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Responding to a media question about the backlog and uncertainty surrounding unemployment applications and benefits, Gov. JB Pritzker said an outside vendor was brought in to help, but there are still challenges the state is trying to overcome.

Pritzker explained there are two facets to the unemployment situation. There’s the traditional unemployment system for workers that - on its own - has been overwhelmed with applications. That’s where an outside vendor has been brought in to help with the sheer volume of applicants.

Then there’s the new program created by the federal relief package that includes benefits for independent contractors and gig economy workers, who had previously not been part of any unemployment system. The federal government provided resources for benefits but almost no state had a system to administer or deliver those benefits. Illinois and others are building those systems.

As for the latest COVID-19 numbers. IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike reported:

81 additional deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 677.

1,293 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 19,180.

Pritzker took time to focus comments today on mental health in particular. Addressing Illinoisans directly, he acknowledged the stress ​attached to the pandemic, and urged them to text to the state's mental health hotline, Call For Calm, by texting "Talk" to 552020 or to text "Hablar" to the same number for help in Spanish.

The governor said he would give a short Easter Sunday briefing tomorrow.