As of Sunday evening, the state had 4,600 cases of COVID-19 and 65 deaths, including what’s believed to be the world’s first loss of an infant to the pandemic.
The state is currently conducting 4,000 tests a day, but Pritzker said Illinois needs to be doing 10,000 tests daily, according to health experts.
“The White House has promised millions of tests for weeks now, and they’re just not here,” the Democratic governor said at his 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.”
The governor called the “loss of essentially the entire month of February” without major testing as leading to an “exponential” increase in coronavirus cases in the state. He attributed it to the “profound failing of the federal government” to deliver promised tests.
The governor said all three of the state labs are adding second shifts, and will add third shifts with incoming supplies. Pritzker said he has also asked Illinois-based Abbott Labs to “put Illinois at the top of the list” for its soon-to-be-released five-minute COVID-19 test — and was assured the company “will be very helpful.”
In addition, the state is scouting for more locations for drive-through testing stations for first responders.
Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, promised early this month that a “million” tests for coronavirus would quickly be available. He then conceded within days that the supply would not meet needed demand, and it would be weeks before tests would be “broadly available.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert at the National Institutes of Health, days later called the testing logjam a “failing” of the system.
Testing only began recently to ramp up significantly.
Check out Pritzker’s press briefing up top.