Illinois' driver services facilities will close to the public starting next week as COVID-19 cases rise statewide.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said his office’s driver services facilities and other SOS departments will not conduct in-person transactions from Monday through Jan. 17.
“The health and safety of employees and the public remains paramount, and face-to-face transactions potentially increase the further spread of the virus,” White said in a news release.
White has extended all driver’s license and ID card expiration dates to March 31. The extension doesn’t apply to commercial driver’s licenses and CDL learner’s permits.
All departments and driver services facilities are scheduled to reopen Jan. 18, according to White's news release.
White encouraged the public to visit ilsos.gov for online services.
White’s news release said online transactions will remain open for all departments to conduct a variety of office services, including renewing a license plate sticker and renewing a driver’s license or ID card for those who qualify. People can call (217) 785-1424 to confirm their eligibility or obtain their PIN.
Online access also is available for obtaining a duplicate driver’s license or ID card, obtaining a driver record abstract or filing business services documents such as incorporations or annual reports.
The state's drivers and vehicle services hotline will remain open at (800) 252-8980. Customers with issues involving administrative hearings may email email@example.com or call (312) 793-3722 or (217) 782-7065.
Statewide COVID trends worsen
Statewide, 21,098 new COVID-19 cases, as well as 50 new deaths, were reported Wednesday as cases in Illinois climb during the pandemic's biggest surge of new cases.
A total of 27,734 confirmed COVID-19-related deaths have occurred in Illinois among 2.1 million COVID-19 cases during the pandemic, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
To improve the state’s efforts in reducing the spread of COVID-19, IDPH plans to centralize COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.
Beginning Tuesday, all positive cases entered into the state’s data systems associated with a cellphone number began receiving an automated text message from IDPH.
The initial outgoing text reads: “IDPH COVID: There is important info for you. Call 312-777-1999 or click: https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/confirmed-or-possible-covid-19.html.”
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a news release: “We are seeing a higher number of new infections each day than we have seen at any time throughout the entire pandemic. In an effort to reduce the burden on the local health departments across the state, the state will notify cases via text about interviewing with a contact tracer, as well as providing a link to guidance on quarantine, possible treatments, and close contact notification. There have been scams associated with COVID-19 and contact tracing, so I want people to know that IDPH COVID will be issuing text messages to newly identified cases.”
Individuals who call the number in the text will be considered as “opting in” for an interview, IDPH officials said.
“Public health officials will prioritize case investigations for individuals who are 65 years and older and are at higher risk of severe illness, per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations,” the IDPH news release said. “This population will receive an additional text message if the individual does not respond to the initial message.”
Contact Dean Olsen: firstname.lastname@example.org; (217) 836-1068; twitter.com/DeanOlsenSJR.
This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: COVID prompts Illinois Secretary of State to pause in-person services