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Pritzker Calls On Congress To Approve New COVID Relief Package As Pandemic Rages On

CHICAGO (CBS) --  As the pandemic looms over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Governor JB Pritzker urged the federal government to pass a relief package, financial hardships will get worse for Illinoians hit hard by the pandemic.

Several programs set up to help Americans struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic will expire at the end of the year unless Congress reaches a deal on a new relief bill. Pritzker said it could cause a crisis.

"People are hurting, and people need help, and things are getting worse. Since republicans in the U.S. Senate decided to postpone a stimulus package would help restaurants and other small businesses cities and states and the unemployed, financial shock waves of this virus continue to ripple through the United States, and here in Illinois, often causing the most harm to those least able to afford it," Pritzker said.

The governor added that in Illinois, the Illinois Department of Employment Services (IDES) processed a record number of claims this year and agency continues to do so.

"In April of this year alone, the Illinois Department of Employment Security process more claims than it had in the previous ten Aprils combined," Pritzker said. "Even compared to the other worst economic years of the last two decades, the 2020 recession has seen almost three and a half times as many regular unemployment claims, compared to the first nine months of either 2008 or 2001 recession."


Pritzker said that until there is a COVID-19 vaccine, things will be a long way off from being back to normal for the state's economy.

"You have an estimated 4.4 million people in the U.S. who have already maxed out their unemployment support. The clock is ticking without action for Congress millions of families across the United States will be plunged into far worse economic hardship than they're already facing, and not just in the middle of the holidays but also in the middle of the worst phase of this pandemic that the nation has yet seen," Pritzker said. "We will continue to do everything we can, at the state level to protect and advocate for our people. But we are limited in our ability to alter unemployment programs which are operated in partnership with the federal government. Only the federal government can produce the kind of stimulus that we need in order to avoid disaster for many families."

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 8,322 new confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois on Monday, as well as 47 additional deaths.

It was only the second time in 18 days Illinois has reported fewer than 10,000 new cases of the virus. New case numbers and the state's seven-day average case positivity rate have been dropping for the past four days, though both still remain vastly higher than they were at the beginning of October.

Illinois is averaging 11,339 new cases per day over the past week, down from an average of 12,384 daily cases the previous week, but more than five times higher than the 2,052 cases per day during the first seven days of October.

The statewide seven-day average case positivity rate stands at 10.9%, down from as high as 13.2% on Nov. 13, but still more than triple the 3.5% average case positivity rate at the start of October.

Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported a total of 664,620 cases, including 11,552 deaths.

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