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Coping with COVID: May 8

Illinois sets a new record for COVID-19 tests administered in one day. Homewood and Flossmoor cases edge up. The unemployment numbers released Friday were grim, but the state is trying to meet the huge demand for unemployment benefits. A new program starts Monday that will provide benefits to contract workers. Homewood library is accepting book returns. 

Milestone of the day. Extensive testing for COVID-19 is one of the main criteria for reopening the economy. The state reached a milestone Friday, a record 20,671 tests were administered in the previous 24 hours, according to Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. The percentage of tests that were positive for COVID-19 was just under 14 percent, the lowest the rate has been since late March. Homewood increased four cases to 204. Flossmoor increased by one, to 62.

More unemployment help coming. The national unemployment numbers released Friday were as grim as expected. Numbers show the highest rate — 14.7 percent — since the Great Depression. In Illinois, the state has been ramping up efforts to process unemployment claims for weeks, and on Monday, a new group, contract workers and sole proprietors, will be eligible to apply. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has urged contract workers for weeks to apply using the existing system, even though they don’t qualify and will receive a rejection notice. Applying and being rejected for regular unemployment is a prerequisite set by the federal government for receiving benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA). Some people have struggled to get claims filed in the existing system, but Pritzker said Thursday that a new system has been developed specifically for PUA claims. It can process 140,000 claims per hour.

Homewood Library materials accepted.  Although the Homewood Public Library is closed, patrons can return books at the book return between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Thursdays. Due dates for materials have been updated to June 8, and no fines will be collected on late returns. Programs are ongoing, including Open Mic Night for teens at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 15, via Zoom. Check out the library’s Facebook page or website at homewoodlibrary.org. Staff can address questions at [email protected].

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