Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Pritzker says frontline state workers are “our heroes” - Manteno Veterans Home worker tests positive - 88 percent of DCFS workforce no longer reports to an office - Too early to say if African-Americans are more susceptible - No word yet on when mass serology testing will be available - State checking all ventilators to make sure they work after California debacle - More time-wasting questions - Pritzker does not say if state has contingency plan in case stores are overwhelmed with sickouts - Pritzker: Report non-compliance - Frustrated with states that haven’t issued stay at home orders and with the feds for not doing it nationally - Slams White House on DPA - Report companies that order sick employees back to work - Most folks are taking it seriously, the few who aren’t are either “not paying attention to the news or they’re stupid”
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Pritzker says frontline state workers are “our heroes” - Manteno Veterans Home worker tests positive - 88 percent of DCFS workforce no longer reports to an office - Too early to say if African-Americans are more susceptible - No word yet on when mass serology testing will be available - State checking all ventilators to make sure they work after California debacle - More time-wasting questions - Pritzker does not say if state has contingency plan in case stores are overwhelmed with sickouts - Pritzker: Report non-compliance - Frustrated with states that haven’t issued stay at home orders and with the feds for not doing it nationally - Slams White House on DPA - Report companies that order sick employees back to work - Most folks are taking it seriously, the few who aren’t are either “not paying attention to the news or they’re stupid”

Saturday, Apr 4, 2020

* Gov. Pritzker talked about frontline state workers who cannot work from home today. Employees at DCFS, Veterans Affairs and IDHS were all singled out

I want to express my gratitude to these state workers who have made public service their life’s work. They’re still doing their jobs every day, spending hours away from their own families to care for some of our most vulnerable residents. They are our heroes.

Please remember to excuse all typos.

* IDVA Director Chapa LaVia…

We are responding to a single positive case of an employee at our veterans’ home at Manteno, which is a standalone building on the Manteno property that provides housing and supportive services for our homeless veterans. The employee is home recovering. Our prayers are with them and their family.

* DCFS Director Smith…

Today, 88% of our DCFS workforce no longer report to an office. But even with that change, we are still providing the support that families and communities depend on.

I am proud to announce every call center worker at the abuse and neglect hotline, for the past two weeks, every call center worker has been taking calls from the safety of their home.

In addition, we are allowing caseworkers to practice social distancing while they continue to check on the well being of our kids. Starting on March 20, DCFS announced new guidelines for caseworkers, residential monitors and birth parents, giving them the ability to use phone and video to replace many of their in person contacts with their children.

However, the reality is to ensure that we are keeping children safe, and some in person contact must continue. DCFS has provided protective gear to our frontline staff and to the staff of our private partners who have asked for assistance. Over the last two weeks DCFS has distributed more than 400,000 protective gloves and 15,000 masks, and disinfecting, and cleaning supplies across the state.

* IDHS Director Grace Ho…

Our 14 24/7 facilities across the state serve about 3400 people a day with about 6500 staff who come to work every day. […]

This past Monday, we closed all but 13 public facing offices and urged people to stay at home and to access services online, and by phone. We made the hard decision to keep these few public facing offices open so that community members had at least some in person, opportunities to meet with our caseworkers.

* On to questions for the governor. Reports that African-Americans are particular susceptible. Is that true in Illinois?…

IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike: We are still early in this disease, but we have some information in terms of the people that it has been affected will continue to follow it. But if that were to bear out, I think, as we put on our health equity lens we already know before COVID was ever established that the health outcomes for various communities are already different and those were already things at the Illinois Department of Health and all of our local health department, help local health departments have been very keyed in on how to narrow those disparities. So if you know that those disparities exist in terms of health outcomes you can imagine that overlaying a new disease is only going to exacerbate whatever inequities already exist. So, the Department of Health at the local state level will continue to try to address these disparities. But, as I’m saying you know it’s early we’re still looking at our data, but if that were to bear out, we would not be entirely surprised because of, we know what the existing baseline is.

* When can we expect tests for whether people have already contracted the virus?…

First of all, they have the ability to do this test today. It’s not in mass form so we can’t do it as many of those as even we can the COVID 19 test today. But it will be readily available. And why is it so important because as the doctor said if we know that a certain number of people are immune, and we know that that population is increasing because people, more people are getting COVID 19 and many, vast majority are recovering from COVID 19, so they develop the antibodies. […]

I don’t know [when they will be available] nobody’s told me you know that well gee four weeks from now we’ll be able to do this in mass form. But suffice to say I think as one of the glimmers of hope here is that we’ll be able to know if you’ve had it.

* A White House Deputy Director of media affairs tells us Illinois has received more than 500,095 masks, as well as other types of masks, face shields, other equipment and 300 ventilators as well as 1 million PPEs for first responders, is this equipment in use in Illinois and where do we stand on supply?…

Well, I can’t go through every single one of those items a PP but let me give you an example of something you just read off 500,095 masks.

Listen, it will take everything we can get. So 500,000 is you know I’m thankful for 500,000. The reality is that we’ve put in a request for 7 million. We need millions more than that, in fact, because remember our first responders, our healthcare workers, you know they’re using them in the hospitals, and sometimes reusing them for a couple of days even, but eventually they do need to discard them.

