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Pritzker’s Daily COVID-19 Briefing Full Transcript And Audio — Dec. 17, 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

Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the COVID-19 update for Thursday, December the 17th. Today I want to provide an update on the vaccine distribution statewide with a focus on the situation outside of the city of Chicago. As we’ve said previously, Illinois first week Pfizer vaccine allotment, totaled 109,000 Pfizer vaccine doses, that breaks down to about 23,000 for the city of Chicago, and 86,000 for the rest of the state of Illinois.

On Monday, excluding Federal Direct delivery to the city of Chicago, the state of Illinois received the first 43,000 doses. About half of our allotment from their distribution was made from our Illinois Strategic National Stockpile to hospitals across the state. doses were delivered first to our Regional Hospital coordinating centers, and also direct to DuPage. County, then on to 45. counties and local health departments. finally arriving at 77 hospitals all across the state. I’m pleased to say that all shipments arrived safely and securely at their destinations over the course of the last two days. As of this morning, about 3500 vaccinations out of those deliveries had already been given all two health care workers with many more scheduled for today and throughout the weekend. And to be clear, that’s just out of our initial statewide shipment. Separate and apart from Chicago.

We’ll be sure to provide regular updates on that number in the days and weeks ahead. Today 43,000 additional doses arrived from the federal government at Cook County Department of Public Health, Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center, Madison County Health Department and St. Clair County Health Department. With these latest shipments Illinois will have received the entirety of this week’s vaccine allotment. It is truly exciting to see these health care workers are heroes on the front lines of the pandemic, who have put themselves at risk every day to save lives begin to receive their vaccines. As we approach the end of Hanukkah, and with Christmas and Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve in sight, I need to offer a reminder that we all wish didn’t have to be said these next few weeks and really these next few months are going to be crucial in our fight to keep people healthy. experts across the nation agree that this could be the deadliest time of the pandemic until the vaccine is available to everyone. And until we eradicate this virus once and for all.

We must continue working to protect one another. Estimates show that 10s of 1000s of lives can be saved between now and the projected end of this pandemic. If we all take mask wearing seriously and avoid gatherings. This holiday season, I’m asking all Illinoisans to commit to that goal. The best way we can prove protect our frontline workers and slow the spread of this virus is to double down on mask wearing social distancing, washing hands frequently, each of our individual choices, meeting up with your cousin’s at Grandma’s for Christmas, jetting off to reunions for New Years. These are choices that affect not just the other people who choose to partake in them, but whole communities. Our choices affect the cashier at the grocery store, the janitor at work other people’s loved ones and our own. Let me close with a reminder of what we know about COVID-19 because this information can help everyone be even just a little bit safer. And that matters. Here’s what the science tells us.

The greatest risk comes when you have a group of people together in an indoor space that has limited flow of fresh air. And when we’re doing things like singing and talking without masks on. The research shows you don’t have to be symptomatic to spread this virus to other people who may get much sicker than you might. And a negative test is no guarantee that you don’t have the virus because you can catch it at any time beginning right after you’ve been tested. Every expert and every study shows that wearing a mask and keep Six feet of distance is a very effective way to avoid getting this virus. So mask up, keep your distance and plan smaller, more intimate celebrations this year. Let’s give each other the greatest gift of all this holiday season, good health and a bright future. And I’d now like to turn it over to our Director of the Department of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike.


Dr. Ngozi Ezike

Good afternoon. The CDC and the FDA have updated recommendations regarding the number of doses that are available in the multi dose of Pfizer vials. So in the vials that we’ve already distributed, and that we’re beginning to use and use all across the state, we were initially given the guidance that each vial contained five doses. So that’s five individuals that could be injected with the vaccine. At this time, given the public health emergency, the FDA is advising that it’s acceptable to use every full dose that can be obtained from this vial and from what people have seen here in Illinois and across other states, a sixth dose can be extracted from that vial, and in some cases, even a seventh dose. What has to be clear is that any remaining vaccine that is in the vial that does not equal and full dose cannot be combined with remnants from other vials.

We don’t want to waste any vaccine. But it’s also critical that we make sure that every individual receives a full safe and effective dose of vaccine, vaccine safety and protection from and protection is our focus. In the last 24 hours, more than 92,000 COVID-19 tests were were resulted for a total of more than 12 point 1 million tests here in Illinois. Today, we are reporting 8828 new individuals that were diagnosed with COVID for the first time for a total of 879,428 cases. Since yesterday, we have received reports of 181 new individuals who have lost their battle with COVID. And that brings our total lives lost to 14,835.

Just here in Illinois, just since the beginning of this pandemic in 2020. Overnight, 4801 individuals were in the hospital with COVID. And of those 1063 were in the intensive care unit 575 patients were on ventilators. While we continue to see new cases. We still have people going into the hospital every day. And clearly we have ongoing deaths. I am guarded that we are headed in the right direction in terms of the numbers trending slightly downward. But that’s not an indication that we should throw caution to the wind and make large holiday and New Year’s Eve plans and gatherings. As the governor already mentioned.

This is the time of year for friends and family. But I would like to ask that you continue to celebrate the holidays virtually or in person with the people that you live with. Send holiday cards drop off gifts, you know do caroling outside call video chat text, but stick with the people that you live with. I especially want to encourage the young adults who sometimes feel invincible that you two need to take precautions. For over for nearly two months, we have seen that the highest number of cases have been in the age group 20 to 29. And while these younger people are much less likely to suffer severe illness, we still see that those younger individuals can expose our older family our older friends who could suffer much more severe illness if they were to gather for the holidays.

I strongly urge people to stay home and celebrate safely so that we can have our giant post pandemic celebration. Thank you so much for your support.

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