Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Saturday that the state has launched a free support text line for residents experiencing stress and anxiety stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
The Illinois Department of Human Services’ line, “Call4Calm,” aims to address and aid the mental health of communities and families ravaged by the health crisis. Pritzker said the line is not a crisis hotline, “but a source of support.”
“Although there are reasons to see hope and lots of examples of people helping one another ― all of which should lift us up ― there are also circumstances that may cause you to feel despair, to find yourself swimming in the stress and uncertainty of it all,” he tweeted on Saturday.
Residents can text TALK to 552020 ― or HABLAR for Spanish speakers ― to connect with a counselor through the line. The same number also helps residents navigate other forms of assistance if they text the hotline with keywords like “unemployment,” “food” or “shelter.”
Pritzker said residents who take advantage of the line “will remain completely anonymous.”
“I want to say to all of you: feel all of it,” Pritzker said Saturday at his daily coronavirus briefing. “We are living in a deeply unprecedented moment, and holding the emotional ramifications of that inside will only be harder on you. It’s OK to feel, but please know you don’t have to feel it all alone. I want you to know that we’re here to help.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed during Sunday’s briefing that 43 more people had died of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, bringing the state’s death toll to 720. The department also confirmed an additional 1,672 new coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total to 20,852.
Pritzker said the new numbers are “one more piece of evidence” that Illinois’ coronavirus curve is “stabilizing or bending.”
“The death toll today is lower than it has been in six days,” the governor said. “Illinois, having been the second state to announce a stay-at-home order, now seems to be reaching a peaking.”
But the governor stressed that the pandemic is not close to being over, and expressed caution about when to “reopen” Illinois. He said he’s discussing with industry leaders, economists, scientists and doctors about how to best reopen the state in a way that prevents a spike in coronavirus infections and deaths.