Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Pritzker warns of scams - Addresses boater protests in Fox Lake - Says data requested is online - Points out (again) that public transportation is a local issue - Seriously asked if contract tracers will have arresting authority (they won’t) - Explains (again) why antibody results aren’t being counted yet - Explains difference between barbers and pet groomers - Points out he’s not negotiating federal package - “COVID-19 is causing this” - Asked if Illinois was going to do a stimulus program like the feds did - Says ISBE has issued graduation ceremony guidelines - Says no final decision made on extending implementation of hotel panic buttons - Believes state has enough ventilators in case of another surge - Kushner comment “a little bit inaccurate” - Look at positive testing rate, not total test numbers - Hopes plateau doesn’t last too long, but doesn’t know - Addresses violence in Peoria - Admits more messaging needed for young people of color - Explains DCFS policy - Church TRO denied - Out of state travel to visit dying family member is allowed
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Pritzker warns of scams - Addresses boater protests in Fox Lake - Says data requested is online - Points out (again) that public transportation is a local issue - Seriously asked if contract tracers will have arresting authority (they won’t) - Explains (again) why antibody results aren’t being counted yet - Explains difference between barbers and pet groomers - Points out he’s not negotiating federal package - “COVID-19 is causing this” - Asked if Illinois was going to do a stimulus program like the feds did - Says ISBE has issued graduation ceremony guidelines - Says no final decision made on extending implementation of hotel panic buttons - Believes state has enough ventilators in case of another surge - Kushner comment “a little bit inaccurate” - Look at positive testing rate, not total test numbers - Hopes plateau doesn’t last too long, but doesn’t know - Addresses violence in Peoria - Admits more messaging needed for young people of color - Explains DCFS policy - Church TRO denied - Out of state travel to visit dying family member is allowed

Sunday, May 3, 2020

[Comments now open.]

* Among other things, the governor warned the public today about COVID-19 scams

Reprehensible bad actors continue to use this public health emergency to prey on others. We’re hearing reports of cyber scams, telephone, email and text-messaging scams, counterfeit COVID product offers, bogus door to door offers of COVID tests and of COVID products relating to coronavirus, solicitations for donations to phony charities related to COVID-19 and fraudulent efforts to obtain federal relief funds.

The Attorney General will not hesitate to use the authority of his office and partnerships with state, local, and federal law enforcement to hold accountable anyone seeking to profit off of this pandemic. To the scam artists, you will be caught. And you will be prosecuted. I’m urging all Illinois residents vigilant and to report any COVID-19 scams, to the attorney general’s office.

As always, please pardon all transcription errors.

* On to questions for the governor. I’ve been told there’s also some protests going on up in Fox Lake because of the boating restrictions… only two per boat. What do you say to people who are protesting the two per boat rule? Is there any opportunity for potentially families who have more than two to not have to do that?…

Again, the enforcement is up to local law enforcement. We’re asking them to do that. And I would remind the people that are doing it that look it’s the data that tells us that if you’re in a group of a large group of people in a small space with, you can’t maintain a six foot distance between each person in a party, then you shouldn’t be together in that space. And many, many boats, most boats that people can afford, don’t really make room for more than two people. We wanted to make sure that people want to go fishing can do so, that’s certainly an outdoor activity that everybody enjoys many people do anyway. And so that was the intent of the limit of two people, also the idea that if you can’t maintain the six foot distance you’re putting yourself and your family and your friends in danger.

* Is there any opportunity for the state to include the number of cases and deaths at [nursing home] facilities in the daily briefing that you do?…

We provide it online, it’s available at the IDPH website. So rather than go through the cases in each location. It’s all there for people to access.

* What about the public transportation in Chicago, what is being done these days to keep people from catching COVID-19 on the trains on the buses here in the city?…

That’s obviously the responsibility of the city and the CTA. We are talking to them and to the RTA and Pace about designing sanitization processes that will work as we begin to reopen non essential businesses there’s we’re being to reopen the economy and more and more people want to take public transportation. So we want to make it safe for everybody and. And the best way to do that is to let the system design something and present it to the public health and their own local county public health and City Public Health officials.

