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COVID-19

COVID-19 Media & Publications

Get the latest information regarding COVID-19 at the Illinois Department of Public Health website

COVID-19 Hotline
1-800-889-3931

Available 24/7 to answer your questions about COVID-19 in Illinois

Stay at Home Order in Illinois

NOTICE“Stay at Home” order in effect in Illinois, essential services remain available. Grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations will remain open throughout the pandemic. The order goes into effect March 21 and is extended (as modified) through May 30. As of April 19, 46 of 50 states have implemented some form of nonessential business closure order. Under these orders, nonessential businesses are supposed to cease their operations, or transform them into a work-from-home setting. In most states including Illinois, there is a significant list of exceptions: the exceptions include health care, food retail, gas stations, home delivery services, and work done in outdoor environments such as construction.

Modifications to the Stay at Home Order for May 1-May 30

  • OUTDOOR RECREATION: State parks will begin a phased re-opening under guidance from the Department of Natural Resources. Fishing and boating in groups of no more than two people will be permitted. A list of parks that will be open on May 1 and additional guidelines can be found on the Illinois Department of Natural Resources website here. Golf will be permitted under strict safety guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and when ensuring that social distancing is followed.
  • NEW ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES: Greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries may re-open as essential businesses. These stores must follow social distancing requirements and must require that employees and customers wear a face covering. Animal grooming services may also re-open. 
  • NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL: Retail stores not designated as non-essential businesses and operations may re-open to fulfill telephone and online orders through pick-up outside the store and delivery. 
  • FACE COVERINGS: Beginning on May 1, individuals will be required to wear a face-covering or a mask when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance. Face-coverings will be required in public indoor spaces, such as stores. This new requirement applies to all individuals over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask. 
  • ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES AND MANUFACTURING: Essential businesses and manufacturers will be required to provide face-coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain six-feet of social distancing, as well as follow new requirements that maximize social distancing and prioritize the well-being of employees and customers. This will include occupancy limits for essential businesses and precautions such as staggering shifts and operating only essential lines for manufacturers.
  • SCHOOLS:  Educational institutions may allow and establish procedures for pick-up of necessary supplies or student belongings. Dormitory move-outs must follow public health guidelines, including social distancing.
  • The Illinois Department of Public Health will also be issuing guidance to surgi-centers and hospitals to allow for certain elective surgeries for non-life-threatening conditions, starting on May 1. Facilities will need to meet specific criteria, including proper PPE, ensuring enough overall space for COVID-19 patients remains available, and testing of elective surgery patients to ensure COVID-19 negative status.

Where can business owners verify if their business is exempted from the Executive Order -10?

The Department of Commerce and Economic Development will be answering questions regarding SBA loans and providing guidance for whether a business is deemed essential under EO-10. Please direct questions to 1-800-252-2923 or CEO.support@illinois.gov. DCEO has also put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Essential Businesses and operations here.

If a non-essential business is operating unlawfully during the Stay at Home Order, where can a complaint be filed?

Complaints about non-exempt businesses operating unlawfully during the Stay at Home Order can be reported here.

EXECUTIVE ORDERS ISSUED BY GOVERNOR JB PRITZKER (FULL LIST). See the full list and link to the full text of every Executive Order issued by the Governor since January 1, 2020.

Statewide Telehealth/Mental Health Programs

A person who is showing COVID-19 symptoms, or is at high risk for contracting the virus, but does not require emergency or inpatient care, and can be digitally monitored at home can access a Statewide Telehealth hotline to assist with remote monitoring programs. The State of Illinois/ OSF Healthcare Hotline number is now available: (833) 673-5669. More information can be found at osfhealthcare.org.

Pandemic Health Workers (PHWs) will virtually visit recipients daily, deliver wellness kits that include essential tools to monitor their health, and follow-up over a 14-day period to ensure no further assistance is needed. Wellness kits will include items such as thermometers, pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs, and alcohol wipes.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT TO FAMILIES

The Department of Human Services launched a free emotional support text line, for Illinois residents experiencing stress and mental health issues related to COVID-19.

Individuals who would like to speak with a mental health professional can text:
• For English services text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0
• For Spanish services text “HABLAR” to 5-5-2-0-2-0

Individuals can also text 5-5-2-0-2-0, with key words such as “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” and will receive information on how to access these services.

ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE TO FAMILIES

HEALTH INSURANCE

  • Special Enrollment Period (SEP) is available on the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace for people who have lost their employer-based health insurance coverage due to a job loss. Job loss is considered a “Qualifying Life Event” for special enrollment.  Some people may also qualify for subsidies (tax credits) to help reduce monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs.  VisitGetCovered.Illinois.gov.
  • If a spouse or domestic partner has employer-based health insurance, their partner who lost insurance coverage can often be added to the employer-based plan. Since there are time limits for enrollment, individuals should check with their employer or insurance carrier for details.  
  • Medicaid may be an option for persons with limited or no income. The federal-and-state-funded health insurance program has year-round enrollment and is based on monthly income, not annual income. 
  • Continuation of employer-based health insurance through COBRA may also be an option.  The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives workers and their families who lose their health benefits the right to choose to continue group health benefits provided by their group health plan for limited periods of time under certain circumstances such as voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in the hours worked, transition between jobs, death, divorce, and other life events. Qualified individuals may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102% of the cost to the plan.
  • Health insurance for pregnant women and children is also available. Moms & Babies covers women during pregnancy and for 60 days after the baby is born. Family Care and All Kids also provide health insurance benefits.

Unemployment benefits may be available to some individuals whose unemployment is attributable to COVID-19. IDES recently adopted emergency rules to try to make the unemployment insurance system as responsive to the current situation as possible. Learn more here.

A list of frequently asked questions and answers has been compiled by my office here.

YOU ASKED, SO WE GOT ANSWERS— What actions are taken to address the high volume of calls at IDES claims services line?

IDES hired additional staff and expanded their business hours to vulture the extremely high volume of calls. The caller is advised to try their call again if they get a busy signal. When the call gets through, there will be an average wait of 20-30 minutes before they speak to a specialist. To date, the department has taken several steps to improve the unemployment benefit claims process via the online portal and the call center. 

  • The website has been moved to new hardware infrastructure to handle the increased demand
  •  Web, storage, and processing capacity has been increased to meet needs of increased traffic
  •  Methods have been implemented to track COVID-19-related claims
  •  Call center capacity has been increased
  •  Daily call center hours have been extended to respond to those waiting in the queue after closure
  •  Call center staff has been supplemented by 40% to cut down on wait times
  •  Both the website and the call center will continue to be monitored for improvements in functions and abilities
  • In addition to these measures, IDES is now asking individuals to adhere to an alphabetized schedule when filing an unemployment benefit claim online and over the phone.  This process mirrors other states, such as Colorado and New York, who are experiencing increased web traffic and high call volumes with their unemployment benefit systems. 

Call Center Filing Schedule:

FOR ON-LINE APPLICATIONS, click here. If your last name begins with letters:
o A through M file your claim on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays.
N through Z file your claim online on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
*Saturdays – anyone who missed their window can apply.

FOR PHONE APPLICATIONS, call (800) 244-5631. If your last name begins with letters:
A through M call between 7:30am – 6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
N through Z call between 7:30am – 6pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.
*Fridays (7am-6pm) & Saturdays (8am-noon) – those who missed their window can call.

The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not impact whether you receive benefits or your benefit amount.  Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid-off or let go from their job due to COVID-19.

IDES is currently working through an unparalleled number of unemployment benefit claims and questions, both online and through the call center.  Over the first three weeks of March, IDES has received over 130,000 unemployment benefit claims, an increase of close to 400% compared to the corresponding weeks the prior year.  The department received close to 115,000 claims for the week of March 21 alone, an increase of nearly 1,400% compared to the corresponding week the prior year.  Additionally, the call center continues to field hundreds of calls per minute, per day.

IDES is doing everything possible to support our customers and meet the demand for unemployment benefit inquiries and claims. Those with questions or in need of assistance with unemployment benefit at this time are encouraged to visit IDES.Illinois.gov.

YOU ASKED, SO WE GOT ANSWERS— If a business decides to shut down voluntarily before mandated, will staff be able to qualify for unemployment? And does this go against the employer if they do so? If a business decides to shut down, employees would be potentially eligible for benefits and are advised to open a claim as soon as possible. IDES is working with the Governor’s office on legislation that would remove charge ability to employers for claims involving COVID-19 related issues.

FEDERAL STIMULUS PACKAGE IMPACT ON UNEMPLOYMENT (UPDATED APRIL 14, 2020)

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). FPUC provides an additional $600 each week in 100% federally funded benefits to anyone entitled to regular state unemployment benefits, PEUC, PUA, EB, or certain
other specialized unemployment benefits. FPUC is potentially available for weeks beginning on or after March 29, 2020 and continuing through the week ending July 25, 2020.

Pursuant to the federal legislation, this $600 will not be retroactively applied to unemployment claims that arose prior to March 29, 2020. In many cases, individuals will also be eligible for more weeks of unemployment above the 26 weeks provided under regular unemployment rules. Both benefits will be applied automatically if you qualify.

Status: FPUC was implemented and began disbursing funds being disbursed the week starting April 5, 2020, which was the first week the federal legislation allowed FPUC to be paid.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

PUA provides 100% federally funded unemployment benefits for individuals who are unemployed for specified COVID-19-related reasons and are not covered by a state’s regular unemployment insurance program, the extended benefit (EB) program under Illinois law, or the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC), including self-employed sole proprietors. Up to 39 weeks’ worth of benefits are potentially available under the program for COVID-19-related unemployment claims. PUA claims will be backdated to the individual’s first week of unemployment, but no earlier than February 2, 2020, and will continue for as long as the individual’s remains unemployed as a result of COVID-19, but no later than the week ending December 26. The program is intended to be similar to the federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance program, which provides unemployment benefits in response to local disasters. This is a brand-new program that requires an entirely new system to be built from scratch by IDES.

Status: IDES is contracting with Deloitte to implement and maintain a web-based solution for PUA. Deloitte has been building a PUA system for
Colorado, and it will be modified to fit Illinois law. While a program of this
magnitude might normally take up to a year to design and implement, the
department is committed to getting this program online by the week of May 11, 2020.

Neighbor States Actions for PUA Relief (as of April 13, 2020)

The neighboring states of Iowa and Michigan have recently announced that they are currently able to process PUA relief claims. The State of Wisconsin has stated that their Department of Workforce Development will hopefully be able to process PUA applications beginning in April 21; the State of Indiana provides their Department of Workforce Development is working on expanding their systems to accommodate PUA claims, but in the meantime are suggesting that 1099-filers to file for regular UI benefits as a denial of regular UI benefits will be a prerequisite to receive PUA benefits; according to the Kentucky Career Center, the state UI benefit application should be completed—the state agency, then, will get in touch with any PUA-eligible applicants; and in Missouri, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ have been working to make changes to its current UInteract unemployment assistance portal to accommodate PUA claims (however, as of 4/8/20 no estimated date of implementation has been announced). 

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

PEUC provides up to 13 weeks’ worth of 100% federally funded benefits to
individuals who have exhausted their rights to regular state unemployment benefits up to 26 weeks in Illinois. PEUC is potentially available for weeks beginning on or after March 29, 2020 and continuing through the week ending December 26, 2020. PEUC will be retroactive once implemented.

Status: IDES received USDOL guidelines on April 10 and expects the program can be implement through the current IDES computer system the week of April 20.

Should I apply for unemployment before Illinois fully implements the PUA program?

In Illinois, the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) advises every individual who is unemployed or underemployed should file a claim for unemployment benefits, even if they believe they are not covered by the unemployment system. There are two reasons Illinoisans currently unemployed through no fault of their own should still file a claim for regular unemployment benefits with IDES, even if they have been told they’re not covered by the state’s regular unemployment insurance program – because they’re an independent contractor, part of the “gig economy,” or for some other reason. First, it’s possible that whoever told them they were not covered was wrong. Workers who are employees covered by the unemployment insurance system are sometimes told they’re not. Even if an individual’s employer does not consider the worker to be covered and doesn’t pay unemployment taxes on the individual’s wages, the individual can qualify for benefits if IDES determines he or she is covered under state law. An employer’s failure to contribute to the unemployment system will not impact a claimant’s eligibility for benefits. Although eligibility for benefits cannot be guaranteed, nothing prohibits people from filing a claim for regular benefits, as long as they truthfully complete the application. Second, the PUA program has been established for individuals who are unemployed for reasons attributable to COVID-19 and not covered by the state’s regular unemployment insurance program. To establish eligibility under the new program, the claimant will have to demonstrate he/she is not eligible under the regular program. Applying for and being denied benefits under the regular program can help establish eligibility under the new temporary program.

