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Pritzker’s Daily COVID-19 Briefing Full Transcript And Audio — Jan. 6, 2021

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!


Gov. Pritzker

Good afternoon, everyone. Happy New Year. Dr. Ezike has joined me today to help address the progress of the first three weeks of the vaccination process here in Illinois, and what the next phase of access will look like for our 12.7 million residents. As of last night, approximately 344,525 total doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been delivered to Illinoisans, outside of the city of Chicago. In addition, 114,075 doses from Illinois allotment have been set aside for the federal government’s Long Term Care vaccination program, again outside of the city of Chicago, operated by CVS and Walgreens. Illinois as a whole has administered approximately 207,106 total vaccine doses to date, including yesterday’s first round of second doses for the early December 1 dose recipients. That number also includes vaccinations through the federal long-term care of vaccination program, whose partners only started vaccinating in Illinois on December 28, nearly two weeks after our first state delivered vaccinations. These first vaccinations have taken place following the phase one a recommendations of the CDC national recommendations with input from IDPH. That first phase includes health care workers and nursing homes and long-term care facility residents and staff, which we now approximate as 150 sorry, 850,000, eligible Illinoisans.

Up to now this vaccine has only been offered to a very specific group of people at very specific locations in staggered proportions, because hospitals and nursing homes have been concerned about too many of their staff receiving the vaccine on any given shift. Because of this, and because of the early Federal Supply issues. So far, approximately one third of our healthcare workforce outside of Chicago has received the vaccine IDPH continues to work with local health officials to ensure the rapid administration of these vaccines to all members of phase one a who consent. I had hoped to see an increase in the number of vaccines delivered to us from the federal government after I announced federal delivery reductions to you in December, the delivery of vaccine has remained at a lower pace than expected. Illinois now a lot of approximately 120,000 doses per week 60,000 each of Moderna and Pfizer. From that number, the federal government pulls out the long-term care allotments. We have updated our early January planning for Illinois, according to this lower-than-expected federal delivery schedule. The good news is that the incoming Biden administration has pledged to invoke the defense production act, so that we expect the vaccine production will grow significantly over the coming month.

Despite the early slowdown of federal deliveries and with high hopes for increased vaccine availability going forward. Today I want to address the specifics of what the next stage phase 1-B will look like in our state when we have substantially completed phase 1-A. As a reminder, the only reason that we must phase in this rollout of the vaccine is the scarcity of its availability. The need to prioritize as a function of that. Last month, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices ACIP met to provide further guidance on upcoming phases of vaccinations. By Design of the federal government, the actual administration of vaccinations has been left to states and to cities. And the ASAP guidance is intended as a well thought out set of recommendations that states can then tweak to best serve their unique populations or unique challenges. I want to commend ACIP for its efforts, which have been very important in our process. None of the decisions that ASAP made were easy, and none that fall to the states are easy. Broadly, ACIP recommendations are focused very properly on preventing illness saving lives. lives and restoring the functions of society, which is why their guidance on phase 1-B has included importantly, seniors 75 and over and frontline essential workers. And I’ll dive into how the CDC defines that term in just a moment. ACIP’s guidance serves as the foundational blueprint for Illinois phase 1-B plan, with one key adjustment.

Here in Illinois, we are more strongly pursuing equity in the distribution of our vaccinations. Let me begin by talking about a recommendation that phase 1-B include only seniors who are 75 years old or up. I believe strongly that we ought to protect more of our seniors earlier than ASAP has recommended. For the last 10 months we have seen the fundamental vulnerability to COVID-19 of the entire population of our seniors, not just those 75 and over and importantly, the average age of death from COVID-19 is much lower than 75 for black and Latino Illinoisans, while the average white person in Illinois who died from COVID-19 passed away at age 81. The average age of COVID related death for black Illinoisans is 72. And it’s 68 for Hispanic Illinoisans, for people of color multi-generational incidents institutional racism in the provision of health care has reduced access to care caused higher rates of environment, environmental and social risk and increased comorbidities. I believe our exit plan for this pandemic must unbalance overcome structural inequalities that have allowed COVID-19 to rage through our most vulnerable communities. lowering our minimum age for vaccinations and phase one B is one critical component in addressing that. So the one area where we are diverging from the ACIP recommendations is this. In Illinois, if you are 65 and over, you can get vaccinated and phase 1-B.

We’ve adopted the rest of a six phase 1-B recommendations, which is mostly focused on frontline workers, a group that in many of these industries is disproportionately made up of people of color. The ACIP term frontline essential worker is really focused on those individuals who carry a higher risk of COVID-19 exposure, in large part because their work duties can’t be performed remotely, so they spend more time in proximity to other coworkers or members of the public. The CDC estimates about 30 million Americans are frontline essential workers. That includes first responders like firefighters and police officers, educators, like teachers, support staff and childcare workers, people in essential industries like the Postal Service, manufacturing and distribution, public transit, food and agriculture, grocery stores, and congregate facilities. All in all, phase 1-B totals approximately 3.2 million people throughout the state of Illinois. As we enter this next phase of vaccinations, I have directed my team to utilize every available state resource, a massive infrastructure and logistics effort to get this vaccine out to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. a vital component of that is our extraordinary Illinois National Guard, who orchestrated the development of our robust public COVID-19 testing infrastructure early on in the pandemic. under General Richard Neely his direction, the guard will bring their expertise, their precision and their efficiency to standing up mass vaccination sites across the state. We’re also actively increasing the number of providers registered to administer vaccinations so that we can implement widespread and equitable availability as more and more vaccines are delivered to our state.

