4/14/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Employee Bright Spot and Press Conference Recap

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

Good morning, IDHS Staff:

With 14 state-operated facilities, Illinois has been providing its residents with care and services for over a century. As our staff across these facilities know, each facility has its own story and identity, including the Jack Mabley Developmental Center located in Dixon.

Named in honor of Chicago newspaper columnist, Jack Mabley, and his unwavering support for the facility, the Jack Mabley Developmental Center is a community for more than 100 individuals who have a broad spectrum of behavioral and medical needs, including residents who are blind or visually impaired. With seven residential buildings across the grounds, the campus has an interior pathway lined with rails to ensure that residents have the greatest amount of independence possible.

It takes a strong collaboration between the nurses, physicians, cooks, and our dynamic team from maintenance to provide the extraordinary care for our residents.

Todays Bright Spot: Mabley Maintenance/Engineering Department

As a facility that operates year-round, it is important that they have a team of talent that maintains the facility to meets the needs of our residents.

The team is led by Trent Sexton (Engineer), Dennis McCoy (Engineer), and Andy Fenton (SSC). During this challenging time, they have been meeting the changing demands placed upon them to ensure the safety and health of staff and residents. When social distancing was first implemented, staff were perplexed as to how to make it happen. With support and leadership from this team, and collaboration with the medical team, they set up an isolated unit for COVID-19 affected patients. Through it all, they have been partners in helping staff troubleshoot new issues and challenges.

The Mabley maintenance team and others across the state are another reminder that heroes at DHS serve in many roles. Thank you to all of our dedicated staff who continue to show up under trying circumstances and to exceed expectations.

Thank you to the Mabley Maintenance and Engineering crew!

Below are the updates from Governor Pritzkers COVID-10 Press Conference yesterday.

COVID-19 Updates from the Governors 04-13-2020 Press Conference

  • Unemployment Claims: Governor Pritzker acknowledged that the employment claims process has been a source of hardship for all too many Illinois residents as it has been for dozens of states across the nation. Through the five weeks, from March 1 to April 4, Illinois received 513,173 initial unemployment claims -- that is greater than the total number of initial claims for the entirety of 2019 (489,831). The Administration moved swiftly to increase capacity on the IDES website and to ramp up efforts at the IDES call center to meet the unparalleled number of unemployment claims. Since March 1, the IDES website has fielded over 6.5 million sessions and the IDES call center has processed thousands of calls per day.
  • Gig Workers: The Governor noted that independent contractors, also know as 1099s or gig workers, will now be covered under federal unemployment benefits. While the federal support funds are not available until May, people can apply now, so that they are ready to be processed by the new system in May.
  • Ancillary Effects: IDPH Director Dr. Ezike reminded everyone that it is important to recognize and acknowledge the toll that unemployment takes on individuals and communities, not only financially but mentally and emotionally. Unemployment has been linked with a number of psychological disorders, particularly anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and a decrease in self-esteem.
  • Stay at Home Order: When asked who could end the Stay at Home Order, Governor Pritzker relayed that while the President can issue advice, governors make decisions about Executive Orders that they have put in place. The Governor reiterated that he wants to lift these orders as soon as he can, but will continue to monitor the data and trends and rely on the expertise of scientists and doctors.
  • Daily Statewide COVID-19 cases: 1,173 new cases reported and 74 additional deaths.

Thank you,


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS