Pritzker, Chicago reporter clash over COVID-19 'misinformation'

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and a local reporter on Tuesday butted heads while discussing COVID-19, with the governor declaring, "You are spreading misinformation."

After a press conference in Chicago where Pritzker signed legislation expanding access to mental healthcare, the governor fielded questions from reporters.

WIND reporter Amy Jacobson asked Pritzker about whether he would shut down in-person learning at schools again should COVID-19 numbers continue to rise. The governor, although adamant he would not want to do such a thing, would not rule out a move should a "widespread" outbreak occur.

"If all of a sudden we started to see that there was a widespread delta— or something that was overcoming, for example, the vaccine that people have already taken, and sending people to the hospital who are already vaccinated, then we would have to look at a whole new set, the bottom of the list, you know things that we left far in the distance last year — that we might have to revisit those things. But that’s not something that I would say is highlighted on that menu of options," Pritzker said.

As Pritzker concluded his remarks and stepped away from the podium, Jacobson fired back before being cut off by the governor's press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh.

"You had a protest out there this morning and parents were crying, screaming ‘oh my God’ — you know as governor you should try and calm people’s nerves maybe, or can you because there are low risk groups," Jacobson was in the middle of saying before Abudayyeh cut her off.

"Amy, as a supposed reporter, you should probably stop the misinformation, we are done here. Thank you. You know how you prevent schools from being closed? You stop complaining about the mask wearing," Abudayyeh said.


Visibly frustrated by the exchange, Pritzker returned to the podium to address Jacobson's line of questioning.

"You are spreading misinformation. I wish you would stop spreading misinformation. You come in here with a political agenda and you spread misinformation and I just think you should stop. We now need to protect our children. We need to protect the people in our communities. Parents, grandparents, teachers — you are working against that. And it is extremely upsetting for all of us who are trying to keep the rest of the state safe," Pritzker concluded.

Earlier in the press conference, Pritzker also said his administration was looking into mandating the coronavirus vaccine for state workers. This comes on the same day Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced city employees must be vaccinated by October 15.

On Tuesday, Gov. Pritzker warned that should coronavirus numbers keep rising across the state, he would have to impose "significantly greater mitigations."

The governor also signed a package of legislation on Tuesday that will require insurance coverage for mental, emotional, nervous, or substance use disorders.

One of the bills also creates a first responder system that will coordinate 911 and 988 emergency responses when the National Mental Health Crisis line goes live next summer.

"With the goal of prioritizing community care over incarceration or improper use of force when it comes to mental or behavioral emergencies. In other words, it mandates compassion," Pritzker said.

A law included in this package will also require "appropriate responder training" for police officers to help them better respond to mental health emergencies.