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Pritzker’s Daily COVID-19 Briefing Full Transcript And Audio — Dec. 23, 2020

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike are holding daily COVID-19 press briefings as cases and hospitalizations in Illinois reach record highs. Read and listen to the latest update from the governor’s office on new cases, phased re-opening and closings of different regions and the state’s ongoing pandemic response. You can watch the most recent press briefings at 2:30pm every day here on Illinois Newsroom.

Have a question about COVID-19? Ask Illinois Newsroom, and we’ll try our best to answer. The questions we receive from you directly inform the stories we tell and what we investigate. Let us know what you need to know!


Governor Pritzker 

Well, good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us. Dr. Ezike and I wanted to provide an update on the COVID-19 Medical matters and also our vaccine distribution process throughout the state. So let’s dive in. Late last Friday, the FDA authorized the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for public use. This is a wonderful development, but it may create some confusion among the public. For both of these vaccines, you are required to get two doses. But it’s important to remember that experts say you should not mix vaccines. So whichever one you eventually get for your first dose when it’s available, Pfizer or Moderna, that’s the one you should stick with for your second dose.

Your healthcare provider will keep track of this for you and you’ll also receive a card to take home remind you after you receive your first dose. Our own Illinois independent review panel has now evaluated all available FDA findings for the perma darnos vaccine, just as they did for Pfizer’s and once again, the experts in Illinois unanimously endorsed the CDC recommendations on the vaccine. Also over the weekend, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices a set met to provide further guidance on upcoming rounds of vaccinations, which states can then use to guide their own prioritization or Remember, we’re still in phase one a, defined by a sip as healthcare workers and long term care facility residents and staff, and it will take some time before those vaccinations are completed. The new recommendations from a CIP offer suggestions for the next round, phase one B and phase one see, our idph team is reviewing a sips recommendations in the context of Illinois data. And Dr. Ezike and I will provide a further update in the new year on what the upcoming phases will look like in Illinois. In the meantime, Illinois, including the city of Chicago, has, as of last night, administered 100,991 vaccine doses to date. That’s more than any other state in the nation so far.

That’s a product of the hard work and deliberate process of Illinois IDPH and IEMA vaccine distribution team, our state’s local public health departments, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, and the amazing staff on the ground, maximizing efficiency and minimizing waste. Their success is a win for all of us. By sheer population, California is three times our size and Texas is two and a half times our size. So they will eventually outpace us in sheer numbers at some point this week. But the vaccine team in Illinois sprinted past them all in week one. This week’s allocations from the federal government include 23,400, Pfizer doses outside of the city of Chicago 15,600 Pfizer doses to the city of Chicago, and another 37,050 Pfizer doses from our location set aside for the federal government’s Long Term Care vaccination program, outside of Chicago, operated by CVS and Walgreens. The majority of those shipments were shipped directly to locations around the state yesterday, with the final shipments arriving today.

This week also marks the beginning of Moderna shipments here and across the nation. Today and tomorrow. 174,600 Moderna doses will arrive direct to providers and local health departments across the state with Chicago, expecting approximately 48,000 doses this week on its own. The Moderna vaccine, of course does not require ultra cold freezer storage, and has a longer shelf life of 30 days if kept refrigerated after its thought, which allows for more flexibility in its distribution. And with this week’s Moderna shipments vaccine will have officially reached all 102 counties in Illinois. Next week’s tentative allotment by the federal government is reasonably consistent with what we expect, based upon the updated reduced allocations that I announced last week and when we have final numbers on Those expected shipments I’ll be sure to provide them to you. Our lives are full of so many unknowns right now. And our childcare services know that all too well.

I wanted to make sure today to make an announcement that I hope will provide some relief to our childcare provider network, and our working families this holiday season. So the challenges that childcare services are under are seeing our staff calling in sick or staying home to take care of their own families, concerns about community transmission, families pulling their kids out of care. These tumultuous times have rained down in multiple ways on our early childhood network of providers. And I wanted to make it easier for them, so that we can make sure that childcare is available to parents who need it. So as we face down this pandemic, during this winter, Illinois is going to step in and help all providers and families enrolled in our Child Care Assistance Program, otherwise known as C cap, secure a little more stability and flexibility just as we did in the spring. The state will cover all eligible days of C cap payments for for December, January and February, no matter what your attendance looks like. And all that’s required is for providers just to submit to us a simple waiver form.

