Timeline: Pritzker’s feud with Trump over COVID-19 response


Daily file photo by Emma Edmund

Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Pritzker has been especially vocal about the Trump administration’s COVID-19 reponse, publicly rebuking the lack of federally-supplied personal protective equipment and engaging in an extended Twitter feud with the president.

Eva Herscowitz, Assistant City Editor

Ever since known COVID-19 cases began surging in the U.S., President Donald Trump has clashed with governors from coast-to-coast over his coronavirus response. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been especially vocal, publicly rebuking the lack of federally-supplied personal protective equipment and engaging in an extended Twitter feud with the president.

Here’s what you should know about how Illinois’ billionaire governor has made a name for himself sparring with Trump amid COVID-19.

March 22 — “It’s a Wild West”: On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pritzker tells host Jake Tapper the state has received a quarter of the personal protective equipment it requested from the Trump administration. Forced to compete on the open market for items with other states, Pritzker adds that he believes the state is overpaying for PPE.

“This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government,” he says. We’re competing against each other. It’s a … Wild West, I would say, out there.”

March 22, 11:14 A.M. — Trump chimes in: As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Illinois tops 1,000, Trump sends out a tweet lambasting Pritzker’s comments.

Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also say the White House isn’t supplying their states enough PPE and testing kits.

March 22, 2:30 P.M. — Pritzker: Trump “has done very little”: Pritzker strikes back. In his daily COVID-19 press briefing, the governor addresses Trump’s tweet, saying the president “has done very little” to protect frontline health care workers.

“This is the time for serious people, not the carnival barkers that are tweeting from the cheap seats,” Pritzker says. “All I can say is get to work or get out of the way.”

April 1 — Governor organizing airlift: Pritzker is calling the CEOs of major airlines to organize an airlift of PPE from China to Illinois, according to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Durbin adds that Pritzker feels “like a shipping clerk.”

“He was calling the major airlines that he knew the CEOs to be available, asking and begging them to help Illinois secure goods from China,” Durbin says.

April 5 — “The president does not understand the word federal”: After Trump says states were “totally unprepared” for a pandemic at a press conference April 3, a frustrated Pritzker responds. Appearing again on “State of the Union,” the governor says Trump’s mishandled national response shows “the president does not understand the word federal.”

Pritzker says the federal government should have built ventilators in anticipation of a shortage and invoked the Defense Production Act earlier. The act gives the government more control during emergencies to direct industrial production. The same day, Trump responds: ”There is a governor, I hear him complaining all the time, Pritzker. He is always complaining. In Illinois, the governor couldn’t do his job, so we had to help him.”

April 14 — PPE cargo confirmed: Pritzker plans to obtain millions of masks and gloves from China and transport them to Illinois on charter jets, The Chicago Sun-Times reports. According to the Sun-Times, the governor is hiding the details in fear the Trump administration will seize the cargo for the federal stockpile.

A list of state expenditures reveals two invoices, each for $888,275, to FedEx Trade Networks Transport for “aircraft charter flight to Shanghai, China for COVID-19 response. … Prepayment required.”

April 15 — Pritzker “given up” on federal help: Pritzker tells CNN’s Erin Burnett on “OutFront” he’s “given up” on receiving federal assistance. He says despite a lack of federally-provided testing kits, PPE and ventilators, the state is “doing what we need to do.”

April 21 — Governor responds to protesters, tweets: As people rally against Illinois’ stay-at-home order, Pritzker appears on a Washington Post livestream and says Trump’s tweets are “fomenting” protests and violence.

Days earlier, protesters had stormed the steps of Springfield’s Lincoln Statue shouting “Open Illinois,” as part of the national “Operation Gridlock” movement. Organized by a conservative committee, “Operation Gridlock” is fighting against perceived rights violations brought on by stay-at-home orders.

April 26 — Approval rating soars: Pritzker has a 69 percent approval rating as compared to Trump’s 39 percent approval rating in Illinois, according to a study conducted by researchers from Harvard, Northeastern and Rutgers universities.

More than 80 percent of survey respondents trust their state and city governments more than the federal government.

May 1 — Pritzker suggests partial reopening: At his daily press briefing, Pritzker says regions in Illinois may be permitted to reopen before May 30 if they meet certain requirements. Requirements include 14 straight days of a decrease in cases, low hospitalization, low ICU admissions and an availability of ventilators.

“I’m not gonna do it until we know people are safe,” he says. “It isn’t going to be because some protester has a sign that says, ‘Liberate Illinois.’”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @herscowitz

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