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Pritzker’s Daily COVID-19 Briefing Full Transcript And Audio — Nov. 25, 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

Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the COVID-19 update for Wednesday, November 25. As a reminder, we won’t be holding these briefings tomorrow or Friday in honor of the holiday. But idph will continue to update the daily numbers online, and post a news releases on its website. Although Thanksgiving looks a little different than last year, I do hope everyone will still share special time with their loved ones. live elsewhere and do it by FaceTime or zoom or whatever communication method you may choose. And I want to wish you and yours a healthy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll kick it off today with a fiscal update regarding our state’s finances. As you may know, there have been two distinct negative effects on state government finances since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The first is the state’s need to provide protections to the public in the form of goods, like PP distribution to first responders, so they won’t get sick doing their jobs, and ventilators for those who are gravely ill with the virus so that we can keep them alive and supports for small businesses so that they can keep their doors open, and rental assistance programs for people who have lost some or all of their income because of the economic effects of the virus. Those are just a few examples of the unusual expenditures that are directly caused by the pandemic. The federal government provided an initial program called the cares act that gave direct funds to state and local governments to partially reimburse us for those specific kinds of pandemic related expenses. The second negative effect of the coronavirus pandemic has been a massive loss of tax revenue to state and local governments in Illinois, because of the virus, the funds that support our normal state expenditures like schools, roads, police, social services and health care. That’s what’s been lost.

Like many other states, Illinois has suffered job losses due to the virus, fewer purchases of goods and the complete shutdown of our travel and tourism industry, all of which have negatively impacted state revenues across the board. The COVID related loss of tax revenue to the state has cost us more than $5 billion. But despite great need across the nation, there’s been no federal reimbursement program for these pandemic related losses. The state and local government, at least not yet. Every state suffered revenue losses just like Illinois. For months now I have worked with governors of both parties and spoken countless times with members of Congress and the US Senate to aggressively advocate for direct federal aid for state and local governments who have lost billions of dollars in revenue due to COVID-19. But while we wait for the Congress to act and even without their support, Governor’s must also work with the tools that we have to cover the COVID related loss of revenue, so that we can balance our budgets and support our residents in this time of great need. The stimulus that Congress may provide should be aimed at the challenges brought on by COVID, not 19. Not the problems that state had the states had that predated the virus. For many years before the pandemic our state has had a structural deficit. And from the beginning of my term in office, I’ve worked hard to bring long term permanent solutions to the table looting implementing efficiencies to lower the cost of government, reducing the budget pressure of pension liabilities, investing in the expansion of revenue producing industries, and attracting our best students are best future assets to stay in Illinois rather than going to college elsewhere. And I’ll certainly work to continue to address our long term structural challenges in the coming session of the legislature. We must addressing the Illinois long term fiscal challenges that existed when I became governor will continue to be among my very top priorities.

But today I want to tell you about a portion of how we will address the short term COVID related fiscal issues that we face. The President Elect and the US House of Representatives have pledged to provide state and local stimulus funding to assist us with the short term term deficits that COVID has created across the nation. Because there has been movement among a bipartisan group of senators to support that stimulus. Our confidence level is rising, although it remains modest. In addition, the potential for delivery of vaccines in the coming months will help our economy recover. And therefore our state revenues may also see modest improve. Those two factors improve the likelihood that we will receive help to overcome the short term deficit that Illinois faces this year. As you know, the Federal Reserve is allowing states to borrow short term funds to help weather the financial storm created by the covid 19 pandemic. Back in May, when the budget was passed in the midst of the first wave of the virus. It was unclear how much potential short term borrowing would be necessary. But we did know that it would likely be one of the tools that we would employ to help us manage our way through this challenging fiscal year. Although the General Assembly authorized as much as $5 billion of borrowing from the Federal Reserve, I am very reluctant to saddle our state with that large amount of short term debt. I believe it would be irresponsible to borrow that entire amount.

Given the persistent fiscal pain it would cause over the next three years, as we would struggle to repay that entire amount. Today is the day we must give notice to the Fed of the amount we intend to borrow. So in light of this pandemics effects on our state’s fiscal condition, and my insistence that we look beyond this year to our state’s longer term fiscal condition. Today, we have notified the federal reserve of our intent to borrow only $2 billion, less than half of the $5 billion that’s been offered to us by the federal government. This was a joint decision that I made after close consultation with comptroller Mendoza and Treasurer frerichs. And I want to thank them both for working together on the short term strategy to manage the near term financial challenges brought on by the pandemic. Our collective intention is to repay this line of credit as early as possible, after either the awarding of stimulus by Congress or a sufficient recovery of state revenue. It is also important to recognize that we would not have had this tool available to us without the approval of the general assembly back in May.

Let me be clear. While we will continue to take every step we can to manage our way through this crisis, adding debt is not a long term solution to structural imbalance. Short term borrowing is a short term band aid to address the urgency of a short term problem like one caused by a pandemic. Our long term fiscal health must also be addressed, but not with short term borrowing. I have been communicating with leaders and members of the General Assembly to get their input and best ideas to address the long term fiscal health of our state. I intend to continue working with them over the coming weeks and months to identify the various means by which we will bring long term stability and balance to our state’s fiscal situation. Our goal with this short term borrowing is to continue managing our backlog responsibly, and fight to rebuild jobs and the economy over the coming year.

