Coronavirus pandemic spreads around the globe

Gov. JB Pritzker speaks in 2019.
Gov. JB Pritzker speaks in 2019. Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune/Getty Images

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been critical of the long lines at airports, specifically at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, as Americans rush home amid recent travel restrictions due to the coronavirus.  

Pritzker tweeted, “to the frustrated people trying to get home, I have spoken with the mayor and our Senators and we are working together to get the federal government to act to solve this. We will do everything within our power to get relief.” 

Pritzker was on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this morning where he discussed the travel restrictions discussed Saturday by Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence announced that travel from the United Kingdom and Ireland will be suspended starting Monday night.

This is in addition to the previous US ban applying to the 26 countries in the Schengen Area free movement zone: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

“We knew when the President gave the orders that European travel back to the United States was going to be cut off, that there would be an influx of people, Americans and others, that would come before the final cutoff. So what should have happened? They should have increased the Customs and Border Patrol numbers. And they should have increased the number of CDC personnel on the ground doing those checks. They did neither of those,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker added: “So last night, as people were flooding into O’Hare airport, they were stuck in a small area. Hundreds and hundreds of people. And that’s exactly what you don’t want in this pandemic. So we had that problem. And then today, it’s going to be even worse. There are a larger number of flights with more people coming. And they seem completely unprepared.”

To help relieve the situation today, the governor said he has been talking to Customs and Border Patrol officials directly on the ground at O’Hare.