Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike held a COVID-19 press briefing today 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 12 p.m. every day here on Illinois Newsroom.
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President Biden has been in office for less than two days. And already there’s a noticeable difference in the effort to listen to and be responsive to the needs of the states. So far, it appears that addressing COVID is his administration’s top priority. hour by hour, his team is seemingly unraveling the mess the previous administration left behind and focusing on improving vaccine supply and administration.
Just yesterday, on the first full day of the Biden Harris administration, the President signed 10 executive orders designed specifically to address this pandemic, including something I’ve been calling for the invocation of the defense production act, to improve the supply chain that we need to enhance vaccine production, as well as increased testing and treatment therapies for Illinoisans and for all Americans. He’s also asking Congress for $20 billion to expand vaccination centers, and mobile clinics beyond what we’ve already planned, and for funding to hire 100,000 new public health workers to build up our nation’s underappreciated and understaffed public health infrastructure. I’ve made clear to Illinois congressional delegation the need to take up this legislation immediately 48 hours into this new president’s term and 11 months into this pandemic, it finally feels like help is on the way.
It’s in that context that I want to provide an update on the progress of Illinois COVID-19 vaccine administration plan.
What we’ve done, and where we’re headed next is what I want to present. This week. Our Illinois National Guard mobile vaccination teams have begun operations at six vaccination sites in Cook County, working in partnership with the local public health department. And over the next three weeks approximately 25 additional National Guard vaccination teams are deploying to more sites in high need areas all across the state. That’s on top of the soon to launch sites in St. Clair County that I announced last week. Let me pause to just acknowledge the heroic efforts of our Illinois national guard who have deployed to not only stand up mass vaccination sites, but also to protect the inauguration in Washington DC, and to protect our State Capitol Complex, all just in the last week alone.
We all should be so very proud of our Illinois National Guard. They are considered among the best in the nation. The guard is just one piece of our state’s vaccination administration. They work in conjunction with the 97 local health department’s we’re all on the frontlines and taking on the responsibility to vaccinate their communities at a scale never before seen while also navigating a completely inadequate national supply of vaccine. local public health departments are locally operated and funded. And you can imagine how challenging this pandemic has been for many of them.
Imagine the work that they have to do so vitally important and not having enough staff or not having enough resources. So we’ve been there to try to help them to lift them up. We’ve seen incredible work though, among those local public health departments across the state. And I want to highlight two such examples. In Quincy, the Adams County Health Department has already ramped up to administer over 1100 vaccines a day in a community of 65,000 residents and in Greene County about halfway between Adams County and St. Clair County. Their health department administered their entire federal shipment last week, within 24 hours of delivery.
These are far from outliers. This week alone Illinois set three days of records for vaccine doses administered and not just by squeaking by. Our new high blew past our last by more than 10,000. That is to say for three days in a row. We have hit record numbers of vaccinations in the state and 10,000 more yesterday than the day before. In fact, as of today of the vaccines directed by the state of Illinois, over 60% have been reported administered and another 10% have likely been administered but have yet to be reported.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the federal pharmacy partnership program for long term care facilities set up under President Trump. I’m very troubled to see the slow pace of the federal government’s program to vaccinate Long Term Care residents and I have expressed that concern to the Biden administration and to the pharmacy partners, they must accelerate the pace of vaccines to our most vulnerable residents. As of today, the federal government has set aside 524,050 doses from the overall number allocated to Illinois for the purpose of vaccinating Long Term Care residents, but only 93,683 have been administered by the federal government’s program that’s less than 20% of their supply. After discussions directly with those pharmacy partners, they have pledged to vaccinate at all skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities by February 15, with second and third visits in the subsequent weeks, to assure full coverage to residents and staff. As of now, nearly all health care workers in phase one a have been provided the opportunity to get vaccinated, while the federal effort to vaccinate residents at long term care facilities continues, although not nearly as quickly as I would like. This meets our criteria to substantially complete phase one A. So starting this coming Monday, January 25. The entire state is moving to phase one B of our vaccination administration plan, as our very limited allotment allows. This means you will be eligible to get vaccinated if you’re 65 and older. And if you’re a worker who is classified by the CDC, as a frontline essential workers such as teachers, first responders and grocery workers. This does not mean however, the right way that that right away, you will be able to get the vaccine as quickly as you have in the past gotten your flu shot. Because federal vaccine production was hampered by the failure of the previous administration to properly invoke the defense production act. vaccine supply is limited all across the nation. There are additional vaccines in the pipeline that may soon see FDA approval, and that will help but there are 3.2 million Illinoisans in phase one B, so there will be far greater demand than supply for at least the near term. To put it in perspective, we’re expecting approximately 120 6,001st doses to arrive next week outside of the city of Chicago. That’s less than 4% of the one B population. Until the vaccine supply improves, we will all frankly need to be patient.
