Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Pritzker expands telehealth program to all of Illinois - Praises local efforts - Dr. Ezike: “Although our numbers continue to climb, it is with some guarded optimism that we say that the growth is slowing” - Asked about advice for people planning summer events - Asked when he’ll make decision about extending order - Asked about easing restrictions as it warms up - Asked about opening county by county - Asked about reducing nursing home cases - Asked why state won’t buy PPE from Willie Wilson - Says he feels no heat to reopen because he listens to scientists - Talks about budgetary needs for DCFS - Amy Jacobson again hogs the mic - Repeats what he likes about White House guidance - Says Prisoner Review Board votes on all commutations - Did not talk to Harmon before SDems sent letter - Says Harmon ask was different than his - Ezike says hopes for more research on humidity levels as a cause of spreading virus - Addresses protesters: “I want to remove the restrictions as much as anybody else does, and I’m going to do it based on science” - Offers reason for not releasing individual nursing home data earlier, but will do it now - Addresses Judd Deere criticism
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Pritzker expands telehealth program to all of Illinois - Praises local efforts - Dr. Ezike: “Although our numbers continue to climb, it is with some guarded optimism that we say that the growth is slowing” - Asked about advice for people planning summer events - Asked when he’ll make decision about extending order - Asked about easing restrictions as it warms up - Asked about opening county by county - Asked about reducing nursing home cases - Asked why state won’t buy PPE from Willie Wilson - Says he feels no heat to reopen because he listens to scientists - Talks about budgetary needs for DCFS - Amy Jacobson again hogs the mic - Repeats what he likes about White House guidance - Says Prisoner Review Board votes on all commutations - Did not talk to Harmon before SDems sent letter - Says Harmon ask was different than his - Ezike says hopes for more research on humidity levels as a cause of spreading virus - Addresses protesters: “I want to remove the restrictions as much as anybody else does, and I’m going to do it based on science” - Offers reason for not releasing individual nursing home data earlier, but will do it now - Addresses Judd Deere criticism

Saturday, Apr 18, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Pritzker at his press conference today

Last weekend I announced that those who have COVID-19 and are recovering at home anywhere in southern and central Illinois have access to a terrific new telehealth program that allows remote patient monitoring for COVID-19.

That program now extends to the rest of Illinois. Rounding out our telehealth coverage around the state to remind you this program serves those potentially infected with a mild version of COVID-19, who will be able to recover from the safety of their homes. Again, that’s the vast majority of people who get infected. Patients will receive daily virtual visits by healthcare workers and receive wellness kits that include things like thermometers and pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs and alcohol wipes.

And to be very clear, the remote patient monitoring program is available to everyone who is COVID positive, and recovering at home, regardless of your insurance coverage.

More info is here. Please remember to pardon all transcription errors.

* The governor then went on to praise local organizations for stepping up during the crisis. Here’s one…

For many of you this pandemic has been draining emotionally and physically. And as I’ve said before it’s important to feel that, and even share that with a friend, a family member or confidant, but it’s equally important to look out the window to walk outside to look at all the hopeful signs, because those signs are all around us, and today I want to shine a spotlight on a few of those signs. Look at the creativity that people have brought to make sure that those in need are truly cared for, like the Clearbrook organization in Arlington Heights, where staff at the special needs nonprofit have done everything from performing Corona caroling with ukuleles in their neighborhoods, delivering activity care packages to over 60 families and sewing masks for their fellow employees.

* He closed with this example…

I’ll leave you with one last bit of joy, the Red Cross of Chicago, and Northern Illinois was slated to host its 18th annual heroes breakfast next week and event that had to be canceled because of COVID-19.

Instead, the Red Cross is featuring on their social media pages, members of the extraordinary 2020 class of heroes, people who make you proud that you’re from Illinois. […]

You are the difference makers. You are the helpers. You are bending this curve and helping out our healthcare workers and saving lives even just by staying at home. And I am so very proud of the state and of all of you

* Dr. Ezike commented about today’s new cases and deaths…

Although our numbers continue to climb, it is with some guarded optimism that we say that the growth is slowing. That is definitely a good thing, but we must continue to be strong and hold the line. I know people are getting tired of hearing the same message, but the same tactics continue to apply. Continue to stay home, continue to wash your hands, wear a mask if you go outside. Let’s keep up the progress we’ve made thus far.

