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Pritzker outlines PPE stockpile as COVID-19 deaths eclipse 300 in Illinois

Another 1,000-plus cases reported; Illinoisans urged to stay home on Easter


Capitol News Illinois

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois became the seventh U.S. state to eclipse 300 deaths from COVID-19 on Monday as the state Department of Public Health announced an increase of 33 deaths and 1,006 cases in the past 24 hours.

“Seventy percent of the individuals who have lost their fight against COVID have had a comorbid condition,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike alongside Gov. JB Pritzker at his daily press briefing in Chicago on the novel coronavirus pandemic. “The most commonly listed conditions were hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.”

Total cases in Illinois now stand at 12,262 and deaths at 307. Though mostly affecting Chicago and its suburbs, COVID-19 has been reported in 73 counties. The first cases in the rural Southern Illinois counties of Jefferson and Wabash were reported Monday.

Pritzker began Monday’s briefing by criticizing the federal government for giving Illinois “a small fraction” of the personal protective equipment (PPE) it has requested from the federal strategic national stockpile.

“… The stated purpose of this supply is to support states and local government supplies during a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out,” the governor said.

Pritzker said Illinois has received 367,700 N95 respirator masks and just over 1.1 million surgical masks from the feds after requesting millions. He said Illinois is instead “scouring the globe” to buy PPE from private sellers, often having to compete with other states by offering higher prices.

To date, Pritzker said, Illinois has ordered more than 10 million N95 masks, more than 14 million KN95 masks, 7 million surgical masks, 22 million disposable/general-use masks, and millions of gloves, gowns, face shields and more.

“It’s our own state procurement initiative that is making the difference,” Pritzker said.

He added the state burns through about 1.5 million N95 masks and 700,000 surgical masks every 10 days.

Although critical of the White House’s response to the pandemic, Pritzker recognized the federal officials and workers who have assisted Illinois with its state response.

“A big thank you to the incredible, truly incredible, experienced public servants inside of FEMA, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Army Corps, and the entire U.S. military,” he said.

Pritzker and Ezike, for a second straight day, wore surgical masks to the briefing in apparent accordance with new state and federal guidance to wear masks in public.

“We must wash our hands, keep practicing our physical distancing and wearing a covering,”Ezike said.

Pritzker and Ezike each urged Illinoisans to stay inside at home as the weather warms this week and during the Easter weekend.



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