Gov. JB Pritzker spoke Thursday about the efforts made to shore up IDES' unemployment claim response as it prepares for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program that will provide benefits to gig economy and other workers who previously didn’t qualify. In addition to highlighting the additional manpower and infrastructure IDES has used to respond to the more than 1 million claims made since March 1, he clarified a few things about those newly applying for the PUA program:

  • Applicants should apply for traditional unemployment, even in the likelihood they will be denied. That denial is the first step, per the federal government.
  • Applying in the days leading up to May 11 could mean quicker payment, as things like the program's debit cards could be mailed right away, even if an applicant is currently denied.
  • The step of being denied traditional unemployment first is "mandatory" per the federal government, Pritzker said.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike reported 2,641 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the state's total to 70,873. There were 138 additional deaths yesterday, bringing the state's death toll to 3,111.

Back to the new unemployment system, Pritzker said the new computer system could process 140,000 online applications per hour.

He also said a new call center is staffed with people from Illinois.

Media questions today include:

The governor was asked why he defers to local authorities when asked about the enforcement of his executive orders.

“That is how laws are enforced in Illinois, by local law enforcement.”

A Decatur reporter asked about the reluctance of Macon County officials to name businesses where there have been outbreaks, even though other, similarly sized counties do identify businesses.

Pritzker said that is a decision being made locally but that he believes that information should be disclosed so employees and shoppers know.

Dr. Ezike said IDPH classifies an “outbreak” as a location with two or more infections tied to it.

Asked about professional sports, Pritzker said he’s talked with local franchises about their plans, and one option is to work toward opening without fans. He said the teams have an interest in protecting the players, who are worth millions to their business.

Asked why Grundy County and others are lumped in with Cook County and therefore likely to be the last counties to open, the governor said it was based on people living in outlying counties and commuting into Cook or the collar counties where there have been numerous infections.

“There’s probably no way to draw these lines that would satisfy everybody,” Pritzker said.

The governor confirmed that it would be difficult for large water parks and amusement parks to open anytime soon but held out hope that an effective treatment is on the horizon that could change plans.

The said the same was true for Orland Park Mall.

There was also a question about a media interview in which former Gov. Jim Edgar praised Pritzker’s handling of the situation and said that doing the right thing supersedes politics.