Illinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipment it's requested

Illinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipment it's requested
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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) on Tuesday urged President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Barr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters MORE to make greater use of the Defense Production Act to help states experiencing a rapid surge in hospitalizations due the novel coronavirus outbreak.

During an appearance on CNN's "Cuomo Prime Time," Pritzker said that his state had received just 10 percent of the medical equipment it has asked for, warning that it could cause severe shortages by as early as next week.

The governor noted in particular that the state has gotten just 400,000 of the 1.7 million N95 masks it requested and only 450 of the 4,000 ventilators it requested. He said that the lack of help from the federal government was forcing Illinois to bid for equipment against other states and countries on the open market. 

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"We asked for many gloves and gowns and so on. We’ve gotten about 10 percent of what we asked for," he said.

"We’ve had to go out onto the open market to find both surgical masks and N95 masks … and we’re competing against federal government, we’re competing against big states like New York and California, we’re competing against other countries because the president has not invoked or used the Defense Production Act to help us with all the needs we have," Pritzker said. 

The governor acknowledged that Trump invoked the law last week to compel General Motors to produce ventilators, but he argued it wasn't nearly enough. 

“We need a comprehensive solution," he said, adding that Illinois was bracing for a shortage in ventilators if it did not increase its supply by next week. 

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"My optimism is that we’re solving it here in Illinois, but honestly I don’t know if we’re going to be able to solve it fast enough because I can see this curve moving," he continued. "My great concern is that we’ll run out of [intensive care unit] beds, we’ll run out of ventilators, and then there’ll be people dying."

The comments from Pritzker arrived as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continued to climb in the U.S. and as Trump and other health officials warned that the disease could cause between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths even if social distancing requirements remained in effect. 

Illinois has reported nearly 6,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 99 deaths stemming from it. 

Governors from several states have issued repeated warnings about a lack of personal protective equipment, ventilators and testing kits. Pritzker added on CNN on Tuesday that Illinois has gotten "very few" tests from the federal government. He also noted that testing kits from the federal government were taking up to 10 days to disclose results, while state-administered tests were taking up to two days. 

He stressed his state's need for ventilators, stating that if it did not receive more by next week, "we’re not going to be prepared for the kind of onslaught we’re going to see."

The Defense Production Act gives Trump broad powers to compel private companies to manufacture critical supplies in times of crisis. GM said in a press release last Friday that it was partnering with medical device maker Ventec to convert an Indiana GM facility into a ventilator production plant.

The first ventilators will be available in April, and the companies are projecting that they will be able to produce 10,000 per month.