* Amy Jacobson from wind has two questions for you. First off, you mentioned on Friday that you’ll be hiring 3000 contact tracers. Will they have any arresting authority, if some people refuse to [stay at home]? [That is one paranoid person]…

No. […]

The idea here is simply to let them know they need to self isolate to make sure that they get tested themselves. We want to contact everybody so that we can slow the spread here so people aren’t just walking around thinking that they have never come in contact with somebody and probably don’t have it when in fact they may have been in close contact with someone

As you know, hundreds of people are getting the antibody tests right now. Are you counting those who have tested positive from the antibody tests in your daily totals for COVID-19?…

No, first of all because the antibody tests are very unproven. There are lots of these tests that have a false positive or false negative rate that is unacceptable.

And so until we have a very proven method of doing antibody tests wouldn’t be useful for us to use those numbers. Having said that, we will going forward as tests are available that have that efficacy. We will be reporting or looking at those we may even be initiating those for the state itself. But we don’t include those numbers now in our numbers of people who have tested positive because it’s really a different thing right one is how many people are testing positive on an ongoing basis we talk about each day how many new people. And that’s really something to keep an eye on the total numbers of people less important to keep an eye on because the truth is, we haven’t tested everybody in the state. And no state has, and the numbers that get reported are really a function of how many tests we do. So we’re looking at the new positive tests and comparing those to the total number of tests that were done for that day, and it gives us a positivity rate that we want to track so but antibody tests will be important when they get more efficacious.

* Can you explain the reason why some businesses are now being allowed to be open and others are not. Such as, why hair salon, barbers, nail salons not being open but dog and pet groomers are?…

The idea is that dog and pet groomers don’t have to come within six feet of a human being that may have COVID-19.

But at a hair salon, it would be nearly impossible for somebody to perform a haircut on somebody without being very very close to them. So that’s an example. I’m not a doctor and, and I do ask the epidemiologists and experts about these things and that’s what I understand is the difference between why a dog groomer for example and not a barber.

* Greg Bishop: The President’s economic adviser today said there could be a relief package for state and local governments that there are some concessions sought including reversing sanctuary city policies. Republicans have pushed for pension reform and local government unfunded mandate relief before Illinois gets federal funds to plug budget problems that existed before the pandemic. What concessions are you willing to give in on an exchange for federal aid?…

Well, I’m not negotiating that package. I mean I’m the governor of a state, not a Senator or Congressman. But I certainly would say that we should try to leave politics out of this, and instead look at what the damage that’s been done to all the states, those were represented by Republicans those who were represented by Democrats and try to help them all of us fill the hole that’s been made by coronavirus.

Greg Bishop: Have you asked for an analysis of the economic societal and health damage that you acknowledge your shutdown is having an Illinois to compare that to the health impacts from COVID-19?…

I haven’t sought out an assessment. I will say that there are lots of organizations, I think the University of Illinois put out some information like that, lots of folks who are trying to estimate what the future of our economy will look like going forward. And so I look at those certainly.

But to be clear and I know the way the question is phrased it’s as if someone caused this. The reality is that COVID-19 is causing this. The fact that it is a new coronavirus, the fact that virtually well most of the states almost all of the states, put in a stay at home order are lots of restrictions, because the mitigation efforts were necessary because so little preparation was made. And it was very difficult for anybody to get a handle on this early on. So, you know, it will be interesting to see what the damage that was done by the virus was in retrospect, at this point it’s almost impossible to measure.

* Is there any plan for the state to put together a stimulus package for the people of our state, such as what the federal government did for the whole country? [Illinois can’t print money, but whatevs]…

I would say we are trying to look at those, you know how can the state be helpful all across state. I mean one of the things I’ve talked about is our small businesses. We obviously also need to maintain and even build up our public health resources as well as providing health care services to people. So those are all things that will help to rescue people in the state. But to do more we really will need support from the federal government directly to our state revenue line. And that’s why we’ve asked for help and that’s why virtually every state in the United States has gone to the federal government to look for a replacement of lost revenues.

* Less than 48 hours after the Galesburg High School announced plans to have an in-person graduation ceremony, Illinois State Board of Education put out an order banning any such ceremonies. If a school district can have an in-person ceremony for a class of 2020 in a socially distant safe and responsible manner, why not allow the school districts to give the students the closure they want? In this case, parents and students voted overwhelmingly that they did want the actual graduation ceremony…

I think as of yesterday, the Illinois State Board of Education actually put out guidelines so that there could be graduation ceremonies. And they try to make it available to people to organize something that would maintain social distance and following epidemiological suggestions about how to do it. Because look I’m as concerned as anybody to make sure that people have at least something to celebrate their graduations. I mean it’s a sad fact that many seniors, high school and college seniors aren’t going to be able to have a usual graduation. So we want something special for everybody and so the Illinois State Board of Education has put out guidelines for that.