But we are building capacity, so that as vaccine increases, hopefully over the coming weeks, we will be ready. Starting Monday our National Guard sites as well as local health departments and many pharmacies will be taking appointments for those in phase one be including at Walgreens, CVS and jewel osco. With hundreds of sites coming online by February 1, additional pharmacies including high V Mariano’s and Kroger will join them. As we increase capacity to make vaccine widely available, we will launch a statewide website to provide more information so that you can make an appointment to get vaccinated. Already today, the Walgreens appointment website is up and running and the others will soon follow. Although appointments will be hard to get for some time, times will become more and more available to you to make appointments for as our state receives increasing numbers of doses. Because of the supply limitations, I want to re emphasize that vaccinations will be given by appointment only. So don’t try to line up at your local store or call your local pharmacy. When we have a steady stream of vaccine coming in from the federal government. We will launch walk in locations and round the clock operations.
As the nation awaits greater supplies and ramps up vaccination sites, every Illinois and can do their part to fight this pandemic with the tools we know work, masking and distancing. And over the last eight weeks, we’ve all used those tools and made real progress bringing down our COVID hospitalizations, our positivity rates and our daily COVID-19 cases as a state. Our statewide positivity is the lowest it’s been since mid October. And while COVID-19 hospitalizations are still
more than twice what they were this summer. There are now almost half of our pitfall peak. enormous sacrifices are being made to achieve this progress. But those sacrifices are truly making a real difference. Thank you, thank you to everyone who is doing their part.
This also means that our regions have achieved reduced mitigation levels based upon the metrics that idph set out.
New as of today, region four has improved to tier two mitigations, meaning that now all 11 of our regions have seen meaningful enough improvement to exit our strictest mitigations. To more regions Cook County and Chicago are on track to move into tier one tomorrow, which would allow for limited reopening of bars and restaurants. And some regions have made enough progress to advance to phase four, which is a level of reduced mitigations that we achieved last summer.
My administration has worked with public health officials to balance supporting the economy with keeping people safe. And we’ll continue to do so and in a few moments Dr. Ezike will walk you through new sports guidance, allowing expanded levels of play for youth and adult recreational sports or regions that reach phase four.
I’m very pleased with the progress that we’re making as a state. But I want to remind us all that we continue to live in a perilous moment. Look around the nation outside of Illinois, and you’ll see the pandemic at its worst in many places. The risk of a resurgence in Illinois, particularly with extremely contagious new variants is serious.
Our ability to have limited indoor restaurant service and to restart youth sports could be cut short if we aren’t extremely careful. The CDC is already warning that the faster spreading UK variant could become the dominant strain in the United States in March. And a virus that’s more contagious, ultimately results in more cases, more hospitalizations, and more deaths. Yet on a more hopeful note, that same report noted that if we take proven measures to reduce transmission, like mask wearing and ramping up our vaccination rates nationwide, we can tamp down infection rates into the spring even with the UK variant.
I know none of us want to see another wave of COVID that brings on more mitigations. So let’s not let our guard down. With cautious behavior we can keep people healthy and power through these final months of the pandemic together.
