State Outbreak Response Includes Emergency Waivers For Trucking, 60 National Guard Activated, and Calls For Increase Monitoring & Testing

By Benjamin Cox on March 18, 2020 at 11:18am

The State of Illinois continues mobilizing all sectors of the government in efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the state’s first death from the virus yesterday as well as an outbreak at a Willowbrook nursing facility with 22 positive cases with 18 being residents and 4 staff.

Pritzker also signed an emergency declaration, effective through April 12th, enabling haulers to get free Illinois Department of Transportation overweight trucking permits for the movement of emergency relief supplies during the pandemic. Operators are required to carry a copy of the order and waiver. The order does not apply to posted bridges and local highways with special and seasonal weight restrictions.

Pritzker will be in Belleville and Murphysboro today for his daily COVID-19 press conference to discuss downstate efforts to combat the virus. Pritzker also has assigned duties to approximately 60 Illinois National Guard members to assist state department’s in coronavirus response. 43 of the members are from the Peoria-based 182nd Airlift Wing’s medical group with 17 planners and liaison officers from various units across the state. They will be mostly working on medical staffing concerns at select locations.

Capitol Fax reports that state labs are processing around 300 coronavirus test specimens a day following the more stringent CDC guidelines around who qualifies for a test. Sources to the news blog say that with private labs and additional testing materials for state labs, thousands of tests could be conducted per day statewide that would give better sentinel data to track community spread. Governor Pritzker has continually lobbed criticism at the federal government to get out of the way so the state can get more testing and monitoring done in the state.