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White House must ‘get its s@#t together’ on airport coronavirus chaos, Illinois gov says

The Democratic governor of Illinois took to social media with graphic language Saturday night on behalf of air travelers, telling the Trump administration to “get its s@#t together” on growing chaos at the nation’s airports.

Gov. J. B. Pritzker’s barbed message -- shared on Facebook and Twitter -- was specifically in regard to the long lines at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport created by new coronavirus health screenings for people returning from Europe.

Similar lines have appeared at international airports across the nation, the Washington Post reports. One traveler at O’Hare posted on Twitter that it was a six hour wait for bags, and up to four hours at customs.

“The crowds and lines at O’Hare are unacceptable and need to be addressed immediately,” Pritzker posted.

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“President Donald J. Trump Vice (and) President Mike Pence since this is the only communication medium you pay attention to – you need to do something NOW. These crowds are waiting to get through customs which is under federal jurisdiction. ... The federal government needs to get its s@#t together.”

The Facebook post drew 1,700 comments and his series of tweets got about 5,000 comments, including some from people thanking him for being blunt.

One not-so-happy comment came via phone from a White House staffer , Pritzker told “Meet the Press” Sunday.

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“I got a call at about 11 o’clock last night after that tweet from a White House staffer who yelled at me about the tweet,” he said during the interview.

He didn’t say what was said during the heated conversation.

However, President Trump asked for pardon and patience Sunday afternoon.

“We are doing very precise Medical Screenings at our airports,” he tweeted. “Pardon the interruptions and delays, we are moving as quickly as possible, but it is very important that we be vigilant and careful. We must get it right. Safety first!”

His message echoed an earlier tweet from Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which said the agency was “ working to add additional screening capacity.

“I understand this is very stressful,” Wolf tweeted. “In these unprecedented times, we ask for your patience. It currently takes ~60 seconds for medical professionals to screen each passenger. We will be increasing capacity but the health and safety of the American public is first & foremost.”

Pritzker told “Meet the Press” the federal government was clearly not prepared for what happened after new travel restrictions were announced late last week.

“So what should have happened? They should have increased the custom s 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,” he said in the interview.

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This story was originally published March 15, 2020 1:04 PM.

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