CNN’s Jake Tapper hounded Louisiana’s Gov. Jon Bel Edwards on why he didn’t cancel the big Mardi Gras parade on February 25 after getting briefed on the dangers of coronavirus on February 9:
“There was not a single suggestion by anyone, a doctor, a scientist, a political figure that we needed to cancel Mardi Gras,” Louisiana Gov. Bel Edwards says. “Rather than look back, I am focused on today and going forward” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/1QLOAqt6J0
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 5, 2020
For starters, this has been asked and answered over and over again:
Wolf Blitzer on your network asked the mayor the last week in March. She was also asked on The View last week. The governor was asked on Face the Nation last week. The answer has always been the same. If we knew then what we do now, but here's why we didn't.
— Stephanie Grace (@stephgracela) April 5, 2020
But if CNN wants to play this game, can someone please answer why Chris Cuomo on February 24 hosted a town hall and interviewed Bernie Sander IN PERSON despite having a fever? How freaking insane is that?
Maybe the fever and sinus deal I am battling. But always a pleasure to do #CNNTownHall – this time with Sen Sanders…the fact remains the senator proposes ambitious spending that is not completely explained by what he has put out. But it is his case to make. Thx for watching https://t.co/f5HjGQXjVk
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) February 25, 2020
Anyway, since CNN is calling out governors for not acting quicker, we will point out that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker was on right after Gov. Edwards but instead of asking about his bad past decisions, Tapper give him a platform to bash President Trump:
"The President does not understand the word federal," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says. "If they had started in February building ventilators, getting ready for this pandemic, we would not have the problems we have today and frankly, very many fewer people would die" #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/7SIPKZIdjw
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) April 5, 2020
He could have asked Gov. Pritzker why he left the bars open for St. Patrick’s Day 3 weeks after Mardi Gras, but nah:
Social distancing pleas from public officials went unheeded on Saint Patrick's Day as thousands packed the streets of Chicago streets, bars and restaurants. https://t.co/YM3rVFVW9k
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) March 15, 2020
Keep in mind, people flew in for this as well:
“I’m not about to put my life on hold because this is going around,” said a **NURSE** from Colorado who flew in to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with his Chicago friends. ??? https://t.co/jxj8u1BsmG
— Nader Issa (@NaderDIssa) March 14, 2020
And Gov. Pritzker didn’t cancel his state’s primary like neighbor Ohio did. Why didn’t CNN ask about this?
BREAKING: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, citing CDC guidelines, is recommending the cancelation of in-person voting for tomorrow’s primary. Voting would be extended until June 2, allowing for absentee voting.
Question is whether Florida, Illinois, and Arizona will follow suit.
— Matt Viser (@mviser) March 16, 2020
Here’s the transcript so you can read for yourself what was and was not asked:
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I’m Jake Tapper.
Governors across the nation are scrambling to secure tests and supplies for their residents and their health care professionals.
On Friday, the governor of Illinois slammed the Trump administration’s response, saying — quote — “Every state is on their own.” And Governor Pritzker compared the atmosphere to the Wild West.
The Democratic governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, joins me now.
Governor Pritzker, good to see you again.
GOV. J.B. PRITZKER (D-IL): Good morning.
TAPPER: So, let’s catch up our viewers with where Illinois is.
Yesterday, your state passed 10,000 cases, close to 250 deaths from coronavirus. Your state health service reported that 70 percent of your ICU beds are now occupied, 70 percent. The chief medical officer at Cook County Health in Chicago told CNN that — quote — “By the end of the week, if we have not made an impact, the models suggest we will be overwhelmed.”
How long do you have until your health care system is just completely overrun?
PRITZKER: Well, it depends on what model you believe.
But let me just say this, that I think they zero in on the latter half of April. So, we’re really just less than two weeks away from the beginning of peaking.
We, as you may know, opened McCormick Place. That’s our version of the Javits Center, better, I would argue. But it’s our convention center in Chicago, where we have got 500 beds for less acuity patients that we can move from hospitals who are COVID-positive into a new facility.
We’re going to have 3,000 beds in that facility soon. And then we’re adding perhaps another 1,500 around the state.
TAPPER: You said Tuesday that, after you told the Trump administration that your state needed 4,000 ventilators, Vice President Pence said that you actually needed 1,400, not 4,000, 1,400.
Is 1,400 going to be enough for Illinois to survive the worst?
PRITZKER: Look, I pray that the vice president was right, but let me tell you where I think he got his numbers.
He looked at a University of Washington model that’s out there that people are accessing to look at every state. The problem is — and it’s a very good model, except that the problem is, they didn’t put that model out there for resource allocation reasons.
They — if you look at the model, there’s a central point, which is where it shows that Illinois needs only 1,400 or fewer than 1,400 ventilators. But there’s also a worst-case scenario, which shows that we would need 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 more.
And so, look, we’re looking at all of the numbers. And everybody is taking an educated guess, because we really don’t know. This virus is unpredictable.
So, our guess is, at this point, that we need a few thousand more than we have now, up to 4,000. That’s what we have asked the federal government for. And over time, they have given us 450 total.
Now, we’re looking everywhere and anywhere across the world to get ventilators. Here’s the problem. The president didn’t enact or use the Defense Production Act until just recently. And he used it with GM, right?
And with GM, when you talk to GM, they will tell you, great, we’re going to produce ventilators mostly in May and June. That’s great, and we may need them in May and June. I hope we don’t.
But in the latter half of April, when we think we might be peaking, there are no ventilators available. And New York does not look like it will be coming off its peak by the time we’re hitting peak.
So, the idea of moving ventilators from New York to other places, I pray to God that’s true, but, right now, it doesn’t look like that will be true.
TAPPER: President Trump said yesterday that everyone needed to — quote — “stop playing this game” with governors about allocating medical equipment from the federal government.
And then I want you to take a listen to what the president said on Friday about the Trump administration’s new line of argument about the federal stockpile of medical supplies and devices.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have a federal stockpile and they have state stockpiles. And, frankly, they were — many of the states were totally unprepared for this. So we had to go into the federal stockpile. But we’re not an ordering clerk. They have to have for themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What’s your reaction, Governor?
PRITZKER: Well, the president does not understand the word federal, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
We have a state Emergency Management Agency, but, if he were right, why would we ever need a Federal Emergency Management Agency?
It’s because individual states can’t possibly do what the federal government can do. We don’t have a Defense Production Act. There’s no way that we could stockpile in anticipation of a pandemic that no one anticipated.
And yet the federal government is responsible for doing precisely that. And we now know that intelligence sources and all the best advice that was given was given in January and early February to the president and the White House, and they seem not to have acted at all upon it.
If they had started in February building ventilators, getting ready for this pandemic, we would not have the problems that we have today, and, frankly, very many fewer people would die.
TAPPER: There are eight states that have not yet enacted a stay-at- home order.
You were, I think, the second governor in the country to do so behind California Governor Newsom. But the eight states include your neighbor Iowa. It shares a border, a very long border, with your state.
What’s your message to the governor of Iowa? What’s your message to the eight governors that have not enacted stay-at-home orders?
PRITZKER: Well, look, I — it’s not for me to tell the governor of Iowa what to do or the governor of Missouri. They only put their stay- at-home in very recently. And they’re also a big border state for us.
But I will say that it was the job of the federal government.
Look, we are one nation here. This virus knows no borders. And so it was up to the federal government, to begin with, to advise and to ask all the governors to put in stay-at-home orders. Those governors, Republican governors, would have done it much earlier if the president had suggested it much earlier.
They knew that — at the federal level that was the right thing to do. You can hear it in the words from Dr. Fauci, who I have had many direct conversations with, and Dr. Birx. They knew it.
But the president was apparently reluctant. And we see what the results are today.
TAPPER: The president has said that this is not going to last all that long.
The Associated Press is now reporting that President Trump believes that the NFL season will start on schedule, September 10, with fans in the seats.
Your fellow Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom of California said — quote — “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.”
What do you think about Illinois? Will the Bears be at Soldier Field? Will there be fans in the bleachers?
PRITZKER: Well, the Bears are a great team, whether they’re playing or not.
But I will say this, that it’s not up to us. We don’t know, that none of us really knows.
But what I do know is this, that if the researchers are able to come up with a treatment, something that will save lives, something that will keep people off of ventilators, maybe even keep them out of hospitals, then that will be an enormous development for our country and for the future, and it may allow us to begin to open things up in the way that the president is describing.
But the truth is that no one predicts now that we’re going to have that treatment any time in the next few weeks or even in the next month, and no one really knows if we will have it by September.
What we do know is that, if you have a vaccine, that ultimately will help us deal with the problem, because it’s either going to be a treatment and herd immunity that ultimately allows us to open everything back up, or it’s a vaccine. TAPPER: Governor Pritzker, thank you so much.
Good luck to you. Please keep in touch with us about anything you might need to bring attention to it.
PRITZKER: Thanks, Jake. Stay healthy.
TAPPER: Thank you, sir. You too.
Editor’s note: We incorrectly identified LA Gov. Jon Bel Edwards as a Republican throughout this article. We apologize to Jake Tapper for the error.