By: Mark Glennon*
Sunday was a new low point for Governor JB Pritzker’s daily press briefings on COVID-19. Not a single question asked by reporters was a challenge to anything being done or said by Pritzker or the state. Instead, reporters lobbed softball invitations for Pritzker to say what he wants.
The lead stories on the pandemic in Illinois come out after the briefings almost every day and are usually nothing more than parroting back what was said in them. Their headlines are almost always about new case numbers. Those numbers are nearly meaningless, as countless experts around the country have pointed out, but the Illinois press remains focused on them.
Is it too much to expect reporters to ask the questions that obviously need answers? Is it too much to expect them to demand more than the rigged, limited question segment at the daily briefings? At the national level, reporters are relentless in challenging President Trump and other federal officials — as they should be. But in Illinois, nothing.
Here, for starters, are a few questions they should be asking and writing about:
• Governor, why did it take you until April 3 to begin collecting critically important, daily information from Illinois hospitals on beds available, ventilators available, ICU capacity and such? [See our detailed article on this linked here.]
• Regarding the daily hospital capacity numbers you have now started to collect, why aren’t you publishing them every day? When you did publish them, why did you provide only a grand total? The grand total means little and we need to see the numbers by city or region to know where overloads might occur, correct? Are you even looking at the numbers that way? If so, please provide your assessment.
• The University of Washington projection, which you have said is one you base your actions on, says Illinois will have huge hospital overcapacity even at the peak. Is that true and, if you don’t believe that it is, please provide us with the projections are you using that have led you to build out so much more capacity.
• The CDC was already collecting daily numbers from hospitals on their bed and ventilator capacity? Did you even know that? Why didn’t you use those reports from hospitals instead of collecting your own?
• Can you please provide whatever projection or numbers you have that support the need to build out all the new capacity for Chicago at McCormick Place?
And the big one, since Pritzker is blaming the federal government every day for a long list of problems:
• Governor, on February 28 you said, “All I’m saying is we’re not relying upon the White House. We, in fact, have one of the best public health systems in the country. And so we’ve got experts here … who are highly capable of managing the COVID-19 [coronavirus], that’s come upon us.” Do you regret saying that?
*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.