GAO report to Congress supports Trump administration COVID-19 response criticisms by Pritzker

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Friday, June 26, 2020
Report to Congress confirms Pritzker criticisms of Trump administration response to COVID-19
The Government Accountability Office report to Congress found the U.S. government fell short in nearly all aspects of the pandemic response.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois' favorable COVID-19 trends may be in spite of the initial federal response to the virus, as an independent report to Congress found the U.S. government fell short in nearly all aspects of the pandemic response.

The Government Accountability Office, an independent watchdog group that reports to Congress, found that an ill-prepared, ill-equipped U.S. government contributed to the ill of the nation.

The GAO report substantiates many of the repeated criticisms from Illinois leaders who pounded the administration during the early weeks of the pandemic.

Governor JB Pritzker was not gloating after the inch-and-a-half-thick report from the GAO supported his repeated complaints and ABC7 I-Team findings that federal government efforts were botched from the beginning, from COVID-19 testing to personal protection equipment and crisis funding.

Even Thursday, when answering an I-Team inquiry, the governor revealed Illinois has only received 12% of the masks and other protective gear requested from federal authorities.

"Unfortunately the White House has been an utter and complete failure at delivering on what states needed at the most critical time during this pandemic," Pritzker said. "And now, you know, here we are in June, we'd love to get more help with the many challenges that we have and we get some help and that's great."

Sometimes even when aid did come from Washington, it was no good. In April, faulty Chinese-made KN95 masks were sent from federal emergency officials, but after delivery Illinois law enforcement had to be warned not to use them because they "may not meet performance standards."

In April, Comptroller Susanna Mendoza cited a lack of federal coordination, and north suburban Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider said no one was in charge.

"The left hand doesn't seem to know what the right hand is doing," Schneider said.

And now the GAO report questions how $2.5 trillion in relief effort was allocated. Among the disorganization, the GAO found some states got less than requested and others that didn't need help got more.

One example cited by the non-partisan GAO involved the rush to send out $270 billion in virus relief payments from the Internal Revenue Service. The GAO found almost $1.4 billion were sent to dead people.