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Pritzker: Federal Government Not Supplying Enough PPE

Screenshot of J.B. Pritzker via Blue Room Stream
Blue Room Stream
Blue Room Stream
Screenshot of J.B. Pritzker via Blue Room Stream

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker says he’s having to pursue many avenues to acquire personal protective equipment for hospitals and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mike Smith reports.

Pritzker has repeatedly said the state hasn’t received even a fraction of the supplies needed to combat the new coronavirus from federal stockpiles. As a result, the governor says he’s speaking with manufacturers directly.

“Day in and day out, we are on the phone with companies that have ventilators, companies that could provide ventilators to us, some that manufacture ventilators,” Pritzker said.

Leaders have gotten in touch with manufacturers like Ford Motor Company, General Motors and Vyaire Medical to help get those supplies to Illinois.

Pritzker said the state cannot afford to wait any longer for much-needed supplies.

“We have now lost hundreds of Illinoisans in the fight against COVID-19,” Pritzker said. "Thousands of family members, loved ones, friends and neighbors are grieving.”

Pritzker said Illinois hospitals alone are burning through millions of PPE items every 10 days.

So far, Illinois public health experts have confirmed 12,262 residents have COVID-19, but since testing remains limited, the real number is likely much higher. 307 residents have died.

Meanwhile, President Trump said during a news conference Sunday the governor “has not performed well” in negotiating supplies for Illinois.

“There’s a governor, I hear him complaining all the time, Pritzker, I hear him, he’s always complaining,” Trump said.

Trump said the federal government will help to staff a field hospital at McCormick Place in Chicago.

“We’re helping to staff it and probably will end up staffing it because he’s not able to do what you’re supposed to be able to do as a governor, he has not performed well,” Trump said.

Pritzker responded to the claim earlier today during his briefing.

“To anyone who wants a response to some of the blame-shifting coming out of the White House, all I have to say is look at the numbers,” Pritzker said.

The state’s recent PPE orders, meanwhile, are staggering: 10 million N95 masks, over 14 million KN95 masks, 7 million surgical masks, 22 million disposable general use masks, over 19 million gloves, over five million face shields and over three million gowns.

Pritzker said he will address the number of hospital beds the state is adding during tomorrow’s briefing.

Copyright 2020 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Mike Smith is the graduate Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2020 legisltive session.