Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Says White House ‘Was Not Helpful’ Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Gov. J.B. Pritzker tours one of the patient rooms at the COVID-19 alternate care facility constructed at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago, Illinois.
Tyler LaRiviere - Pool / Getty Images

In an interview broadcast on Sunday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker criticized the White House for not doing enough to help states handle the coronavirus pandemic, reports The Hill.

Speaking to CBS’s Face the Nation, Pritzker said that governors across the nation came together to fight the spread of COVID-19, but without much help from President Donald Trump and his allies. “It’s the governors that have risen to the challenge. I talk to my fellow governors, Republicans and Democrats, we’ve shared ideas with one another on how to keep people safe,” he said.

“We’ve gotten some guidance from the CDC that’s been helpful, but much of what came out of the White House for many weeks was not helpful.”

According to Pritzker, Trump should have activated the Defense Production Act, which would have helped governors across the country gather the medical supplies necessary to fight the virus. So far, he said, nothing has happened on that front. “We needed the White House to lead on the Defense Production Act to help us get swabs, get VTM, to help us get reagents. That really hasn’t much happened,” the governor explained.

Pritzker noted that the White House has promised to send 600,000 swabs to Illinois and expressed his gratitude, but he stressed that Trump and his associates need to do more. Currently, the governor said, states are engaged in a bidding war, having been forced to compete against each other to ensure medical professionals have access to equipment.

The governor said that Illinois will nevertheless “overcome” the coronavirus pandemic, adding that he expects the state to be able to do tens of thousands of tests by midsummer.

Pritzker has previously criticized Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. In March, as The Guardian reported, he said that the administration needs to “get its sh*t together,” pointing out that travelers at Chicago O’Hare International Airport had to wait for hours to undergo medical examinations. The governor also noted that the travelers were forced to wait in lines, which is counterproductive and helps COVID-19 spread faster.

Trump has feuded with a number of Democratic governors. The feuds escalated in late April when the president expressed support for protesters opposed to lockdown and social distancing measures. Notably, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington blasted Trump, arguing that it is unprecedented for a president to support these sorts of protest movements. By encouraging people to gather in large groups, Inslee argued, Trump is also undermining his own administration’s efforts to fight the pandemic.