4/29/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Employee Bright Spot & Press Conference Recap

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Good afternoon, IDHS Staff:

Every day during the wake of COVID-19, it has been the priority of Governor Pritzker and myself to ensure that employees and patients across IDHS facilities, programs, and services are safe and protected.

We continue to make progress in limiting the spread of the COVID-19 and have done remarkable work in adapting our facilities to adjust to the current needs and demands of this pandemic. For example, facilities like the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center, are making daily adjustments to fight the virus.

Murray has nearly 600 employees, and 250 residents with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and a range of intellectual disabilities. While Murray is like many other long-term care settings that have had patients impacted by COVID-19, staff like Jeanette Hodge have been instrumental in limiting the spread and making sure employees are taken care of.

Today's Bright Spot: Jeanette Hodge (Grape Cottage Residential Manager, Warren G Murray Developmental Center)

Jeanette serves as the Residential Manager for Grape Cottage, one of the seven residential buildings at Murray, and the only building where residents have tested positive. With Jeanette at the helm, Grape Cottage increased its usage of masks, shields, goggles, gloves, and gowns. With staff safety in mind, Jeanette also played a major role in making sure medical supplies were secured and available for staff, and even volunteered to deliver care baskets to staff who had been home on quarantine.

Understanding that many were concerned about their family members at Grape Cottage, Jeanette and her team used technology to connect Murray residents with their loved ones. Through it all, Jeanette and her team have been committed to the health, safety, and welfare of all patients and staff. From technicians to medical staff to support and professional staff, there have been great efforts to keep the virus from spreading to others. Donations have also been helpful in keeping COVID-19-infected residents isolated and entertained.

Jeanette Fun Facts

  • Jeanette is married to Kerry Murray, and together they have 5 children and 11 grandchildren.
  • Favorite hobbies: Cooking and traveling.
  • First plan after social distancing: Take a cruise to Hawaii!

Jeanette, thank you to you and your Grape Cottage colleagues for your sacrifices and dedication and for protecting those who need us most.

Please see the updates from the Governor's press conference yesterday.

COVID-19 Updates from the Governor's 04-28-2020 Press Conference

  • Testing: Governor Pritzker announced that thus far the State has run 242,189 tests with 14,561 tests being run yesterday, April 27th. The Governor also noted that the federal government has indicated they will soon be providing Illinois with an additional 20,000 test swabs a day.
  • Recovery Numbers: The Governor outlined that we continue to voluntarily survey those who have tested positive to gauge the length of their recovery. Of those participating in the survey, 49% report no longer having symptoms and feeling recovered after two weeks, 61% after two to four weeks, and 74% after four weeks.
  • Resources to Address Quarantine/Caution Fatigue: IDPH Director Dr. Ezike acknowledged that the provisions of the Stay at Home orders require a large sacrifice of the people of Illinois, but that we are taking these aggressive actions only after the thoughtful consideration of data and scientific input and they're actually working as we continue to flatten the curve and minimize the destructive impact of the virus. She noted that there are multiple mental health resources available for those experiencing "quarantine/caution fatigue" or other stressors [such as texting "TALK" to 552-020] as well as telehealth options, and also encouraged citizens to remotely check in on friends, family, and neighbors to offer support and solidarity as we continue to combat this epidemic.
  • Contact Tracing: Governor Pritzker relayed that while the State has ramped up efforts to trace the contacts of positive COVID-19 cases, our increase in testing capacity per day has also increased the logistical work needed to investigate and research each case for their potential contacts. However, the State is dedicated to enhancing these efforts through additional staff and technology improvements.
  • Hospitalization Numbers: As of April 27th, there were 4,738 hospitalized with COVID-19 in Illinois. Of those, roughly 25% or 1,245 patients were in the ICU and 778 were on ventilators.
  • Daily Statewide COVID-19 cases: 2,219 new cases reported and 144 additional deaths.

Thank you,


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS