Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike are holding daily COVID-19 press briefings as cases and hospitalizations in Illinois reach record highs. Read and listen to the latest update from the governor’s office on new cases, phased re-opening and closings of different regions and the state’s ongoing pandemic response. You can watch the most recent press briefings at 2:30pm every day here on Illinois Newsroom.
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Good afternoon, everyone and welcome to the COVID-19 update for Tuesday, November 24. I wanted to follow up on yesterday’s update regarding our support for those who’ve lost income in the wake of COVID-19 with an update on our 200 and $50 million local government cure program, which supports local governments by reimbursing them for expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency that can include everything from overtime payroll for first responders or local human services, or PP, Plexiglas dividers and more, we’re still seeing far too many local governments not taking the necessary action to claim their funds.
Remember, this is money that Congress provided for the state of Illinois to support local COVID-19 response for downstate government entities cook in the collar counties are not eligible for these dollars and instead received direct support from the federal government. At the beginning of this month, we announced that we sent out over 390 payments to local governments and we’re waiting on more than 500 local government units statewide to submit their requests in the weeks since we’ve moved through new applicants efficiently and effectively with more than 100 and $18 million paid out or on the way. But we still have more than 350 local government units that have not taken the simple yet necessary steps to claim their dollars funding which could help with offsetting basic costs for payroll and PP and contact tracing and other essential costs for their emergency response. Remember, this is a 200 and $50 million program and I want every downstate community to get its fair share. Last week, dceo issued a reminder to all the eligible governments around Illinois that we need them to provide their use of funds by December 1, one week from today.
That’s on top of all the work that dceo has done to help local governments recoup the maximum amount of reimbursement allowed under their coronavirus Relief Fund eligibility, launching a user friendly website building thousands of calls, conducting dozens of web webinars and standing up dedicated office hours to provide step by step instructions on submitting eligible costs over the phone with its team of experts. That’s what the CEO has been doing to assist our local government. I also want to thank the Illinois Municipal League and the Illinois Association of County Board members and other county and local leaders around the state for their partnership and implementing this program and getting the word out to their communities.
You know, historically downstate, Illinois hasn’t gotten the attention or the support that it deserves from the state. And I’m very proud of the work that our administration is doing during this pandemic to reach out to and support communities downstate that have too often been left out. This is another urgent call today to downstate communities to claim the dollars that we’ve made available for you. I want to encourage not just mayors and county board chairs but also residents to visit the DC website to find out if your community hasn’t yet registered for its reimbursements and then call on your local elected leaders to make sure that this gets done. We know just about every community in the state has had to deal with new costs this year related to the COVID-19 response. This program ensures that the funds to support those efforts don’t have to cut into local school budgets or roadwork or environmental cleanups or constant local taxes to increase to cover those costs. Now, I also want to remind small businesses that are experiencing unforeseen costs and hurdles to apply online for business interruption grants. It’s a program that we created to support specifically businesses all across our state.
Today, we’ve awarded 100 and $40 million in grants to more than 5500 businesses statewide. This funding has been deployed to businesses in more than 520 communities, including to businesses like restaurants and retail event spaces, arts venues, hair salons, museums, and much much more. Still, for every big grant recipient, we know there are many more out there in need. And that’s why we’re here. Encouraging businesses to apply for funding before it’s too late. Grants are made available in amounts ranging from $5,000 up to $150,000, depending upon the losses that they’ve incurred. And while there’s no deadline for this program, 120 $9 million remaining will be issued on a rolling basis until the funding is exhausted sort of first come first serve. I. Similar to the local cure program, our team is providing technical assistance to help small businesses obtain this funding as quickly as possible. Before I turn it over to Dr. z k, I want to remind everyone that our hospitals are still under siege by this latest upswing of COVID cases. And with the latest mitigations not expected to show up in the numbers for at least another week, or 10 days. Thanksgiving this year needs to be different. For those who have already altered your usual plan to keep your relatives and your friends safe. Thank you. And to those who haven’t yet changed your plans, the doctors are asking all of us just skip the big group dinner this year.
The vaccines that seem to be on the horizon can’t help you if you get sick. Now, it appears it may just be a matter of months, not years before it’s safe for all of us to gather with extended family and friends again, let’s keep each other safe. Until then, it’s not too late to change your plans if you haven’t already. Let’s all do our part to keep our loved ones safe and healthy this holiday season. And thank you all very much for following the mitigations. And listening. It’s very important for us to make changes this holiday. And I am somewhat certain that in the next few months that we’ll start to see things really change and next year, we’ll be able to have that robust Thanksgiving that everybody loves to have. So now I’d like to turn it over to our Director of the Department of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike, doctor.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike
Thank you so much, Governor and good afternoon, everyone. Let me start with the numbers in the past 24 hours, more than 70 97,000 covid tests have been reported for a total of now almost 10 million tests since the beginning of this pandemic. Today we are reporting 9469 new COVID cases and unfortunately, reporting 125 additional lives lost to COVID-19. That brings the total number of cases in Illinois to 674,089 and 11,677 total lives lost. As the government mentioned, we’re looking at the hospital numbers across the state 6134 individuals were in the hospital with covid. And of those 1203 are in the ICU and 668. Were on ventilators.
We often talk about the pandemic in terms of the physical impact of the disease in terms of the newly diagnosed cases, the individuals who are actually infected with the disease, the people who end up in the hospital, and of course the the ultimate sacrifice in deaths. Even if you haven’t been directly touched by loss related to COVID-19. Even if you are among the almost 12 million who have not been diagnosed with infection, there is still a heavy mental impact that is taking a toll on you. It’s taking a toll on all of us. There’s fear, there’s anxiety about this novel disease and the illness that it can cause and that it has caused.
There’s stress about our financial situations due to job loss and even the complete loss of a business. And there’s depression and there’s loneliness due to the social distancing. any or all of these things can cause short term and maybe even long term mental health difficulties. The signs of mental distress can be visible, but there are probably so many more who are suffering in silence. Please don’t end underestimate how far a smile or a kind word can go or an offer to pick up carry out from a restaurant and leave it on someone’s doorstep or simply provide an ear to listen to someone talk about their day or their frustrations. There are many reasons sources that can help the people of Illinois so that they don’t have to suffer, including the Illinois free emotional support text line, where you can speak with a mental health professional text talk, ta lk 255 2020 or Abla ha bl AR for Spanish to that same number five 520 20.
The Illinois Department of Human Services also has mental health resources on its website, including how to work on your emotional well being and self care and how to navigate anxiety caused by COVID-19. This pandemic is a truly difficult time for everyone. But we can get through it together by offering support and compassion to those around us. And by wearing our mask and by watching our distance by washing our hands and by getting our flu shot. This will result in US protecting one another instead of infecting one another. And so that leads me to another plea to please make The responsible decision to celebrate Thanksgiving virtually this year as the governor has already implored. Without even knowing it you could be putting your friends and family or yourself in grave danger. Please stay home this year. Let’s save lives together. Thank you.