One week after declaring state of emergency, Governor Pritzker talks COVID-19

Governor expands unemployment insurance; Illinois cleared to produce coronavirus tests

The Governor announced today during his daily COVID-19 briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center in Springfield, that he has made provisions for those who will be out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“My administration has expanded unemployment insurance to cover individuals without access to paid sick leave or who are unable to work due to COVID-19,” Pritzker said.

At 9 p.m. tonight, all bars and restaurants will close their dining rooms to the public through the end of this month.

Pritzker urged that gatherings of 50 or more people be cancelled, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The election tomorrow will go on as scheduled.

There are currently 105 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 15 different counties across Illinois, now including Peoria and Will counties, according to Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

Ezike said the elderly and those with underlying health conditions will be more at risk from the virus. She encourages people to stay home as much as possible, wash their hands properly, clean surfaces often, keep six feet away from others and cough into a tissue or elbow.

The governor said the National Guard may be used to help circumvent problems surrounding the virus.

One of the governor’s biggest concerns is that hospitals will be overrun. He proposed having the Guard set up tents or outbuildings near emergency rooms so the virus will not be spread to other patients.

“The National Guard can help with some of that,” he said. “Putting up tents, or helping with the provision of equipment.”

Illinois has been granted the authority to develop its own coronavirus tests by the federal government, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said today.

“At the state level, we’ve had to scramble to create more testing capability on our own,” Pritzker said.

There are three state-run COVID-19 testing labs, which are located in Carbondale, Chicago and Springfield.

“These facilities and their personnel deliver us some of the fastest results of any state when it comes to COVID-19 testing, and support our sentinel surveillance operation to monitor the virus all across Illinois,” Pritzker said.

Of the 15 hospitals state-wide who offer testing, two in Southern Illinois are a part of the state’s sentinel surveillance operation.

An Illinois COVID-19 hotline has been set up to respond to the public’s questions regarding the virus: (800) 889-3931.