As we do this, my administration has also issued additional nondiscrimination guidance to ensure vulnerable and historically marginalized communities receive equitable informed access to these vaccines. Our goal is to expand vaccination infrastructure right now, including especially in communities that have been disproportionately impacted to move these vaccines through our state at an even faster pace as we see an increase in federal deliveries. In summary, once we’ve substantially completed vaccinations of healthcare workers, and long-term care facilities, and as federal vaccine deliveries increase, we will move into phase one B, which will cover everyone in Illinois 65 and over plus frontline workers. Our IDPH team continues to review ACIP’s recommendations for phase 1-C, and Dr. Ezike and I will provide a further update on that sometime over the next few weeks. Finally, before I turn it over to Dr. z gay, I want to make an announcement regarding the tier three mitigations currently in effect across the entire state. Since November 30, I have maintained at the advice of Dr. Fauci of Dr. Ezike of IDPH, and other infectious disease experts, that it would be unwise to downgrade any region from our current tier three mitigations. While in the holiday season, when people were particularly prone to gather in multifamily groups, and do it without masks, the thing that could deliver the worrisome surge upon a surge, I’m incredibly grateful to the people of Illinois for making the difficult choice to take extra caution around Thanksgiving, Illinois did not experience the post-Thanksgiving uptick at a rate that plagued most of the rest of the country. And we’re watching closely in this incubation period post-Christmas and New Year’s. I’m cautiously optimistic as there are some early signs indicating that some regions have made real progress and won’t reverse that progress this week or next. So on January 15, exactly one incubation period from New Year’s Day, any region that has met the metrics for a reduction of mitigations, we’ll be able to move out of tier three of our mitigation plan. My prayer for the new year is that everyone stays healthy. And all of our regions continue to move in the right direction. And I ask all Illinoisans to join me in making that possible by wearing a mask and keeping your distance. Thank you. And with that, I’d like to turn it over to Dr. Ezike.

Dr. Ezike

Good afternoon, and Happy New Year. I am really hopeful and optimistic that 2021 will be a great year. And part of that optimism is because I get to be standing here sharing information about the next phase of vaccines. We are getting shots into arms. And that’s exactly what we need to end this pandemic. As the governor mentioned, we want to make sure that we are equitable in vaccine prioritization and that we recognize the populations at highest risk, and that means both the highest risk for exposure as well as the highest risk for severe illness and death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently adjusted COVID-19 mortality rates by age. In doing so the CDC found that Latin x and black Americans are dying at a rate of almost three times that of white Americans. In Illinois, the average age for COVID related deaths among black populations, as the governor mentioned is almost 10 years younger than the white population. And then the average age for the Latin x population is 12 or 13 years younger. These data highlight the importance of recognizing the age differences in the data to inform our actions going forward and the recommendations that follow. While the highest count of COVID-19 deaths is among those 75 and older, the majority of our black and brown populations are dying well before that, and therefore we need to make vaccine available to all those at higher risk of death. These disparities, again, as mentioned by the governor, the result of many factors, reduced access to health care, lack of quality health care, undiagnosed or untreated preexisting conditions, some distrust of medical providers, as well as the social and environmental factors that can increase the risk for exposure, such as the higher likelihood of being an essential worker having multiple generations or many, many people living in a single home or household. And then of course having a job where working from home is not an option.

So, throughout this pandemic, we have been working closely with our minority communities to make sure that we increase access to testing as well to provide information and educational resources, and we’re doing the same with regards to vaccine information. We’re working with faith-based communities and faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, and our community ambassadors to get this important information out to dispel myths and allow the truth to be shared. Our outreach extends to all populations in Illinois, black populations, white Latin x Asian immigrants, all groups, including individuals that are undocumented, and undocumented individuals will not be turned away when they present for vaccination. We will continue to use our data to inform our path going forward as we’ve done all along this journey. Today, 7569 new individuals have been diagnosed with COVID-19. And that brings our total to nearly 1 million cases in Illinois since the beginning of this pandemic. And over the last 24 hours, we also received reports of 139 individuals who lost their battle with COVID. And that brings our death total for Illinois to 17,096 individuals. 3928 individuals were in the hospital overnight with COVID. And of those 812 were in the intensive care unit, and 451 patients were on ventilators. In the last 24 hours, more than 80,000 COVID tests were resulted for a total of more than 13 point 6 million tests since the beginning of this pandemic. We still have a long way to go. But we’re definitely on our way. The vaccine, as the governor mentioned continues to be limited and we are working with providers to get what vaccine we do have into the arms of Illinois as quickly as possible. But we also need to get it into the arms as safely as possible and as equitably as possible. This morning, I was just reminded of a proverb just as iron sharpens iron sharpens iron. One person sharpens another person. And that suggests that we all need each other to be better. We’re not in this alone. You can say all the right things, you can do all the right things. But if I’m not doing it also, I’m not only putting myself in jeopardy, but you in jeopardy and in our entire community. So quite frankly, the masking the continuing to postpone any mass gatherings, the need to get vaccinated all of those things we all need to do together. I implore your support as we move through the end of this pandemic by doing the safety mitigations and taking advantage of this medical miracle that we have in the form of the vaccine. Thank you.

Picture of Jose Zepeda

Jose Zepeda

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