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Pritzker calls for nationwide mask mandate, says pandemic “is not a reality TV show”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has been critical of President Donald Trump's response to COVID-19 since the pandemic started. Yet, he says it's not too late for the federal government to step up. Pritzker testified before a virtual hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security Wednesday morning.

The governor says the pandemic is a national emergency requiring a national response. He noted many states struggled to get testing equipment and proper personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses early into the pandemic.

"In the midst of a global pandemic, states were forced to play some sort of sick Hunger Games game show to save lives of our people. Let me be clear: This is not a reality TV show," Pritzker said. "These are real things that are happening in the United States of America in the year 2020."

Pritzker is asking for a federal containment strategy for more testing and contact tracing. He also believes a national mask mandate would help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We instituted ours in Illinois on May 1st - first in the nation - and it aligns with our most significant downward shifts in our infection rate."

Several states currently seeing a surge of cases and hospitalization have started to require face coverings. However, President Trump hasn't addressed a nationwide requirement.

Lack of health care

This also comes as Trump has asked the Supreme Court to strike down the Affordable Care Act. A Congressman asked Pritzker how the lack of health insurance in vulnerable populations made this public health crisis worse. The governor says testing should be free for everyone. He also argues no one should worry about treatment if they have COVID-19.

"People should be able to get health care, they should be able to get treated," Pritzker said. "We should be keeping everybody alive and not having people thinking about whether or not they should go to the hospital in the first place when they're contagious and when they're symptomatic."

The Democrat says he is concerned with where the country is right now for health care. He hopes the federal government will maintain Medicaid coverage for those in need.

Mike Miletich

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