* Gov. Pritzker at his daily presser today…
I’d like to begin with an update on the development of alternative care facilities in the state, which are essentially field medical stations designed to alleviate the crush of COVID 19 cases at area hospitals. Last Monday I informed you that in Cook and the collar counties where the vast majority of COVID 19 cases are today. We had formally launched work on three facilities. McCormick Place in Chicago, the former advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin and the Metro South Health Center in Blue Island.
Of these, McCormick Place will be our largest facility slated to reach a total of 3000 beds. Kane County’s Sherman Hospital and suburban Cook County’s Metro South Center will together host more than 500 patients.
Today we formally added a fourth location to our capacity Westlake Hospital in Cook County’s Melrose Park, which will host 230 beds. Construction at all four of these sites will be completed on a rolling basis throughout the month of April.
We’re also finalizing the necessary steps to stand up an alternate care facility in Central Illinois in the coming weeks and I look forward to providing you with the update on that very soon.
As a reminder, these temporary facilities are meant to support, not replace, our existing medical infrastructure. Patients will be directed first to existing hospitals, and if they are lower acuity, they will be transferred to these alternative sites.
We’re also adding additional beds at our existing institutions every day. But for a rough picture, we had about 26,000 non ICU beds and 2600 ICU beds across the state. As of March 24, about half of our non ICU beds and less than half of our ICU beds were available then, and those numbers have only dropped in the nine days since.
Please pardon all typos.
* New website…
For a little while longer, we must all commit to staying home, staying safe and practicing social distancing to stay healthy. So, every one of us must abide by this if we are to get through this difficult time.
So to honor you and to bring us together in our commitment to doing what’s right, I’m introducing a new statewide initiative that we can all participate in. And it’s called, All in Illinois. All in is our anthem, and our point of pride, Illinois and staying home for the good of each other and for our state.
Today I’m asking all of us, all of you to join in and be all in for Illinois, all in for our neighbors, all in for our grandparents, all in for cancer survivors and those who are immunocompromised, all in to protect essential workers like grocery and drugstore employees and food delivery workers, all in for our heroic doctors and nurses respiratory therapists, social workers EMTs pharmacists, er technicians registration staffers sanitation services, and the hospital food service workers who keep our patients fed.
Join us and take the pledge. Pledge your commitment to go all in for Illinois, go to allin.illinois.gov [fixed link] and take a look around.
See comedic actress Jane Lynch telling you why she’s staying home and hear from Veep star Matt Walsh, athletic phenom Jackie Joyner kersee actor and comedian Deon Cole, Chicago PD star Jason Big, and there are many more to come.
You can also print your own yard or window sign, you can update your Facebook profile picture with a themed frame. Display the words all in for Illinois proudly. Post your own videos on social media, demonstrating your pride. The All in in Illinois means we care about one another. It means we care about our communities. We are one Illinois, and we are all in this together.
* IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike…
We’re also starting to see clusters of cases at essential businesses. And although these businesses need to continue operating, they must take steps to protect both their employees and their customers.
Employees should be monitored for symptoms and their temperature should be checked daily. Anybody who’s sick should absolutely be sent home and stay home businesses should be thoroughly cleaned each day, and measures should be in place to protect clients. That might mean keeping customers at least six feet away from the cashiers or if Plexiglas can be intervening.
And I have to go here regarding churches and other religious services. There are reports that people are still holding services. I understand the importance of communing with fellow believers, but let’s understand, kids are home from school, people are home from work, schools and offices are closed. Religious houses have to do the same.
We all must make the sacrifice. Then on the other side of this pandemic, we can gather at the mosque or the synagogue, the church, the museum, the library, all of these places that we love. We must not continue putting people at risk. Please hold virtual services, whether by web or phone.
I may sound like a broken record, but these are all the things we have to do. It just can’t be some of the community that’s following these restrictions and these guidelines. We all have to do it together. Let’s be all in for Illinois and do our part to end this pandemic.
* On to questions for the governor. Should more prisoners be released?…
I want to remind you that we had more than 1000 fewer prisoners in prison today than we had on February 1.
We’ve been in the process of reviewing cases, especially during this crisis, but quite all along, and especially looking at vulnerable populations and trying to let them go for example.
We commuted sentences of pregnant women and women with babies that were in prison. We looked at cases of non violent offenders who were, for example retail shoplifters who are serving relatively shorter sentences, but would still be in prison now had we not reviewed their case and let them out and given them, commuted their sentences essentially. We looked at other non violent cases like narcotics convictions and have processed, we’ve been processing those as well.
And then finally just recall that one of the important rules that sits in place today is that when you let somebody out when you commute their sentence or early release them they have to have a place to go. You can’t just release them on the street and have them become homeless immediately. And we also want to do a medical check and so on but but the most important thing is they have to have a place to go and there are a number of people who may have met certain criteria who did not have another place to go.