* On to questions for the governor. What would you advise people who are hoping to have weddings reunions memorial services, other family gatherings this summer?…

It’s difficult for me to advise people because there’s so many uncertainties ahead of us you know we don’t even know exactly where the peak will be won’t really know until you’re past the peak that you’ve hit the peak.

And then as you’ve seen from various plans that have been put out, none of them really contemplate large gatherings, until much after, not just when you’ve gone 14 days in a row of diminished numbers of hospitalizations and other cases and so on. But, you know, long past that actually are when we would have large gatherings so depending on the size of things. [He went on, but that’s enough.]

* When do you think you will make a decision on whether to extend the stay at home order?…

You have to look at all the numbers and kind of all the trends and make a decision about whether and if so for how long, and under what conditions and so I promise you, I get asked this question virtually every day, and I promise I’ll give you the answer as soon as I know it

Dude is more patient that I would be.

* As the weather warms up, are you inclined to help give people more opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities by reopening state parks, golf courses, as long as people can do those activities while social distancing?…

Again, I’m personally inclined because I think all of us want to have a great summer. But I can’t rely on my own instincts and my own desires. And instead, as you know, I’ve been listening to the epidemiologists and the experts here in Illinois, as well as the advice that we’re getting from those who are not here in Illinois. And again, I’ll make decisions about that as you know as the data presents itself.

* Would you consider opening Illinois on a county by county basis or will it be a statewide action?…

I guess, in short, I understand there are differences of the number of cases that are occurring in different parts of the state. And so I understand the desire to try to regionalize and I’m looking at the data to try to make determinations. Remember a lot of this has to do with when you hit peak are hospitals going to be available to people who need hospitalization, ICU bedsm ventilators. And so trying to measure where we are and what the ascent rate is here, because we’re still increasing the number of deaths, we’re still increasing the number of, well, we’re increasing the number of total cases in the state. And so I’ve got to take all that into consideration, and then look at what hospitals are more available or less available as a result.

I want to point out one thing because people ask us all the time and I just want to make clear that the rate of ascent of cases in rural areas seems to be have caught up with and even surpassed in some areas, the rate of ascent of cases in urban areas, and there are a number of places you can go to read about that.

And so when I think about regionalization, I worry about that rate of ascent in rural areas where for whatever reason, maybe people aren’t following the stay at home order as much or for whatever other reason that rate of ascent is increasing. And so I want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep the case load and case numbers down in rural areas.

* Regarding nursing homes, what can be done to get those numbers down so many people are losing their lives at those facilities?…

From the very beginning I mean really from before we had our stay at home rule in place, I called the governors of states where we saw terrible nursing home tragedies including Governor Inslee Governor Cuomo, and asked them, what did you learn, what should I know as we start to put orders in place to deal with nursing homes. And they gave me tremendous advic along the way and the CDC kind of has caught up with them, I have to say, and the advice that they gave me.

And so we’ve put that in place. I mean, way back when, in fact nursing homes were locked down in the sense of no visitors. We were taking temperatures of everybody entering. We were checking on everybody in the facility we’re doing testing and when there was, you know, a new a new couple of cases that could be identified we were you know trying to make sure that we were separating people out doing all the things that were being recommended by the doctors to do. So I’m frustrated by this I must say because nursing homes, it’s very hard to deal with congregate settings, this is just something, you know, to move them out, is a, is a challenge to separate them we can do that within facilities, families can’t take a COVID positive nursing home resident back into their homes. And then it’s very hard, many people need services beyond just a place to live. They need nursing services healthcare services, and you can’t just move them, you know into a hotel room somewhere. And so, so these are very challenging and we’re doing, I think the right things we have a strike team that goes into a hot story into a nursing home when we discovered that there’s an outbreak. [He went on, but you get the idea.]

