Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » Pritzker: “Being black in America cannot be a death sentence” - Talks about testing nursing homes - Asked about CDC guidance on antibody testing - Lays out what he’s trying to do for ESL - “We’re at about 30% of the contact tracing that we need today” - New IDPH recovery rate stats - Talks about sports returning, sports betting - Asked about massage therapists - Won’t tell the mayor when or how to set up casino - No June 1 start for live horseracing - Deflects Willie Wilson question - Asked about QC PGA tournament - Needs federal help to facilitate hospital merger - No indoor movie theaters in Phase 3
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Pritzker: “Being black in America cannot be a death sentence” - Talks about testing nursing homes - Asked about CDC guidance on antibody testing - Lays out what he’s trying to do for ESL - “We’re at about 30% of the contact tracing that we need today” - New IDPH recovery rate stats - Talks about sports returning, sports betting - Asked about massage therapists - Won’t tell the mayor when or how to set up casino - No June 1 start for live horseracing - Deflects Willie Wilson question - Asked about QC PGA tournament - Needs federal help to facilitate hospital merger - No indoor movie theaters in Phase 3

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

* Gov. Pritzker is in East St. Louis today and he and local officials talked about the challenges they’ve faced and what they’ve done. Dr. Ezike is not in ESL with the governor today. The audio/video connections aren’t great, so there could be some transcription issues. Your pardons will be more appreciated today.

The governor then spoke about George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Brianna Taylor in Kentucky and Christian Cooper in New York City…

…and countless others whose memories we cannot allow time to erase events that echo what we have seen happen to too many people, too many times in too many places. And yet we as a people have not yet found the humanity to stop these vile horrid acts from happening. To truly contend with the racism that permeates our society, and then to root it out as a white elected official, I feel a special responsibility to speak out today and to own the obligation that I have to shape public policy in a more equitable direction. Being black in America cannot be a death sentence. But it is in some ways it is. And it’s dangerous to pretend otherwise.

We must actually do something to change that reality, to make it so that men like George Floyd are not killed on a street corner gasping for air in broad daylight. One moment alive, and the next moment, gone. People deserve to breathe. They deserve to live. George Floyd’s family should not have woken up today in a world without him in it. This investigation requires all possible accountability and transparency to deliver the closest thing [garbled] but it will never bring George Floyd back.

I’m especially saddened that amidst all the other challenges that we are facing right now, people of color have this extra burden to bear. As they have for too long. This moment must become a call to action for Illinoisans, for Americans to see the humanity in every person no matter their race, their religion, their socioeconomic status or their sexual orientation. To George Floyd to his family, may his memory be for a blessing.

On to questions for the governor: The first question has been asked at least half a dozen times and always answered the same way. Federal guidance strongly warns against allowing visitors in nursing homes.

* There still are nursing homes that still haven’t tested their residents or staff yet for COVID-19 …Where are the tests and shouldn’t nursing homes be a priority for test to protect the most vulnerable in our society?…

They are a priority and I think actually there’s an article today about the challenges [click here]. There are more than 1200 nursing homes in the state. If you think about the numbers of people that are represented in those nursing homes, you’re talking about more than 20,000 people. Indeed, it’s actually many more than that staff and others. And so in order to be able to test all of those people we’re only doing about averaging about 23,000 a day. And that’s statewide in every capacity. So that includes all the other congregate settings in which we’re testing. So in order to do it, you know, we’ve got it set aside tests which we’ve done, and then go and get to every single one of those facilities. … We’re also starting with the facilities that don’t have COVID-19 in them so that we can keep it out. If you find one or two people have it you can you can segregate them, get them to isolate and save the facility from having an outbreak. In the facilities where there are outbreaks, we are testing staff first and separating the residents in those, and ask the private owners of those nursing homes to do that to separate the residents so we’re getting to it. And again, I’d like to do it all at once. If we had the national leadership on this subject, if we had the supplies available we could do this much more quickly, but we’re getting to it as fast as we can.

