Governor Pritzker announced increased SNAP benefits and additional support for homeless people as coronavirus cases in Illinois surpassed 3,000 with 34 deaths on Friday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said that there were 488 new cases and eight new virus-related deaths, bringing the state’s total to 3,026 cases and 34 deaths.
Approximately 86% of fatalities are among patients 60 years of age and older, state health officials said. The number of people tested for COVID-19 so far is at 21,542, data shows.
“Today, I want to provide you an update on what my team and I have been doing to ease the burden of this moment on our most vulnerable residents, our families and our children,” Pritzker said at his daily press conference on Friday.
Pritzker announced the Illinois Department of Human Services is increasing monthly benefit amounts, expanding SNAP access, and expediting process and flexibility of the program. For many people, this will mean almost doubling their existing benefits, the governor’s office said.
The expansion will result in almost $80 million more for Illinois families. SNAP feeds nearly 1.7 million people, including low-income seniors, people with disabilities and working families.
“It is especially important now that we are doing all that we can to help all our residents through this crisis – we want every eligible person to be able to access our services as easily as possible,” Pritzker said.
An additional $7 million in funding has been made available to support housing and other services for people experiencing homelessness.
Pritzker also said that there are a “vast majority” of people who have coronavirus but testing is still limited. He urged the President to fully invoke the Defense Production Act.
450 Illinoisans have submitted applications to rejoin the health care workforce, Pritzker said on Thursday.
A program called the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund has been established and already raised $23 million. The money will be distributed to non-profit groups to help with emergency food and basic supplies for people impacted by the virus.
The majority of COVID-19 cases are in Cook County, followed by Lake and DuPage counties.
Pritzker’s ‘stay at home’ order, which was announced on March 20, remains in place throughout Illinois until at least April 7.