What do I do if I have already received my maximum benefits?

Some individuals who have received their entire 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits may be eligible for more weeks of benefits under the stimulus package. If you have exhausted your benefits, or you are close to exhausting your benefits, we are finalizing the process to continue benefits under the stimulus package. Details will be available as soon as we have received further guidance from the US Department of Labor.

I am self-employed. Do I qualify under the new federal unemployment program?

Under regular unemployment rules, the incomes of self-employed workers, freelancers, and independent contractors are not subject to unemployment taxes and so typically these individuals are not eligible for unemployment benefits. The stimulus package creates a new, temporary program to help people who lose this type of work as a direct result of the current public health emergency. IDES will provide information about how to apply for this benefit as soon as it is finalized. Please do not apply at this time. Thank you for waiting to apply until further details are available. This will allow IDES employees to address the large volume of claims for those individuals who are eligible under current benefit programs.

HOUSING

The Governor has ordered all state, county and local law enforcement cease enforcement of orders of eviction during the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation. Individuals are still required by law to pay rent and mortgage payments and to comply with other obligations under tenancy or mortgage.

Housing counselors designated by the Illinois Housing Development Authority can help you understand your options if you are having trouble paying your mortgage. They can communicate with your mortgage lender or servicer on your behalf and help you find legal representation if necessary. Counselors can also help you create a budget to manage your expenses and possibly stay in your home. All services are free. Find a counselor near you today and begin to get the help you need.

RV PARKS/ CAMPGROUNDS. Generally, campgrounds and RV parks (Campgrounds of America) are considered recreational activities and are not essential. However, if a campground or RV park is your primary residence, then the campground or RV park can remain open. Specific questions on essential businesses can contact DCEO at 1-800-252-2923 or CEO.support@illinois.gov.

AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSINGILHousingSearch.org will allow you to search thousands of affordable, subsidized and market rate units throughout Illinois. You can customize your search based on your specific needs, budget, and desired location. The service is also available through a toll-free, bilingual call center at: (877) 428-8844.

JOBS (NOW HIRING)

  • Job Openings and resources compiled by the Illinois House Republican Caucus.
  • Who’s Hiring list from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. Illinois grocers throughout the state are looking to hire. Simply click on the name of the grocer and submit an application. Many are hiring on-the-spot.

FEDERAL & STATE INCOME TAX DEADLINE POSTPONED

  • Both Federal & State Income Tax Day has been moved from April 15 this year to July 15. All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalty. Taxpayers may still file at any point prior to July 15, an action which is especially encouraged if the taxpayer is due a refund to allow the taxpayer to get their money more quickly.
  • The Illinois Department of Revenue produced an Informational Bulletin describing the change.
  • The Department of Revenue (IDOR) will continue to process tax refunds for those filing ahead of the new deadline.
  • According to IDOR, 3.4 million Illinoisans have already filed their income taxes to date, over 72% of whom are expecting a refund this year. Last year, 6.2 million income tax returns were filed, and 88% of taxpayers filed electronically.
  • The fastest, most secure way to receive a refund is to file tax returns electronically and request a direct deposit into a checking or savings account. Taxpayers who have already filed a return can check the status of their return by using the Where’s My Refund? link located at www.MyTax.Illinois.Gov.
  • If you scheduled an electronic payment for 2019 income taxes to be paid on or before April 15, 2020, your payment will not automatically be rescheduled to July 15, 2020. If you do nothing, the payment will be made on the date you chose. If the payment has not been processed, you may be able to cancel or reschedule it. You must cancel or reschedule the payment before its scheduled date. Learn more about how to reschedule payments here.
  • As a result of the Income Tax Extension, a significant number of taxpayers will not be able to accurately calculate and pay their 2020 Illinois estimated income tax. Since taxpayers may not know their prior year’s tax liability if they do not file by the original due date, the Department is providing for an additional option upon which taxpayers can base their 2020 estimated tax payments. For 2020, estimated tax payments can be based upon either: 1. 100 percent of their estimated liability for the year 2020, 2. 100 percent of their actual liability for year 2019, or 3. 100 percent of their actual liability for year 2018. Learn more at: https://www2.illinois.gov/rev/research/publications/bulletins/Documents/2020/FY2020-26.pdf

ASSISTANCE TO EMPLOYERS

In addition to loans and grants from the US Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has put together a comprehensive list of Emergency Resources to Businesses here.

Business advisors at our Illinois Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are available to assist small businesses with the loan application process and are currently operating remotely. Businesses can locate their nearest Small Business Development Center here.

TAX CREDITS TO EMPLOYERS FOR PAID SICK AND PAID FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE Subject to certain limits, in the case of an employer, there shall be allowed as a credit an amount equal to 100 percent of the qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages paid by the employer with respect to the calendar quarter.

BUSINESS INSURANCE COVERAGE. Business Insurance Issues Resource Page from the Illinois Department of Insurance can be found here.

SALES TAX DEFERRAL FOR BARS & RESTAURANTS The Illinois Department of Revenue will defer sales tax payments for more than 24,000 small and medium sized bars and restaurants- accounting for nearly 80% of all such entities statewide. Establishments charged less than $75,000 in total sales tax liability last year will not be charged penalties or interest on payments due in March, April or May made late. Qualified taxpayers must still file their sales tax return on time, even if they are unable to make a payment. Informational Bulletin with more on this here.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM

  • Creates forgivable SBA loans administered through local banks
  • Helps small businesses, non-profits, independent contractors, and self-employed
  • Limited to under 500 employees
  • Maximum loan of $10 million
  • Business must good-faith certify that funds are needed for COVID-19 related purposes and funds will be used to retain workers
  • Eligible expenses include payroll (including for tipped workers), insurance, rent, mortgage, and utilities
  • Amount spent by borrower in the first 8 weeks from loan origination may be forgiven; amount reduced proportionate to reductions in workforce as compared to previous year; if rehires made during 8 week period, no penalty in reflection of possible layoffs early in the 8 week period.
  • Loan payments will be deferred for 6 months. 
  • Anything not forgiven or repaid by 12/31/20 will convert to a max 10 year loan at a max 4% interest rate; loan will remain 100% guaranteed
  • Payroll costs are capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.
  • More information about how small businesses can apply and a checklist has been compiled by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce here.
  • Please go to the U.S. Treasury Department’s website here to get the full guidance. If you’re a lender, CLICK HERE for more information. If you’re a borrow, CLICK HERE for more information. If you’re a small business looking for the application, CLICK HERE
  • Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. We encourage you to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap.

