Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Pritzker thanks Apple for delivering 100,000 N95 masks to Illinois - Progress on testing - Positive tests level off for the last two weeks - Asked about process for reopening business - Asked what crisis has taught him about himself - Repeats that he didn’t have the constitutional authority to stop the primary - Asked why he isn’t wearing a mask while he speaks - Talks about abandoning most of spring agenda - Asked about nursing home spread prevention - US Department of Labor’s new gig worker rules inadequate - Asked about mail-in voting plans
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Pritzker thanks Apple for delivering 100,000 N95 masks to Illinois - Progress on testing - Positive tests level off for the last two weeks - Asked about process for reopening business - Asked what crisis has taught him about himself - Repeats that he didn’t have the constitutional authority to stop the primary - Asked why he isn’t wearing a mask while he speaks - Talks about abandoning most of spring agenda - Asked about nursing home spread prevention - US Department of Labor’s new gig worker rules inadequate - Asked about mail-in voting plans

Sunday, Apr 12, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

[Comments on this post are now open.]

* The governor began by wishing everyone a happy Easter and then made an announcement

I want to thank Tim Cook and Apple. His team and he delivered 100,000 N95 masks this weekend to support our health care workers, and our first responders here in Illinois. We are very grateful for their generosity and of the generosity of so many companies, near and far, for stepping up to support their fellow Americans, and especially supporting our heroes here in our state.

As always, please pardon all transcription errors.

* Some progress on the testing front…

I do want to point out on this Easter Sunday something of a blessing in the numbers that I’ve reported today.

First, the number of tests completed for today has reached its highest number ever at 7956 for the last 24 hours. That’s almost halfway between the 6000 that we’ve been averaging lately, and the 10,000 that I have set for our next goal. That is great news on the testing front.

* More positive news…

I’ve spoken before about a stabilizing or a bending of the curve, and today is one more piece of evidence that it may indeed be happening. The percent of those tested that came up positive is almost exactly the same as it has been for the last two weeks, and the death toll today is lower than it has been in six days.

The governor then said the state needs to “stay the course” to keep those results from rising.

* On to questions for the governor. Could you put into perspective the new numbers today compared to yesterday and where are we in this fight in terms of how close are we to this peak? Are we on a downward tide or we’re going up still? [Um, the governor just went over this, but weekend reporters are gonna weekend report]…

You don’t really know until you start going down, you know whether you’ve peaked. And what I look for is a leveling because the numbers had been going up exponentially. And then they were going up arithmetically. And you’ll see this number today is higher than other numbers, it may be our highest number yet, but we also tested more than ever before and that’s how you end up with a higher number.

* What is it going to look like when the state is going to open back up?…

Yes, you know, frankly, weeks ago, I began conversations with people to understand how would we do that. It’s a question of how and when. Now the when will be frankly determined by when that curve starts to turn down and we see significant drop off in these numbers.

And then we have to ask the question okay well after that happens, you still will only have had a certain percentage, a relatively low percentage in my opinion, maybe less than 20% of the public will have been exposed to COVID-19 will have had it and recovered from it. So you wouldn’t have herd immunity at that point.

So the question is how do you operate society when we begin to bring down the level of infection and make sure that people are able to begin to go back to work in various industries. So I’m talking to industry leaders about that. I’m talking to economists about that. I’m also, very importantly, listening to the scientists and the doctors to make sure that we do this right because what we don’t want, the last thing we want is to begin to open things up and then have a big spike in infections. And then and you know unfortunately all the spikes that come with that including a spike in deaths. So we want to make sure we’re not doing that while we’re also looking at how we can get people back to work.

* What has this crisis taught you about yourself and your leadership style?…

Well, I mean it’s taught me a few things. I’m not sure it’s so much about me, but I have terrific people who work for our government that that I’ve brought on to in the governor’s office and in the agencies, across the agencies, and I’m very, very proud of them.

I have a philosophy about who you want around you when you’re running anything. And it’s a philosophy that says that you want people who are, carry with them the values of honesty, integrity, loyalty and respect. And if you have people around you who can’t fulfill those, they’re not worthy of being in your team. Now, most importantly, you want people who also meet all those criteria.

And so, you know, when I did that, when I came into government and hired people that met all of those criteria, there were people who criticized me because I didn’t hire enough of the kind of the political types, the usual folks who come in and out of government when the the parties change hands. And instead I was just looking for very high quality people who could do the job extremely well. And I think now in this moment when we have this enormous crisis upon us and there are so many things that we need to do to serve people across the state, now is when you begin to see the quality that we have across our government and so I’m proud of that.

I’m not sure that’s something I learned about myself, but I wanted everybody to know that whatever work I’m doing, that is helpful to the people of Illinois really because we have terrific people in government doing the job.

* The Chicago Board of Elections sent out a letter today warning some people who voted at a local precinct that they might have come into contact with someone who had COVID. Was holding the primary during this crisis a good idea?…

Well let me begin by making sure everybody understands that the Governor of Illinois, whoever that may be and now it’s me, does not have the constitutional power to shut down an election.

So that’s number one. Number two, we relied upon the local election authorities and then back them up in this effort that they would have hand sanitizer PPE and all the things that would protect the people who were working in those facilities where people are voting. And if there were electronic screens and people were touching that those were being wiped down.

And lastly, as you know, for the several weeks before the election we thought that that was a much better way for people to vote to make sure they weren’t getting together, or to vote early, there are many fewer people who vote on each day of the 45 days of early voting before election day that allow people to go in and do it in a way that where they’re not around a lot of other people.

