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Gov. J.B. Pritzker continues sparring with White House over requested medical supplies as deaths in Illinois top 300

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 4/7/2020 By Dan Petrella and Jamie Munks, Chicago Tribune
a group of items on a table: Jamilah Salahuddin and her 12 year-old daughter, Jennah, sing while they package food as the IMAN Youth and Family Health Center in the Marquette Park neighborhood distributes groceries and hygiene items on April 3, 2020. © E. Jason Wambsgans / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Jamilah Salahuddin and her 12 year-old daughter, Jennah, sing while they package food as the IMAN Youth and Family Health Center in the Marquette Park neighborhood distributes groceries and hygiene items on April 3, 2020.

A day after President Donald Trump accused him of “always complaining,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker kept up his critique of federal efforts to provide states with the gear needed to protect health care workers and treat patients in a pandemic that has now claimed more than 300 lives in Illinois.

“To anyone who wants a response to some of the blame-shifting coming out of the White House, all I have to say is, ‘Look at the numbers here in Illinois,’ ” Pritzker said Monday at his daily coronavirus news conference in downtown Chicago.

The state has received only “a small fraction” of the masks, gowns, goggles and other gear it has requested from the federal government, Pritzker said. That includes 300 of the 4,000 ventilators Illinois has asked for and about 368,000 of the more than 10 million N95 respirator masks requested, according to figures provided by the state and the White House. The city of Chicago has received 150 additional ventilators for its stockpile from the feds.

a truck driving down a street in front of a building: New Life Community Church members drive a cross past the Cook County Jail, April 5, 2020, in Chicago. A caravan of over a dozen cars followed to pray for those inside the jail. © Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS New Life Community Church members drive a cross past the Cook County Jail, April 5, 2020, in Chicago. A caravan of over a dozen cars followed to pray for those inside the jail.

“If we had relied upon the White House and its obligation to fulfill our needs from the (Strategic National Stockpile), our state and nearly every state in the United States would come up short and could not protect our health care workers and our first responders,” Pritzker said. “But here’s the good news: We haven’t trusted what we were told by the White House.”

Instead, he said, his administration has been working on its own to secure needed equipment. Pritzker said he’s spoken with the representatives of companies that are developing ventilators, including General Motors and Ford Motor Co., but that “today we’re doing OK with regard to ventilators.”

a large brick building: A message in windows of Covenant Home of Chicago, an assisted living facility in the Budlong Woods neighborhood, is shown April 4, 2020. © Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS A message in windows of Covenant Home of Chicago, an assisted living facility in the Budlong Woods neighborhood, is shown April 4, 2020.

State officials on Monday announced 1,006 more cases of the new coronavirus and 33 additional deaths, bringing the number of known cases statewide to 12,262 and the death toll to 307 since the outbreak began.

As of Monday, 3,680 patients with COVID-19 were being hospitalized across the state, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Of those, 1,166 were in intensive care and 821 were on ventilators.

"We have to watch the number of hospitalizations, watch the number of people going to ICU beds, and that’s kind of a progression that … if you see that increasing, you know that your ventilator needs are going to increase,” Pritzker said. “So we’re watching it every day and keeping count.”

As officials project Illinois to reach the peak of the coronavirus outbreak later this month, Pritzker said the masks and other disposable equipment Illinois has received from the federal government would last only days. While the state has received nearly 368,000 of the N95 masks from Washington, it is using up roughly 1.5 million every 10 days, according to the governor’s office.

a man riding a skateboard down the side of a road: Elijah Watts, 9, does handstands and flips down the street while playing outside with friends and family in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, April 4, 2020. © Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Elijah Watts, 9, does handstands and flips down the street while playing outside with friends and family in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood, April 4, 2020.

"As you can see when you compare our federal shipments to our burn rate, the product that we’ve received from the federal stockpile will last only a handful of days in this multimonth battle,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker acknowledged the assistance Illinois is receiving from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies, some of which have been involved with opening a field hospital at McCormick Place. The first 500 of 3,000 planned beds opened Friday.

“These are all people who are fighting like hell for Illinois,” he said. “Even with one hand tied behind their backs by the White House.”

Pritzker said he received word Monday afternoon that some military medical staff would be assigned to assist Illinois, but the details were still being worked out.

After saying Sunday that the federal government had to help Illinois with the McCormick Place hospital facility because Pritzker “couldn’t do his job," Trump said at his daily White House briefing Monday that his administration has worked well with “all of the governors.”

a man wearing a suit and tie: Gov. J.B. Pritzker enters his daily press briefing on COVID-19 on April 6, 2020, at the Thompson Center in Chicago. © Raquel Zaldivar / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Gov. J.B. Pritzker enters his daily press briefing on COVID-19 on April 6, 2020, at the Thompson Center in Chicago.

Vice President Mike Pence had a nearly two-hour call Monday morning with governors from across the country and “there wasn’t a negative person on the call,” Trump said. “Even Gov. Pritzker from Illinois is happy."

"He may not be happy when he talks to the press, but he’s happy. He’s a very happy man,” Trump said.

Chicago Tribune’s Lisa Schencker and Antonia Ayres-Brown contributed.

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