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GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – Illinois working to increase testing capacity and medical workforce

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike reported 250 additional cases, bringing the state's total confirmed cases to 1,535, and announced four additional deaths, bringing the total death toll in Illinois to 16.

Gov. Pritzker spoke today about the state's ongoing efforts to ramp up testing capacity in Illinois, saying he expects the combined efforts of hospitals and increased workforce capacity provided by the Illinois National Guard to double the state's roughly 2,000-per-day testing capacity within the coming weeks.

03.24.20 COVID Presser Boards Hospital Capacity2He said the state's two-prong approach includes increased testing and taking every measure possible to increase Illinois' hospital capacity.

Pritzker also laid out numbers illustrating Illinois' current hospital capacity and demonstrating how it would be affected if no measures like the stay-at-home order were taken. He  reiterated calls to the federal government to make use of the Defense Production Act to meet states' demand for crucial supplies.

Other news:

  • He reported the federal government has made available an additional 300 ventilators and 300,000 N95 masks.
  • 180 former medical staff have applied to return to the health care workforce.
  • A drive-tru testing site organized for health care workers and first responders by Illinois staff and Illinois National Guard was described as a “national model” by federal authorities.
  • The National Guard is assessing recently closed hospitals for potential use in a worst case scenario in which existing hospitals would become COVID dedicated centers and non-COVID patients would be moved to expansion sites.

Speaking frankly, the governor said there is no certain end date to the measures necessary to fight COVID-19. The governor also called out talk of lifting stay-at-home orders in the interest of the economy and the suggestion from Texas’ lieutenant governor that older Americans are OK with sacrificing themselves to keep the economy going.

"In case there's any doubt in your minds, I am not willing to sacrifice anyone," Pritzker said. "There is no life more or less precious than any other. I want people to spend years after this is over celebrating birthdays and wedding anniversaries in healthier times."

Asked about the effects on the budget, the governor said it was clear that budget and revenue estimates from two months ago are no longer useful. Said his budget office is monitoring.

Illinois National Guard Adjutant General Richard Neely reiterated that the guard is NOT deployed with weapons or enforcing quarantines. He said approximately 115 guard members with medical backgrounds and training are assisting health care workers.

COVID-19 Links

Illinois Department of Public Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Illinois Department of Employment Security - Unemployment Benefits

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