Now, I’d like to take a moment to update you on our efforts to provide economic relief to our small businesses, particularly those most in need. Illinois business interruption grant program, the largest of its kind in the nation delivered a record number of grants to rural micro and minority owned businesses statewide. It saved jobs across the state. There’s more that can be done though. Last week, the federal government’s paycheck Protection Program or PPP reopened with another $280 billion in forgivable loans, offering another opportunity for small businesses to unlock emergency funds. Of course, that’s easier said than done. We know from past rounds that the Federal PPP has presented tremendous barriers for very small businesses and those that are minority owned, since both tend not to have the in house navigation expertise of larger corporations. That’s why we’re beefing up assistance to all small businesses in Illinois, so anyone eligible gets access to this next round of federal PPP funds. I’ve directed my administration to provide community navigators through our small business centers, to our small business development centers to work directly with our small business owners, helping them access the dollars they deserve. With a special focus on businesses who haven’t received aid from the state, because we know the need is still so great. Our community navigators will sponsor more than 100 webinars in the coming weeks. Offer virtual office hours in every region, support for local chambers of commerce and collaborate with local governments to raise awareness. To learn more about getting help accessing federal PPP money, visit illinois.gov/DCEO. Our small business development centers and community navigators will also serve to support small businesses who qualify for the soon to launch federal economic injury disaster loan program for hard hit businesses in low income areas, and the shuttered venue operator grants, providing support for theatres, and cinemas, concert venues and more under COVID-19 stimulus authorized by Congress last month. So the bottom line is this, Illinois is focused on vaccine administration, maintaining strong health care, and hospital systems, and scientifically based public health mitigations. But all the while building toward the economic recovery that we all know we need by helping job creators survive and thrive as we work to overcome this pandemic.
Over the past seven months, I’ve received countless emails, letters, phone calls, from students, from parents, from coaches, many others about youth sports. They’ve been organized protests about the issue, I hear and I see and I feel the passion around youth sports, I take very seriously the value that recreational outlets offer the physical and the mental health of our children, I also take very seriously the need to protect them, as do their parents, and their coaches and the broader communities. So we are looking at how we can all play safely together. And we will talk about that now. The updated sports guidance that we are releasing today outlines the level of play allowed, dictated by the current public health conditions that we find ourselves in, we have to think about the amount of virus circulating in the communities, we have to continue to think about the test positivity, the people in the ICU with COVID. And as well as other metrics. The guidance outlines when only trainings can be permitted, versus when intra conference play can be allowed. And then at the highest level, when tournaments and championship games across leagues can be permissible, as has been the case throughout the pandemic, we can’t change the fact that there are different sports and they have different levels of risk. Sports like basketball, or football or wrestling pose a higher risk compared to those such as track and field or baseball or gymnastics. So we can have to make adjustments to best balance, the ability to play, and the need to stay safe, depending on the conditions in the community. And so that’s where everyone comes in to continue as the governor has implored, continue with the masking and the safe choices that will allow these numbers to continue in the downward right direction. So moving forward for all the regions that are in phase four already. And as of today, that is that is regions three, and as well as regions five, and six. So regions three, five, and six are currently in phase four, we do hope for more regions to join them. All sports will be allowed to play at the intra conference region, or league levels.
I hope that we’ll all use the experience that we have garnered as we go forward so that we don’t in fact, see another surge and go back into higher levels of mitigation that would suspend these levels of play. Reduced mitigation does not mean abandoned mitigation, businesses, restaurants, events, and activities still need to have reduced capacities. People still need to avoid large events, we still need to use our mass all the time. We know that these things worked. It’s it’s just a plain fact. And so we need to keep doing what will work to keep our numbers down so we can continue having sports and having indoor dining as those requests. I’m also cautious as the governor mentioned that as we begin to see these other variants of COVID-19 spread. We have another threat against these numbers that we’ve worked so hard to bring down. early studies have shown that the virus the variant first detected in the United Kingdom spreads more quickly, and that could cause our case counts to skyrocket.
In a very short period of time. We’ve also heard of variants coming out of South Africa and yet another in Brazil, another in Nigeria, and we suspect that those variants identified will continue to increase. We know that viruses constantly change and new variants of the virus are expected, we must continue to stay on guard as the virus that causes covid 19 mutates and as these new variants are in fact detected, we will continue to perform genomic sequence testing on more and more specimens to help detect these variants and their potential spread.
In the last 24 hours, more than 125,000 COVID-19 test results were reported. For a total since the beginning of this pandemic of more than 15 point 2 million tests. overnight in the hospitals across Illinois, 3179 individuals were hospitalized with COVID. And of those 3179 661 were in the intensive care units, and 348 patients were on ventilators. Today 7042 new individuals with COVID are being have been reported for a total of 1,093,375 total cases. Since yesterday, we’ve received reports of 95 individuals who have passed from COVID, for a total of 18,615 lives lost to COVID-19.
