CHICAGO (WMBD) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday issued a disaster proclamation to unlock additional federal resources in response to tackling the coronavirus and help the state prepare for the potential of further spread.
Issuing a disaster proclamation is the method of declaring a state of emergency in the state of Illinois, which 13 states across the United States have entered into. Also on Monday, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Chicago Department of Public Health announced four new COVID-19 cases in Illinois, bringing the total to 11. All four cases are in good condition, health officials said.
“As we’ve said from the beginning, the state of Illinois will use every tool at our disposal to respond to this virus, and this is the next step in that commitment,” Pritzker said. “We stand ready to put the full weight of state government in preparation for a full-fledged response when needed and will continue to update the public regularly, responsibly and honestly as the situation evolves.”
The proclamation formalizes emergency procedures already underway across state government by activating the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), physically bringing together decision-makers from every state agency and the state’s highly qualified mutual aid network to deploy resources as necessary during this public health threat.
State and local partners benefit from a disaster proclamation in the following ways:
- Allows federal reimbursement for state response costs
- Allows use of State Disaster Relief Fund
- Allows use of the state’s mutual aid network, groups of public safety response professionals that are available to deploy to areas of shortage
- Authorizes the governor to activate Illinois National Guard reservists, some of whom may be doctors and nurses
- Allows expedited procurement should it be necessary
- Authorizes additional executive authorities to protect public health and safety
Since January, the IDPH and Illinois Emergency Management Agency have been working with local counterparts across the state to prepare for additional cases as expected.
Patients who recently presented flu-like symptoms are being tested at 15 hospitals statewide, with three hospitals being in central Illinois.
The IDPH is currently operating three testing labs statewide – in Chicago, Springfield, and Carbondale. These state labs meet current needs, and commercial testing expansion is anticipated this week.
Pritzker said agencies like Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Cigna have announced they will waive the costs for COVID-19 testing. Medicaid and Medicare are also covering testing costs.