The state of Illinois has been able to stay ahead of the coronavirus epidemic, for the most part so far, but a “big wave” of illness is expected and the federal government’s response to requests for tests has been “too slow,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday.
“My job is protecting the health and safety of the people of our state and I need help from the federal government where they can offer it and they have the ability to do that,” the governor, a Democrat, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” adding that he is “extremely disappointed” in the number of tests that have been made available and by issues surrounding people who have been quarantined.
“We have a lot of people who have now been asked to stay home for 14 days, people living paycheck to paycheck,” said Pritzker. “We would like to provide them with unemployment benefits. There is a rule called the able and available rule that says if you’re able and available to work, you cannot receive those benefits.”
He also said it’s frustrating that there are not enough tests available to meet the state’s needs.
“We received a couple of thousand tests very early on because we were insistent that we needed that testing capability,” said Pritzker. “The CDC provided that. We’ve gotten a few more after that, but the truth is, this has been slow in coming, too slow.”
Pritzker said the state’s government has been preparing for an epidemic for some time, including doing tabletop exercises about the effects of a virus, “perhaps from Asia.”
Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day parades and the traditional green dyeing of the Chicago River, as well as numerous other unrelated events, have been canceled, according to WMAQ, Chicago’s NBC affiliate.