Regarding the 7000 cases today, that number if you note is slightly higher than what we’ve been seeing. And that is due to an adjustment, we’ve adjusted our probable case count. That is, and that’s now in total included in the total cases we’ve just reported. We have worked tirelessly over the past year to provide the latest health guidance to combat COVID-19. And we’re providing the best data we can so that people can see what is happening as quickly as possible in their respective communities. Our response to this pandemic has evolved from a year ago, and it will continue to evolve as we continue to learn more as we study the new variants. And as the vaccine successfully goes into the arms of the people of Illinois, what will never change is our commitment to protect the health and safety of all communities and to provide as much information as quickly as we can to all of the residents of Illinois. Our objective is simple and this pandemic as quickly as possible. And we need your help to do that, of course. So please continue to where your mass please continue to maintain six feet of distance. Please continue to avoid large gatherings and let’s get vaccinated when your turn is up. Thank you
Q & A
Why were healthy prison inmates moved ahead of people with high-risk medical conditions in the picking order for vaccinations?
Well, they weren’t moved ahead. Let me explain to you that the ACEP committee at CDC recommended that we vaccinate prisoners at the same time that we vaccinate corrections officers. This is in fact, not just an ASAP recommendation, but the Bureau of Prisons for the federal government is vaccinating prisoners. So, to the Biden’s so that was under the Trump administration, same as happening under the Biden administration. So that’s where we landed. And, you know, I’m pleased that we’re able to move into phase one, B, we have, as you know, 3.2 million people in this next phase, the vast majority are people 65 and over, and we’re glad to be able to get to them. And as you know, many, many of them have several comorbidities. So, they’re very much at risk.
I’ve been carrying this with me, all sports all played, not one hospitalization for any of the students, they played football, they played, girls volleyball, these are all the states right now that have confirmation of when they’re starting basketball. The only two holdout states are Illinois, and New York, they even have basketball tryouts for high school in California yesterday, and they’re having them today. What are these governors recklessly endangering the lives of students? But but we’re not here? Why are we doing this? This makes no sense.
As you know, there are many more people who are playing youth sports today as a result of the movement between tiers. And two, phase four. I’m happy to have Dr. Ezike give you more.
So it’s per region, right? So it’s not for the whole state. But if your region is in phase four, you can play, you can play basketball games. If you’re in phase four, you can absolutely practice and play basketball games.
And let me just say this is all on on the website, you can go look this up for yourself. Let me also say that, you know, you you talked about the number of children who’ve had COVID. As a result of planks, remember, the issue here is very much our children carrying at home to their parents to their grandparents, right after interacting very closely, as you know, sometimes, you know, without a lot of padding or whatever, right in interacting with one another. So we want to make sure we’re keeping families safe. Our number one concern has always been to make sure that kids can go back to school. And so making it safe for them to go to academic classes is the thing that we’ve been focused on. As you heard today, things have changed. Things have changed as a result of the great work that people have done across the state following the mitigations. And so there are many more people playing sports today than yesterday.
The IDPH Twitter profile has regions 10 and 11 on track to advanced a tier one on Saturday. There’s a lot of restauranteurs in Chicago suburbs, and in the city wondering, well, that happened for tomorrow. We have the numbers today. What do we know about tomorrow?
So we will be able to know tomorrow if they in fact meet the criteria. It’s looking like they will get there. And so that announcement will be made tomorrow, whether it’s confirmed that 10 and 11 have reached tier one.
There’s been a lot of blowback that some high profile Illinoisans have been getting vaccine ahead of others who might be in more need. Can you speak to the conversation that’s brewing in Illinois about Line Jumping for those who shouldn’t be getting it in the proper order?
So we we have a clear set of guidance. We have had teams of people within idph work with infectious disease can Sultan’s moral philosophers bio emphasis, to really look at the guidance that was given by the A CIP and then see if there were any adjustments. So we’re very proud of the the document that we’ve had, and we’ve worked really hard to make sure that there are no, that we’re not making exceptions just based on, you know, requests from other individuals. So we have it clear and all of the individuals in the state that are supposed to be giving out any of the COVID vaccine are supposed to be following and adhering to those those guidelines and right commendations does idph have the ability to look at at every place that vaccines are administered to make sure that no one was inappropriately given a vaccine. No, but we are collecting as much data as we can. And we are asking that people certify, you know, which group they actually belong to. If someone says that they are, you know, of the of a group that they’re not Do we have a way to really mitigate that that’s, that’s a little different. I think for the most part, things will follow according to the guidance. And of course, now with one be open, many, many people are eligible. And so I think, things we can’t work towards the exception, we’re working for the greater good for that for the masses. And I think for the for the most part, things will hold, I know that nothing is ever perfect. And so I think you have to accept that there’s only so much that can be done.
