SPRINGFIELD — New federal and charitable funding will soon be available to Illinoisans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as the state on Thursday saw its largest one-day spike of new cases and deaths during the pandemic.
President Donald Trump approved Illinois’ disaster declaration on Thursday, allowing the state to access emergency funding to expand health care services like increasing hospital and housing capacity and expanding telehealth services.
In his 18th consecutive daily briefing on the pandemic, Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday he also is seeking a disaster declaration for all 102 counties from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“This would give us resources like more unemployment benefits for those not currently eligible for state unemployment insurance, enhanced benefits for those seeking shelter, food and emergency supplies, new legal services and financial assistance to our underinsured households,” Pritzker said.
A record-shattering 3.3 million Americans, including 114,663 Illinoisans, applied for unemployment benefits in the week ending March 21.
More federal assistance is likely on its way in the coming days after the U.S. Senate on Wednesday night voted unanimously to pass a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, 96-0.
Pritzker announced Thursday an independent fund, operated by the United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, to support nonprofit organizations serving people most impacted by the pandemic.
Led by the governor’s sister, Chicago real estate investor and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund has already raised more than $23 million.
“These funds will help many people across our state who are really, really hurting now,” she said.
Illinois on Thursday saw its largest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases, at 673, and deaths, at seven. Cases have been reported in 37 counties, but health officials say everyone should assume the virus is in circulation where they live.
The newly deceased are a man in his 50s, two men and two women in their 60s, a man in his 70s and a woman in her 90s. The Illinois Department of Public Health said five of the victims were from Cook County, one from McHenry County and one from Will County. Nearly nine in 10 of the state’s dead have been 60 or older.
Illinois has now recorded 2,538 cases and 26 deaths directly related to COVID-19. More than 16,000 people have been tested. Thursday was the state’s 19th consecutive day of an increase in reported cases and its eighth straight day with new deaths.
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