So, I, as far as I’m concerned when we look at the general election, we ought to be looking at allowing everybody in the state to vote by mail and making it easier for people to do that, so that we have fewer people that would want to show up on election day at a particular precinct.promoting heavily voting by mail.

* You and others routinely walk in wearing masks, then take them off to speak, the optimal time to project droplets on the lectern or others. Why wouldn’t people think the messages wear a mask until you speak to someone?…

First of all, we’re very careful when I come down to this room. I’m wearing a mask the entire time when I leave my home and come to work. I wear a mask, the entire time in the event that I would come in contact with others. And when we get to the lectern I think it’s important for people to see my face and for me to be able to project properly. We all know this is a single lectern we’re all touching it in various ways, you would see that none of us are touching our faces during the time that we’re speaking, and that we wipe down, you may not see this, but we wipe down this lectern and this microphone before everybody gets here and after we all leave. So we’re doing it I think in the safest possible way given all the circumstances.

* With all the attention paid to coronavirus, what has not gotten done over the last several weeks?…

Well, I think there is so much that we had intended to do and I could not possibly list everything. I will tell you this that I have a whiteboard that I keep in my office. I had made a list of all of the things that I thought we needed to accomplish big thing this spring and this year, including on the administrative level, improving our GRP systems across the state, making sure that we’re upgrading the workings of government, and legislatively, the important things that we all were talking about in January, leading up to a legislative session.

So I think it’s clear that that many of those things are not going to be able to get done this year. We’re going to try very hard to, but as you know, between the challenges of the budget and the challenges of trying to overcome something that is truly life threatening to everybody in the state of Illinois. It is likely that many things will have to be put off until next year.

* As of today, the number of COVID related deaths that US nursing homes has now surpassed 2600. Is the state planning any specific measures to stop the spread of Illinois long term care facilities?…

We’ve been working hard across the state from the very beginning to not only set standards for our own long term care facilities that the state runs including our veterans homes, but also for the privately run nursing homes to set protocols for them, make sure they’ve got the proper amount of PPE, and that they’re doing the following the you know the kind of the rulebook that we set up for them. It is very difficult in these congregate settings for there not to be some spread, that’s occurred, but I want you to know that very early on. I don’t know the exact date but about middle of March, we indeed I think earlier than that we shut down. Having visitors come into these facilities, we made sure that we were checking people on a medical basis who work at the facilities every day before their shift and doing everything that we could to keep the virus from getting into a facility and then if it showed up in a facility, first of all, getting the right medical attention for people, if they should need an outside medical attention. And then, if anybody has it inside a facility to separate them for people who don’t have it. So that’s been going on for some time now where are we in almost the middle of April and that was about the middle of March, which was, you know, very shortly after we all became acutely aware of what we needed to do as a state.

* What is your opinion of the new rules issued by the US Department of Labor for 1099 workers?…

You’re talking about the unemployment insurance for them. Look, I wish that they had a system that would allow each of the states to immediately stand up an unemployment benefit process for independent contractors, but they didn’t do that. And so each state is now struggling to put something up that will work for those independent contractors, we’re doing the same while simultaneously dealing with the hundreds of thousands of new Unemployment Claims coming in under the regular system, which was not built for what it is today where we’re doing multiples and multiples of unemployment applications than we ever have done before even now as we built up the system and it’s doing much better. So, you know, I wish the federal government had given us a system that we all could use in common, but that didn’t happen.

I’ll have more on this tomorrow, but it seems like the governor may not have been fully informed about what the USDOL actually did on Friday.

* What steps are you taking to plot out allowing non-essential businesses to reopen?…

Um, that’s a kindred question to one I got earlier and I’ll just say that I’ve been talking to business leaders, industry leaders, association leaders to try to figure out for example in various manufacturing, businesses, you know, how do you get your manufacturing process to a point where people can be socially distant from one another when maybe they weren’t doing that before? And I think that’s going to be industry by industry, maybe even company by company, something that needs to be worked on. So, this is going to be a little bit complex, you know, can’t just open everything up and say, ‘do what you like’ because we’ll have a big infection rate spike in the state. We want to make sure that we’re doing the best we can, we’re making real progress. I think this is a moment when everybody should be hopeful that that progress is going to lead to a downturn in the number of new infections per day, which leads to a bunch of other very positive outcomes.

* How are you going to be able to ramp up mail-in voting to a level that everyone in the state could participate if they wanted to?…

Well, we have the ability to do it. Remember that everybody has the right now to make an application. I think many people don’t know that. And I think we should make it even easier many other states have just made it mandatory that every voter gets an application to get a mail in ballot. And so that’s one way to do it. Another way to do it certainly would be to, to make it better known to have PSAs for example, to encourage people not to go in in-person and instead to use a mail ballot. But other states have done this, we would not be the first and we could follow the lead of, of those states in order to get a situation where we’re keeping people safe when they want to go vote. But shouldn’t be leaving their home. Thank you. Happy Easter.

Then again, the White House has rejected a bailout for the USPS, so that might not even be an option.



  1. - Bothanspy - Monday, Apr 13, 20 @ 10:31 am:

    Does anyone know what vendor IDES/CMS hired?

  2. - JoanP - Monday, Apr 13, 20 @ 1:55 pm:

    =Then again, the White House has rejected a bailout for the USPS, so [mail-in voting] might not even be an option.=

    I’m sure there’s no connection. /snark/

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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