Downstate lawmaker says Illinois’ governor can do a better job communicating with legislators during COVID pandemic

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he and his office talk with downstate legislators regularly to provide updates on the state’s COVID-19 response, but some feel it’s not enough.

Sunday, during his daily press briefings about the state’s handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the governor said he has two calls a week with legislators and he also talks regularly with mayors around the state.

“We’re doing the best we can to get to everybody every single day,” Pritzker said. “I think we do a pretty good job of it.”

But Friday, Pritzker announced the state was acquiring vacant hospital space in Springfield, unbeknownst to the local lawmaker, state Rep. Tim Butler.

Butler said during the calls the governor said he has with lawmakers, Pritzker reiterates his talking points from the daily briefings. He also said lawmakers can’t ask questions, and the governor needs to do a better job communicating with the legislative branch.

Acquiring the hospital in Springfield “was a big decision by the governor’s team, and I realize they’re happening fast in this emergency situation,” Butler said. “But as I’ve relayed to him, communication is key in emergency situations because if you don’t communicate well then a lot of rumors get started, and a lot of misimformation gets out there, and this is a classic case of it.”

In his Sunday press briefing, Pritzker announced a new policy. When his stay at home order kicked in keeping students home from school, many essential employees like health care workers were left with concerns about child care.

“All essential workers in health care, human services, essential government services and essential infrastructure now qualify for the state’s child care assistance program, meaning that the state will cover most if not all of the cost of care with our emergency child care providers,” Pritzker said.

Child care centers interested in reopening as emergency child care centers can apply for a new permit through the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Also Sunday, Illinois’ state public health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced 899 new cases from the day before and 31 more deaths related to COVID-19.

“Among those lost is a second individual from the outbreak at Stateville Prison,” Ezike said.

There are now nearly 11,300 cases and 274 deaths across the state.

This week is expected to be a tough week in the battle to fight COVID-19 in Illinois. The state starts with 58.2 percent of all hospital beds being used. Of all beds, 9 percent are occupied by a COVID-19 patient, and 64.5 percent of ICU beds are occupied. Of all ICU beds, 42.5 percent are occupied by a COVID-19 patient. About 35.5 percent of the state’s ventilators are being used. About 29 percent of the state’s total ventilators are being used by COVID-19 patients.

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