It’s my firm belief that short term stimulus and near term revenue recovery must be used to repay short term borrowing from the Federal Reserve. So now moving on to our normal COVID update. I want to start with some good news. As of today, Illinois has tested more than 10 million specimens since the beginning of this pandemic, with more than 1 million done in just the last 10 days. That comes as we are now averaging more than 106,000 tests per day. Also a new high for Illinois, of course, for all that we’ve done to prepare our physical testing infrastructure for a surge. The simple limits of our laboratories during a time of immense demand across the nation, like we’ve seen in these days prior to Thanksgiving, have started to lead to longer lines and longer test turnaround times, even at our state labs. While we’re doing everything in our power to meet the interest. I want to remind everyone that if you’re experiencing symptoms or if you had close contact with someone who tested positive, or just as concerning symptoms themselves, you should quarantine even from your family for 14 days. Remember, even if your test negative, it’s possible that you were in fact exposed. And it’s just too early for the virus to show up on a test. So don’t think that a negative test, don’t think of a negative test as any kind of free pass. That’s especially true going into this holiday weekend. The safest thing we can do for one another is stay within our own household. But if you are hell bent on gathering with others, outside your own home, please do it with just a few people. And importantly, this is not the year to have everybody over at grandma’s house. I know this isn’t what anybody wants to hear. But we also know that this crisis may come to an end in just a few months. Every day that we take action to stop the spread that says one day closer to widespread distribution of the vaccines, with fewer lives lost along the way. Just as importantly, every day we throw caution to the wind. Even if it’s a holiday is a day we backtrack on any progress that we’ve made for our health care workers, many of whom don’t get to see their families on holidays. in normal times.

People like Becky while felled the Registered Nurse clinical lead at Unity point health ICU. in Peoria, Becky has been a leader in setting up a new covid care ICU at up h Methodist sitting at the bedside of sick patients with technology so they can communicate with their loved ones at a distance. Or Terry Lamar, an infection prevention and employee health nurse at two shet Regional Hospital in Metro east. She has tested and educated countless employees and patients for the COVID-19 virus, dedicating countless after work hours monitoring results, and talking patients through their plan of care. Or Dr. Marianne Miller of the Javan B. Sorry Javan Bay hospital system in Rockford, who designed to COVID-19 units in the spring, while also providing direct care to patients. Dr. Miller is now hard at work designing alternate care models to help care for the many critically ill patients in Rockford. During this second search, there’s too many for the hospital to support the same way as it did in the spring. So tomorrow, this weekend, and just a few months longer. Think about Becky, Terry and Marianne and their family.

Think about your own family. Stay home when you can avoid gathering wear a mask, keep your distance. And if you haven’t yet, put your mask on and go get your flu shot. Doing so helps reduce the spread of that virus, helping our hospital systems better manage this pandemic, by reducing the number of critically ill flu patients they have to care for at the same time. Shop small businesses online. And if you’d like maybe start planning ahead for all the great celebrations and weddings and gatherings that you’ll have. When this is all over. We can get through this safely. We know how. So let’s use the tools that we have. And remember the best way through this is working together. Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving weekend, everyone. And now I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike

Thank you, Governor and I just want to share that among the things that I’m most thankful for governor is your steadfast leadership through one of the most trying times of our lives. So thank you. And for everyone, I want to wish you happy Thanksgiving in a very safe one. I’d like to try to implore one more time for people who may still be planning that get together with multiple households and friends who are not in their immediate household to please please, please reconsider. We don’t want anybody’s Thanksgiving dinner to turn into a COVID-19 Super spreader event. Our goal is to protect and not infect those that we love and care for. My fear is that two weeks from now we’ll start seeing a new spike in cases or hospitalizations because people from various households gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving. Please be a part of the solution and not part of the problem. And let’s decrease the spread of this virus. Since yesterday 11,378 new cases of COVID-19 were reported for a total of 685,467 cases in Illinois.

Unfortunately, it was reported that 155 additional lives were lost for a total of 11,832 deaths just here in the state of Illinois. These are our mothers and our brothers, and our sisters and our grandparents and so many loved ones who aren’t going to be with us at the Thanksgiving table or any future holiday. 6133 individuals were quoted to be in the hospital overnight with COVID-19. And of those 1208 patients were in the ICU and 679 were on ventilators. In the last 24 hours, more than 114,000 tests have been reported, or a total of more than 10 point 1 billion tests in the state of Illinois. And speaking of testing, if you do gather for the Thanksgiving holiday, remember to get tested afterwards, if you can’t test out of quarantine if you think you’ve been exposed, but please know that you can find a list of testing locations on our website, including the 11 community based testing sites where anyone can get tested at absolutely no cost to you directly. Our testing sites are open on Friday but of course remember that you have to wait at least a minimum of seven days after you think you may have been exposed to get tested. And as the governor said if you’re thinking of shopping if you’re shopping on Black Friday, don’t forget your your local stores and see if you can shop them online and you can purchase gift certificates from your favorite stores and give it as a gift to be used in the coming year. While it will look different and perhaps not at all how we want let’s try to make this upcoming holiday season one of shear and not one of fear for more COVID-19 illnesses and lives lost that could have been prevented. Have a safe blessed and happy Thanksgiving. And as always wear your mask watch your distance and wash your hands and of course also get your flu shot Thank you. 

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