Has the state of Illinois directed Walgreens, pharmacies and whatnot to stop vaccinating people with surplus doses, even if it meant the vaccine to be thrown out? And if so, where is that direction?
So we’re working on systems where everyone has to be registered ahead of time. So there’s not an open call, where just anyone can show up and get vaccinated, there are appointments, and so individuals have to have pre registered, so we know who’s coming. You know, I don’t think there’ll be any loss, any shortage of slots in terms of people not filling up the slots, given how many people are eligible now and how eager people are to get the vaccine. So I think all the people in one a, we have someone, one eight people that still have to be vaccinated. And then the one the people in one B, those are the individuals who will be getting the vaccine, whether it’s in the retail pharmacies, or at from their local health departments or other providers that are helping us with this COVID effort.
I’m working a lot on the CDCs report from last Friday regarding the estimate or the projections that be 117 variants going to be that on variant the United States within six to eight weeks in March. From an epidemiological standpoint, the public health standpoint, it’s a new variant. What do we not know about the variant that you wish he knew at this point that would be useful for you in your job right now?
Well, I think we know enough to understand what precautions that we all need to take. So this is not the time to suspend using mass so if something is more transmissible, it’s more transmissible that would suggest that we need to double down on mask wearing if something is more transmissible, then that would mean that larger gatherings are even more dangerous than they were before. So we you As we you know, learn more about, you know, this variant and maybe how it will do against them, monoclonal antibodies, etc. There are things that don’t change as we’re learning more about the variant. And so those important things are the things that are going to make the difference, you know, continuing to be mass, you know, it’s not inappropriate to say, I can breathe comfortably with one and I can do that with two, maybe two will give us that extra level of protection, that, you know, large gatherings unmasked, you know, indoor, obviously more risky than outdoors. Like all of those things, we’ve been saying that the message doesn’t really change, it just means is more important. Now more important than even before to adhere to them. So will continue to follow the science. You know, I have colleagues in the UK that I converse with regularly and is very helpful to get, you know, their information as well, we’ll continue to use that information, what our colleagues have seen to make sure that we’re keeping a close eye and that we’re giving all the appropriate guidance, and making sure that we don’t react too late. So if we do see an surge in terms of the UK variant, we know that it starts to multiply very quickly, once it takes a significant hold. We know the numbers now are very, very low. But that can change like you said, In March, we think that could become the predominant variance. So we’ll be watching to figure out the time that we will have to take more aggressive steps to curb its continued spread.
Can you elaborate on this new website the state is setting up? Is it actually going to facilitate making appointments or merely link to places where people will make appointments? additionally, not all seniors are computer literate? Or have the internet? Will the state at some point set up a hotline to assist them? What about seniors who don’t have access to transportation, transportation? And will the state set up a program to help them?
Let me start by saying that people will be able to go to a website that will get them to either their local public health department or to a pharmacy where they can sign up for an appointment. So people will who are able to get online. And that’s the vast majority of people, people who are not have the ability now to call their local public health department and get more information. And that’s at least at this point, if they have a question, they can do it that way. And we certainly want to make sure that people have access to information if they’re not computer literate. So in addition to that, there is obviously there is a number that you can call Coronavirus, hotline at the IDPH that will direct people.
Given what you’ve learned during phase one, a a vaccine distribution and what you’ve seen of the Biden administration’s plan, can you provide an estimate for how long it will take to get through phase one B in Illinois? When should the general population reasonably hope to see vaccine availability? At this point?
I know I’m gonna get asked this question virtually every time I stand up here, people want to know when exactly are we going to move on to the next phase? Or when can I get mine as what people are saying to themselves. And it is frustrating, I must say, very frustrating for us. Because if we had more vaccine, we have the site’s being set up all across the state to be able to administer more and more vaccine. That is what we’re prepared for. And so more vaccine arrivals deliveries to the state of Illinois, will be extraordinarily helpful for us. And I can’t tell you an exact date. I think it would be irresponsible, in fact, to set a date and tell you that that is when everybody is going to be vaccinated or every adult or even in the next phase one See? Because until we see what vaccine production and deliveries will look like, it’s impossible to predict.
