The state of Illinois early Monday received a second shipment of personal protective equipment flown in from China to help the state battle the coronavirus outbreak.
The latest shipment purchased by Illinois contains “lots of surgical masks,” according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office. The first shipment from China arrived Thursday and contained gloves and masks.
The Sun-Times last week reported Pritzker was planning to obtain millions of masks and gloves from China but was keeping those details secret out of fear the Trump administration might seize the cargo for the federal stockpile.
Illinois state Comptroller Susana Mendoza said last week the state had spent more than $174 million on purchases related to COVID-19, including supplies such as ventilators, masks, gloves, gowns, protective eyewear and hand sanitizer.
Among the list of expenditures: two invoices, each for $888,275, to FedEx Trade Networks Transport for “aircraft charter flight to Shanghai, China for COVID-19 response. ... Prepayment required.”
At his daily briefing Sunday, Pritzker announced the second airlift of PPE. The protective equipment will be taken to state warehouses to be inspected before being shipped out to first responders and health care workers, Pritzker said.
“If it strikes you as atypical that in the midst of a national emergency, a state is directly airlifting emergency response materials from another country, you’d be right,” Pritzker said, again blasting the White House’s response to the crisis.
“That’s the landscape we’re operating in: competing with other states, other countries and even our own federal government for supplies.”
Pritzker has been a frequent critic of Trump and his administration’s response to coronavirus for weeks, on television and in his daily press briefings. The governor has complained about Illinois having to secure its own tests and personal protective equipment to get ahead of the spread of the virus. After an appearance last month — and a private phone call between Pritzker and Trump — the federal government sent Illinois a shipment of hundreds of ventilators. And the federal government has come through with shipments of equipment, albeit less than what Pritzker had requested.
The state has received more than a million N95 masks, more than 64 million surgical and exam gloves, among other supplies via the Project Air Bridge, a public-private partnership led by the White House, according to a White House official.
In addition to the Project Air Bridge efforts, as of April 14, FEMA delivered 600 ventilators, 540,000 N95 masks, 1.2 million surgical masks and 1.1 million gloves from the federal stockpile to Illinois, the official said.
But Pritzker has said it is the states taking the lead on coronavirus testing, not the federal government. Last week on CNN, Pritzker said he had given up on hopes President Donald Trump would help Illinois with COVID-19 tests.
“We’ve gotten very little help from the federal government. It’s fine. I’ve given up on any promises that have been made,” Pritzker said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett Out Front.” “I hope something will get delivered from the federal government, but I don’t expect it anymore.”
The Illinois National Guard has been helping with the logistics of the shipments from China.