11/17/20 - A Message from Secretary Hou: Reinvent IDHS, Restore Illinois - Tier 3 Mitigations

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

IDHS Staff:

Thank you for all that you do - for your dedication to public service and for your strength, care, and compassion to those we support and serve. COVID 19 has created more challenges to our already demanding work, but we - IDHS - have demonstrated our commitment and our ability to respond to this crisis. I know that some of our fellow community members are feeling fatigue and frustration with COVID 19 precautions, but IDHS can't let up on our efforts. We need to lead by example; we need you to work closely with your managers and colleagues to implement the appropriate safety measures to maintain our work.

In recent weeks, every region in Illinois has experienced a staggering surge in COVID-19 test positivity, reaching 14.5% (7-day statewide average) as of November 16. Illinois' average daily coronavirus cases are currently the highest in the nation at 12,365 per day. In response, effective Friday, November 20, 2020, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has extended Tier 3 COVID Resurgence Mitigations to all Illinois regions requiring Illinoisans to limit non-essential activities and travel and to discontinue gatherings outside of the household until we are able to slow the spread of the virus.

In response to this order, division directors and other managers are working to determine the best solutions for continuing to serve our customers and clients, with safety as the north star for all that we do. In addition, subject to client and operational needs, we are significantly limiting worksite access and encouraging those who can productively work remotely to do so.

Your supervisor will work with you and communicate about whether you will work on-site and at what frequency and duration. If you believe you need worksite access and have not already been contacted, please seek supervisor approval.

Controlling and preventing the spread of the virus at this critical time will require every one of us to exercise best practices in our professional and personal lives. You can help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Staying at home if you are feeling sick and report any potential COVID-19 exposures to your supervisor.
  • Always practicing the "Three Ws":
    • Wash your hands - with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
    • Watch your distance - stay at least six feet apart both indoors and outdoors.
    • Wear a mask - whenever you may be around people, including when you are out in public and when you are in the workplace.
  • Staying at home or outside as much as possible and avoid non-essential activities, travel, and gatherings for the next month.
  • Getting your flu shot.
  • Visit the Reinvent IDHS, Restore Illinois OneNet Page for more information.

With the coming holidays, we also wanted to provide some tips for how to keep your celebrations safe. Traditionally, many families travel long distances to celebrate the holidays together. Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved. You can find more information about how to safely celebrate the holidays here.

We know this is a concerning and challenging time for our staff, so please know, we want to support you. Please continue to reach out to us with questions, concerns, or suggestions at DHS.Reinvent-Restore@Illinois.gov.

Protecting your health, safety, and well-being remains our top priority. We are all in this together, so please stay vigilant in this fight. We will get through this and emerge an even stronger and more resilient agency than we could have ever imagined.

My thanks to you and be well.


Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS