Illinois needs thousands more ventilators than the federal government plans to give them, said Gov. J.B. Pritzker during an appearance on CNN Sunday morning.
Pritzker requested 4,000 ventilators from the federal government last Tuesday, and Vice President Mike Pence responded, saying Illinois only needed 1,400, according to the interview on State of the Union with Jake Tapper. On the show, Pritzker said Pence was looking at a model from the University of Washington that, while good, was not intended for resource allocation reasons. He said Pence pulled from a central data point that didn’t account for worst-case scenarios, which actually indicated a need for “5 or 6 or 7,000 more" than what the federal government gave them.
“We’re looking at all of the numbers and everybody is taking an educated guess because we really don’t know -- this virus is unpredictable,” Pritzker said in the interview.
The state is looking “everywhere and anywhere across the world to get ventilators,” Pritzker said, expressing frustration about President Donald Trump’s deferred deployment of the Defense Protection Act, a point he’s made several times in media briefings and interviews. One of the companies deployed, General Motors, won’t have ventilators ready until May or June, which may be too late if the virus peaks in April, as models Illinois officials are following predict.
“In the latter half of April when we think we might be peaking, there are no ventilators available," he said. “New York does not look like it will be coming off its peak by the time we’re hitting peak so the idea of moving ventilators from New York to other places, I pray to God that’s true, but right now it doesn’t look like that will be true.”
Pritzker threw jabs at Trump after Tapper played a clip of Trump criticizing states for being underprepared and relying on the federal government.
“The president does not understand the word ‘federal.' ‘Federal Emergency Management Agency,’” Pritzker said. “We have a state emergency management agency, but if he were right, why would we ever need a Federal Emergency Management Agency? It’s because individual states can’t possibly do what the federal government can do.”
States don’t have the power to use the Defense Production Act, Pritzker said. He also noted that intelligence sources advised the federal government in January and February, but no action was taken.
“If they had started in February building ventilators, getting ready for this pandemic, we would not have the problems that we have today, and frankly, very many fewer people would die,” Pritzker said.
— Chicago Tribune