* What are you hearing from Washington and the White House in regards to the next relief package and to what extent it might help city and state governments?…

I regularly speak with people in Washington. I was on the phone with the Minority Leader of the senate just yesterday and have spoken with are the actually the Minority Whip in the senate that’s our senior Senator Dick Durbin. And so I get regular updates and it looks like there is real support on the Republican side. And near unanimous support of democratic side for support for the states. And I would say near unanimous support by governors for support for states as well as local governments. And I’ll just add one more thing, I really think it’s important that we address the challenges of smaller local governments and not just those that have 500,000 or more people in them. We have a lot of cities and counties across the state that need help. And that’s true in most states. So I’m fighting hard for them too.

* I understand you’ve made a commitment to signing an executive order to delay the deadline for Illinois hotels to install so called panic buttons, which was included in a package of anti sexual harassment legislation passed last spring. The sponsor say they’ll pass a bill to put off the deadline when lawmakers return to Springfield, but in the interim you’ll likely have to take executive action. When will you sign the order and how long will you put off the deadline?…

A final decision hasn’t been made about that. I do support those panic buttons so they’re very important. And that’s something that I, you know, have fought for was happy to support as candidate as well as the governor.

* On a lighter note, Hannah would like to know if you’ve heard about the murder hornets…

I have heard about these Hornets that apparently are ravaging bees. And so all I can say is that I’m allergic to bee stings, so I’m not sure if I’m not sure what it means for me but I will say we have a lot of challenges. I’m somebody who has been staying at home working every day and so on, haven’t had time to spend, focusing on the murder hornets.

* Based on reports from around the country, no states are short on ventilators. Could that change and how does Illinois stand on its supply in case of a possible surge in the fall?…

When this pandemic came upon us, we looked at the inventory, ventilators looked at the numbers that were being used in places like Italy in Spain and elsewhere and in China, and said we don’t have enough ventilators. And so we began a process to make sure that if we couldn’t bend to the curve that we could keep people alive. And so we sought out ventilators wherever we could. The state of California was kind enough as they started to bend their curve to offer us 100 of their ventilators which was great, but we only had about 2200 in the state total. And we needed, according to the models that we had looked at back then. You know that unless something changed we might need more than 4000.

So, as it turns out our stay at home order and all the other restrictions, the mitigation efforts that we put in place, have worked. And so we do not need all the ventilators that we thought we would we have in fact sent the hundred back to California so that they could be sent to somebody else who may need them. And we are hoping that the ventilators and we’ve acquired a number of ventilators just since then we have over 3000 of them now. We hope that that inventory and the fact that there’s a lot of availability right now will be enough in case there is another surge.

* Jared Kushner told The Washington Post on Saturday with regards to testing, quote, The biggest thing holding us back is not supplies or capacity, it’s the state’s ability to collect more samples. Is that true for Illinois? Why or why not?…

Well, to collect samples is just one piece of the puzzle to get tests done. You need machines, yes we have machines that exist in the state of Illinois though they don’t belong to the state. They don’t belong anybody except private enterprises, typically or private nonprofit hospitals.

And so getting access to those machines and their capacity is one thing you need to accomplish and other is you need the swabs, and that’s the ability to take a sample. That’s true. We need swabs, we don’t have enough swabs and we’re getting more from the White House actually we’re getting some more this month. But you also need viral transport medium and you need the reagents that are necessary to run the test. So if you have all of those things, by the way you also need more lab technicians to run the machine so you can run all these, so I just mentioned at least four or five pieces of it.

So I would say that the statement by Jared Kushner is a little bit inaccurate, but I am glad that there is a recognition that that we need more of the pieces of the puzzle to to get the testing done, because it’s true.

* Cook County is now the county with the third highest number of cases in the US, being only behind New York, can you share any insight into why Cook County numbers are so high?…

Because we’re doing a lot more testing than most places in the country and that’s the truth. So that’s why I would discourage people from just looking at the gross number of tests that are being done in a state or in a county. We have built up our testing, I mean today was our highest ever at 19 plus thousand.

