In Homeland Security Committee Hearing with Governor Pritzker as Witness, Underwood Stresses Importance of Reopening Schools Safely with Data-Driven Plan

July 8, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON— Today, Representative Lauren Underwood (IL-14), Vice Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, welcomed Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for a virtual hearing on the federal response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In her questioning, Underwood highlighted Illinois’s response to the pandemic and emphasized the importance of expert guidance and coordination at the federal level. Additionally, Underwood advocated for additional federal resources for state and local officials to ensure that schools can safely reopen for students, teachers, and their families.

“Returning to school is integral to the wellbeing and development of our children, as well as to working parents and the long-term health of our economy. But it’s essential to make sure that reopening schools does not place students, teachers, and their families in danger. States and schools should be able to count on the federal government for guidance during a crisis of this scale,” said Underwood. “As the nation faces an alarming increase in coronavirus cases, we must continue to listen to public health experts to protect the health and safety of our communities. I’ll continue to do my part in Congress to deliver federal resources to help Illinois communities navigate new challenges brought on by this pandemic.”

Full video of Underwood’s remarks can be found here.

As Vice Chair of the Homeland Security Committee and a public health nurse, Underwood is working to help Illinois communities navigate the coronavirus pandemic. In May, Underwood supported the passage of the Heroes Act (H.R. 6800) in the House of Representatives, which would provide $500 billion in relief funds to state governments, including almost $18 billion for the state of Illinois. In March, Underwood brought Illinois Department of Public Health Director, Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike, to testify at a hearing, where she shared how the state of Illinois was coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), federal agencies, and local entities to respond to the emerging pandemic. In the same month, Underwood questioned U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf on the Department’s efforts to prepare for and respond to the coronavirus. Previously, Underwood has convened Illinois public health officials to discuss steps that the state of Illinois has taken to keep our communities safe during this crisis. During the call, representatives from county public health departments, northern Illinois health systems, and community health centers discussed coronavirus preparedness, response, and how the public can best protect themselves from infection.