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Coping with COVID: State offers aid for childcare providers, masks for state workforce

The state announces a new aid program to help childcare providers hurt by the pandemic. The state will provide masks for workers. More big business are requiring masks in all stores. State records lowest one-day death tally since mid-March. H-F deaths remain unchanged.

Aid for childcare providers. Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) announced on Friday that $270 million in funding is available to assist child care providers across the state with reopening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Licensed child care providers that meet the eligibility criteria may apply for Child Care Restoration Grants. The application will remain open until August 14, 2020 and is available online at: inccrra.org.

“As workplaces reopen, so many employees need child care to go back to work,” said Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou. “These grants are designed to support the health of our child care infrastructure, so they can help working families return to their jobs.”

More mask requirements by big business. The Chipotle restaurant chain started requiring customers to wear face coverings this week. McDonald’s announced that masks would be required in all its restaurants starting Aug. 1. 

State to provide face coverings to its workforce. Illinois will distribute more than 60,000 cloth masks to state agencies, boards and commissions to protect the health and safety of employees returning to the workplace. All State employees are required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing while at their worksites.

“As more of our economy reopens and Illinoisans return to work, the single best thing you can do to help our state is wear a mask everywhere you go,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

The masks were obtained from a private party source via the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Employees were supplied with cloth masks to reserve medical grade PPE for health care professionals on the front line of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Infection rate continues to creep up. The positive test rate continues to slowly rise in Region 10, the Chicago suburbs, which include Homewood and Flossmoor. It is one of five regions that have reached the threshold established by the state for possibly taking action to slow the spread of the virus. New mitigation standards announced on July 15 include the possibility of imposing restrictions if a region sees increases in positive test rates for seven of 10 days or sees three days that reach 8 percent positive rate. Region 10 has seen increases in the positive rate for seven days. The positive rate was at 5.3 percent as of Thursday, the last day the rate was published on the Illinois Department of Public Health website. The state has not announced additional restrictions for Region 10 as of Sunday.

Death rates remain low. Homewood and Flossmoor have not lost any residents to COVID-19 in the past week. The number of deaths in the state has also remained fairly low. Only one death was recorded in the Sunday report from IDPH. That’s the lowest number since mid-March. 

Testing rates remain high. The state surpassed 40,000 test specimens taken in one day on July 16. Since then the average test rate has been more than 39,000 per day.

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