FEDERAL CARES ACT

What does it mean to Illinoisans? Congress approved and the President has signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). The $2.2 trillion economic rescue package provides help for families, small business, hospitals, local governments and others. A brief outline of the CARES Act can be found here. A Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act can be found here.

GRANTS

Illinois Hospitality Emergency Grant Program

  • $14 million total program to provide working capital grants to small businesses
  • Grants available to hotels, bars, and restaurants ($10k, $25k, and $50k levels)
  • Applications for the Grant Program will be accepted on dceocovid19resources.com until April 1, 2020 at 5:00pm. Qualifying businesses will be notified by April 4, 2020 and funds will be made available within two days of receiving the necessary bank information.
  • Selections made via lottery
  • More at: https://us.accion.org/news/covid-19-hospitality-business-grant-program/
  • Awardees from the lottery system for this funding can be found here.

Downstate Illinois Small Business Stabilization Program

  • $20 million total program for working capital grants
  • Offers $25k grants to employers up to 50 employees
  • Funds available in collaboration with local governments that do not receive direct CDBG allocations
  • Large urban communities are not eligible for this program.  These communities will likely receive increased direct federal funding.
  • More at: https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/SmallBizAssistance/Pages/EmergencySBAIntiatives.aspx

NONPROFIT GRANTS

The United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations announced the launch of the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund (ICRF), a new statewide fundraising effort to support nonprofit organizations serving those whose lives have been upended by this pandemic.

The ICRF is launching with nearly $23 million in initial donations. In the upcoming weeks, the steering committee will evaluate and disburse funds to the initial wave of charitable organizations serving at-need communities across the entire state. All donations and distributions will be available to the public. Donations and applications for assistance can be made here.

LOANS

Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund

Business Invest” Low Interest Bridge Loans backed by State Treasury

  • Illinois small businesses can tap into $250 million in low-interest bridge loans as soon as this week to help push through the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The State Treasurer’s office will make $250 million available to Illinois banks and credit unions that wish to participate. The financial institutions will determine who is eligible for the loans. Here is the current list of approved financial institutions providing loans.
  • Through this program, the Treasurer’s Office would partner with approved financial institutions to provide loans — either lower rate loans, or loans to a business or non-profit that would not otherwise qualify — to Illinois small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • State funds would be deposited with qualified financial institutions for a 1-year term at a near-zero deposit rate of 0.01% (0.0001). 
  • Deposits could be drawn in $1 or $5 million increments, up to a maximum of $25 million per financial institution.
  • Deposited funds would facilitate affordable loans (not to exceed 4.75%) to small businesses and non-profits that could be used to provide bridge funding, pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills.
  • Eligible Illinois businesses or non-profits must: (1) have been shut down or limited due to COVID-19; (2) have less than $1 million in liquid assets or $8 million average annual receipts (per SBA standards); and (3) be headquartered in the state of Illinois or agree to use the funds in Illinois.
  • Deposits would be renewable as determined by the Treasurer’s Office.
  • Financial institutions would be required to provide reports to the Treasurer’s Office regarding the usage of program funds, including the number and types of loans provided and the economic impact of such loans.
  • More about the Business Invest – Illinois Small Business COVID-19 Relief Program

FOOD SECURITY

SNAP & WIC. The Illinois Department of Human Services is submitting multiple waivers to the federal government to deliver as much nutrition support to as many Illinoisans as possible. DHS has been able to automatically extend SNAP certifications set to expire March, April or May, another six months until September, October and November. DHS has also been able to waive the physical presence requirements for SNAP applicants and participants, enabling people to further reduce the time that they spend outside their homes and increase the ability to apply for assistance online.

DHS Director Hou indicated that the recent passage of the federal Family First legislation will cause monthly SNAP benefits to increase dramatically – in some cases by over 90%, a month. For example, a single person with a disability, or an older adult with less than $2,000 of monthly income is eligible for $194 in monthly SNAP benefits. Now, before the legislation passed, they would have received $16 a month. A family of four making less than $42,000 a year is now eligible for $646 a month in SNAP benefits.

Between April 8th and April 20th, all eligible SNAP recipients will see their first additional funds if they are not currently receiving the maximum benefit.  This will impact more than 450,000 Illinois households. The additional funds are intended to help Illinoisans obtain food and support for their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The maximum SNAP benefit amounts will be implemented for April and May. It is not known at this time whether these extended maximum payments will continue beyond May. 

Increased benefits will be automatically loaded onto SNAP recipients’ Link cards, and there is no need for anyone to re-apply, to visit an office, or to call. All new applications authorized in April will also receive the maximum allotment for their household size. 

CHILD MEALS.  The USDA has launched of an online tool – the “Meals for Kids” Site Finder – to help families find meals for children while schools are closed during the coronavirus pandemic. The “Meals for Kids” interactive map directs people to local sites where kids can get free meals. The map is available in both English and Spanish at www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids

UTILITIES

On March 18, 2020, the Illinois Commerce Commission formalized an order to cease disconnections and the threat of disconnections during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This applies to electric utilities, natural gas, water, and waste water utilities. The order also calls on them to suspend late payment fees until May 1, 2020, or the crisis has passed, and to implement flexible utility credit and connection procedures to ensure customers remain connected to essential utility service when the emergency status ends.

FREE INTERNET ACCESS RESOURCES. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is providing information on programs offering free internet access to Illinois families to support learning during the school closures. Information on these resources can be found at ISBE’s Keep Learning website.

Illinois launched its Drive-Up Wi-Fi Hotspot Map as part of a multi-agency effort to improve Broadband access in the State. The publicly available hotspots indicated on this map are available for remote learning and other uses at this time.

AMEREN ILLINOIS.  In response to the economic hardships that residential and business customers may experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ameren Illinois will suspend service disconnections and forgive late payment fees for non-payment through at least May 1, 2020.  Customers needing assistance with paying their bill should contact their customer care team at http://spr.ly/amerenillinois for payment options.

CENTURY LINK. For the next 60 days, Century Link will waive late fees and cease terminations of a residential or small business customer’s service due to financial circumstances associated with COVID-19. Century Link is also suspending data usage limits for consumer customers during this time period.

COMCAST.  Free internet to low-income families during COVID-19 pandemic.  Low-income families in the Comcast service area can sign up for 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month.  Also, Comcast is increasing Internet speeds for the Internet Essentials service from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps for all new and existing customers, which will be the speed of the service going forward.  To sign up, applicants can simply visit www.internetessentials.com. There are also two dedicated phone numbers 1-855-846-8376 for English and 1-855-765-6995 for Spanish.

COM ED.  In response to the economic hardships that residential and business customers may experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Com Ed will suspend service disconnections and forgive late payment fees for non-payment through at least June 1, 2020.  Customers needing assistance with paying their bill should contact their customer care team for payment and energy assistance options.

JO CARROLL ENERGY. In response to the economic hardships that residential and business customers may experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jo Carroll Energy will temporarily cease disconnections for non-payment and suspend late payment fees or penalties for electric, natural gas and broadband so that you can focus on your most essential needs. Jo Carroll will work with members who need assistance on an individual basis. Please call the cooperative at 800-858-5522 to discuss payment arrangement options and to learn about assistance programs that may be available to you. 

MEDIACOM. In an effort to keep customers safe during the coronavirus pandemic, Mediacom will be placing a moratorium and discontinuing service shut offs and late fees for 60 days. Reduced cost to low-income families during COVID-19 pandemic.  Low-income families in the Mediacom service area can sign up for 12 months of their Access Internet 60 Broadband service for $19.99/month instead of $29.99/month with 60 days of complimentary Connect2Compete service. Also, Mediacom is increasing Internet speeds for the Internet Essentials service from 10/1 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps their low-cost internet program.  Complementary access to all Madiacom Xtream Wi-Fi Hotspots will be offered for at least 60 days.

NICOR GAS. In response to the economic hardships that residential and business customers may experience due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nicor Gas will suspend service disconnections until April 30 for residential and commercial customers.  Customers needing assistance with paying their bill should contact their customer care team for payment and energy assistance options as well as information about the Nicor Gas Sharing Program (one-time grants to qualified residential customers).

SAND PRAIRIE INTERNET will be opening and increasing the number of hotspots available throughout the cooperative’s service territory. Sand Prairie hotspots will be available for anyone who needs them – including the general public – for free. Hotspots can be found at the following locations: Elizabeth Community Building/Terrapin Park, Grant Park in Galena, Downtown Mt Carroll, Downtown Galena, Downtown East Dubuque. Once at a hotspot, select the “SP HotSpot” network name in the list of available networks and launch a browser. The broadband team is assessing inventory and evaluating possible additional locations.

HOW TO HELP/ CALLS TO ACTION

Visit serve.illinois.gov for more info on volunteering.

The Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund has been established to support Illinois nonprofits and the individuals, families and communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund announced its first round of grant distributions on April 8 of $5.5 million to 30 organizations that serve families across 96% of the state’s population by providing people with access to food, shelter, healthcare and more. To date, the fund has raised more than $28 million from nearly 2,000 donors, and many more rounds of funding will be coming soon.

BLOOD SUPPLY

AMERICAN RED CROSS.  The Red Cross urges healthy individuals to give blood amid coronavirus concerns.  Low donor turnout could hurt U.S. Blood supply.  Learn more and schedule if you’re feeling healthy and well here.

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY REGIONAL BLOOD CENTER.  The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center urges healthy individuals to give blood amid coronavirus concerns.  Low donor turnout could hurt U.S. Blood supply.  Learn more and schedule an appointment if you’re feeling healthy and well here.

MEDICAL PERSONNEL & PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT(PPE)

HEALTHCARE PROVIDER REGISTRATION. The State of Illinois is calling on all licensed healthcare providers, available to help in the fight against COVID19, to register at www.IllinoisHelps.net. This includes physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, physician assistants, medics, LPNs, CNAs, Podiatrists and Dentists.

RETIRED HEALTHCARE WORKERS. On March 21, the Governor announced a call to action in the fight against COVID-19 for anyone working in the healthcare related field who has let their licenses lapse or chose to retire. He is calling on physicians, nurses, physicians’ assistants, and respiratory therapists to come back and join the fight against this outbreak. To make this process easier the Governor will be implementing the following actions in the very near future: Waving fees and expediting licensure for healthcare positions; Automatically extending licenses soon to expire; Making it easier for out-of-state healthcare professionals to practice here, that way border communities can deploy physicians where they are needed most. Applications available online at IDFPR’s website include: Health Care License ReinstatementPhysician License ReinstatementOut of State Temporary Practice Permit

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE). During this unprecedented public health emergency, supplies of PPE for healthcare providers are being rapidly depleted. Health care personnel need to protect themselves when caring for patients by adhering to infection control and prevention practices, which includes having access to a sufficient supply of PPE. On March 17, IDPH provided guidance to hospitals, outpatient surgical and procedural centers to limit non-essential adult elective surgical procedures, including all dental procedures until further notice. IDPH is encouraging all outpatient surgical and procedural centers, ambulatory surgical centers, and veterinarians to donate their unused PPE that is not immediately needed to assist those on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19. Especially of need are surgical gloves, gowns, goggles, face shields, surgical masks, and N95 respirator masks. To donate PPE LOCALLY to CGH Medical Center, please e-mail DonateMaterials@cghmc.com. To donate PPE LOCALLY to Genesis Health, click here. To donate PPE (including homemade masks) locally to UnityPoint Health, click here. To donate PPE, please e-mail PPE.donations@illinois.gov. In addition, the Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO), working with the State, has established a fund so people and organizations can donate money to help healthcare workers and first responders here.

PPE AND CRITICAL SUPPLIES PROCUREMENT. With Illinois well-positioned with in-state manufacturers of diverse goods and services, leads or connections on COVID-19–related goods or services (i.e. PPE) can be sent to the State for maintaining elements of the critical supplies supply chain. Businesses interested in supplying the necessary goods/needs for the current crisis, can contact the Governor’s Office related to these offers of products at Covid.procurement@illinois.gov. If a business wants to retool to manufacture PPE in Illinois, they may also contact the Illinois Manufacturing Association at ima@ima-net.org.

SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES/ COMMUNITY EVENTS

  • The CDC guidelines prohibit social gatherings of more than ten people until at least May 30. An Illinois Executive Order prohibits any gathering of more than ten people, with limited exceptions, until at least May 30.
  • The CDC is now recommending the use of cloth face coverings when out in public. Everyone should still adhere to social distancing guidelines like staying 6 ft apart, washing hands frequently, and staying home as much as possible, but a face covering is one more way to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. The U.S. Surgeon General put out this video on how to make your own here. Guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health on the use of face masks by the general public can be found here.

RELIGIOUS SERVICES

  • The Executive Order does not prohibit religious activities and specifically allows religious organizations to provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life, to its congregants and needy individuals.
  • Religious organizations are permitted to conduct services and prayer online and may conduct sufficient operations to offer a streaming service as long as social distancing requirements are followed. Please refer to DPH updated guidelines.

SCHOOLS

  • To further safeguard our communities from the spread of the virus, Governor JB Pritzker has declared mandatory school closures for all schools, both public and private, serving Illinois pre-kindergarten through 12thgrade students.  
  • This mandatory closure takes effect March 17 and was extended on April 17 through the end of the school year.
  • ISBE has obtained the USDA waiver to provide meals during school closures, including to children under 5. ISBE encourages schools to please make every effort to provide meals for all children who need them, no matter their resources and no matter what school they attend, in the way that works best for your community, such as grab-and-go or delivery. 
  • The State Superintendent has declared that Remote Learning Days will begin for schools statewide on March 31 and continue through the end of the school year. During Remote Learning days, schools may implement either an E-Learning Plan or a Remote Learning Day Plan that provides students with instruction and access to educators through whatever means possible. 
  • Remote Learning Days, Remote Learning Planning Days, and Act of God Days count as actual student attendance days. All of these days count toward the minimum length of the school year and absolutely do not need to be made up. View ISBE’s Guidance for Remote Learning Days here.
  • School districts have flexibility on how instruction will be graded during the public health disaster.
  • ISBE has partnered with other agencies and advocates to provide additional clarity on other key topics.  
  • Additionally, Governor JB Pritzker’s Executive Order 2020-15 (ISSUED ON MAR 27, 2020), suspends state assessments for spring 2020, including the Constitution exam. This action officially ends assessment activity statewide for the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, Illinois Science Assessment, SAT, and Dynamic Learning Maps-Alternate Assessment for the 2019-20 school year. ISBE recognizes that the free SAT provided by the state is the only opportunity many students get to take a college entrance exam. ISBE is working with the College Board on developing options to allow current 11th grade students to take the SAT in the fall.  
  • ISBE has refreshed its comprehensive guidance document with all of this information, as well as updated guidance on driver’s education, nutrition, flexibility in expending grant funds, and Early Childhood Block Grant recipients providing child care to the children of essential workers. View the comprehensive guidance at isbe.net/Documents/FAQ-4-15-20.pdf
  • Lastly, the governor and his administration amended graduation requirements for high school seniors, in recognition of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on their final semester. For example, current high school seniors may graduate without the normally required participation in consumer education and physical fitness assessment.

CHILD CARE CENTERS & EARLY EDUCATION PROGRAMS

  • Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order on March 20, 2020, all child care programs are closedWhere possible, children should be kept at home. However, we know that is not an option for some of our essential workers.
  • Effective April 1st, all essential workers in healthcare, Human Services, essential government services and essential infrastructure now qualify for the state’s childcare Assistance Program, meaning that the state will cover most if not all of the cost of care with our emergency childcare providers. That includes everyone from nurses and doctors, to support staff in hospitals, to grocery store clerks and food producers.
  • Full details and applications for assistance are available on the Department of Human Services (IDHS) website www.DHS.illinois.gov/helpishere.
  • Essential workers looking for emergency child care during the school/day care closure period are encouraged to contact the Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) Hotline 888-228-1146.  This helpline will be available from 9:00AM to 3:00PM Monday through Friday to answer calls, but callers are able to leave a message 24 hours a day.  There is also a Emergency Provider Search website live here.

PETS AND COVID-19 (ADVICE FOR PET OWNERS)

  • The CDC is now recommending people follow social distancing guidelines with their pets after a small number of animals, including dogs and cats, were reportedly infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. 
  • CDC urges people to restrict their pets from interacting with other animals when outside their house and to keep cats indoors when possible.
  • Dogs should be leashed when out for a walk and be kept at least six feet from other people or animals.
  • If you’re sick with COVID-19 or suspected to have the virus the CDC says to limit contact with pets and other animals. Avoid petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding with your pet.
  • The new guidelines come after several pets in the U.S. became infected with the virus.
  • Reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to pets
  • CDC: If you have animals
  • Is Pet Grooming an Essential Service during the Stay at Home Order? Animal grooming services may re-open on May 1st. Groomers must have measures in place to ensure proper social distancing, such as setting appointments such that only one pet owner would be dropping off or picking up at a time. Employers must require that employees and customers wear a face covering.

AGRICULTURE

  • COVID-19 Essential Businesses and Operations Guidance
  • COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus Disease) Important Animal Information
  • Plant and Pesticide Training Cancellation Updates and FAQ
  • New! Online Pesticide Testing Options and Instructions
  • 2020 Dicamba Restriction Updates
  • Egg Packaging. To address shortages of eggs at retail, the Department has issued the following guidance for sale of loose pack eggs intended for food service sales for retail sales: Loose pack eggs may be sold at retail as long as all packaging and labeling requirements are met as established in the Illinois Egg and Egg Products Act (410 ILCS 615) and the administrative rules promulgated thereunder (8 IL. Adm. Code 65). The Illinois Department of Public Health has been notified that this method of sale is acceptable and in compliance with the Illinois Egg and Egg Products Act.
  • Summer 4-H Fairs– University of Illinois Extension, the university’s public outreach program that includes Illinois 4-H, is listening carefully and making contingency plans for summer events should restrictions on large group gatherings continue after April 30. A wide range of options are under consideration for 2020 summer 4-H shows. Each option is being evaluated for its feasibility, technical requirements, volunteer capacity, financial and health risks to hosts and participants, and overall benefit to the community and partners. If circumstances interrupt a local summer exhibition, 4-H and Extension staff are working to develop digital exhibitions and other alternatives consistent with social distancing guidelines. Their goal is to provide an opportunity for youth to showcase their projects and display their learning and growth, in any case.

OUTDOOR RECREATION

  • Only select State parks will re-open under the modified Stay at Home Order in effect May 1-30, with most continued closed until further notice. Families will still be able to go outside, including to local parks and outdoor spaces that remain open, and take a walk, run, or bike ride but should continue to practice social distancing by remaining 6 feet away from other people. Playgrounds are closed because they pose a high risk of increasing transmission.
  • Visitors to the reopened sites will be required to comply with social distancing guidelines and other COVID-19 best practices. Visitors to reopened IDNR sites should bring alcohol-based hand sanitizer (containing at least 60 percent alcohol) and face coverings. Additional health and safety guidelines include:
    • Practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet of distance between yourself and others;
    • Please stay home if you are sick or feeling any symptoms, such as fever, coughing, troubled breathing, and/or other flu-like symptoms;
    • Visit alone or with members of your household;
    • Stay local; visit parks that are closest to where you live;
    • If you arrive at a park and crowds are forming, please move to another area or return another time/day to visit;
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper arm/elbow.
  • The reopened sites will be open daily from sunrise until sunset beginning May 1. Visitors will be allowed to engage in activities such as wildlife observation, hiking, biking, equestrian use, fishing (both from the bank and boats) and mushroom collecting. Site visitor centers, campgrounds, playgrounds, beaches and concessions will remain closed. There will be no shelter reservations, interpretive educational programs, or special events until further notice. To ensure the safety of all visitors, hunting including spring turkey hunting remains suspended at all IDNR sites.
  • IDNR sites are monitored by site staff and IDNR Conservation Police. For assistance or to report violations, visitors can call the IDNR Office of Law Enforcement at 217-785-0075 or contact Conservation Police in the region. Contact information is available on the IDNR website: https://www2.illinois.gov/dnr/LawEnforcement/Documents/DistrictCPOPhonesAndEmails.pdf
  • FAQ Information Sheet about Partial Re-Opening here.
  • GOLFING- With restrictions, golf courses may re-open on May 1. Operational restrictions for golf courses and golfers can be found here.
  • BOATING– Beginning May 1st, two people will be permitted on a boat at a time. The two-person limit applies regardless of the relationship of the people to each other or whether they reside in the same household.
  • SITE SPECIFIC REFUNDS– At this time (March 28, 2020), IDNR has not have administrative rules allowing for refunds of site specific permit fees already paid, even if those permits cannot now be used. This applies, so far, to site specific Turkey Hunting Permits (Spring Turkey Hunt is cancelled at all State Parks). While this is not yet resolved, please know many legislators are advocating for refunds of fees paid for these missed opportunities. Updates will be provided as available.
  • Greenhouses/Garden Centers. Greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries which previously closed to walk-up sales may re-open as essential businesses on May 1. These stores must follow social distancing requirements and must require that employees and customers wear a face covering. Until that time, garden centers may continue to fulfill online and phone orders and sell products for delivery or pick-up.

GOVERNMENT

  • The Secretary of State Offices are closed through at least April 30, 2020, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Expiration dates for driver’s licenses, identification (ID) cars, vehicle registrations and other transactions are document filing will be extended by 90 days through an emergency rule. For available online services, please visit www.cyberdriveillinois.com. A list of frequently asked questions about SOS Facility closures due to COVID-19 can also be found here.
  • REAL ID DEADLINE EXTENDED. The REAL ID enforcement deadline has been extended beyond October 1, 2020. The new deadline for REAL ID enforcement is October 1, 2021. More information from the Illinois Secretary of State on the new REAL ID deadline can be found here.
  • Most State Parks, Fish and Wildlife Areas, Recreational Areas, and Historic Sites are currently closed.
  • The Office of the Governor is working closely with all state agencies to ensure essential services will continue to be provided, while taking steps to protect the health and safety of state workers.
  • The State Capitol Building, Stratton Office Building (Springfield), Howlett Building (Springfield), and the James R. Thompson Center (Chicago) will be closed to the public until further notice. The essential government functions that the people in this building perform will continue during this time. Elected officials, essential State of Illinois employees and credentialed members of the media will be allowed to enter Capitol Complex buildings.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

  • Executive Order 2020-07, issued on March 16, suspends the Open Meetings Act provisions relating to in-person attendance by members of a public body.
  • Public bodies may choose to postpone or cancel public meetings and are encouraged to do so if they expect over 50 attendees. If a large meetings does need to occur, preventative steps are encouraged to promote social distancing.
  • Freedom of Information Act- Public bodies are encouraged to continue to comply with FOIA and respond wit each request promptly, to the extent they are able to, given the limitation on staff and resources during this time. FOIA extensions are allowable and requestors are encouraged to work with their local government to agree on reasonable and appropriate response times.
  • IML Provides Comprehensive COVID-19 Resources to Municipal Officials. During the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Illinois Municipal League has made it a priority to send comprehensive and timely information to the 1,298 cities, villages and towns throughout Illinois. IML has been sending daily updates to municipal officials highlighting the different state and federal resources being made available from answers to frequently asked questions to loan programs being made available to address the economic impact of the outbreak and much more. IML is posting all of this information and more on our COVID-19 resources page available at iml.org/covid
  • LOCAL GOVERNMENT REVENUE UPDATE (03-25-20)– There is no expected delay in distribution of sales tax revenues due to workforce changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the recent sales tax relief provided to eating and drinking establishments will delay collections from those businesses, which translates into a delay in distributions of those sales tax revenues to local governments. The recent decrease in fuel prices will result in a reduction in sales tax revenues from this commodity, which may negatively impact distributions to local governments. While sales at grocery stores and pharmacies have increased, it’s important to keep in mind State and local governments derive no little to no tax revenues from food nor medicine.

