Mar 27, 2020
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker Coronavirus Transcript March 27
J. B. Pritzker: (00:00)
Do this to activate the Defense Production Act, weeks ago or even yesterday, but it still will make a massive difference in our national healthcare system if he simply moves quickly. One way or another, we need these supplies and I have a whole team of people whose singular focus right now is working the phones, calling across the world to get as much PPE, as many ventilators and as many tests as possible shipped to Illinois. This morning, because of my state team and their hustle and working all hours of the day and night, we received another shipment of state-procured N95 masks and they have been in the process of delivering stocks of PPE. That is our staff. To Champagne, to Peoria, Edwardsville and Marion, we will not rest until each and every region of our state has what it needs. But without the federal government, individual states don’t have enough market power to procure what is needed on their own.
J. B. Pritzker: (01:11)
So, I urge the president to join us in this work and take the federal actions that are available to him and to him alone. I want to provide you an update on what my team and I have been doing to ease the burden of this moment on our most vulnerable residents, our families, and our children. I’m glad to be joined today for the second day in a row by our Department of Human Services, Secretary Grace Hou, whose staff has moved mountains and then some, to increase the depth and breadth of Illinois’s human and social services network, including easing access for newly-eligible users and temporarily eliminating the renewal process wherever possible, for organizations. We’re also joined by Carolyn Ross, representing the nonprofit organizations across Illinois, who are stepping up in this critical time. Most of you are adhering to our stay at home order, but not everyone has a home to go to.
J. B. Pritzker: (02:16)
Not everyone has a safe home to go to. Not everyone has the same ability to put food on the table. Not everyone can stay at home with their children. These are problems that existed long before COVID-19, as did the need for a meaningful solution. But it is especially important right now that we are doing all that we can for all of our residents through this crisis. We want every eligible person to be able to access services as easily as possible. So, I want to walk you through our ongoing efforts to simplify and expand the available support. As I go through these offerings, if you need any of these services, you can find more information on accessing all of these measures at our main coronavirus website, coronavirus.illinois.gov. Coronavirus.illinois.gov and please, whenever possible, do use our websites if you can. Although, our regional offices remain an option for those who need them, for your own safety and that of our civil servants, I ask you to avoid visiting our offices if you can access the intranet and get what you need online.
J. B. Pritzker: (03:37)
First, let’s talk about childcare. I announced exactly one week ago that we were going to make sure that our essential workers have safe daycare for their children while they do the critical work that keeps us safe. While, children who can stay home should stay home, we want to make sure that every child in Illinois has a safe and supervised place to go. I’m proud to say that we’ve received more than 600 applications for small group emergency childcare licenses from people, organizations, schools, and communities looking to help their essential workers from healthcare professionals, to grocery store employees. Additionally, hundreds of our childcare homes are staying online to provide care in socially distance settings, and now we will be providing each of the providers who stepped up in this time of need with an additional stipend, $750 each for licensed homes, $2,000 each for centers running one or two classrooms and $3,000 each for those running three or more classrooms.
J. B. Pritzker: (04:50)
Applications for these grants will be available beginning Monday through your local childcare resource and referral agencies, and again on our coronavirus website, coronavirus.illinois.gov. Parents and guardians looking to find childcare should call our toll free statewide number (888) 228-1146. Again, that’s (888) 228-1146 or to visit our families and children resource page on coronavirus.illinois.gov. My administration is also working closely with the statewide hospital and healthcare associations to make sure that our state’s hospitals, childcare needs are being addressed. I also want to talk about food access, something top of mind for so many parents as schools have closed and layoffs have skyrocketed. First, I want to remind everyone that as long as schools are closed, students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, can get their meals through their local school districts and we continue to encourage school districts to work with our Illinois State Board of Education and the US Department of Agriculture to expand their programs to all of their area kids.
J. B. Pritzker: (06:15)
As, for programs like SNAP and the Women, Infants and Children program, WIC. My team at the Department of Human Services is submitting multiple waivers to the federal government to deliver as much nutrition support to as many Illinoisans as possible. Already, we’ve been able to automatically extend SNAP certifications set to expire March, April, or May, another six months until September, October and November. We’ve also been able to waive the physical presence requirements for SNAP applicants and participants, enabling people to further reduce the time that they spend outside their homes and increase people’s ability to apply for assistance online. Anyone who needs to apply for, or to adjust their SNAP benefits can now do so remotely on our Department of Human Services website at DHS.Illinois.gov. Again, if you need to adjust your SNAP benefits, you can now do that online at DHS.Illinois.gov. We’re expecting an additional $80 million in federal money to come to Illinois in April through the SNAP program.
