Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) announced his state will take charge of coronavirus testing, citing President Donald Trump’s administration’s “profound failing” to roll tests out successfully.
“The White House has promised millions of tests for weeks now, and they’re just not here,” Pritzker said at yesterday’s daily press briefing. “I’m not going to wait on promises from the federal government that may never be fulfilled. We need this testing capacity now. So, we’re building it ourselves in Illinois.”
Pritzker’s announcement came as new coronavirus cases in Illinois topped 1,000 for the first time.
“It is fair to say that most of the models I’ve seen … show that we’ll be peaking sometime in April,” he said. “We’re not yet close to that.”
Noting that public and commercial labs in Illinois are now running 4,000 tests daily––a number that should rise to 10,000 per day within 10 days––Pritzker reiterated the value of increased testing capacity.
“That marker is significant because it’s the number of tests per day that the scientists and experts tell us that we need to get a truly holistic understanding of the virus in each of our 102 counties,” he said. “ … Ultimately my goal is to reach a large enough testing capacity where we’re able to test everyone who needs a test on a regular basis.”
The Illinois governor said the “loss of essentially the entire month of February” without major testing contributed to an “exponential” rise of cases in his state, adding that the “profound failing of the federal government” to deliver tests had exacerbated the problem.
You can watch footage of Pritzker’s remarks below.
Pritzker has openly criticized the president’s response to the crisis before.
As recently as last week, Trump said Pritzker “and a very small group of certain other governors … shouldn’t be blaming the federal government for their own shortcomings. We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!”
“I’m finding it hard to control my anger with Donald Trump’s response to this crisis. I have doctors and nurses and first responders begging for masks, equipment and more tests … Donald Trump promised to deliver for all the states weeks ago and so far has done very little,” Pritzker responded afterward. “This is the time for serious people, not the carnival barkers that are tweeting from the cheap seats. All I can say is get to work or get out of the way.”