care facility at McCormick Place. Our Illinois National Guard and the US Army Corps of Engineers are on pace to have the first phase of this facility completed this week, and the entire facility up and running over subsequent weeks on Saturday we received our first shipment of 500 beds and the Illinois Central management services and the US Army Corps of Engineers began the initial build.
We’re aiming to have these first 500 beds up this week, followed by the next 500 by next week. The next 1200 and 50 by the week of April 20 and the final 750 acute care beds by the end of the month bringing us to a total of 3000 beds,at McCormick Place.
Based on best practices around the world about how to manage positive cases and contain this virus, McCormick will be dedicated to mostly to non acute COVID 19 patients, people whose condition could benefit from the care of medical professionals, but who are not likely to need a formal ICU.
Of course, as I’ve said before, this is an evolving situation. And if our experts determined down the line that McCormick Place should be dedicated to a different set of criteria, we will shift our mission to follow the medical experts best advice. I want to be clear that McCormick Place is dedicated to supporting our existing hospital system, not replacing our existing hospital system today in Chicago, there are hospitals that have a lot of COVID 19 patients. But there are also hospitals that are underutilized in our COVID response. The first place we are directing our patients is to existing hospital beds, maximizing our underutilized hospitals first. If we never have to go beyond our existing facilities we will all be extremely happy.
But since we can’t guarantee that and in fact, we don’t have the data yet to suggest otherwise we’re actively building out capacity.
In addition to McCormick Place in Chicago, the state alongside the Army Corps has formally launched work on two additional alternate care facilities, the former advocate Sherman hospital campus in Elgin, and the metro South Health Center in Blue Island. We’re aiming to temporarily reopen both of these locations to ensure that we have the capacity that we need. Over the next several months. And I just want to say the work that the Illinois National Guard and the US Army Corps of Engineers have already done what they’re capable of doing is truly phenomenal. I mean incredible stuff. On behalf of a grateful state. Thank you to all of our guardsmen and to our Army Corps of Engineers. And I also want to especially thank Mayor Lightfoot and the entire city team for their partnership in this unprecedented project.
Please pardon all typos.
* PPE situation…
As I discussed last time, we received a fraction of what we asked for [from the federal government]. Our second request to the federal government was larger than our first, but again we received the same small order back from them. […]
Our third federal shipment arrived yesterday. Our team at IEMA is sorting through this delivery now and we’ll make sure that those resources are delivered where they’re needed as soon as possible.
I will say this federal shipments still pales in comparison to our requests and appears to be even smaller than our previous two shipments from the federal government. My team is sorting through the shipment of 300,095 masks the White House personally told me would be sent to our state. And while we do not have a final count on this yet, I can say with certainty that what they sent were not the N95 masks that were promised, but instead were surgical masks, which is not what we asked for.
* IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike…
The truth is, the number of cases will continue to increase, unfortunately as well, the deaths. The cases that I report do not capture all of the people in Illinois with COVID 19. Many of you know that you may have been ill, but didn’t have a test to confirm it. We know that we’re not testing everyone. But I am reporting that there are 461, new cases, and unfortunately eight additional deaths. That brings our total in Illinois to 5057 cases.
* Dr. Ezike on the Stateville cases, which include one death…
There are 12 men who were incarcerated at Statesville who are now hospitalized. Several requiring ICU and ventilator support. There are 77 additional individuals who have symptoms who are being isolated within the facility. We also know of 11 staff who have symptoms and are being appropriately isolated.
Congregate settings, such as Stateville or any other Correctional Center pose unique challenges and stopping the spread of disease, and protecting the health of individuals who live and work there. […]
Ideally, all cases should be isolated individually and close contact should be quarantined individually. I know our partners at the department of corrections are working innovatively to try to create the best situations for these for these facilities. But some correctional facilities and detention centers do not have enough individual cells. And so, we’re considering isolating multiple laboratory confirmed COVID 19 together cases together as a group, or quarantine in close context of a particular case together as a group. Additionally incarcerated individuals may have medical conditions that further increase the risk of disease from the COVID 19.