* Why won’t the state buy PPE from local black vendors. Instead, the state has spent over $1.7 million to get PPE from China. [Willie Wilson put out a statement on this the other day. He has a distribution company that does handle PPE]…

We are, we will take anybody with PPE, we’ll look at them as a vendor. We’re not avoiding anybody at all. The challenge is that there are no local providers that can provide large amounts, or at least you know, many people have come and said they could provide a few thousand here or there. We need to acquire millions of masks for example, and so you know and that’s one part and the other part is, as you know when you get a larger number a larger quantity of something you can often get it at a lower price. I’m not saying the prices are low, they’ve been bid up to prices that are ridiculous, frankly, but oftentimes what’s being done by a small vendor is more expensive on a per mask basis than what we can acquire elsewhere, but I mean, anybody that has an idea. I mean a, you know, an opportunity to sell us PP should be contacting our procurement team and it’s easy to find us you can call the governor’s office. That’s very easy or you can call CMS.

* The Associated Press has a story out right now and the headline is Governor’s feeling the heat to reopen from the president. Are you feeling the heat to reopen?…

I don’t know what it means to feel the heat I’m listening to the scientists and the doctors I don’t feel any heat I I listen to the people who know, and who have informed opinions about what we ought to do. I will say that I think that the plan that came out yesterday that that Dr. Fauci and others presented, there are aspects of that plan that I think are pretty good. And so, you know, I don’t know if I feel heat, I, I’m going to do what’s best for the people of the state and you know we’re not yet at our peak, and so it’s very hard to make decisions about what happens you know 14 days or a month or two months after that.

* What are you going to do with the budget to address the need for increased child welfare services as the stay at home order is likely increasing child abuse in the state?…

Well I think you saw in the proposed budget and I’m not suggesting that our budget for 2021 is going to look exactly like the proposed budget we put forward in February, but you know that I have prioritized Child Welfare in our budget, increasing staffing increasing funding and so on. And so as we look to revamp the budget and make sure that we’re meeting the needs that we now know you know we need to, in terms of balancing the budget and the lack of revenues coming in. I want to protect as much as possible the dollars that we’re putting in to protect those children. So what I can assure you, is that all of what our intention has been in terms of revamping dcfs is still there I mean all of us are focused on making sure that we’re able to carry out the plans that we’ve put in place.

* Amy Jacobson at WIND: Hi governor. Hi. Um, so, in our attempt to save lives. We’ve destroyed, millions of small businesses, millions of people’s lives, and you kept talking about the scientists and the different phases one where we’re going to get to phase one phase one phase one Trump’s plan phase one phase two and phase three? [Yes, that was the question.]…

We’re in phase one I think [actually, we’re not yet in phase one], but I understand what you’re saying. In other words, when do we move to another phase [that’s more accurate].

And the answer is if you read in the plan what they’re essentially saying is you have to get past your peak. And then you’ve got to have 14 days of declining case location numbers and and hospitalizations is really the way I would look at it. And as you have 14 days in a row of decline, then you can say, according to that plan, you can start to move into, you know, the next phase.

I want to get there as fast as anybody does we want people to get back to work. We want people to get back to their lives. The concern here is trying to balance and I think you raised it right at the beginning of your question, trying to balance the protecting people’s health and safety with trying to protect people’s livelihoods and very early on I said you know that the some of the toughest choices I’ve ever had to make these are choices between saving lives and saving livelihoods.

* Amy Jacobson at WIND: This is like an ongoing challenge in North Carolina and in Florida the governor’s there. They’re letting people use the lakefront or the beaches, is that, but they’re doing it you know from six to eight or six to 11 in the morning then five to eight at night, is there any way we can have our Lakefront back? You know that’s a lot of space that people use you know joggers bicyclists fisher fishermen, everything?…

I understand the question that I want you to know I’m frustrated as everybody else’s by the idea that that we can’t enjoy the things that we’ve been enjoying every summer.

You know, when is it that we’ll be able to do that again I’ve got to measure this and the answer to the first question that I get you know when I’m trying to measure this against the science you know I want people to go out and enjoy their lives.

I just had conversations with a number of downstate legislators who were talking about the fact that people can’t fish in the state parks because the state parks are not open, and couldn’t people fish because there’s enough social distancing. And of course I completely understand. Remember that we did that with state parks, because the people work at the state parks, because they have to congregate together there’s a place in which many of them have to congregate in order to manage the state parks and so, but I am looking exactly at those kinds of things.

…Adding… Florida…

* Amy Jacobson at WIND: What are the rules going to be? You raise the question what if people spaced properly and wore a mask or whatever? I mean that warm day was bad, I mean people came in from Central Illinois to go to the lakefront. Yeah, I think we deserve a second chance…

I understand what you’re saying and I have every desire, I really do and so like I’ve said every day, we’re evaluating when, but I want to remind you that we are not even at our peak yet. And so we’ve got to get to the peak and start moving down the other side.

