Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said Tuesday the state has received just 10% of some medical equipment it had requested from the federal government to treat a surge of patients infected with COVID-19, warning the state could soon run out of ventilators as people show up at hospitals in dramatic numbers.
Pritzker, speaking to CNN, said Illinois had been forced to bid against other states and even the federal government itself in order to buy personal protective equipment like masks, gowns and face shields to help guard health care workers against the virus. But what the state has received has fallen far short of what’s needed.
“Well, we asked for 1.7 million N95 masks and we’ve gotten about 400,000 total. We asked for many, many gloves and gowns and so on, we’ve gotten about 10% of what we asked for,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “They were promising millions of tests … the truth is that we’ve gotten very few tests from the federal government and their federal testing is slowed down.”
The comments contradict those of President Donald Trump, who has said the country is well prepared to treat sick Americans despite pleas from governors that they don’t have enough equipment to do so.
When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state needs tens of thousands of ventilators, Trump fired back on Tuesday saying he already had “a lot.” The state is an epicenter of the outbreak, and at least 1,550 people have died there.
“The problem is, with some people, no matter how much you give it’s never enough,” the president said of Cuomo.
In a news briefing on Tuesday, the president said the White House predicted up to 240,000 people could die in the U.S. from the coronavirus even if current social distancing guidelines remain in place.
On Tuesday, Pritzker went on to say Illinois was largely dealing with the onslaught of coronavirus patients thanks to the work of local hospitals and testing facilities, rather than from aid from the White House.
“The people of Illinois, honestly, have come through,” he said. “We have the testing that we have today because of the hospitals here, because of the laboratories here, because our state government has gone out and bought machines and as many swabs … as we can.”
But despite those efforts, the governor warned of an impending shortage of life-saving ventilators even after Pritzker said he’s been “purchasing every ventilator that I can find.” He noted the state estimated it needed around 4,000 to treat infected patients, but had been able to acquire just 450.
“I honestly don’t know if we’re going to be able to solve it fast enough, because I can see this curve moving,” he said. “If we don’t have those ventilators delivered in the next week? … We’re going to run out of ventilators and the federal government really isn’t helping at all.”
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