Moments after President Donald Trump backed down from a claim that he had the “ultimate authority” over states to reopen the country, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday said he’s glad the commander-in-chief has recognized the U.S. Constitution, while also calling Trump “nearly irrelevant” when it comes to coronavirus testing.
“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 Democratic governor also warned that fans shouldn’t get their hopes up for major league sports to resume in the state until the outbreak is more under control.
Pritzker’s televised comments came after a Trump news conference in which the president said he will “authorize” governors to reopen their states.
“I will be authorizing each individual governor, of each individual state, to implement a reopening and a very powerful reopening plan of their state in a time and a manner as most appropriate,” Trump said.
The president also said his administration would be providing guidelines for states, and will be speaking to all governors via a teleconference this week.
“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,” Pritzker said on CNN just moments after Trump’s briefing ended.
Pritzker said he is evaluating the best path forward while focusing on testing, contact tracing and treatment.
“Put that together, with readily available PPE [personal protective equipment], and then you can start to talk about how you will reopen an economy,” Pritzker said.
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.
Citing both Illinois and California’s stay-at-home orders that are helping to level cases, Pritzker reiterated his claim that states have taken the lead on coronavirus testing.
“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,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker said Illinois is producing thousands of tests on its own and making sure the state has enough supplies.
Pritzker was also asked if he feared any consequences for not getting the reopening of the state right. The governor said the consequence are already the health and safety of the people of Illinois.
“I mean, the president at this point is near irrelevant when it comes to this question of testing anyway,” Pritzker said. “And they’ve gotten very little for us as a state. So, we’re doing the work. We’re also spinning up contact tracing.”
Pritzker was also asked whether major league sports will begin at any point soon in the state.
“We want to get our sports back,” Trump said on Tuesday.
The governor said Illinois wants sports back, too, but not before the state is ready.
“I come from a state where sports are extraordinarily important to people. We want them back, too. And we want to work hard to make sure they do come back in a safe way,” Pritzker said. “But we’re not going to allow sports to reopen, major league sports, unless we have all these preconditions set, because I’m not going to have tens of thousands of people getting into an arena together and giving each other COVID-19.”