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GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – Illinois working to launch contract tracing initiative

Published: Friday, May 01, 2020 04:30 PM

Gov. Pritzker spoke for the first time about a contact tracing initiative, which he said will be deploying an "army" of tracers "by the hundreds, and then by the thousands," in the coming weeks. He said that while contact tracing is a proven public health procedure, COVID-19 presents a challenge in light of the rapid spread of the disease.

"Contact tracing is not a new concept. The difference now is that in order to move safely back toward normalcy, the state, country and the whole world must contact trace on a never-before-seen scale," Pritzker said.

Pritzker and Dr. Wayne Duffus, the state's lead epidemiologist, spoke about the need for many trained workers in order to contact and interview each and every person who tests positive for COVID-19 and help them retrace their steps over the past 14 days, then inform people with whom those who have tested positive had close contact. Duffus said that a conservative estimate indicates the state may need 3,810 contact tracing workers, but said not all need be hired at once.

The governor’s estimated price tag for the tracking program is $80 million.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike reported 3,137 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the state's total to 56,055. She reported 105 additional deaths, bringing the total death toll to 2,457. To date, the state has run 284,688 tests, with 14,821 in the last day.

While hundreds of protestors are getting media attention in Illinois, Pritzker gave voice to the millions who are staying and home in an effort to protect everyone’s health. He said he, too, wants the economy to reopen and but that he’s not going to do it just because some protestor has a sign that says “Liberate Illinois.”

Pritzker said if there are regions that peak and show a downward trend, he would be willing to open them before the current stay-at-home order expires at the end of May.

Reporters asked about breaking language barriers to get information into Latino communities where there is often skepticism of seeking government help.

Dr. Ezike said a strength of the Latino culture is the cohesiveness of the family, but that it also unfortunately can result in infections spreading quickly. She said it’s important for people to know they can get treatment and care. The governor said the state is actively translating materials to cross barriers.

Reporters asked about ongoing problems with the unemployment system and whether gig economy workers would really start seeing benefits beginning May 11.

“They need to actually file their unemployment claim now under the current unemployment system, because it will make it much easier for them … to get paid [after new system launches May 11],” Pritzker said.

The applicant will get rejected for now, but come May 11, they will have an account already established for the new system, the governor said.

The governor was asked if was considering skipping pension payments or laying off state workers to balance the budget.

The answer to both was: no.

And the governor was asked about the mayor of East Peoria declaring his city open.

Pritzker said it’s a good thing the state is expanding testing because “a lot of people are going to get sick in those areas.”

GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – New drive-thru testing sites announced in Waukegan and East St. Louis

Published: Thursday, April 30, 2020 04:18 PM

Gov. Pritzker's comments focused on testing today, speaking about the efforts the state has made to create the supply chains necessary for the materials to ramp up testing and announcing two new drive-thru testing facilities in Waukegan and East St. Louis. He said Rockford and Aurora drive-thru facilities have already run roughly 1,000 tests a day between the two of them.

The governor also spoke on the extension of a modified Stay at Home Order that will take effect tomorrow, reminding people that masks will be mandatory for those over the age of two in any public space where distancing more than 6 feet away isn't possible, and calling out more opportunities for businesses like non-essential retail, elective surgical centers, and garden centers to be open with the proper safety guidelines.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike clarified who will be considered for a COVID-19 test, reminding people that those who display symptoms or asymptomatic people who work in front-line health care or essential industries (including grocery or child care) would all be given priority. She reported 2,563 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, for a total of 52,918 cases. 141 additional deaths occurred over the last day, bringing the state's total death toll to 2,355. The state has run 269,867 tests, with 13,200 performed in the last day.

Questions:

A western Illinois pastor is suing the governor claiming his first amendment rights were violated.

“We’ve asked everybody to do the right thing,” was Pritzker’s response when asked about the lawsuit.

Asked by a news outlet about counties where officials are saying they might not follow the extended order, the governor reminded everyone that thousands of infected people are being discovered daily.

“We had 141 people die today,” Pritzker said.

The governor was asked about additional funding from the federal government. He said he wants to utilize additional federal resources to support a state program to assist small businesses, especially restaurants and bars.

“We can pressure the feds for more funding, and we are,” he said.

And the governor was asked to clarify when people need to wear a face covering, for instance when they are out on a walk or run?

Pritzker said you don’t have to wear one at all times, but if you encounter a crowd, that’s when you are required to put on a face covering.

COVID-19 Links

Illinois.gov

Illinois Department of Public Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Illinois Department of Employment Security - Unemployment Benefits

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