Were you encouraged or discouraged when Dr. Fauci said yesterday, would likely get back to normal by the fall?
I don’t know whether I was I mean, I don’t think I was thinking of whether I’m encouraged or discouraged. I think every day about how challenging it is that we don’t have enough vaccine. And so I guess I he’s knows more about what’s going on inside the administration, I suppose on vaccines than I do. So I guess that tells me that, you know, that they are ramping up as fast as they can. But, you know, I know that last a few months ago, he felt like, you know, by late April, but that was with promises from an administration that frankly has never lived up to its promises.
With new strains of the virus and Illinois and the US and vaccine distribution not yet at levels you’d prefer, why is now the right time to reduce mitigations throughout Illinois, is it possible we could see a return of increased mitigations if there’s wider spread?
It’s always been the case that if we see resurgences you know that we’re gonna have to bring back mitigations that’s always been the case. We set metrics for that purpose, to set triggers so that we would know everybody would know that it isn’t just a random question and that, you know, our doctors are on it at all times to make sure that yeah, if the UK variant I think Dr. Ezike said it brilliantly, you know, if we see signs of the UK variant is overtaking the what we’ve already seen Coronavirus in the United States. And that case loads are beginning to surge at rates that we haven’t seen before, then obviously, we’ll be moving into different mitigations.
Do you like the idea of FEMA sites in Illinois? Would that mean more vaccines or just better distribution?
Well, by itself, just to say there’s a FEMA site doesn’t mean more vaccines, it definitely means more distribution, and so more more distribution to the state of Illinois, with more sites. That’s what we need.
Senator Durbin acknowledged today that he is disappointed by how few nursing home workers are willing to be vaccinated, what’s being done to convince these workers to vaccinate?
Yeah, so we have not only a social media campaign to address them, but also we’ve talked to the union representatives, for example, for many of these folks to make sure that they’re communicating to their union members. We’ve talked to the nursing home ownership, to make sure that they’re communicating to their workers, and will continue to you know, we’re running a campaign I know that the federal government is about to, or is looking at the Biden administration to run a national campaign to convince people who are vaccine hesitant to get vaccinated. I will say that, my if I haven’t any optimism here, it’s really because I’ve heard people tell me that they’re concerned about taking the vaccine because they don’t know anybody who’s had the vaccine yet. And they’d like to hear their neighbor, tell them that they had it, and it was fine. And then they’ll go do it. And or that their doctor says it’s okay, and they haven’t had a chance to talk to their doctor yet. So I think that kind of hesitancy can be overcome fairly easily.
In Central Illinois regions three and six. We’ve seen people line up for hours and even spend the night to get a vaccine. Most of these are 65 and older community members. What is your reaction to seeing the long lines in Kuwait? Can we and when can we expect more vaccine.
We’re not we’re not making the vaccine. So I don’t have control on when we’ll send more. I’m familiar with some of the vaccination sites that are happening, and six. And so I know that each of those individuals have appointments. And I also know from talking directly to the public health leaders there that even though people had a vaccine appointment for 11 o’clock, they showed up at eight o’clock anyway, so we just need to continue to message because it’s just the eagerness everybody’s so excited to get this vaccine. But we do need to message to our population that we don’t want to inadvertently create a situation where they catch COVID while waiting for their vaccine Three hours later. So we need to come at our appointed time, we need to make sure that we message to our communities that that time is their time, and that it is the time that they will get the vaccine and they don’t need to come to in three hours and queue up because they already have an appointment. And so I think, you know, this is new. People want to make sure that oh, you know, they told me 11 but maybe other people might come in and try to do a walk in and take mice, we have everyone we want to rest assured that those appointments are going to be adhered to people cannot come in off the street as a walk in and take your vaccine. So you don’t have to queue up or be waiting in line for hours before your time. I think people will get to know that as we move forward. But I understand the excitement and the fervor around getting their vaccinations.
One B starts Monday, there’s 1000s of people right now listening and watching saying, what is that website? Where do I go? Where do I sign up to give that safety and that sense of security? Can you elaborate a little bit more on folks who right now want to plan their Monday or plan a week or Monday?
