Illinois governor chartering flights from China in a ‘herculean’ effort to prevent Trump from snatching ‘millions of masks and gloves’: report
As the coronavirus pandemic has gone from bad to worse in the United States, many Democratic governors have been trying to set their differences with President Donald Trump aside and get their states badly needed help from the federal government. One of them is Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. But Pritzker is a realist: clearly, he isn’t counting on Trump to come through for his state — and according to the Chicago Sun-Times, Pritzker is flying millions of medical masks and gloves to the U.S. from China on chartered flights so that the federal government won’t be able to seize them first.
In an official statement, Jordan Abudayyeh (Pritzker’s press secretary) addressed the challenges Illinois is facing in its efforts to obtain a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers. According to Abudayyeh, “The governor has clearly outlined the challenges this administration has faced as we’ve worked around the clock to purchase PPE for our health care workers and first responders.”
Abudayyeh went on to say, “The supply chain has been likened to the Wild West, and once you have purchased supplies, ensuring they get to the state is another herculean feat. These flights are carrying millions of masks and gloves our workers need. They’re scheduled to land in Illinois in the coming weeks, and the state is working to ensure these much needed supplies are protected and ready for distribution around the state.”
A Sun-Times source described by reporter Frank Main as being “knowledgeable about the flights” told the Chicago newspaper that Pritzker wanted to keep the flights a secret “because we’ve heard reports of Trump trying to take PPE in China and when it gets to the United States.”
When Pritzker appeared on CNN’s “Erin Burnett Out Front” on Tuesday, April 14, he expressed little optimism that Trump would be helpful to his state during the pandemic — which, according to John Hopkins University in Baltimore, has killed more than 127,600 people worldwide (including over 26,000 in the U.S., as of early Wednesday morning, April 15).
“We’ve gotten very little help from the federal government,” Pritzker matter-of-factly told Burnett. “It’s fine. I’ve given up on any promises that have been made. I hope something will get delivered from the federal government, but I don’t expect it anymore.”
Pritzker, during the interview, lamented that Trump has been “nearly irrelevant” when it comes to coronavirus testing — which is something he believes there should be a lot more of in the U.S. And the Illinois governor also told Burnett that sports fans in his state shouldn’t expect major games until the pandemic is more under control. Illinois is home to famous major-league sports teams like the Chicago Cubs in baseball and the Chicago Bears in American football.
Trump drew sharp criticism from both the left and the right this week when he claimed, during a press conference, that as president, he has “absolute” authority to determine when individual states will or won’t reopen their economies — an assertion he appears to be walking back now.
Pritzker told Burnett, “It’s a good thing that the president finally recognized that it’s the Constitution that authorizes the governors to have the power to reopen their states.”
Illinois, Pritzker stressed, shouldn’t even think about reopening until there is a lot more coronavirus testing and health workers have a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). So far, according to health officials, less than 1% of the U.S. population has been tested for COVID-19.
“Put that together, with readily available PPE — and then you can start to talk about how you will reopen an economy,” Pritzker told Burnett.
The Illinois governor went on to say, “I’ve asked over and over again for testing from the federal government. They kept saying they were going to deliver millions of tests across the country. They haven’t done that. We’ve done that ourselves.”