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Illinois becoming desperate for federal government to send medical supplies to fight coronavirus

The state of Illinois is desperate to receive medical supplies to fight the coronavirus outbreak but the Trump administration is barely providing the state with anything, a senior state official told CNN on Wednesday.

Referring to "Project Airbridge" -- an airlift of supplies provided by the federal government and private health care distributors and helmed by White House senior adviser and President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner -- the official said that "the Airbridge that Trump and (Vice President Mike) Pence talk about coming to Illinois -- all the goods went to other states. We got nothing."

Illinois is one of several states struggling to obtain needed medical supplies to outfit health care workers on the front lines of the fight against the pandemic. Illinois News  Governors across the country have complained about having to bid against each other for medical supplies shipments and some, such as Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, have said contractors are canceling contracts in order to sell medical supplies to the federal government instead of the states.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, has been up front with his complaints about the process, telling CNN's Chris Cuomo on Tuesday that the state has "gotten about 10% of what we asked for" from the federal government.

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On Tuesday, Pence noted that he spoke with Pritzker and said, "In the last week and in the week ahead, more than 450 ventilators" would be headed to Illinois.

But the Illinois official told CNN that the request had actually been filled more than a week ago, and the state's total request was for 4,000 ventilators.

"They had sent us, 10 days ago, 450 of our 4,000 ventilator request," the official said. "They are not sending any more."

The Trump administration had also said that it had sent Illinois 300,000 N95 masks, which is what doctors wear when treating individuals infected with a virus. The state had requested 1.7 million.
"But actually," the official told CNN, "they sent us 300,000 general/medical masks."

Those masks are not considered respiratory protection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are not totally effective in preventing coronavirus transmission.

The official added, "We are just not counting on anything and are likely not to be able to procure what we need in ventilators by the time we hit peak later this month."

Pritzker said at a news conference on Monday that the shipment of personal protective equipment was the third that Illinois has received from the federal government, and it arrived Sunday.

Pritzker said that in its first request several weeks ago, the  Press Release Distribution Services In Illinois state asked for over 1.2 million N95 masks, 900,000 surgical masks, 1.6 million gloves, 24,000 gowns, 24,000 goggles, 120,000 face shields and 4,000 respirators -- but received "a fraction" of that, as it did with its second, larger request.
Pritzker also called on Trump to use the Defense Production Act to direct companies increase personal protective equipment production. Trump invoked the act on Friday to require General Motors to produce more ventilators to deal with increased hospitalizations.

"I can't emphasize enough how much we need the federal government to step up and amplify the size of their (personal protective equipment) deliveries to Illinois and, frankly, across the nation," Pritzker added.

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