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A Call For Former Medical Professionals, Donations Of Gloves, Masks And More

Personal protective equipment is used to protect the body from injury or infection
Olivia Mitchell
NPR Illinois
Personal protective equipment is used to protect the body from injury or infection

Gov. J.B. Pritzker called on former physicians and medical professionals, including those who are retired, to “join the fight” against COVID-19. 

He announced his administration will waive normal license fees and expedite getting license reinstated.

They can apply for new licenses starting Monday through the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

The governor is also allowing healthcare workers living at Illinois’ borders to get their licenses in Illinois, too, so they can work where they’re most needed.

“We’re going to make it easier for you to practice here,” said Pritzker. “This will allow health systems in Quad Cities and East. St. Louis to deploy physicians where they need them most on either side of the border.” 

Those whose licenses expire soon will automatically have theirs renewed until September. Pritzker also  said his administration is working on expanding the availability of child care, especially for essential personnel who must remain on the job. This will include low-income workers, as well. 

Personal protective equipment is used to protect the body from injury or infection
Credit Olivia Mitchell / NPR Illinois
NPR Illinois
Personal protective equipment is used to protect the body from injury or infection

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said supplies of personal protective equipment for medical workers, including masks and gloves, are in need.

She announced the administration is urging a temporary stop to elective or non-essential surgery, and dental procedures in part so clinics and other health care organizations can give their gear to hospitals that are treating patients with COVID-19.

“The availability of critical resources such as gloves, gowns, eye protections and N-95 respirator masks is essential,” said Ezike.

They asked that any extra protective gear be donated to hospitals.

Information on donations can be found on Illinois’ coronavirus website.

The governor said the state has received only part of the supplies the federal government has promised, but has a reasonable inventory of equipment.

Ezike confirmed another 168 cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, bringing the total to 753 cases, with six deaths to date – the latest a Cook County man in his 70s. Around 6,200 tests have been done by IDPH.

Officials again urged everyone to comply with the stay-at-home order that took effect Saturday evening to keep vulnerable groups healthy, and prevent overcrowding in hospitals.

“I asked you to help them out by simply staying at home,” said Pritzker. “You will be keeping the virus from spreading, and helping the heroes who live and work in your neighborhoods.”

He assured residents that food, gas, medicine, and essential services will remain available.

The governor is asking people to enforce the rules themselves. But he said law enforcement can get a cease and desist order from the court if someone refuses to comply. Law enforcement can charge people with a misdemeanor of reckless conduct, in an “extreme case,” Pritzker said.

Copyright 2020 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Olivia Mitchell is a graduate Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2020 legislative session.
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