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GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – Illinois surpasses New York for tests per capita

Published: Tuesday, May 19, 2020 04:55 PM

Responding to questions today about Republicans criticizing his executive orders and the Restore Illinois plan as "extreme," Pritzker said: "What's extreme are lawmakers who don't call out their fellow lawmakers who stand at rallies and call elected leaders domestic enemies, or give the home address of our U.S. Senator and tell them surround their houses."

"The vast majority of the people of the state are following the plans we put out and are supportive of the plan we put out," Pritzker said. "I know there are some vocal leaders across the state, but I think everybody understands that the enemy here is against COVID-19. We ought to be following the science, not the whims of a mayor or a leader of a reopen group, especially those who are carrying vile signs to make their point."

Pritzker also announced that, on a per capita basis, Illinois this week surpassed New York in testing capacity. He also invited Drs. Richard Novak and Emily Landon (whose entreaties to take the virus seriously in March made headlines around the world) to speak about the continued need to stay the course as Illinois begins to show some promising signs of declines in the severity of the virus' effect on hospitalization.

IDPH Dir. Ngozi Ezike reported 1,545 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the state's total cases to 98,030, and 146 additional deaths, bringing the state's total death toll to 4,379.

"There is evidence that the Stay at Home plans are working," Dr. Ezike said. "We could have been seeing tens of thousands of deaths."

Among questions the governor fielded:

  • The governor said he would not be seeking a lump sum budget.
  • The administration is pursuing PPE fraudsters.
  • The Dept. of Human Rights is working with businesses on cases where people may be claiming medical vulnerability in bad faith for the purposes of flouting the face-covering rules.
  • The governor said any legal challenges against Stay at Home or business shutdown orders are going to be doomed to failure.
  • He encouraged colleges to make sure to forward vote-by-mail ballots to students who aren't on campus and encouraged students to update their registration, and again reiterated that he hopes the legislature will move to expand vote-by-mail.
  • Responding to a question about whether safe visitation of elder family members in nursing homes is being considered, Dr. Ezike said this is the last thing that should be considered in light of the overwhelming deaths in elder communities from Illinois and around the world. "Visitation should be the last thing that we should think about."

GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – New enforcement tools and ramped up contact tracing

Published: Monday, May 18, 2020 04:20 PM

Gov. Pritzker reserved comments today to address his new executive order imposing additional enforcement measures for businesses that defy the Stay at Home Order. He said the order establishes a milder form of enforcement - a citation - than was previously available to law enforcement agencies. The misdemeanor itself has always been in place, he said, prohibiting businesses from violating the direction of the Illinois Department of Public Health. In this case, that means opening during an infectious pandemic against health recommendations.

"It's my strong preference that education and communication should be our first tools," when it comes to enforcement, Pritzker said. "For the vast majority of businesses, that's been effective. When a business violates an IDPH rule and puts public health at risk, they violate a Class A misdemeanor. That's been the law. This additional enforcement citation causes less harm to a business than a total shutdown or loss of license. Many other states have enforcement tools like this, but not Illinois, until now."

The governor clarified that this can only affect a business, not an individual (such as a person refusing to don a face-covering), and that as with any misdemeanor, local law enforcement and state's attorneys can use their discretion in its enforcement.

Gov. Pritzker also spoke about the state's plans to ramp up contact tracing. He said the state's approach will rely on the 97 local health departments to work in concert with IDPH to use a standardized information management system to track cases and follow up with those who have tested positive for COVID-19. That will include an app for those who have tested positive, which will pass them information and simplify the process of following up. A pilot program focused in St. Clair and Lake Counties is currently in effect, the governor said.

Pritzker said underfunding of public health departments and the rapid nature of the virus' spread have hampered the state's initial efforts. Currently, the state is performing contact tracing with 29% of positive cases. He said getting the state to the recommended 60% of contact tracing tracking cannot be done with the state's existing infrastructure, which is why it is taking steps to hire new tracers and build out its digital platforms.

An initial digital message (such as a text) will be followed up by up to three phone calls and only as a last resort would contact tracers attempt an in-person follow-up, said Dr. Wayne Duffus, the state's epidemiologist.

"(Contact tracing is) arguably our most sustainable tool," Pritzker said. "Knowing if you've been exposed gives everyday Illinoisans the means to keep their family and friends safe."

People interested in becoming a contact tracer can find the application at dph.illinois.gov/COVID-19.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike reported 2,294 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the state's total cases to 96,485. Over the past day, Illinois saw 59 additional deaths, bringing the state's total death toll to 4,234.

COVID-19 Links

Illinois.gov

Illinois Department of Public Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Illinois Department of Employment Security - Unemployment Benefits

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