* The CDC says that the current antibody test is wrong half the time [not quite, but close enough I suppose]. What is the status of antibody tests in Illinois. How many have been done. And just the fact that up to half of them could be wrong does this affect any of the day’s policy decisions?…

So, from very early on what we’ve said is, although we receive the serology information, in other words, the results of those tests, we set those tests aside. We actually have a committee at IDPH that has reviewed and come up with their own view of what to do with those serology tests. John O’Connor is correct, half of those tests seem to be inaccurate. So what does one do. Well if we could segregate the ones that we think are inaccurate. In other words, there are different types of serology tests and know which ones are accurate, we’re trying to go through and figure that out. We could then take the accurate ones and determine some things. But I must tell you it’s something I said several weeks ago in one of my press conferences serology tests, tell you, perhaps whether somebody had COVID-19 but it doesn’t tell you whether they’re immune from COVID-19. Even though, originally that was the hope and thought, it’s still not proven that if you have the antibodies that you can’t get it again. And so that’s the challenge here so we’ve put those aside, we’re looking at trying to keep keep people from getting COVID-19 in the first place. We’re certainly looking at all of the studies that are being done of serology tests around the world, not to mention around the United States, and we’ll make some decisions based upon the results of those in those research projects.

* What are you doing for communities like East St Louis? Are you getting them enough testing. How about economic health and what are you doing to clear the gap that exists. This is a second part of the question. What are you doing to clear the gap that exists in downstate Illinois as far as lower case counsel or death counts and and you know what are you doing to help those communities that are frustrated by being having the same rules applied to them at not getting as much aid as cities like Chicago?…

Hopefully I’ll remember all, I think there were three questions.

Let’s start with East St. Louis. East St. Louis is very important to me. From the earliest moments that I came here I was just saying this to some folks earlier from the National Guard that East St. Louis is a community that’s been forgotten, frankly. And so when I think about what we need to do to assist East St. Louis I think about trying to first create economic activity and have it put aside the moment, the moment we’re in which is COVID-19 in which we need to secure people’s lives and their health. But if you, and you’ve seen we have a facility here at the Jackie Joyner kersee Center, where people can get tested, and we provide free treatment and so on. So there’s the and and we’ve worked together with St Clair County and other other facilities other hospitals.

But I’m thinking about the economics of this area. From the beginning my thought has been that we’ve got to make sure that people are able to start businesses that there are people that are able to get on their feet and actually get economic activity going in the communities of East St. Louis. So we’ve been trying to, we’ve had, we have low interest loans we have loans for communities of color, that are dedicated to communities like he’s St Louis, that’s one thing from an economic activity perspective. In this moment when so many people have lost jobs. So many people are struggling, you know, we’ve banned evictions across the state of Illinois. We’ve provided rent assistance for people. We’ve made sure that people have health care whatever they need available to them. We’re trying to build up the resources of healthcare within communities of color in particular here, and so many I mean you really we could go through a whole big long list and I’ve got it to about the economic supports that we’re providing for people, and particularly those who are most impacted financially by COVID-19 and those happen to be, guess what the same as the communities that have the highest rates of death, or the highest rates of COVID positive tests, and those are communities of color. So this has been a focus from early on, I think the minute that we heard and saw statistics that showed that in particular the black community had a higher incidence of death on a per capita basis than any other. That was the moment we began to put in testing sites everywhere that we could in black communities, and making sure that that we were educating people about the importance of washing your hands of putting a mask on, and so on, and focusing that on communities of color in particular. There were a lot of people who had been told and you can actually read articles about this where those [in] the foreign countries that run bots to convince Americans to fight each other. That one of the things they were promoting was with the black community was immune from COVID-19. And so there were many people who had heard this, that the black community was immune and then had not heard that no actually the black community is most susceptible in some ways, at least to the terrible consequences of COVID-19. So there’s so much that we’re dealing with at the same time to try to address this challenge and you St Louis and for communities of color across the state.