J. B. Pritzker: (07:33)
That’s another $80 million of food on the table for our residents, that also stimulates our local economies. That’s real impact in our communities, and I’m grateful to the team at DHS for all their work to bring as many federal dollars as possible to Illinois. Illinois is also home to many residents who don’t have a permanent home to stay in. DHS has gone through its budget with a fine-tooth comb and redirected millions of additional dollars to address all aspects of homelessness assistance statewide, with a focus on expanding our ability to offer temporary shelter. That’s on top of the doubling my administration has done of the state Homelessness Prevention Program over the last year. We’re also increasing all of our existing state homelessness service contracts by an additional 5%. that means more dollars to homeless shelters and permanent supportive housing. These extra dollars will help our partner organizations enact social distancing measures within existing spaces. Finally, if you’re experiencing domestic violence, or you live in fear of it, I know how much scarier and more complicated the message of stay home might sound to you.
J. B. Pritzker: (08:54)
If that’s the case, you please know that you can call our Illinois domestic violence hotline at 1-877-863-6338. Again, if you are experiencing domestic violence or live in fear of it, you should call our Illinois domestic violence hotline at 1-877-863-6338. Thank you. Now, I’d like to turn it over to our Illinois Department of Public Health Director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, for today’s medical update. Dr?
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (09:32)
Thank you Governor. Again, just thank you for your passion and your commitment to the people of Illinois. You should all know that he is an ardent supporter of science and he’s pursuing every piece of data that we can give him to make sure that he is making data-driven decisions to make the most important, difficult decisions for the people of Illinois. AI thank you for being that kind of leader. Today, I’m sad to report that there are 488 new cases in Illinois, for a total of 3026 individuals with COVID-19. Unfortunately, this includes eight additional deaths, for a total of 34 lives lost since the beginning of this pandemic. We also have additional counties that have been included in the roles. We have 40 counties across Illinois. As we expected, and as we have feared, the greatest number of hospitalization is among individuals older than 65 years of age and approximately 86% of those with COVID-19, who have died here in Illinois are over the age of 60. We must continue to do all that we can to protect our older adults, our grandmothers, our grandfathers, who are most vulnerable to serious illness and death.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (10:59)
We also must make sure that there are enough medical professionals to care for those who do endure the more severe illness and the attending complications. Again and again and again, I want to thank our medical and our healthcare workers who are literally on the front lines. While we are telling the public to shelter and place to stay at home, we are asking them to go where the patients are to go where the illness is to save their lives. We are asking for all licensed healthcare providers who are able to join the response. Physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistant, physician assistants, medics, dentists, podiatrists, registered and licensed practical nurses. Everyone, please register at Illinoishelps.net. Since March 19th, over 1000 medical and nonmedical volunteers have registered to help our fight against COVID-19. All of these individuals will be critical, but we still need to have more help as this pandemic continues.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (12:04)
I also want to thank and offer words of encouragement to those who are providing essential services and those who are supporting the people who are providing essential services. These include people who are providing daycare for the children of those who are providing essential services. It also involves the sanitation workers who are keeping our workplaces clean. We all have our parts to play, whether it’s a healthcare provider, a person providing an essential service, those who are supporting others to do their work. Whether you’re staying at home as you’ve been instructed, whether you’re a kid, forgoing your play date, washing your hands frequently, keeping six feet away of distance, all of these steps is what it will take, all of us doing this together to end this pandemic. Now I will repeat the comments in Spanish.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (12:58)
[00:12:58 Foreign language, Spanish].
Dr. Ngozi Ezike: (14:37)
And with that, I will turn it over to Secretary Hou.
Grace Hou: (14:44)
Good afternoon. No more than ever, the value of and necessity for human and social services is clear. Like healthcare and safety, essential life-giving and life-altering human services are not only still available, DHS is expanding and adapting access to services for individuals and families across the state who need help now. Thanks to the strong, kind and clear leadership from governor Pritzke, we’re also working to ensure that Illinois human services network is able to be sustained through this crisis and beyond. DHS exists to ensure that the basic needs such as shelter, food, healthcare, mental health, services for people with disabilities and childcare are met. We have a workforce of 13,000-strong, providing direct care at psychiatric hospitals, at state-operated facilities for people with developmental disabilities and public benefit offices all across the state. I am grateful to them for their dedication to helping our neighbors and our state through this crisis. To our nimble, responsive caseworkers, counselors, and call center agents who continue to help people every day, we thank you.
Grace Hou: (16:03)
I want to salute the nurses, mental health techs, personal assistants, direct support professionals, and other frontline employees, whose often stressful, sometimes challenging work is even more intense during this public health emergency. During this pandemic, DHS’s own employees and our network of 500 plus state-funded community partners are ramping up our efforts in several areas. When families and individuals experience a challenge in their lives, prenatal to older adulthood, DHS and its partner organizations are often-