Yeah, so just to be clear, you know, there is going to be on the Coronavirus website information and somebody was asking is that links, so there are going to be different links. Some will be directly to pharmacies, some will be to our platform, this em track where the local health departments are putting in information about their pods. Some of them are specified where they’ve already targeted a group and said, We are still working on, you know, dentists in the community who didn’t have an appropriate way to get vaccinated as part of one a and so only those dentists that were trying to be targeted, will have that link to sign up. But when there are, you know, the additional open to the masses, and I know it’s confusing and it’s also frustrating that yes, I’m going to be eligible as of Monday, but I can’t get it on Monday and unfortunately, that is the message when we get 100 about 120 maybe 120 6000 doses next week for a pool of three point 2 million for one B plus the remnants of that first pool, we have almost 4 million people that are eligible. So I need people to understand that, yes, they’re eligible. But no, they might not get it this week or this month. And so we will, as we have all of that information and those pods, we will be able to have people linked to it, but it’s not in abundance now where everyone can sign up and think, I think, coronavirus.illinois.gov and they can make reservations and go from there.
That is the website. But they’ll be able to go on there and link to whatever is closest to them a pharmacy partner or local public health department or some other series of links. It’s not, it is but it’s because your whoever your provider is, whatever is closest to you is going to be different than whatever’s closest to Craig wall, for example.
The republicans who held a press conference today calling for you to halt your push for decoupling legislation, saying it would hurt struggling Illinois businesses during the pandemic. What’s your response?
Senate Majority Leader, former Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and the former president, Donald Trump, pushed for legislation giving a massive tax increase to some of the largest businesses, that what they also did was affect state revenues across the United States, which is why 26 states have put through decoupling an additional nine states already were automatically decoupled and other states that don’t have an income tax, were not affected by decoupling. So it’s really actually a fairly standard movement by states to make sure that they’re decoupling. And we’re going to do the same I you know, the Republicans, we’re now at one days since Election Day, they’ve not proposed any cuts to state government any way to balance the budget. And now they’re proposing blowing perhaps a half a billion dollar hole in next year’s budget.
Can you provide more information on the vaccine doses administered to people from out of state, where do these most of these people work and live? And are they primarily healthcare workers?
So Illinois, of course, by virtue of our position in the in the country is bordered by multiple states, right. And so we have many people that live in Indiana and work in Illinois. Same with Missouri, same with Wisconsin, same with Iowa. So we have those situations, I’ve talked to all of my peers and the bordering states, none of us are going to get into Well, you don’t you don’t live here, but you work here. If you work in my office, we are swapping air together, regardless of where you put your head down to sleep at night. And so we are all protected in this work environment if we are vaccinated. So making that distinction between the fact that you you work with me and swap air with me, but you don’t put your head down in the same state with me is irrelevant and not productive and is not going to protect our community. So we are saying that, you know, if you work here, you reside here, yes, you will take advantage of this vaccine, and that will help our community, our communities be safer.
Some regions went from tier three, all the way down to phase four immediately with the adjustments to the mitigation metrics earlier this week. Can you please explain this decision? And how does the State surge staffing program make up for the number of hospital beds?
So no, no, no group? No entity? No region went from tier three to phase four. That’s that’s not that’s not correct. And then the second part of the question, can you explain how the state staffing contract helps make up the hospital bed, right. So we know that there are some areas of the state that are struggling like they do have fewer beds available and the med med search department. And so being able to get additional, additional staff to staff beds is is makes all the difference in the world. Anyone can put a bed in a in a room in an empty space can convert an empty wing into into a medical floor. It’s not the beds that are necessary. It’s the also the people that will staff those beds and so by having access to our Statewide Contract, you can now have access to get a pool of staff that can staff beds as needed. necessary. And so that’s why we can know that even if med surge beds are lower, we will be able to support individuals that need to get the staff to be able to turn over new beds and create more availability. That way, it’s a lot harder to create an ICU bed because of the intense amount of equipment, the high tech equipment that’s necessary. That’s not as easy as creating a medical surgical bed.
While last year was challenging for so many due to the pandemic cannabis sales were a huge success. How do you feel today being able to get the first two or three grants out to the communities in need?
Well I think it’s terrific. It was what was done to begin with. It’s part of the effort to address inequities across the state. It’s also an effort to address the failed war on drugs. So I’m elated. And I have to say that the lieutenant governor did a terrific job leading the our three board, making sure that we’re getting those grants to the right places and the right people in disadvantaged communities to address those wrongs.