CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Sunday announced that another airlift of personal protective equipment will soon be coming from China to fight the coronavirus outbreak, and defended the choice to have the state bring in equipment from overseas.
Meanwhile, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said there were 1,197 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Chicago on Sunday, and 33 new deaths – for a total of 30,357 confirmed cases statewide and 1,290 deaths.READ MORE: Belmont Cragin Carjacking Leads To Fiery Crash, Multiple Other Parked Cars Struck
Pritzker said another airlift of PPE will be coming from China on Monday, after the first flight landed last week. The Illinois National Guard will handle the logistics of transporting the PPE, which will first be taken to a state warehouse and then distributed to first responders and health care professionals.
The first shipment of PPE directly to Illinois from China arrived on Thursday. It was loaded with millions of masks and gloves for Illinois first responders – and a state insider asked CBS 2 to keep quiet about the landing until it was completed.
That first flight, which began in Shanghai, cost Illinois taxpayers $888,000 according to state receipts.
Pritzker said if it seemed atypical that a state government would be moving items in from another country, that’s because it is. But he also said it was necessary due to the current situation – and took a jab at the federal government.
“That’s the landscape that we’re operating in – competing with other states, other countries, and our own federal government for supplies,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker also emphasized that most disposable PPE used by health care workers comes from China.
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reported Sunday, the issue of testing for coronavirus also came up at the news conference.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that President Donald Trump should get an F when it comes to testing. But Vice President Mike Pence went on national television Sunday morning to tout what he said is the government’s great success when it comes to testing.
“Yes, we think we’ve laid a strong foundation for testing for Phase One, and we’re going to continue expand testing going forward for the nation in the weeks and months ahead,” Pence said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”READ MORE: Dixmoor Boil Order Remains In Effect As Crews Continue Work To Identify Source Of Weeklong Water Woes
He said as of Sunday, the country was testing about 150,000 people a day – and he said he believes that number could double once all the labs in the country are activated.
But Gov. Pritzker said that is easier said than done, and he said most of the states are at the mercy of those labs – as Illinois was on Sunday when it came to reporting data.
“Today, we got no report from one of the largest commercial laboratories in the country, and so that’s a number of tests that were obviously done and completed, but never reported to us, because they didn’t report it to anyone in the country,” Pritzker said. “You know, why that is, I can’t tell you.”
Pritzker was also asked about protests against ongoing stay-at-home orders in many states, particularly Michigan. The stay-at-home order for Illinois is in place for the rest of the month of April, though it may be extended.
“I think I would say to all those folks who legitimately want to get back to work that I do too. I want people to get back to work. I want people to get back to school. And I want us to have a great summer, and so I’m looking at all the ways to make that happen,” Pritzker said. “But we’re in the middle of an emergency – a pandemic – and it’s nothing like we’ve ever seen, at least in our lifetimes.”
Thus, Pritzker said, the state cannot open up if it’s dangerous to do so.
“We have got to be very careful as we make decisions about change in the stay-at-home order to keep people safe, and I’m looking at all the ways in which we can open things up and keep people safe,” he said.
Pritzker did say people should have more confidence in a brighter future – particularly given the likelihood that a treatment could be coming. He emphasized in particular a study on Remdesivir at the University of Chicago.
Published reports said U of C clinical trials have showed promising results for an antiviral drug being tested as a possible treatment for COVID-19. Reports state COVID-19 patients who were treated with Remdesivir, a treatment for the Ebola and Marburg viruses, have been recovering quickly.
Pritzker emphasized that the study on Remdesivir is not over and it is not an approved treatment. But he did say the prospect of treatments for COVID-19 in the coming months should be reassuring.MORE NEWS: Surveilence Video Shows Moments Leading To The Arrest Of Allan M. Brown, Suspect In Kenosha Police Shooting
Pritzker also said while there is no order about wearing masks while outside now – only an advisement – an order may be coming in the future, whether applying when people are outside in general or only when people are going into essential stores or other spaces with a lot of people.