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News Around Illinois – March 24, 2020

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Pritzker Works With Manufacturers To Boost Medical Supply Orders

CHICAGO – Governor J.B. Pritzker in his daily COVID-19 briefing on Monday says he has  linked together the state’s manufacturers and biotech industries to boost production of medical supplies. Manufacturers in both industries were asked to focus production on essentials such as N95 masks, gloves, gowns, ventilators and sanitizer. Pritzker says as the federal government has failed to provide needed medical items, his staff has been trying to work out deals with companies throughout the world. Meanwhile, Pritzker said he had spoken to President Donald J. Trump on Monday to get more federal help in supplying states with essential equipment. – Maureen McKinney, NPR Illinois

Food Bank Donations Down But Demand Increasing

URBANA – The coronavirus pandemic is affecting food banks across Illinois. Many have seen a decline in volunteers and donations, even as the number of food-insecure people increases due to lost jobs. That’s according to Molly Delaney, Vice President of Development for the Eastern Illinois Food Bank. Speaking on WILL’s The 21st show, she says food pantries are doing all they can to meet the increased need. “With a few exceptions, our network of 170 partner agencies and programs remain open and continue to serve,” said Delaney. “At this point, we’re continuing to function. One of the difficult things is that communication, making sure we are getting all the information out as quickly and accurately as we can.” Delaney says anyone in need of food at this time should call their local food pantry ahead of time to confirm hours of operation. The organization Feeding America estimates more than 1.3 million people in Illinois struggle with hunger. Roughly a third of them are children. Click here for a complete list of food banks, animal shelters and other organizations where you can donate.Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois State’s Unemployment System Inundated

SPRINGFIELD – Governor J.B. Pritzker Monday acknowledged that the state’s unemployment request system had been overwhelmed. He said the number of claims was unprecedented even as compared to the 2008 recession. Tens of thousands filed for jobless benefits in the days after the governor ordered closures for bars, restaurants and nonessential businesses. “We found over the weekend and over the last couple days of the week that the systems that we had that were supporting the online applications wasn’t robust enough to take all of the applications that were coming in at one time,” said Pritzker. A new software system was put in the place and staff to take phone calls has been moved from nonessential positions, he said. He urged that those seeking unemployment go online to make claims and said he believes the move to the new software platform will make the process less frustrating for residents. – Maureen McKinney, NPR Illinois

Chicago Reserving Hotels For Isolation Or Quarantine Needs

CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the city plans to reserve thousands of hotel rooms for people with mild cases of the coronavirus and others unable to return to their homes while awaiting test results. Lightfoot announced Monday that the city has partnered with five hotels and will have 1,000 rooms available by Tuesday. Chicago officials describe the plan as a proactive measure to keep hospital beds available for people with severe symptoms. Illinois officials have reported 1,285 cases as of Monday and 12 deaths; that’s up from 1,049 cases and nine deaths on Sunday. – Associated Press

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. We recommend checking the Coronavirus Information Center for the most recent numbers and guidance.

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