4/22/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Employee Safety & Press Conference Recap

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Good afternoon:

As we continue navigating through our new work environments, I ask that all IDHS employees please continue making smart decisions when it comes to your health and safety. Now more than ever, our decisions impact not only ourselves, but the lives of others. As days turn into weeks and weeks into months, the rules put in place to keep us all safe may feel increasingly challenging. The Governor knows this and has announced that his team is looking at options to help people get out and feel normal again while still staying safe.

In the meantime, practice social distancing, wash your hands, and cover your face in public when social distancing is not possible. If you feel ill, have a fever, or other potential COVID-19 symptoms, always stay home and contact your doctor. In some areas, you can also get tested quickly. The Illinois Coronavirus page includes the latest information about testing sites.

Illinois has "bent the curve" already, and we will continue to do so through our collective smart choices and actions. Instead of visiting family, try to do a video call. If you are an employee courageously leading IDHS and supporting Illinoisans from an office or facility, instead of high-fiving your co-workers, share a smile or wave. We are all in this together and we will get through it.

The Governor's daily press briefings about COVID-19 continue to be a great source of information on the current situation. Here are the updates from his briefing yesterday:

COVID-19 Updates from the Governor's 04-21-2020 Press Conference

  • Student Loans: Governor Pritzker announced a package of relief developed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for 140,000+ student loan borrowers in Illinois. This relief includes allowing borrowers to request a 90-day forbearance, waived late fees, no negative credit reporting, the pause of debt collection lawsuits for 90 days, and enrollment in borrower assistance programs. To learn more visit this IDFPR web page.
  • IDHS SNAP: The Governor was also very proud to share that the Illinois Department of Human Services secured an extra $112 million in nutrition assistance to help put food on the table for more than 300,000 Illinois SNAP households with school-aged children. This increased assistance will be automatically added to family LINK cards.
  • Recovery Rate: IDPH Director Dr. Ezike noted that of those surveyed, 54% of cases showed no symptoms after two weeks and 77% reported being recovered with no symptoms after four weeks. She relayed her hope that this encouraging news will strengthen our resolve to continue making tough sacrifices to combat the virus.
  • Antibody Tests: When asked about the application of antibody tests (which can show if someone has contracted the virus and their body has built up a natural resistance to it), the Governor explained that antibody testing is still unproven and under review by researchers to test effectiveness and accuracy. Right now, the State is focused on identifying hot spots and reacting accordingly to slow the spread through testing, tracing, and treatment.
  • Daily Statewide COVID-19 cases: 1,551 new cases reported and 119 additional deaths.

Stay safe.


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS