Pritzker By Phone Tells Trump What Illinois Needs

J.B. Pritzker speaks with reporters Monday at his daily briefing.

After days of blasting President Donald Trump over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the two spoke by phone Monday.

Pritzker has been especially critical regarding the lack of supplies going to states.  But he said in their conversation, the president was “very responsive.”

“He did say what do you need? Let me see if I can get that for you and I gave him some numbers. I told him what we had ordered from the government already and he said let me work on that,” the governor said.

Pritzker says he left the call with hope Illinois can receive items like masks and ventilators.

Pritzker continues to ask the President to use the Defense Production Act to order companies to boost manufacturing of supplies. But he said Trump doesn’t seem to like that idea.

Meanwhile, at his daily COVID-19 briefing, Pritzker told reporters he has  linked together the state’s manufacturers and biotech industries to boost production of medical supplies.

Manufacturers in both industries were asked to focus production on essentials such as N95 masks, gloves, gowns, ventilators and sanitizer.

“I can’t overstate how crucial this manufacturing capability will be in our fight against COVID-19,’’ he said.

Pritzker said  as the federal government has failed to provide needed medical items, his staff has been trying to work out deals with companies throughout the world. 

Also, the Illinois Department of Public Health Director said there were 236 new confirmed cases as of Monday and three more deaths in Illinois.

The governor also acknowledged that the state’s unemployment system has been overwhelmed.

Pritzker pointed out the number of recent claims in such a short period has been unprecedented – even as compared to the 2008 recession.

Tens of thousands filed for jobless benefits in the days after the governor ordered closures for bars, restaurants and non-essential businesses.

“We found over the weekend and over the last… couple days of the week that the systems that we had that were supporting the online applications wasn’t robust enough to take all of the applications that were coming in at one time,’’ he said.

The governor added new software system was put in the place and staff to take phone calls has been moved from nonessential positions.

He urged that those seeking unemployment go online to make claims and says he believes the move to the new software platform will make the process less frustrating for residents.

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is NPR Illinois News Editor.

Sean Crawford is the News Director for NPR Illinois in Springfield.
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