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GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – Gov. Pritzker talks unemployment benefits

Published: Thursday, May 07, 2020 04:37 PM

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.

GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – Businesses that break Stay at Home Order could lose licenses

Published: Wednesday, May 06, 2020 04:16 PM

Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday it is “highly unlikely” Illinois will have either of its two State Fairs and that state-regulated businesses who ignore orders and reopen could lose their licenses.

“They absolutely could,” said Pritzker.

His comments come as Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike reported another 136 people died from COVID-19 in the past day, pushing the death toll to 2,974 since the state began tracking the outbreak more than two months ago.

Another 2,270 people tested positive for the disease in the last 24 hours out of the nearly 15,000 daily tests results the state received. That’s an infection rate of 15 percent.

Heading into Wednesday, 4,832 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 infections. Of them, 1,231 were in Intensive Care Units, and 780 of them required ventilators.

Asked if it was safe to visit and hug mothers on the upcoming Mother’s Day, Dr. Ezike said, no.

“We’ve tried to stress that we still don’t have a cure, we still don’t have a vaccine. We really aren’t that far from where we were a month ago. Our elderly people are still at risk,” Dr. Ezike said.

She said her kids will only drop things off at her mother’s door, because they don’t want to expose her to greater risk.

The governor was asked if prisons and nursing homes would be counted in regional data in determining the surrounding community’s restrictions. The inference was that these settings don’t represent the outside community.

“There are staff people who go in and out of these facilities all the time,” Pritzker said in explaining why that data will be used.

In his opening remarks, Gov. Pritzker spoke today on the disparity in the infection rate among minority communities, in particular the high rate of infection among the Latinx community, outlining initiatives IDPH is taking to shore up reporting on ethnicity data. Pritzker and Dr. Ezike revealed that Latinx people have had a 60% positivity rate when tested.

Speaking on that same disparity, Dr. Ezike reminded Illinoisans that COVID-19 treatment and testing will be provided regardless of someone's ability to pay, insurance coverage, or citizenship status.

"The Latino community is the Illinois community. We are in these fights, all of these fights, together," Pritzker said.

Pritzker also denounced reports of racism against minorities due to wearing a face covering, calling on Illinoisans to stand up for one another and to report any discrimination they see to the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Pritzker also spoke about a program to provide housing assistance for those in close living situations such as multi-generational family settings or cohabitation with a roommate in a small apartment. Hotels have been made available with full wrap-around services that include meals and medical, free of charge, for those who are COVID-positive and at high risk of infecting those they live with. Pritzker said those who believe they may qualify should contact their county or city public health department to find out how to apply.

In other comments, the governor urged Illinoisans to hold their employers to account if they believe their workplaces are not abiding by proper CDC-approved safety guidelines - another issue with particular relevance to Latinx and other minority communities, many of whom are still serving as essential workers, he said. The governor urged people to:

  • Submit complaints to Illinois OSHA through the Illinois Dept. of Labor for public employers such as state or local governments.
  • Direct complaints to federal OSHA for private employers.
  • File complaints against any employer through the Illinois Attorney General's Workplace Rights Bureau.
  • Both of those reporting mechanisms can be found at

COVID-19 Links

Illinois Department of Public Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Illinois Department of Employment Security - Unemployment Benefits

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