And just a few weeks ago we were at four and 5000, just two weeks ago, I think, and we intend to go higher. Many other places are choosing not to test, which means that they don’t show new tests. I mean sorry, new cases, because if it’s not a confirmed case, it doesn’t get counted usually.

So I would just say that I would ignore a little bit about the gross testing numbers, and instead look at the positivity rate. How many people did we test among the people we tested how many tested positive? That is a number that ought to be going down for us that’s varied between about 21 and 15%. We want it to go down even further, it’s an indication that there is a lower infection rate across the state.

* How long can a plateau last?…

I hope it doesn’t last too long.

But it’s unknown. This is a new Corona virus and different states, different localities are experiencing different curves. But I’m hoping that we’re in a flattened curve. Now I’m hoping, again, you just know that by watching it day in and day out, and that we begin to fall off that curve and our numbers begin to decline.

* More people are ignoring your stay at home order and gathering in large groups, but some gatherings are ending in violence. 200 people were together around 3am before a man was killed in a double shooting in Peoria. What do you suggest local leaders do to enforce your order when people are going out regardless?…

Well, again, I mean I certainly don’t want to put anybody in danger by suggesting that law enforcement needs to go break up a group of 3000. On the other hand, it is against the order and law enforcement does have that ability.

What I would say to people in Peoria and elsewhere in East Peoria etc. is that there’s a reason why we put these orders forward. It’s to keep people safe, it’s because this virus really knows no boundaries. One person in the middle of that 3000 can cause many others to get infected and each one of those people has the ability to infect others. And so we won’t know really for a couple of weeks how many people in Peoria have gotten sick, because people were irresponsible and got together. And I am sorry to hear that there was violence attendant with all that, but people should follow the rules here and in relatively short order we’ll begin to see , as the economy opens up things will get better for everyone.

* A recent Tribes story showed a disconnect between young people of color and the media and government. What can or should officials be doing to better reach young people of color to warn them about COVID?…

Yesterday, you saw that I had with me Jamal Cole from an organization here in Chicago that does tremendous work working with young people in the African American community. And then the Latino community, to many of those leaders have the ability to speak I think forcefully to their colleagues, their peers to convince them, so they understand that this virus can attack somebody in their 20s, just as it can, or in their teens just as it can somebody who is 40 years old or over.

And the fact is that we need to do more messaging around this, people need to understand how serious it is. And look, even if you think you’re invincible and you’re in your 20s, here’s what can happen. You could get coronavirus and not suffer very badly from it, but you will be carrying it around and giving it to others. Do you have a grandmother, do you have a parent, do you have a friend who is older than you who has a comorbidity who might have diabetes or has heart disease? You’re putting them at risk when you are willing to ignore the rules that we’ve put in place here.

* DCFS has ended visits for parents with children in foster care. Advocates across the state say DCFS should not have a blanket order and allow parents to have in person visits with precautions. Do you think accommodation should be made?…

We certainly are looking, I mean DCFS is looking at all the accommodations that they can make. And so I am you know sad for foster parents and kids can’t get together, the biological parents and kids are getting together. DCFS has created though, video conferencing and other methods for contacting for getting those folks together, so they can at least have some ongoing dialogue, in place of getting together personally. But look this is about protecting people and we don’t think this will go forever. This in fact is something that we’re trying to get through to make sure that as people get sick we’re not over-running the hospitals, and that we’re able to develop a treatment. So, this is really about a relatively short period of time in which there is difficulty accommodating those kinds of visits, but we’ll try to work through them best we can.

Pritzker was then asked about the church which asked for a TRO against the governor’s EO. He said the TRO had been denied. Click here for more info and any updates.

* We received a question from a listener who says a relative is dying of cancer and lives in Colorado. Would it be legal to travel there to help family?…

There’s nothing that stops a person from going to Colorado to be with their family member.

But, you know, I would just say that there are a lot of, if you’re driving, there a lot of places that you would need to stop along the way, and be extraordinarily careful. There are airplanes that are still flying, you have the ability to get on an airplane. Again, I think most of the airlines are requiring face coverings now. So it’s really a matter of whether you can do it safely. That’s the most important thing. Nobody’s going to arrest anybody who’s, attempting to get to a family member who’s ill.


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