Pritzker: Anyone Still Gathering During Pandemic is ‘Stupid’ or Not Paying Attention

The number of coronavirus cases in Illinois has surpassed the 10,000 mark, officials announced Saturday, including 243 deaths.

Given those numbers, Gov. J.B. Pritkzer said anyone flouting his stay-at-home order by continuing to gather in groups is “either not paying attention to the news, or they’re stupid.”

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“I mean there’s no reason why somebody should be ignoring this,” he said Saturday during his daily press conference. “You could be giving it to your own family. And you could get it yourself. And we’re not asking much, we really aren’t.”

Pritzker thanked the vast majority of Illinoisans who he said are complying with the order, and taking it seriously.

But residents of some states bordering Illinois are under no such mandates: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has resisted calls to require residents to stay at home. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson issued an order Friday that will take effect Monday.

“I’m frustrated for the people who live in those states. I mean I’m frustrated for us too,” Pritzker said. “Obviously this has an effect on Illinois.”

Pritzker said the blame falls on the federal government for having “abdicated its role” and not giving proper guidance to states.

“This virus knows no bounds. There are no boundaries that we can set here that says the virus won’t cross the border between states or between cities or counties, or between neighbors. This virus just moves to every human being that it comes in contact with,” he said.

Stay-at-home orders took effect in Ohio on March 23, Indiana and Michigan on March 24, in Wisconsin on March 25 and in Kentucky on March 26.

Pritzker's order that all nonessential businesses shut down took effect on March 21. It was set to expire April 7, but the governor on Tuesday extended it through April 30.

Pritzker said Illinois has received only a small fraction of the supplies is has requested from the federal government to help protect health care workers and first responders from contracting COVID-19.

Illinois has received only a half-million of the 7 million N95 respirator masks the state requested from the feds, Pritzker said.

“I'm thankful for 500,000. The reality is that we've put in a request for 7 million. We need millions more than that,” he said. “Five-hundred thousand is not nearly what we asked the federal government for, it's not nearly what we need.”

After reports elsewhere that some shipments of personal protective equipment were expired or spoiled, Pritzker said Illinois is testing each ventilator it has received. While every mask cannot be tested individually, he said each box is being sampled to check for rot.

The Pritzker administration on Saturday also outlined measures being taken in situations where state employees are unable to work from home.

Employees at the four state-run veterans’ homes are screened pre-shift; Illinois is giving extra money to foster care parents for March and April to help cover coronavirus-related expenses; and nonessential visitors are not allowed at facilities for the disabled run by the Illinois Department of Human Services.

“Most of our staff can't stay at home because they are every day ensuring that Illinois residents have food on their table, shelter, housing support, and have access to health care, received psychiatric care and are safe. And so we have a delicate balance and have to think strategically as we develop and enact safety precautions, as our work requires human connection,” Illinois DHS Secretary Grace Hou said.

Illinois’ 10,357 confirmed cases now span 68 of the state’s 102 counties. The figure includes 1,453 COVID-19 cases reported between Friday and Saturday afternoon; 33 more people with the coronavirus died during that period. Continued lags in testing continues make it impossible to get a complete picture of the virus’s spread.

“We have seen clusters of cases in nursing homes and assisted living facilities correctional centers, mental health facilities and developmental facilities alike,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

Despite efforts, preventing spread in such settings is difficult, Ezike said, given that there isn’t room to isolate everyone who should be and given that residents of such group homes “live, eat and recreate” in the same spaces.

Follow Amanda Vinicky on Twitter: @AmandaVinicky

Coronavirus Prevention Tips and Resources

Officials advise taking preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus, including: 

—Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
—Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
—Sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then disposing of the tissue
—Limiting contact with people regardless of how you feel
—Staying home when you are sick

Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:

—New onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath
—Congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs
—Sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue

If you think you have COVID-19:

Call you doctor before showing up at their office. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the operator that you think you have COVID-19. If possible, wear a mask before medical help arrives or presenting at a doctor’s office. More advice for those who think they have COVID-19.

Additional resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Illinois’ COVID-19 website
Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website
—IDPH COVID-19 hotline: 800-889-3931
—IPDH COVID-19 email link
City of Chicago COVID-19 website
—City of Chicago COVID-19 hotline: 312-746-4835
—City of Chicago COVID-19 email link

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