04/10/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Bright Spot and Press Conference Recap

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good afternoon, IDHS Staff:

Each day, despite the challenges, we are reminded of the hard-working, dedicated staff on our team. While the headlines may be bleak, there are Bright Spots in every part of IDHS. Our FCS staff are witnessing record numbers of individuals and families applying for benefits, and our 24/7 facilities are fighting this pandemic daily.

No matter the day or the issue, our staff continue to lead, inspire, and pull our communities together. This includes people like Ramond Fontanéz.

Today's Bright Spot: Ramond Fontanéz (Support Service Worker - Chicago-Read Mental Health Center)

Ramond Fontanéz is a support service worker at Chicago-Read Mental Health Center (CRMHC). He has been part of our team since August 2019. Ramond came to CRMHC from the automotive industry after looking at opportunities to serve in State government.

Ramond is a visible member of our housekeeping team who provides service on the units and throughout the facility. He states that he enjoys his co-workers and the collegial environment at CRMHC. Ramond lives in the community and is aware of the significant role CRMHC has had in the Dunning area throughout history. He also believes serving the mental health populations is essential. He continues to look at opportunities to contribute to the team.

Ramond believes CRMHC is doing everything it can in order to combat COVID-19 and cited how "everyone is contributing to being safe." Thank you Ramond for all that you do. You are a valued member of our team.

Ramond Fun Facts

  • Ramond enjoys family time with his wife and his kids
  • Fun Fact: Ramond likes the outdoors and is into "cars and motorcycles"
  • Fun Fact: Ramond enjoys the Chicago scenery and weather when he takes his motorbikes out for a cruise

Ramond, thanks for the leadership and collegial spirit you bring to your team.

Yesterday, we received some good news about flattening the curve in the governor's press conference. See the updates below.

COVID-19 Updates from the Governor's 04-09-2020 Press Conference

  • Testing Update: Abbott Labs informed the State yesterday that we can now access swabs directly from them instead of going through a third party, which had impeded some access for Illinois' tests. This is a welcome development that should further expand Illinois' testing capacity.
  • Rate of Rise: Governor Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director reiterated that the rate of rise for positive cases continues to look less and less exponential, indicating that we may be moving to a flatter curve. However, they urged the public to not let their guard down and continue using proper safety protocols and precautions, because while we are very pleased to be "bending the curve" of new cases, the curve still has an upward trajectory.
  • Unemployment Benefits: While recent federal legislation included expanded unemployment eligibility and benefits, Illinois, along with all states, is still developing the systems needed to implement these new provisions. Illinois has hired the necessary personnel to build the system, who is working as expeditiously as possible.
  • IDHS Facilities: More positive cases have been identified in IDHS facilities now that tests are readily available. However, IDHS leadership has been very proactive throughout this crisis and continues to employ science-based precautions and protocols to limit the spread and protect their patients.
  • Drive-Thru Testing Sites: Beginning tomorrow, the federal government will transfer control of drive-thru, community-based COVID-19 testing sites (like those found in Walmart or Walgreens parking lots) to the states. Illinois will now be responsible for supplying the healthcare workers to staff the sites, and Governor Pritzker has asked for more swabs from the federal government to maximize their efficiency and impact.
  • Summer Outlook: When asked about the future of big summer concerts, events, etc., Governor Pritzker stated that he would not advise large groups of people getting together anywhere for the near future, at least until we have a vaccine which is likely many months away. His administration will continue focusing on testing, tracing, and treating the virus in an attempt to minimize its impact on the State as much as possible.
  • Daily Statewide COVID-19 cases: 1,344 new cases reported and 66 additional deaths.

Thank you,


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS