5/21/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Community Bright Spot & Press Conference Recap

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Good afternoon, IDHS Staff:

Philanthropic organizations and charitable donors in Illinois have long been an incredible resource for vulnerable families throughout the state. When COVID-19 first began impacting our communities and State facilities, their support was vital to the families suffering the most.

In particular, the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, which has raised and distributed $30 million to date, has been life-saving during the pandemic. In collaboration with the Office of the Governor, the United Way of Illinois, and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, funding has been distributed to nonprofit organizations that serve individuals, families, and communities across Illinois who have been hit hardest. Through these funds, the goal has been to support residents in need of emergency food and basic supplies, interim housing and shelter, primary health care services, and nonprofit safety and operations assistance.

This assistance has brought some needed relief to Illinois' 16 Child Care Resources & Referral (CCRR) agencies and to many community providers. CCRR agencies are hubs of coordination for diverse child care services, supports and activities in their service delivery areas. During the pandemic, CCRRs have provided great resources to families, and I am excited to share more about their impact in today's Bright Spot.

Today's Bright Spot: Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (CCRR)

With a daily charge to administer the Child Care Assistance Program, CCRRs have been leading the way in providing guidance and support to community organizations that are serving families during this difficult time.

Through the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, providers were able to distribute debit cards to families in need. Given the constraints of stay-at-home requirements, these providers had to be especially innovative in how they engaged their clients. For example, staff from the Children's Home & Aid (CHA) in Chicago set up in a Panera parking lot.

This funding brought critical support for families, with providers focusing on those experiencing homelessness, clients exiting child welfare, and families with a special needs child. Recipients were very grateful, with one family sharing the following in a handwritten note to the Illinois Network of Child Care Resources and Referral Agencies:

"Thank you to the agency and those who contributed in this donation. May God continue to bless you. From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of my two daughters, Emily & Angelica, thank you. Also thank you to Norma for all of your support. Many thanks."

Congratulations to CCRRs for helping many families to continue accessing food, safe housing, and other essential needs. Thank you for your leadership.

Please also see the latest updates from the Governor's press conference.

COVID-19 Updates from the Governor's 05-20-2020 Press Conference

  • Restore Illinois Phase 3 Changes: Governor JB Pritzker announced modifications to allow more activity during Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois reopening plan, which he noted all regions of Illinois remain on track to reach by the end of May. The Governor relayed that the experts have indicated that we can modify our plan to bring back more activities faster, as long as Illinoisans continue to adhere to precautions and safety measures to keep each other safe.
  • Restaurants and Bars: Both establishments can now reopen for outdoor seating during Phase 3, provided tables are six feet apart from each other and sidewalks and that staff wear masks. He stated that this should hopefully give the hospitality industry a much needed boost, as they work to keep their businesses on their feet during this terrible crisis.
  • Outdoor Recreation: All gatherings of 10 or fewer were already allowed for Phase 3, allowing for group outdoor activities such as boating, hiking, parks, and golf, but the Governor announced that tennis facilities will now be able to reopen, all State parks will reopen, and in the upcoming days IDPH will be providing guidance on how other outdoor recreational businesses, such as driving ranges, outdoor shooting ranges, and paintball courses can safely open their doors during Phase 3.
  • Phase 3: The Governor reiterated the previously announced provisions already announced for Phase 3, including personal care services like nail salons, beauty salons, spas, tattoo shops, hair braiders, and barber shops, opening with IDPH safety precautions, as well as all retail stores with precautions and capacity limits in place.
  • Positivity Rate: The statewide 7-day rolling positivity rate is still at 14%.
  • Hospitalization Numbers: As of yesterday, there were 3,914 people hospitalized in Illinois for COVID-19. Of those, 1,005 were in the ICU, with 554 of them on ventilators.
  • Daily Statewide COVID-19 cases: 2,388 new cases reported in Illinois and 147 additional deaths.

Thank you,


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS