Governor Pritzker calls for the Defense Production Act, increased testing

“We can revive our economy, we can’t revive the people that are lost to this virus,” Governor JB Pritzker said.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker discussed in-state testing, his call for federal intervention for resources and protective measures Tuesday, March 24 during the governor’s daily COVID-19 briefing.

There are 250 additional cases of confirmed COVID-19 in Illinois and four additional deaths according to Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

In Illinois there are 2,200 ventilators with 1,600 currently available. The administrator is looking for more ways to obtain new ventilators. The federal administration has sent 300 more ventilators and FEMA has sent 300,000 N95 masks.

“We won’t fall into the trap of forgetting that these are people with families and friends who love them and people who are worried about them. And for those who have passed on their loved ones are now grieving and don’t have the opportunity to celebrate their lives with traditional funerals with wakes,” Dr. Ezike said.

Dr. Ezike said people should continue to stay indoors, wash their hands and stay away from hospitals and nursing homes.

“Let’s do everything we can and prevent as many deaths as possible,” Dr. Ezike said.

The governor said 2,000 tests are being completed daily throughout Illinois. 600 tests per day are being done in three state labs in Chicago, Springfield and Carbondale. In two weeks Pritzker said in-state testing will be at 4,300 tests per day

“Testing helps demonstrate the actual reach of COVID-19 and informs us how we can potentially isolate this outbreak even as we work to flatten the curve,” Pritzker said.

Four state and federal testing facilities began drive-through testing on Sunday and Monday.

The Illinois National Guard opened the first entirely state-run drive-in testing site in north-west Chicago. The site can test 200 specimens per day and is designed to take specimens from healthcare workers and first responders.

Senior members of the US Department of Health and Human Services surveyed the site last weekend and called the set up “a national model that they hope to replicate in other states” according to the governor.

Pritzker said on a call with President Trump that he should invoke the Defense Production Act. The Act gives the federal government authority to direct private companies to meet the needs of the national defense.

“I know I sound like a broken record but if I have to stand here every single day until I’m blue in the face and advocate that the federal government fully utilize this act then I will,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said the reality is there is a finite supply of critical supplies which many governors are trying to obtain. He said the federal government should obtain and allocate ventilators and PPE.

He is very concerned about what the president is saying. President Donald Trump said today he wants to have the country getting back to business by April 12, Easter Sunday.

“I think the president is not taking into account the true damage that this will do to our country if we see truly millions of people die. That’s what I think would happen,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said the restrictions prevent lives being lost. He doesn’t think the president is listening to science, but rather looking at the stock market.