* Is everything that we’ve gotten from the feds here in Illinois, has it been able to be used?…

We became aware of ventilators that were sent to California, you may have heard this, and there was a celebration by the White House and of course by people in California that there were hundreds of ventilators sent to California. By the way, they need thousands and so do we. But they received hundreds it turns out many of them didn’t work. Ventilators, can you imagine sending that to a hospital and having that proposed for use on somebody who needs it at that moment and then finding out that it doesn’t work?

So we now are going through every single ventilator we received. I believe a total of 450 ventilators, we assumed frankly that they would be operational Why would you send us non operational ones but now that we’ve heard that other states have received some that aren’t operational? Well we’re going through every single one of those ventilators.

* “Is wearing some sort of face covering a recommendation or requirement?” The reporter could’ve just Googled that to see there was no such order. The governor covered the same ground as he did at yesterday’s presser about the advantages of wearing a mask. The number of time-wasting questions appears to be increasing by the day.

* In the wake of two Walmart employee deaths out of Evergreen Park and other confirmed positives from stores in Chicago are there contingency plans in place to both one further protect these employees and to also prepare for a scenario where staffing at these stores may be an issue due to sick calls…

Well we are encouraging certainly the the essential workforce and the essential businesses that are open to all take care of themselves the businesses themselves, they know that they’re their workers are vital. Many of the businesses in fact have increased the pay to the people who are coming to work because they know how vital these folks are, they want to give them an additional incentive. And I would suggest as I have that people wear masks in any circumstance in which they’re going to be coming in contact with the public and on a regular basis, so that they don’t get it and again that they’re not giving it to anybody that they come in contact with

Notice that he didn’t answer the question about a contingency plan.

* We keep getting calls in the newsroom complaints from people about conditions at senior living facilities, and a lack of social distancing or protective gear at places of work like factories and postal facilities. Where do you recommend people call, or what should they do if they feel like orders aren’t being followed and proper precautions aren’t being taken…

I would make two recommendations. So one is there is a Department of Public Health, either in your city or in your county, and they should certainly be notified if there are groups of people whether it’s in an essential workforce situation or in public. If there are groups of people gathering, not wearing masks, you know, and there’s a danger to the people that are there, and there is if there’s a group of more than 10 people and they’re not doing social distancing so that that’s one thing that I would suggest doing, you know, I think it’s okay also to go to your employer. And if your employer is not listening to go to another level of authority and that might include your local elected officials or your local police department to just say look it’s unsafe.

* Yet another question about when Illinois will hit the peak. This question is asked every day. The answer has not changed.

* Are you frustrated that there are some states out there that still haven’t gone with a stay at home order?…

I’m frustrated for the people who live in those states. I mean I’m frustrated for us too. If you look at some of our border states who just went to stay at home or haven’t even gone to stay at home yet, then you know it’s obviously this has an effect on Illinois. […]

Let me be clear that while we can talk about those individual states, this should have been the job of the federal government to give guidance, in fact to set orders for the country. Because we know how this virus travels, we know it, why I don’t understand why the federal government has abdicated its role of leadership, addressing this virus.

* The president expanded the use of the DPA earlier this week is that enough, and do you want to see it play more of a centralized role in parts of production and distribution of medical goods?…

Let me start by saying that, as someone who used to be in business before I was a governor, I don’t like the federal government or the state government, anybody interfering in the private market generally speaking. But it’s a national emergency for God’s sakes. You know the defense production act is exactly designed for these kinds of circumstances. We are at war, it is a different kind of a war than we’ve ever had before, against the virus, but we are at war, and we have the ability to produce PPE in this country and distribute it so that we have enough of it in every state as we need it. And we have the ability, we had the ability to produce enough ventilators so that we could reach at peak, everybody that would need a ventilator in this country. But again, the White House failed to use the defense production act to do this to help us across the country. The White House, I can’t invoke the defense production act. They’ve only invoked it for a couple of individual circumstances. Right. And it took them forever. When did when did they do it with regard to 3M and, you know, it’s just the other day right and then just two to three days before that it was General Motors on ventilators. Well guess what, if you ask General Motors, when are the first ventilators coming out may well most states if you look at all the models most states are going to peak, many anyway are going to peak in April. And they could have started this in February. And we would have been fine, but we’re not, and it’s very upsetting.

* Yet another question asked about hospital beds that could be easily answered with a Google search. Moving on.

* Companies are threatening sick employees with their jobs that they don’t immediately return to work and these employees don’t want to spread the virus but also can’t afford to lose their job. What should these people do?…

They should report their companies, because we won’t Stanford companies that are demanding that sick people return to work. At this moment in our history we’re fighting COVID 19 and those companies should be reported.

* The Adams County Health Department says 50 to 100 people were together at a party the day that your stay at home order went into effect. Some people at that party now have coronavirus. Why do you think people aren’t taking this seriously?…

Well, let me say that most people really are, the vast majority of people in Illinois are taking it seriously and we should all be very proud of that I think you see it. Certainly if you live in Chicago or Springfield or Carbondale, you can see it just walk outside it’s Saturday. There are not very many people around. So, thank you to the people of Illinois who are taking this seriously and that really is almost all of you.

Some people aren’t, we saw that on the lakefront in Chicago. We saw that in some parks in downstate areas of Illinois. And all I can say is that those people either are not paying attention to the news or they’re stupid. That’s all I can say. I mean there’s no reason why somebody should be ignoring this. You could be giving it to your own family. And you could get it yourself. And then we’re not asking much, we really are not I mean at this moment, we’re asking you to stay at home to protect people for some number of weeks now. And, you should listen, because you’re putting everybody in danger.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

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