Rockford, Illinois News

COVID-19: J.B. Pritzker blasts feds for shorting Illinois on test kits

By Jim Hagerty

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker, on Saturday, said the federal government has been “playing games” in response to his requests for coronavirus test kits.

Pritzker said while he acknowledges there are people working hard at the federal level to distribute tests kits throughout the county, people in Washington he’s talked to haven’t made good on promises that Illinois would be properly stocked.

“This has happened a number of times now,” the governor said. “Weeks ago, we were promised tests. I was told by people at the highest level, ‘It’s right around the corner.’ ‘We are going to see more and more tests.’ Then weeks went by.”

The governor said Illinois has received some tests, but not the “thousands and thousands” he was promised since the pandemic hit the United States.

“(It’s) not even at the number that was promised weeks ago,” he said. “And now they want to try and play games about the numbers.”

In the interim, he said doctors across the state have spun up other testing methods. But it’s slow-moving. The ability to test large amounts of people is imminent.

“I’m frustrated, but hopeful in a way,” Pritzker added, ” that the commercial laboratories in the private sector will help us figure this out. Because so far, the federal government hasn’t. Private companies are developing rapid tests that don’t take four five hours to get an answer for. It’s something you do on the spot. That would be a revolution here. I am hopeful in that regard that we are going to get help. The ingenuity of the people of  Illinois, the ingenuity of  the private sector, the ingenuity of  the people who work in the laboratories and the hospitals across our state is heartening.”

Pritzker also added that the vast majority of those who contract COVID-19 will experience flu-like symptoms and recover in a few days. But because the virus is highly contagious and dangerous to seniors and those with underlying conditions, the situation could place an extreme burden on hospitals.

“The problem is that the numbers of people overall who are getting COVID-19 are so large, even the small number of people who have trouble recovering is more than our health-care system may be able to handle. That is why we are all working so hard to make sure that we keep our social distance and that all of you obey the stay-at-home order.”

As of this report, the Illinois Department of Public has reported 753 cases of COVID-19 in 26 counties. Seventy-three percent of the cases have been registered in Cook County. There are four confirmed cases in Winnebago County.

Five Illinois residents and another visiting from out of state have died since the coronavirus pandemic reached the United States in January. The latest victim was a Cook County man in his 70s.

Following is the percentage of COVID-19 cases by Illinois county.

Adams ˂ 1% LaSalle ˂ 1%
Champaign ˂ 1% Madison ˂ 1%
Christian ˂ 1% McHenry 1%
Clinton ˂ 1% McLean 1%
Cook 73% Peoria ˂ 1%
Cumberland ˂ 1% Sangamon 1%
DeKalb ˂ 1% St. Clair ˂ 1%
DuPage 9% Washington ˂ 1%
Jackson ˂ 1% Whiteside ˂ 1%
Kane 1% Will 2%
Kankakee ˂ 1% Williamson ˂ 1%
Kendall ˂ 1% Winnebago 1%
Lake 8% Woodford ˂ 1%

Unknown jurisdiction (at this time) ˂ 1%

The entire state of Illinois will be under a stay-at-home order effective at 5 p.m., Saturday.  The order expires April 7 but could be extended.

This story has been updated.