Jordan Abudayyeh then thankfully insisted on taking online questions from actual reporters.

* AP: What specifically do you like about the President’s reopening guidance? What points from it do you disagree with? What could Illinois incorporate?…

Well I think I just pointed out something that I like about it, which is looking at 14 consecutive days of reduction in cases or the reduction of hospitalizations, that would lead us to then be able to make some changes.

* Capitol News Illinois: Senate Republicans wrote a letter earlier this week which you’ve already addressed, but we’re going to continue asking this question why some prison sentences were recently commuted without informing or consulting judges, the General Assembly victims, or law enforcement, they know recent commutations include convicted murderers. [The reporter could’ve looked at the state constitution, but I digress]. With the recent commutations, are these related to COVID-19?…

So I just want to be clear that those go through the PRB [Prisoner Review Board]. So they actually have a presentation of each case at the PRB, they vote on those cases before they ever get to my desk.

* Politico: Did you talk to Senate President Dan Harmon about the letter he sent to Congress asking for a bailout and why weren’t you a part of that ask?…

I was not aware of the content of the letter before it went. And, there’s no reason why a senate president in Illinois I can’t send a letter to the delegation. And you know I don’t object to people communicating with our federal representatives, I do it all the time.

* Tribune: What were your thoughts on the letter, specifically the $41 billion ask?…

Well it’s different than what I have been talking to the federal representatives about.

As you know, and I’ve said it here in front of you talking about our budget, that I really believe the states need to have some unencumbered dollars that come in that will help us with the coming years budget. Every state has this problem, it just does and so, I don’t object like I said to people talking to our federal representatives with their opinions. I have certainly done that.

* Me to Dr. Ezike: A study [to be] published in the Annual Review of Virology claims that low indoor humidity could be a problem for the virus’ spread. 40 to 60% is apparently optimal. Is that being looked out for places like nursing homes, prisons etc.?…

It’s not currently, that’s an interesting fact that I’m not aware of.

There’s probably additional study that needs to be done. Probably not directly by IDPH but I hope that further research will guide us and we will follow results as they come up.

More info here.

* WMAY: Protests are being planned in the coming days against the restrictions you put in place. What is your message to these protesters?…

That I want to remove the restrictions as much as anybody else does, and I’m going to do it based on science.

* Why didn’t the state release the nursing home data earlier, and when did you realize nursing home cases were exploding?…

We have followed nursing homes, like I said I made early calls about this. We knew that there were challenges in every congregate setting. And so we have paid close attention and in fact have, as I mentioned, we have strike teams and protocols and so on that we put in place very early on. So there’s no desire to avoid nursing homes. Our, in fact, every focus that we could have because we all know, very early on and all of us that it’s our senior citizens who are most at risk. And so that’s why we focused on nursing homes early and will will continue.

In terms of publishing the data, we’ve had the aggregate data published for people we were concerned about. In some areas, you’re stigmatizing people who work at those nursing homes when you publish that. That is a nursing home that has an outbreak. You can stigmatize the families of the people who have relatives in those nursing homes, and we were concerned about that.

But, look, we also are very much in favor of transparency. I’ve been here 41 days in a row talking to you about everything everything to do with COVID-19. And we’re pleased to put all that data online so that people can look at it now.

* Crain’s: Trump’s Special Assistant Judd Deere suggested you are either ignorant and incompetent or have a propensity to over politicize your criticism of resources from the White House. How short is Illinois from what is requested from the federal government today?…

Well, I think we’ve received in terms of PPE, we’re I think under 3% of the PPE that we asked for, has been delivered by the federal government.

Meanwhile, you’ve heard me say over and over and over again how proud I am of our Army Corps of Engineers, of FEMA and the work that they’re doing with us. I’ve been very pleased with a lot of the things that that we’ve gotten.

And the challenge has been when the White House makes a promise about something and then doesn’t deliver and then makes another promise and doesn’t deliver. And then the president stands up and criticizes people, but he’s not delivering. That’s obviously irksome. Having said that, I’m very proud of the people who work at the other levels of government who have delivered for the state of Illinois.



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