* What’s up with the IDES unemployment claims system?…
This is the biggest onslaught of unemployment claims, I think, ever at least in my lifetime, and even more so than the great recession of 2008-2009. I want to remind you that the systems and IDs were actually rebuilt in 2010. Now, you might think well gee that then it shouldn’t be running properly. Well, it’s now 10 years later, not a lot of investment was made in the states IT systems in that last 10 years. And they were operating properly for the number of claims that were expected you know over that 10 year period the system was operating. Now it’s 10 times as many or you know whatever the multiple is now.
And so the systems aren’t acting properly. And I’ve been talking to our department of innovation, technology which is partly responsible, talking with IDs staff which is partly responsible and then we’ve also asked the public, to those who are filing, to segment themselves by the first letter of their last name, to call on certain days and certain hours and so on. We’re trying to spread it out as best we can, but the truth is that the system does go down it went down. This morning for a short period of time they were working very hard to get it back up. Didn’t quite come back up in the same hour that they thought it would but an hour later. But believe me that we’re trying very hard to both answer every call, which is hard to do because you know we have a system that just there aren’t enough people we’ve asked many of our staff to go stay home, as many businesses are, but we also have non essential staff there to help augment whoever is there. So, again, this is a problem. I don’t know exactly that we’re going to fix it entirely so that everybody could do it all at once, but we have asked people please to spread out their calls and spread out their applications online and to use the online system because that really is the best way to do it in off hours.
* Yet another question from yet another reporter about something far off in the future. Not posting it because reporters should stop acting like the “Are we there yet?” children in the back seat. Ridic. I mean, he has answered this silly question every day.
* Stateville update from Dr. Ezike…
Three of those individuals have been released from the hospital
* Sen. Durbin mentioned how he was calling CEOs and others trying to get shipments of PPE from China, where most of the PPE is made in the world…
It is true that I have been making calls night and day to make sure that we can not only locate and procure PPE wherever it may be in the world or in the United States, but also to make sure that it gets shipped here properly and promptly, by the way. And as you can imagine there’s quite a lot that has been held up over some time because of the challenges of coronavirus in China. And so the shipping from China has been, you know, has been curtailed to some degree. It has begun to pick up again. But as you can imagine there’s a backlog of everything that was going to be shipped from China, not just BP. And so trying to get to the head of the line because we have an urgent need is critically important for our state and so that’s why I’m calling heads of airlines heads of shipping companies. I’m calling private individuals that I know have connections in China, because the Chinese government is has been a little bit difficult at putting PP at the head of the line to be shipped to the United States.
You may have heard the last day or two the president talking about the air bridge, he’s been calling it from China where they’re shipping goods back to the United States.
Well the reality is that the airbridge is carrying private goods for private companies. It can be PPE, but their private goods are not going to the states, they’re going to private companies that are then distributing it to their customers wherever they may be. And that may be there may be states that are on those customer lists, but they may also not be. And so, I asked directly well could I put goods that are bound for Illinois that we are acquiring PPE for the people of Illinois on the airbridge, and essentially the answer has been no.
* Asked about his advice for Wisconsin in its upcoming primary…
I would say to Wisconsin, I don’t know what the laws are about mail ballots in Wisconsin mail in ballots and absentee balloting, but it was very important in the state of Illinois. Many, many people took advantage of mail in ballots many, many people early voted. […]
I guess the only advice that I would offer is make sure you’re coordinating with your election officials that they know how many volunteers they have that are actually going to show up. And perhaps don’t listen to them when they say they’re all good they don’t need any help, and use the volunteers that you have available to you as governor, or as legislature to augment, you know, the need.
* Why are gun stores considered essential?…
We wanted to make sure that people had the ability to protect themselves if they needed to … There are a number of things that I think one person might not consider essential and somebody else would consider essential. But it was just something that we felt would be important. I think there were quite a lot of people downstate who felt like they’d like the opportunity at least to be able to buy ammunition, or something else because they might want to go hunting by themselves, or to protect themselves.
* Have you been given solid promises on Illinois having first dibs on the Abbott Labs rapid test, and expected date for when they will start to be used in Illinois?…
Let me just compliment them. I spoke with them literally the day they made the announcement about the rapid tests and they were so incredibly responsive and helpful. And we expect to have machines online very shortly. They are shipping those, we may have already been getting a taste. We’re getting 15 of those machines today. … hey’re They’re manufacturing these for the entire nation, but they have said that Illinois is going to be, because of we’re their home, that we’re a priority for them and so obviously they’re delivering on that promise with the first 15 machines already.