* Can you be a little bit more specific about where we’re at with the contact tracing program, you know, how many people have been hired. When will the program be fully up and running. And also, can you address, people who are concerned about their privacy, and people who are unwilling to share sensitive information, what kind of questions can they be expected to answer?…

Sure. So let’s start with, I did a press conference talking specifically about contact tracing I think about a week ago so I would refer you back since they’re recorded online you can see everything that I said in my prepared remarks and answers to questions there.

Having said that, the goal with the contact tracers that we have in the state today, we already have contact tracing, just for people who don’t understand because we were doing contact tracing before COVID-19 our contact tracing for HIV, for example, is one thing that was done for contact tracing. But we have across the state hundreds of people who are in contact tracing. We start with that as a base, these are community health workers that are in St Clair, SIUE, they’re also all over in counties across the state.

So we start with that as a base. But when you need to do something as big as we need to do for COVID-19, what we need is technology so that we’re all connected to the same database. That is everybody’s got the same app, the contact tracers that there’s privacy built into that, meaning that if someone tests positive and they have five contacts in the last 48 hours, that the five contact names and phone numbers which come from this person who was COVID positive, right, that those five contacts are contacted, but not told where they may have come in contact with somebody who’s COVID positive. So the privacy is maintained for the patient. And then the contacts are made directly to the people who need to be contacted. It’s an enormous endeavor, think about it today we had 1100 reported positive cases, in prior days we’ve had 2500 even 3000 on one day. Think about that, multiply that by three or four or five contacts over the prior 48 hours remember 2000 every day, times three or four or five, you know that’s a lot of contacts to make. So you need more than the hundreds of contact tracers that we have. So what we’re doing is working with local departments of public health, to make sure that they get contact tracing dollars, so that they can higher contact tracers and a few other community resource workers and so on, to make sure that we’re contacting everybody. And then that we’re providing those people with resources in the local community. Because if you have to isolate for 14 days, that may not be an easy thing for many people. And so if you need a hotel room, motel room to separate from your family for 14 days. We want to make sure you get fed, we have wraparound services, everything is taken care of for you. If you’re going to remain in your own home and you live alone. We need somebody to deliver groceries and you know other services pharmaceuticals and so on that you may need. So that’s all the case one last thing.

How big is it and how long is it gonna take? We’re at about 30% of the contact tracing that we need today. We’re doing about 30% of the contacts. We need to get above 60%. You might say why not 100%? Because there are many people who don’t want to be contacted who never will answer the phone, you know, lots of reasons some, some people who are COVID positive, who won’t give you names.

So we’re going to get to hopefully about 60 plus percent, it’s going to take us weeks and weeks I can’t tell you how long I mean some people think it will take through August to do it. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to do it much faster than that. But as we fast as we can. We’re getting the dollars out to the counties, so that they can do the hiring that they need.

Sorry. It was a three parter or something and I wanted to make sure I gave you a full answer.

* Over the weekend, IDPH began posting a statistic called the recovery rate was 92% as of Tuesday. Can you explain that figure and what does it tell us about the nature of the virus?…

What we’re trying to do is to make sure that people understand that when you get COVID-19. It is not a death sentence. When you get COVID-19. In fact about 80% of people who get COVID-19 are experiencing mild symptoms to moderate symptoms, and then recover. It’s really 20%, or so, get it and have something more serious. That doesn’t mean they’re going to a hospital necessarily, but I think all of us at this point knows somebody who has had COVID-19 who has been sick at home, and had a hard time and then recovered.

Also, some of us know people who have had to go in the hospital, and then have passed away. And so, about 1% little less than 1% of people get COVID-19 passed away that’s the international statistic anyway. So what we’re talking about is, you know, trying to report a number that shows how many people have already had COVID-19 that have recovered. Now what I just gave you is a statistic of, if you took a snapshot at somebody of a bunch of people who got at the same time, you’d have 1% 18% and 80% roughly speaking, so the 92% is a reflection of many people who’ve recovered and have gone about their lives and haven’t gotten COVID-19 again. So that’s what we’re trying to give a number we had not before provided a recovery number. But people have asked us to try to put that number out so we are.

* Would it be feasible for Chicago to serve as a hub city for NHL whenever it returns?…

So actually, as you know the state is the one that sets the parameters for any play that might exist in the state. And then the city of Chicago, of course has the ability to be more stringent than the state’s parameters. So we’ve gotten contact by all of the major leagues right by NHL as well as MLB and NFL and so on. And, look, I am as anxious as I think many people are to get our sports up and running again. The problem is we can’t put spectators in the stands today, there’s just no way to do that safely. According to the doctors, what the leagues have asked is not for that, what they’ve asked is for the ability to run games. You know whether we’re talking about hockey or baseball or football at this moment they’re asking for the ability to run games televised with no spectators. Even that as you can imagine, think about two teams. You know all of the surrounding people that work for the team involved. It’s a lot of people. So we’ve worked with them they’ve actually come up with reasonably good plans each one of the leaks. And I’m anxious, starting with baseball. To get baseball up and running again and I’m hopeful that we will be able to do that. Going into July, but NHL I can’t answer what the timing will be when the Blackhawks will be added. But again, we’re working with every League, NBA NHL included.

* Earlier this month, Las Vegas casino started offering sports book betting [garbled]…

So customers will ask, well how big it is and we’re working on them. And we’re also working on the ability for people to do it in person somewhere to sign up for the app to allow them to [bet].

* Personal care guidelines for massage therapy to last 30 minutes or less. Many massage therapists are commissioned by the hour…

[Paraphrase: The guidance may be more about keeping a therapist safe.] I’ll bring that to the doctors I’m not making those individual specific decisions about massage therapy for example. But, but as it’s raised here and I’m sure that people have communicated with IDPH on the subject or dceo as a hotline that you can call if you’re in the industry. So I’ll bring that back to the experts and raise the issue to them.

* What is the earliest point that you think a Chicago casino can be up and running? Do you have any thoughts for the mayor to consider about what the best location in the city would be? Also, can you provide an update about when Illinois existing casinos will reopen, and what specific social distancing requirements?…

I’m not going to dictate to the Chicago City Council, or the mayor when they would start. They have to contract with a lot of people before they could even begin to, they have to choose a site and then start building, but they also have to have a partnership with casino operator. So I can’t tell you when that’ll happen. But I would certainly encourage them to do it as soon as they can.

Now, Let me say that I’m not going to dictate the location of that either or try to discourage or encourage you know I’m very interested in making sure that that we create the most number of jobs, the sooner that they’re able to get it up and running by the way, the better off the people of Illinois will be the people of Chicago to, because there’s a benefit not just to the city of Chicago, but a lot of revenue that will come to the state of Illinois, some of which will come here to St. Clair County. As a result of its funding of infrastructure, because that’s where a lot of those dollars will go.

And the last part of that question was, keep providing an update about what’s specific. No, I mean I honestly, it’s not something in phase three. There certainly are casino owners in the state of Illinois who have presented their ideas for that, but it does, it’s not going to be happening in the next phase. So I have to admit I have not focused specifically on it and in the end. I don’t know what the doctors will say or how long it will take them to kind of agree on something I know that we’re everybody’s looking at Las Vegas and wondering how they’re going to be able to do it, they’ve got rules in place. And, you know, I have to say it looks difficult to me but I am anxious to see what the plans are that the casinos will present.

* Will live horse racing restart on June one, if so what might that look like?…

I don’t think it’ll restart on June one. I think live horse racing will restart. I can’t tell you what date, but again it will be like other spectator sports where you would have to run without spectators at least to begin with.