I want to commend the incredible staff at the Department of Human Services, who have done such an amazing job managing our federal relief funds and our existing state dollars so that we can offer this additional winter support to providers and families without requiring any additional state dollars. Our team also stands ready to implement Illinois portion of the $10 billion in child care support included in Congress’s December stimulus package. Throughout the pandemic, I have called for more assistance for this critical sector. And I’m pleased to see the recognition of this need in this latest round of stimulus. The fastest way to the post pandemic world our residents deserve comes when our national government invests in lifting up schools, small businesses and first responders who shape our communities. And I promise to continue fighting to get those dollars for our working families, and for all residents of Illinois. So thank you. And with that, I’d like to turn it over to our Director of the Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngozi Ezike.


Dr. Ngozi Ezike 

Thank you, Governor. And good afternoon, everyone. As we all know, this has been the year that no one dreamed of or asked for lives have been lost. Businesses have been turned upside down in our everyday norms have been interrupted, and hundreds of 1000s of Illinois at their health deteriorate at the hands of a deadly virus. I want to thank the Illinoisans for taking this virus seriously. Who’s listened to public health guidance and practice mitigation measures that saved many, many lives. It goes without saying that 2020 was the year of the essential worker from the nurses and the doctors treating the COVID patients to the grocery and the factory workers that kept Illinois moving. I can’t thank each of you enough.

We are indebted to your service. And of course, some have lost their lives in doing so. To the teachers that adjusted to elearning and the first responders that showed up to work every single day risking their health in order to do their job. I thank you as well, to Team idph, and all of our local health department partners. Because of you, we have been able to educate and support and provide Illinois with the tools to help slow down the spread of this deadly virus to Governor Pritzker to Deputy Governor so Flores and all of the state of Illinois agencies. I thank you for your steadfast leadership, your unwavering support, including the 4:45am text and the 11pm conference calls. Illinois would not have been able to perform over 12 million tests, vaccinate over 100,000 frontline medical workers putting us number one in the country right now and provide millions of dollars in grants to small businesses without our state leaders. Thank you.

Today we are reporting 6762 new individuals diagnosed diagnosed with COVID-19 or a total of over 918,008 In Illinois, and unfortunately, we have received notification of 135 new deaths in the last 24 hours for a total of over 15,500 lives lost. Overnight 4593 individuals were reported to be in the hospital with COVID. And of those 953 were in the ICU and 536 were on ventilators. And the last 24 hours 82,000 tests have been reported for a total of more than 12 point 6 million tests. Since the beginning of this pandemic. Yes, there is a long road to go. But we are truly at the beginning of the end. There’s still road to cover. But we have to have to have to stay the course. We can’t let people who made it this far, not make it to the finish line. We’ve gone too far to turn back. Now.

The best way to avoid another surge in hospitalizations, another surge in death. Another surge in new infections is to celebrate the holidays at home with the family that you currently live with. And I know it sounds crazy to ask that yet again. And I know that some of you will. And I know that some of you won’t or can’t. And for those of you I asked you to think of additional safety measures that you can employ as you travel as you gather that can make the visits somewhat safer than the safest option. For those that are staying home. I know you have to reflect on this tough year all of us are reflecting on this tough year. And we’ll think about our loved ones but we will make plans for next year. And we will hope for many of the people that are here today to still be with us as we get back to normal. Another quick reminder that even though more vaccines are being administered, we still have to mask up.

We still have to wash up, we still have to back up and keep that six feet of distance and it’s not too late to get your flu shot. We are not in the peak of flu season yet. And so you can help this help our hospital workers by protecting yourself against the flu protecting yourself from transmitting the flu to others and preventing those flu hospital admissions for those healthcare workers that are over, overwhelmed already with all hospital all the hospital beds that are in use now. I wish everyone again a healthy and happy holidays and look forward to a wonderfully bright 2021.

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