Pritzker: Some virus deniers are being abusive to healthcare workers

healthcare workers
Healthcare workers in COVID gear Photo credit Getty Images

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) — Illinois healthcare workers are facing hostility from some COVID-19 patients as conspiracy theories persist about the virus that became politicized in the recent presidential election, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday.

It’s a marked contrast to the period early in the pandemic, he said, when nurses, doctors and other medical professionals were hailed as frontline heroes and people sent them meals or banged on pots and pans to show their appreciation.

“Hospital leaders tell me that’s all come to a grinding halt,” Pritzker said at his latest coronavirus briefing. “Doctors and nurses tell me that some people who come to emergency rooms with COVID, sometimes struggling to breathe, are screaming at hospital workers about how the disease is a political hoax or some sort of hospital profit scheme. It’s beyond tragic for all involved.”

He blamed President Trump for implanting “a false narrative in the minds of a loud minority of Illinoisans.”

Pritzker’s remarks came as the state prepares to go into a sort of semi-lockdown beginning Friday, in an effort to tamp down the latest surge of coronavirus. The “Tier 3” mitigations will further limit capacity at retail stores, supermarkets and pharmacies, while venues such as theaters, museums and casinos will temporarily close. Illinois residents are urged to work from home and limit their travel and errands outside of their residences to essential trips.

On Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 140 additional deaths from COVID-19, which takes the state’s collective death toll to more than 11,000 since the pandemic began.

Pritzker said COVID-19 is currently the state’s third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer.

The state health agency reported 8,922 new confirmed or probable cases of the virus on Wednesday. Officials say hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed because of the latest surge of coronavirus. Patients with other conditions could find it difficult to be treated, if that occurs, Pritzker says.