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GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – State processes more than 20,000 tests in one day

Published: Friday, May 08, 2020 04:33 PM

Gov. Pritzker spoke mostly about the state's successful efforts in ramping up COVID-19 testing, on a day when the state reported 20,000 tests processed in the past 24 hours, the biggest batch of results received to date.

While he said it's an important part of the state's plan to reopen, it is only one component of it, and efforts in all areas must continue. The governor also said three new drive-thru testing centers throughout the state will be announced in the coming days. He also called out the partnership between the state and Pekin-based Reditus in helping expand testing technology.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike spoke briefly on the importance of contact tracing as the next stage of fighting the virus. She reported 2,887 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total cases to 73,760, and 130 deaths, bringing the total death toll to 3,241.

Dr. Ezike was asked about the on-gong string of days with triple digit deaths. She advised people should look at averages and not any set of days.

Asked about the struggling restaurant industry, the governor said there should be additional industry support in any new aid package out of Washington.

Asked about other states seemingly going ahead with greater ease in awarding unemployment benefits to gig economy workers, the governor said other states have resources Illinois does not, and they went ahead without following federal guidelines and are hoping they will be reimbursed later.

Asked about a variety of plans being filed by Republican lawmakers and counties and other groups, the governor said he is aware of numerous plans, tries to review all of them and has incorporated many ideas from recent plans into his own plan for Illinois.

“Everybody’s got a different plan,” he said. “This is why you need leadership.”

He also said it shows why the country needed one consistent plan from Washington.

Asked if parents should assume summer camps would be canceled, the governor said, “I wouldn’t assume anything.”

Asked if schools would open for the next school year the governor said he wants schools to open.

“That’s my hope and desire.”

He also said something that applies to many of the hypothetical questions he received today:

“None of us knows exactly what the future holds.”

Asked about Exelon’s continued push for state assistance for nuclear plants, the governor threw the issue to lawmakers.

“We don’t need the high paid lobbyists to be guiding this for us. … My hope is the legislature has been continuing its work.”

He also downplayed the issue altogether.

“Is it true there are higher priorities … yes,” Pritzker said of Exelon’s request.

GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – Gov. Pritzker talks unemployment benefits

Published: Thursday, May 07, 2020 04:37 PM

Gov. JB Pritzker spoke Thursday about the efforts made to shore up IDES' unemployment claim response as it prepares for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program that will provide benefits to gig economy and other workers who previously didn’t qualify. In addition to highlighting the additional manpower and infrastructure IDES has used to respond to the more than 1 million claims made since March 1, he clarified a few things about those newly applying for the PUA program:

  • Applicants should apply for traditional unemployment, even in the likelihood they will be denied. That denial is the first step, per the federal government.
  • Applying in the days leading up to May 11 could mean quicker payment, as things like the program's debit cards could be mailed right away, even if an applicant is currently denied.
  • The step of being denied traditional unemployment first is "mandatory" per the federal government, Pritzker said.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike reported 2,641 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the state's total to 70,873. There were 138 additional deaths yesterday, bringing the state's death toll to 3,111.

Back to the new unemployment system, Pritzker said the new computer system could process 140,000 online applications per hour.

He also said a new call center is staffed with people from Illinois.

Media questions today include:

The governor was asked why he defers to local authorities when asked about the enforcement of his executive orders.

“That is how laws are enforced in Illinois, by local law enforcement.”

A Decatur reporter asked about the reluctance of Macon County officials to name businesses where there have been outbreaks, even though other, similarly sized counties do identify businesses.

Pritzker said that is a decision being made locally but that he believes that information should be disclosed so employees and shoppers know.

Dr. Ezike said IDPH classifies an “outbreak” as a location with two or more infections tied to it.

Asked about professional sports, Pritzker said he’s talked with local franchises about their plans, and one option is to work toward opening without fans. He said the teams have an interest in protecting the players, who are worth millions to their business.

Asked why Grundy County and others are lumped in with Cook County and therefore likely to be the last counties to open, the governor said it was based on people living in outlying counties and commuting into Cook or the collar counties where there have been numerous infections.

“There’s probably no way to draw these lines that would satisfy everybody,” Pritzker said.

The governor confirmed that it would be difficult for large water parks and amusement parks to open anytime soon but held out hope that an effective treatment is on the horizon that could change plans.

The said the same was true for Orland Park Mall.

There was also a question about a media interview in which former Gov. Jim Edgar praised Pritzker’s handling of the situation and said that doing the right thing supersedes politics.

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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