The Illinois Department of Employment Security has processed more than 1 million claims for regular unemployment since March 1 — including 72,621 last week.
The department has also expanded its services to help residents, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday.
“Supporting and protecting our Illinois families through this immensely challenging time is my top priority,” Pritzker said during his press briefing.
With Illinois facing record levels of unemployment, the state has launched the website Get Hired Illinois in an effort to connect job seekers with employers and provide unemployed residents with free online access to workforce development courses.
“The financial stability and success of our residents is key to getting Illinois’ economy back on its feet,” Pritzker said. “Illinois won’t be restored until our workers and families have the opportunities and resources they need to build and fill in their lives.”
Pritzker says his administration is encouraging businesses throughout the state to use the website to post open positions. “It’s a great way to find your next employee and help Illinois families get back on their feet,” he said.
In addition to job postings, the website features virtual job fairs, information about unemployment insurance, training programs and other resources.
Starting in June, unemployed residents will have free, unlimited access through the end of the year to 3,800 online courses offered by more than 160 universities, thanks to a partnership with Coursera. This level of access typically costs $400 annually, according to Pritzker.
Through the partnership, residents will also have access to certificates, like the Google IT support professional certificate, which is “designed to train people without a college degree or any technical background for high-demand IT jobs,” Pritzker said.
Officials on Thursday announced 3,239 new COVID-19 cases and 138 deaths in a 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday. To date, there have been 87,937 cases and 3,928 deaths in 99 counties across the state.
With nearly 58,500 cases of COVID-19, Cook County has now had the most confirmed infections of any county in the U.S., having surpassed Queens County in New York, with 58,084, according to an analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says Cook County’s higher case count is due to increased testing.
“No one in the country has captured all of the cases of COVID-19. They have captured (cases) for which people have been tested and not everyone has been tested, so I think it’s a credit that we’ve been able to ramp up testing throughout the state and it is getting us closer to actual numbers but is falling far, far, far below the actual numbers,” Ezike said.
“You will see more cases because we’ll be continuing to ramp up our testing,” she said.
To date, the state of Illinois has processed 512,037 tests including 22,678 in a 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday.
Coronavirus Prevention Tips and Resources
Officials advise taking preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus, including:
—Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
—Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
—Sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then disposing of the tissue
—Limiting contact with people regardless of how you feel
—Staying home when you are sick
Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:
—New onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath
—Congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs
—Sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue
If you think you have COVID-19:
Call your doctor before showing up at their office. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the operator that you think you have COVID-19. If possible, wear a mask before medical help arrives or presenting at a doctor’s office. More advice for those who think they have COVID-19.
—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
—Illinois’ COVID-19 website
—Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website
—IDPH COVID-19 hotline: 800-889-3931
—IDPH COVID-19 email link
—City of Chicago COVID-19 website
—City of Chicago COVID-19 hotline: 312-746-4835
—City of Chicago COVID-19 email link