4/11/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Bright Spot and Press Conference Recap

Saturday, April 11th, 2020

Good morning, IDHS team:

Every day, staff at IDHS are living our agencys mission to help people in Illinois achieve their full potential. We made great progress this past year decreasing backlogs and increasing application processing timeliness. Our systems improvements are important now more than ever as we see increasing needs for SNAP and other public benefits. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, much of the local offices work has gone virtual; we have 12 offices that remain open to meet the most urgent needs of customers.

The Humboldt Park office is one of them.

The staff at this and other offices across the state demonstrate a passionate dedication and commitment to the communities we serve. They inspire us.

Todays Bright Spot: Margaro Rosario (Local Office Administrator - LOA, Humboldt Park)

In these uncertain times, Margaro remains firm in serving the community. Margaro joined IDHS 31 years ago, starting as a case manager in the Austin facility. Today, helping to lead a team of 100 staff, Margaro serves the Humboldt Park community in providing quality application guidance and case management for essential services.

With Humboldt Park being one of the few sites currently open for in-person services, Margaro and his team are working to respond to the increase in families seeking SNAP and TANF benefits. Last week, they made 856 outbound calls to new applicants seeking assistance, and continue to adjust to the new normal by tapping into technology, assisting employees with working remote, and enforcing strict social distancing policies.

Margaro Fun Facts:

  • Margaro is married to and has two children
  • Favorite Song: Its the End of the World as We Know It. R.E.M.
  • First plan after social distancing: swimming and social time with friends
  • Thank Yous: Humboldt Park staff

Thank you to Margaro and his Humboldt Part team.

Below are some updates from yesterdays COVID-19 press conference.

COVID-19 Updates from the Governors 04-10-2020 Press Conference

  • Demographic Data: New data shows that the historic and systemic disadvantages in healthcare delivery and in healthcare access in communities of color has resulted in the African American community being more affected by COVID-19, exhibiting a mortality rate five times greater than whites. Governor Pritzker continues to expand testing access and capacity and in that effort is partnering with healthcare organizations on Chicagos south and west sides as well as the Metro East region to ensure extensive testing is available in more vulnerable communities.
  • Public Service Announcement: Governor Pritzker released a new All In Illinois PSA video featuring prominent African American celebrities and a strong message directed at African American communities across Chicago and Illinois as a reminder to stay at home and that no community is immune to COVID-19.
  • Drive-Thru Sites: The State has secured an extension on the federal contracts for our two existing drive thru sites, and the Governor was pleased to announce a new South Suburban drive-thru testing center will open early next week in the Markham-Harvey area.
  • Abbott Labs Machines: Illinois received 15 rapid test machines from Abbott Labs and is in the process of acquiring additional tests above and beyond the ones supplied by the federal government. Machines will be deployed to federally-qualified health centers, DOC, and one each to IDHS facilities Ludeman, Shapiro, and Elgin.
  • IDPH Equity Team: The Illinois Department of Public Health has created the COVID-19 equity team that is comprised of state agencies as well as many community organizations that will serve as the voice and the informational hub on how to accurately address health disparities.
  • Federal Money: Governor Pritzker was also happy to report that this week 45 community health centers across Illinois are receiving more than $51 million through the bipartisan federal CARES Act to sustain their response to this virus.
  • Daily Statewide COVID-19 cases: 1,465 new cases reported and 68 additional deaths.

Thank you,


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS