Suburban guests virtually attending Biden address to Congress mirror impact of COVID-19

  • Lake County Health Department chief Mark Pfister, shown at a Grayslake mass vaccination site, was invited by U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider to be a virtual guest at President Joe Biden's first address to Congress.

    Lake County Health Department chief Mark Pfister, shown at a Grayslake mass vaccination site, was invited by U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider to be a virtual guest at President Joe Biden's first address to Congress. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/28/2021 3:10 PM

An unemployed mom. A county health department chief. A mayor.

Illinois congressional delegation invited a mixed bag of virtual guests to President Joe Biden's first address to Congress today but there's a common thread related to the impact of COVID-19.

 

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, a Deerfield Democrat, invited Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister to the event that marks Biden's 100th day as president.

"Lake County Health has transformed in the last year to combat the COVID-19 pandemic," Pfister said in a statement. He was watching for "a clear vision for how America will safely move beyond this virus."

U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, a Downers Grove Democrat, invited Hawthorn Woods resident Stephanie Certain Matz, who recently received her COVID-19 vaccination. Certain Matz described the "joy we experienced removing masks and hugging our children and grandchildren for the first time in over a year."

Naperville Democrat U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood invited Audree Hall, a Lake County mother who lost her job and health coverage in August, although new legislation will enable her to be insured starting in May.

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Hall said the American Rescue Plan means "I can go back to my skin doctor for melanoma treatments and have the full body check that I've been waiting for, for so long."

Evanston Democrat U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky invited Zhanna Soloveychik, an advocate for seniors at EZRA, a social service center in Chicago.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin's guests comprise Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, Illinois Restaurant Association Chairman Sam Sanchez, a nurse practitioner and a hotel worker.

Others dispensed with the tradition of a guest, with limited in person attendance because of COVID-19 protocols. U.S. Reps. Bill Foster of Naperville, Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg and Mike Quigley of Chicago did not name guests.

And, with capacity limits, Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates is "actually not attending the president's address tonight, so she won't be bringing any virtual guests this year. Hopefully by next year's state of the union we can all be back to normal," spokeswoman Courtney Jacquin said.

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