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Pritzker talks about reopening schools, bars and restaurants, what could prompt a tightening, bowling lawsuit, executive orders, traveler quarantine, the growing cases among young people and his graduated income tax spending

Tuesday, Jul 14, 2020

* The governor took questions from the media today. First up: “What is your stance on should schools be back in classroom come the fall? The President is pushing for it, the education secretary is pushing for it. Your stance and where do you stand on the issue?”…

Well, let’s start with our number one priority, which is the health and safety of our students, of teachers out paraprofessionals and everybody that’s involved in the schools, including the parents. That’s our number one priority. So, not just pushing everybody back into schools because the president says that he’d like to see that, but rather being careful and following the CDC guidance, the science the data that we have.

And so that’s why the ISBE has put forward guidance for schools to follow, requiring masks requiring social distancing, and so on. And there’s a lot in the guidance that’s been provided. But it’s because we’re trying to keep people safe. And if that means for a parent keeping their child at home because there’s a pre-existing condition because of the child, or perhaps somebody who lives in the home has a pre-existing condition, then the school has to accommodate that.

And school districts will make a variety of different decisions. Remember, each building is different. The capabilities of each school may be different. And so we want to provide all of the opportunities to get kids the kind of education that they should get, and also most importantly, keeping them healthy and safe in the fall.

Please remember to pardon all transcription errors.

* “Have you had any conversations with the mayor because everyone’s waiting to hear about the City of Chicago and of course it has different needs and all of that. What about the city schools, that the city of Chicago can hold school safely, buses, the numbers, in-class instruction?”…

Well, I’m not engaging in the details for each school and for each school district. But what we are providing is guidance to help school districts make the right kinds of decisions. So I know that the mayor is working hard on this. I know that the Board of Education, the school board rather and as well as the teachers’ union, are [garbled], it’s about the safety of everybody that’s in and around a school and engaged in school activities.

* “Are you considering shutting down indoor dining and bars again? At what point would you reinstate those restrictions if you’re not going to do it now?”…

Well, again, we’re watching these numbers very, very closely. I mean, I have I don’t wake up on any day and not look at those numbers first thing. And so as you know, as you’ve seen, we’ve been very measured about how we’ve reopened our state. And there are many people that complain that we are now isn’t open enough.

And so I would just say that I will not hesitate to reimpose some mitigations if we see our numbers moving upward. And so that’s, my concern, again, is all about the health and safety of the people of the state of Illinois…

* “Is there a cut-off number where you say, okay, the positivity rate is, at this point, we can’t have that? What what number do we need to be keeping an eye mostly on?”…

Well, again, I listened to our Department of Public Health director as well as to the many epidemiologists who are advising us. And watching very closely the states in the south and the west that are struggling right now. And wondering, where could we or should we dial, you know, turn the dimmer switches, they say, on some of these items? And the answer is that if we see a sustained upward movement of numbers, that’s something that is an alert for all of us in the governor’s office and in our administration to begin to look at the mitigations that we need to put in place.

* “OK, but you won’t give me a specific number and you didn’t tell me whether the bars or restaurants will be closed”…

All of the things that have beenpart of our Restore Illinois plan that have reopened in phases are things that we look at. To answer the question, if we needed to reimpose mitigations, which of these would be most effective? For example, it was not known earlier that indoor bars in particular, but bars at restaurants, too, can be places where, if it’s not managed properly, there can be significant transmission. That was not well known early on.

We had an idea, we imposed restrictions. But we didn’t have really enough data along the way. The data is now in. And so that’s one of the things we look at. Another is of course, what we watch is not just the positivity rate, but also the hospitalizations. And so when we’re trying to manage our healthcare system, we ask the question, well, how would you create more beds if you had to, or, as we’re moving up, what do we need to do to begin to move back down again? All of those possibilities exist from everything that we did in phase two, phase three are things that we would consider doing here in phase four, to move backward if we needed to.

* He was also asked about the lawsuit filed by the bowling center association…

I don’t know what to say, except that there are challenges that we all face in this world of a COVID-19 pandemic. And what we’re trying to do is to measure what things are less dangerous, that we can allow more capacity for, and what things are more dangerous. And again, I leave that to the scientists and the doctors to make decisions about, there’s nothing political about, you know, focus on one industry or another. It’s just all about, can we maintain safety and health guidance in these kind of settings? That’s all.

* “Are you at all concerned that the this judge could invalidate your executive orders?”…

Every situation in which the executive orders have been challenged at the federal level at the state level with you know, the exception of in one court in Clay County, but in every other situation the courts have sided with us because we are in a national emergency, we are in a disaster declaration within the state of Illinois. We have as everybody can see, a deadly pandemic that is among us. And so we have to act accordingly.

* Are you considering a quarantine order similar to the city of Chicago’s?”…

Well remember, our two major international airports are within the control of the city of Chicago live within the jurisdiction of the city of Chicago. And that’s already been done.

* “But statewide?”…

We don’t have a lot of international travel in other parts of the state. Just to be clear, there’s you know, there’s very little of it. So when you talk about Midway and O’Hare Airport, you’re capturing the vast majority of any international travel. Or, sorry, not just international, but to these other areas of the country. So I think the mayor has done what I think she saw was the right thing to do to manage the inflow of the potential for COVID-positive people to come to the state of Illinois, and I think it was the right thing to do.

* He was asked about growing cases among young people…

Well, I think I want to kind of go back to Mary Ann’s question too about bars. Because it is often been the case that people who are in the category of at least 21 to 29, I hope 20 year olds are not breaking the law, are going to bars and and maybe thinking, you know, as young people that they’re invincible, thinking that they can’t possibly catch it. Well, that’s not the point, you actually will be spreading it. I don’t want anybody to catch it ,but when you’re a young person, you’re often feeling invincible, you carry the virus, you can shed it to other people, may not ever feel any of the conditions that come with the virus. But all I can say is that we’re focusing messaging on young people because this is the largest cohort. It’s the area where, as you know, we focused on our senior citizens for the most part, to make sure and keep them safe and on those who are most vulnerable. But now, we have people who are acting unsafely going into these situations, as young people do. Giving it to each other and then testing positive. So we want to make sure that everybody who’s in the age category 20-29, not to mention everybody else knows the three W’s right, wear a mask, wash your hands watch your distance.

* “You’ve got the 51 million given to the graduated income tax. Why so much money? And is that all you’re going to give personally? Or do you think you might have to give more?”…

Mary Ann, you know, from day one I’ve been an enormous advocate of the graduated income tax. I think it’s the right thing to do. It’s the fairest way for us to to manage our revenues and our budget. Remember, the biggest thing that we have, the challenge we have in the state of Illinois before COVID-19 came along even, was a structural deficit. And so we’ve got to deal with that structural deficit. And so I’ve advocated for it, the legislature passed a bill. We know what the rates would be, and now there’ll be a vote in November.


- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      

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