Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and state officials speak at a press conference Sunday afternoon in Chicago | Photo: Illinois Information Service.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced child care assistance for essential workers as 899 new coronavirus cases and 31 new deaths were reported in the past day.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said the state’s COVID-19 total has reached 11,256 cases and 274 deaths. The number of people tested so far is at 58,983, data shows.

“We have essential workers and healthcare professionals who can’t stay home with their kids because they are heroically going out to do their jobs, which are vital for public safety and to make sure other families can get the food and gas and pharmacy goods they may need,” Pritzker said.

“Our essential workforce deserves to know their kids are safe and cared for in a small and affordable group setting,” he added.

Effective April 1, all essential workers in health care, human services, essential government services, and essential infrastructure now qualify for the state’s Child Care Assistance Program. The state will cover most of the cost of care provided by emergency child care centers and homes.

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This expansion of eligibility includes those working as nurses and doctors, supporting staff in hospitals, grocery store clerks and food producers, the governor’s office said.

Pritzker said at his daily press conference on Saturday that the state continues to work during the stay-at-home order.

“This is a really, really hard time, financially and emotionally, for adults and children alike. Please know that we in state government are working hard to support you in every way possible,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker added that state workers are continuing to respond to reports of alleged child abuse and neglect, looking after people with disabilities and ensuring veterans receive care.

“All of our actions have centered around a singular focus: protecting our most vulnerable residents and doing everything possible for their health and their wellness,” Pritzker said.

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Illinois’ stay-at-home order remains in effect through April 30.