* Today, Dr Willie Wilson sent a letter to President Trump and Attorney General William Barr asking them to intervene on behalf of churches to help those that desire to worship consistent with the recommendations or guidelines issued by the CDC. Your reaction?…

Well, we’ve done a lot to open churches to provide guidelines for churches and indeed we’ve asked churches to bring us their plans for how to open safely. I want as much as anybody to make sure that people who want to worship in church or a mosque or a synagogue, to be able to do that. I think it’s an extraordinarily personal important thing to so many people across the state of Illinois. I also want to make sure that people people don’t get sick doing it. And so we’ve [provided] guidance for drive up services. We are working with churches on outdoor services. And then the question is, what’s the population that you could get inside? What’s the capacity that you could have inside a church on any given Sunday, as they say any given day? One is having a service, and we just want to make sure that people are safe so you know we’re doing that, the doctors are working on that. As you have heard Dr Ezike say she would like very much for services to go back to some sort of indoor services. So, I am hopeful that we will be able to accomplish something even more than we’re already doing but we’re working very hard to get there.

* The john deere classic is scheduled to begin July 6 in the Quad Cities. The PGA Tour has yet to announce that fans will be allowed to attend the event. Are conversations of any type you and your staff had with the PGA Tour about the event? And is there any scenario in which fans would be allowed?…

I can’t answer that question. I know the PGA has been in touch with my staff the Illinois PGA has anyway. And I just don’t know what the status of those discussions are.

* What does it mean for the future of health healthcare that a hospital Transformation Program [did not pass in the legislature], particularly for hospitals on Chicago’s South Side that say they can no longer move forward but applying pressure now to the legislature. What can or should be done to help residents in these areas?…

This is extremely difficult because I want that transformation to take place as soon as possible. Four hospitals that were looking to merge for in total, a billion dollars in order to make that transformation, take place at this moment with so many things in flux about our state budget. It was nearly impossible for the General Assembly to go forward with a billion dollar program. And I know that that timing makes it very very difficult for those hospitals. We have a real challenge in the state simultaneously with the introduction of Obamacare, which has been so tremendous for expanding health care in our state. We also have had challenges for hospitals that now are doing much more outpatient and not inpatient, and so the result of that is the hospitals don’t have as much business revenue coming in the door, as they were before Obamacare became the law. Now, so you’d have hospitals transforming trying to figure out how to operate with more outpatient procedures to specialize a little more and so on. And then along comes COVID-19, where now that some hospitals have closed. Here we have COVID-19 where we need more healthcare providers. And we have an outbreak and a pandemic and something that’s really affecting much of the population. And so these things are kind of cross currents occurring with a budget that is, you know, has been very, very difficult, revenues dropping off and so on. So I just say there’s a situation none of us wanted to be in. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to get to hospital transformation with the assistance again with federal government help to replace revenues that are lost. We want to get back to Transforming Health Care across the state so that everybody gets it, and that we have enough facilities.

* Question about movie theaters being reopening soon…

Yes, but not for phase three. It’s something that we’ve contemplated for phase four, lower capacity and so on but not in phase three. And I know that the theater owners would like it to be in phase three it’s just, it’s very difficult to imagine it happening. Having said that, as we look at how we might do things in churches, you know, the kind of the seating, the way that seating works out in a church looks very much acts very much like it would in a theater, for example, and so we’ll be looking at how we can work these out churches, and then move to the question of theaters.

-30-

- Posted by Rich Miller        

16 Comments
  1. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 3:10 pm:

    It’s disgraceful and phony for the privileged to scream government oppression in COVID-19 protests when real oppression happens all too frequently, with African-Americans being killed by cops and discriminated against all the time.

    Shame on us for not elevating the fight against racism and poverty to the top of our governmental priorities.


  2. - GregN - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 3:12 pm:

    I get the impression that many Downstaters, reporters included, don’t usually follow these daily briefings. Stale/old questions and back to lengthy answers (instead of “I addressed that yesterday”).
    I’m not complaining, just offering a plausible reason for what will be a 90 minutes session.


  3. - GregN - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 3:21 pm:

    Nitpick re baseball:
    Not 1 mention by J.B. about safety of players and families. Only the desire for the leagues to resume play.


