Gov. Pritzker: ‘The enemy is you’ to Ill. residents not wearing masks

The governor added that COVID-19 rollbacks are possible if numbers do not trend downward.
Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 1:42 PM CDT
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CHICAGO (CBS/WIFR) — As COVID-19 numbers rise throughout the country, Illinois’ governor said coronavirus cases aren’t skyrocketing, but they are trending upward and restrictions could be put back for certain regions in the state.

“Today we’re reporting nearly 1,600 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. “(They) are highest in the month of July. I will remind everyone that we look at these numbers via seven day rolling averages and not one day totals. But a rise is still arise, and it is on all of us to bring these numbers down,” Pritzker said.

As of Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health said there are 165,301 COVID-19 cases in the state, including 7,347 deaths. As of Tuesday night, 1,456 people were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 337 patients were in the ICU and 132 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The governor added that COVID-19 rollbacks are possible if numbers do not trend downward.

“The state will take immediate action to impose additional mitigations. If a region crosses over the metrics that we sent and Metro East is coming dangerously close to that. So I have spoken with local leaders and I’ve asked them to clamp down on the outbreaks where they’re occurring so that the state won’t have to step in,” Pritzker said, adding that it’s imperative for everyone to engage in COVID-19 safety practices, including wearing a mask.

“This virus is kind of blue state virus, and it’s not a red state virus. The deadly nature of this virus is not a hoax. Choosing to go out in public without a mask is not a political statement, going out without a face covering on endangers the other customers at the grocery store. It puts your friends and your family at risk. There’s nothing political about that. It demonstrates a callous disregard for the people in your community, county, and in our state and our nation. The enemy is not your mask,” Pritzker said. “If you’re not wearing a mask in public, you’re endangering everyone around you. The enemy is you.”

Pritzker also addressed the staggering unemployment numbers in Illinois and how difficult it has been for people to access IDES and get their unemployment benefits. He said the state is working to improve the connectivity issues.

“We’re taking every measure to expand our processing systems and expedite benefits. And while that work is ongoing every day that a resident’s earned and deserved benefits are delayed is one day too many. Unfortunately, that’s just the tip of the iceberg with our national unemployment framework,” Pritzker said.

The governor acknowledged wide-spread IDES fraud and an investigation is underway to make sure the right people are getting their benefits.

“The Illinois Department of Employment Security announced it is investigating a nationwide fraud scheme impacting each state’s federal endemic unemployment assistance program with the department is working alongside federal law enforcement to investigate pursued and prosecute those who are involved in these illegal schemes which are occurring in nearly every state.,” Pritzker said.

He added that if someone has not filed a claim, but has received a letter and debit card from IDES, they are a potential target of fraud.

“Federal authorities have informed states that your personal identifying information may likely have been obtained in prior breaches of corporate or other databases like a massive Equifax breach. That means it’s possible that your personal identifying information was used in this scheme,” the governor said.

Anyone who has gone through this possible fraud attempt is asked to call IDES at 800-814-0513.

“If you received a debit card in the mail, do not activate it. It’s also highly recommended that you check your credit report for possible suspicious activity. This is a problem being experienced all across the country right now, because the national program was poorly designed and susceptible to fraud,” Pritzker said. “But I can promise you Illinoisans that are state government and law enforcement authorities will do everything in our power to support anyone who’s been affected by this system-wide failure.”

Pritzker also discussed the problem of residential evictions since the start of the pandemic. The state is extending its ban on residential evictions until August 22.

“I want to ensure that we have support in places for those who are most vulnerable. We worked with the General Assembly to put in place two programs to help those whose housing is insecure, one for renters and one for homeowners. Each distributing $100 and $50 million,” Pritzker said, adding that in early August, renters can apply for grants to help pay for housing.

“Starting the week of August 10, applications will open for renters, and then the week of August 28 for homeowners through the fall. Recipients will be awarded grants of $5,000 for renters, and up to $15,000 for home owners. We continue to explore partnerships and ways that we can provide additional support for many people their ability to weather this crisis hinges on their ability to keep a roof over their family’s heads,” Pritzker said.

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