We do know that Statesville has an older population of incarcerated individuals. So they are at greater risk of experiencing severe illness. Our focus right now is ensuring that these incarcerated individuals receive the appropriate medical care that they deserve and need public health officials are working with the medical staff and physicians who work in the correctional facilities on isolation and quarantine guidance, as well as healthcare triage. Incarcerated individuals who show symptoms are being tested for COVID 19, the Illinois Department of Corrections is taking a number of steps to control the spread of COVID 19 and correctional centers staff who work with the individuals in isolation and quarantine, as well as in the health center are wearing protective equipment. […]
Other congregate type settings are also experiencing clusters of cases, of course. Nursing homes, which we have talked about numerous times, assisted livings and other long term care facilities across the state, including those in Evanston, Joliet, Taylorville and Belleville have all seen some clusters of cases.
* On to questions for the governor. Will he be extending the stay at home order and what about the schools…
We’ve evaluated that every day as you know and I think you saw that the president of the united states extended his recommendations for social distancing and other measures through April 30. So we’re taking that into account as well and as I think the mayor has said in the past and I certainly have said that we’re looking at the models trying to figure out what does this look like going forward and how to best keep people safe and healthy.
* Why isn’t the state talking about COVID-19 recovery numbers like other states?…
Those are difficult numbers actually to obtain. Think about yourself. If you got the flu and you maybe saw your doctor and then you went home and you were at home and you were recovered. You don’t call your doctor at the end of your recovery and say I am recovered now.
And so collecting that information from people who go home, have COVID 19, you know once they’re done, is somewhat more difficult than you might imagine having said that we are working with the county health officials all across the state to get that data. It’s a little easier in slightly more urban environments to obtain that data a little harder in more rural environments, but we are working on collecting recovered. […]
We do know there are quite a number of people who have had it who’ve recovered. We also know … all the experts are coming to the conclusion that people who had it and recovered may have are likely to have developed antibodies that make them somewhat immune to COVID 19 going forward and we think that’s a positive sign.
* Is Illinois behind in testing? And why aren’t all hospital patients being tested?…
Every state is behind, every state is behind in testing. There are not enough tests and you could ask any governor that’s being honest with you, will tell you. Just look at the numbers of tests that have been done even in the large states, it’s minimal compared to the number of people we know already have COVID 19, or have had it, and never knew it. And so this is an enormous problem. I’ve complained about this from the beginning. […]
There is a protocol for testing, again, because there’s a limited number of tests we can’t test everybody all the time. I am very very excited about the development of this rapid app an Abbott test that’s coming out. This is a test that will take no more than 15 minutes to determine a few minutes to determine if it’s positive … The problem is that Abbott can only produce about 50,000 of these a day.
* Is the drop off in new cases today compared to yesterday an indication that we are flattening the curve in Illinois?…
No. … You really have to look at a trend, not a single day. And so we’ll look at tomorrow’s numbers and the next day and the next day. But part of the reason that the numbers fluctuate is because we get reports from commercial laboratories in a different fashion than we get the reports from our state laboratories or from hospitals in the state. So when a test gets sent off to quest or to labcorp or another commercial facility as, as was indicated it could take four to seven days. Well that report is different than the one that came 24 hours.
* What is the cost to the state of its response to the corona virus outbreak so far and what is the estimated cost to be in the months ahead?…
We’re certainly keeping track of that, but I just want to emphasize to everybody that, and I don’t have a total number to report today, but I want to emphasize to everybody that my number one concern right now is making sure that we get the testing that we need to make sure that we have the hospital beds that are necessary, making sure that people get the treatment that they can get from hospitals and doctors that we have the personnel that we need to treat people.
And honestly, you know that the cost is a consideration. We don’t want to get gouged in any of those things. But I am focused on delivering the health care that is necessary to keep as many people safe and healthy and alive as I can.