News from state government for Wednesday March 25

Latest Department of Public Health update confirms 250 new Illinois coronavirus cases

Yesterday brought word from the Illinois Department of Public Health that another 250 confirmed cases of coronavirus had been detected in Illinois. Four more Illinoisans have died from the disease in the Chicago area. There were no new cases reported in our district, though nearby Grundy County did confirm its first case yesterday. This brings Illinois’ total to 1532 cases in 32 counties.

Read the full update from IDPH here.

Update on the state’s hospital and testing capacity

Illinois has been working to expand its coronavirus testing capability to meet the needs of the public during this emergency. Illinois was one of the first states in the nation to have a testing capability in state-managed laboratories, and now the state has expanded its capacity for testing so that 600 tests can be run every day.

The Illinois National Guard and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are also operating three testing sites in northern Illinois. These facilities can run an additional 500 tests each day. Another 1500 daily tests can be run from four commercial labs and 15 hospital labs throughout the state, and this capability is still expanding. Altogether, the Department of Public Health expects to be able to run up to 4300 tests per day within the next two weeks.

Illinois’ hospital capacity is sufficient for the current need, but additional capacity is being added in case it is needed later. Right now, Illinois hospitals have a total of more than 2500 intensive care unit (ICU) beds and over 26,000 non-ICU beds, but only about half of these are in use. There are also more than 2200 ventilators in Illinois hospitals, with about a quarter of these in use.

Our current hospital capacity is sufficient for the need, but we can all do our part to ensure that the situation does not worsen. Stay home as much as possible and remember the social distancing guidelines that we have all heard in the past couple of weeks. Keep washing your hands frequently and avoid crowds whenever you can.

More information on Illinois’ coronavirus testing and hospital capabilities can be found here.

It is National Agriculture Week

I know it can be difficult to think about anything besides the coronavirus outbreak these days, but this week is National Agriculture Week. This is a chance to say thanks to the farmers who put food on our tables each and every day and keep our state going. During the “stay at home” order, agriculture has been deemed an essential service.

Many farmers will be out in their fields in the coming weeks, so please be aware of farm vehicles on roadways and remember the important work that they do for each of us. Thank you Illinois Farmers!

The Illinois Farm Bureau has compiled some useful information for farmers during the coronavirus emergency.

More news from state government:

For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at dph.sick@illinois.gov. The call volume on these lines has been high recently, so please be patient as the Department of Public Health works to answer your call.

My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).