  4. - Homebody - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 3:23 pm:

    To GregN: Looks like Pritzker addressed that.

    == Even that as you can imagine, think about two teams. You know all of the surrounding people that work for the team involved. It’s a lot of people. –


  5. - GregN - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 3:29 pm:

    Homebody:
    Thx, I did hear that. But he mentions MLB several times, which, at least in my mind if not in fact/intent, means “ownership “. No mention of the MLBPA, those who actually perform for us.


  6. - Pundent - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 3:32 pm:

    =But he mentions MLB several times, which, at least in my mind if not in fact/intent, means “ownership “. No mention of the MLBPA, those who actually perform for us.=

    When I think of the MLB I think of the players first and foremost. Same with the NBA, NHL, and NFL. The players are the sport. Nobody tunes in to see or hear from the owners. So not mentioning the players union doesn’t seem like a slight to me.


  7. - May Soon Be Required - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 3:48 pm:

    Surrounding States will continue to feed on the carnage. Events will happen just not in Illinois. The beauty of a free society is someone is right and someone is wrong. Time will tell and the World will judge.


  8. - Nick - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 3:59 pm:

    Feed on what, exactly?

    If there’s a baseball game but with no fans and they choose to play… somewhere in Indiana instead of Illinois, what exactly has Illinois lost out on exactly?


  9. - Silicon Prairie - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 4:18 pm:

    No way the NHL is coming to Chicago. If the gov wont allow more than 10 people in a church, why would he allow close to 100 for a hockey playoff


  10. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 4:45 pm:

    This isn’t snark or a ding or throwing shade…

    It’s nice to see the Governor have an availability in the Metro East region…


  11. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 4:53 pm:

    === I can’t answer that question. I know the PGA has been in touch with my staff the Illinois PGA has anyway. And I just don’t know what the status of those discussions are.===

    This event is a huge charitable event too for the area, arguably the single largest charity event every year in the region.

    The golf is pretty tasty too, played the track on a number of occasions.

    Fans? Can’t see it.

    Why?

    Even the Tour, admittedly, is coming to terms as to how you can have fans on the grounds, suites, corporate tents, buildings, then there’s the pro-am, dinner, a PGA Tour stop isn’t a bunch of folks playing golf, and especially not a bunch of folks playing golf to the charities too.

    I’ll be more than curious, but the Tour is as cautious as these locations hosting.


  12. - ANON - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 5:27 pm:

    Who on his executive staff was responsible for bringing the southside hospital deal home? There were no state funds involved in the project and the federal funding was in place to construct a new hospital and several outpatient clinic on Chicago’s southside.

    Someone needs to be held accountable for botching a billion dollar health care investment in a community that has seen nothing but disinvestment for decades.


  13. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 6:17 pm:

    ANON - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 5:27 pm

    Crain’s Daily Gist has reported that the proposed network would not say what facilities would close, transform, etc. Why would any administration go out on a limb for that?


  14. - Cool Papa Bell - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 6:18 pm:

    I don’t think the NHL is coming to Chicago. I still can’t understand why the league wouldn’t try to locate in Madison or South Bend. Leave players in the dorms skate on the sheets of ice on campus.

    Golf could be one thing that might be back first with fans. No grandstand seating. Along rope line only and sell tickets access by hole.

    Could be one way to manage the crowd and allow a 50/100 people a hole?


  15. - R A T - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 7:47 pm:

    It is nice the gov mentioned the murder of this black man but I wish we could see actions against whitesupremists and not words. These bigots are infiltrating normal society and it is having a trickle-down effect (I feel for my Jewish brothers too).


  16. - My 2 Cents - Wednesday, May 27, 20 @ 10:00 pm:

    ==No way the NHL is coming to Chicago.==

    Chicago is a hotbed for COVID. The odds of the NHL coming to Chicago are the same as the odds they come to NYC. Major cities will not be able to have large events any time soon.


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