BUSINESSES AND WORKPLACES

  • Illinois Executive Orders require Illinois residents to stay at home except for the purpose of obtaining essential needs. The orders went into effect March 21 and last through at least May 30. The order directs all residents to remain at their place of residence, except to conduct essential activities. All businesses, other than essential businesses and essential government functions, are required to cease all operations. All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside a single family or living unit are prohibited.
  • For those who work at essential businesses, we encourage employers to take proper precautions to keep individuals safe in the workplace. This includes reminding staff to stay home when sick or with a fever; considering a plan for teleworking where feasible; remaining flexible on leave policies; and promoting robust mitigation approaches, such as hand washing, cleaning, and offering hand sanitizer.
  • CURBSIDE PICKUP FROM NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL BUSINESSES– Beginning May 1, retail stores not designated as essential businesses and operations may re-open to fulfill telephone and online orders through pick-up outside the store and delivery. Please review this document detailing essential and non-essential businesses.
  • PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE– The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has developed a list of resources, variances, and deadline extensions for Illinois licensees and consumers impacted by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) here.
  • Residential Remodeling is allowed during the Stay at Home Orders, however, residential remodeling companies must ensure social distancing compliance during their work.

GROCERIES

  • There is plenty of food if everyone practices common-sense and return to normal shopping patterns. As an example, if you shop on Thursday for the following week, then shop on Thursday and get what you need for the following week. Not for the next three weeks.
  • There is ZERO need for hoarding. Hoarding is creating a problem that doesn’t need to exist. Even in countries that have imposed in-home quarantines, people have been allowed free access to necessities.
  • Many grocery stores have set special hours for seniors and vulnerable population to purchase groceries due to COVID-19. A list of those special hours is maintained by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association here.
  • Egg Packaging. To address shortages of eggs at retail, the Department has issued the following guidance for sale of loose pack eggs intended for food service sales for retail sales: Loose pack eggs may be sold at retail as long as all packaging and labeling requirements are met as established in the Illinois Egg and Egg Products Act (410 ILCS 615) and the administrative rules promulgated thereunder (8 IL. Adm. Code 65). The Illinois Department of Public Health has been notified that this method of sale is acceptable and in compliance with the Illinois Egg and Egg Products Act.

RESTAURANTS & BARS

YOU ASKED, SO WE GOT ANSWERS! Can bars and restaurants seek authority to sell pre-mixed drinks/cocktails “to-go” and for “delivery” in the non-original packaging?  The Illinois Liquor Control Commission released a reminder that, for reasons stated herein, the Commission has not authorized the sale of premixed cocktails in non-original containers for off-premises consumption. For the complete release, click here.

 VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

  • The State and the City continue to focus outreach efforts for those most vulnerable to severe illness from the coronavirus, our elderly and immunocompromised residents.
  • Individuals who fall into these categories should take extra caution when attending gatherings of any size and avoid exposure to large groups of people whenever possible.
  • The State has implemented new staffing procedures and strict guidelines restricting visitors at state-operated long-term care facilities and is also working closely with private nursing home and assisted living associations on the adoption of similar guidelines.
  • The CDC has published specific advice for people at higher risk and vulnerable populations here.
  • SENIORS– The Illinois Department on Aging announced a halt to group services and hosted social interactions – increasing one on one services. In-home serviced and home delivered meals will not be interrupted. IDOA is activating the state’s volunteer network to help assist in the efforts. If you know any senior that needs assistance then please visit The Illinois Department on Aging website.
  • Congregate Living Facilities (Staff Masking)– Until further notice, IDPH recommends that congregate living facilities serving vulnerable populations (a skilled nursing facility, an assisted living facility, a group home, a homeless shelter, or a correctional setting) implement a universal-masking policy requiring all staff to wear a mask when working. This includes staff responsible for direct interaction or care involving residents as well as staff who do not normally interact directly with patients and residents, such as administrative, dietary, environmental services, and facility maintenance staff. Universal masking will reduce the risk of transmission from staff who may be carrying SARS-CoV2 but are asymptomatic. In addition, face masks are widely used as an important part of droplet precautions when caring for patients with respiratory infections.
  • Community Day Services (CDS)– All CDS sites were closed March 17. This includes day programs, day training programs, sheltered workshops, and/or any other day site serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) funded by the Division.
  • Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILA)– DHS understands that CDS closure will require additional staffing in our CILAs. DDD will be adjusting all award letters to provide 24 hour support for all individuals effective March 17, 2020 through May 30.
  • 45 Department of Rehabilitation Services will close until at least June 1. existing or prospective customers can call 1-877-581-3690 to receive assistance regarding DRS programs and services that are designed to allow those with disabilities throughout the state to live, learn, and work independently. These services include in-home services, assistive technology, vocational and occupational rehabilitation, educational services for individuals with all types of disabilities, including deaf or hard of hearing Illinoisans, blind people, and people with low vision, along with other supports.
  • Family and Community Resource Centers (FCRCs) in the State will close to the public beginning April 16. Many other staff will work remotely during this time. FCRCs are the public facing benefits offices that bring nutrition and medical supports to individuals and families across the state. Critical nutrition benefits are still available online, by phone, and in person for emergency situations (Benefits are available online at ABE.illinois.gov or by phone at 1-833-2-FIND-HELP).

TRANSPORTATION

  • NON-COMMERCIAL– The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has announced all roads, bridges and rest areas will remain open 24/7, barring necessary construction or maintenance closures. Travelers can visit www.GettingAroundIllinois.com for more information on rest area locations. However, you should only travel if it is essential to your work or health.
    • YOU ASKED, SO WE GOT ANSWERS— Does the Stay-at-Home order include travel for non-custodial parents? Executive Order 10 permits travel across state lines for essential purposes, including taking care of children and other relatives.
  • COMMERCIAL– In order to increase the flow of goods and ensure supply chain demands can be met, the Illinois Department of Transportation has been ordered to increase truck weight limits on Illinois roads to 88,000 pounds (currently 80,000 pounds) for a 5-axle vehicle of 10 percent above the legal load for vehicles with fewer axles. Additionally, the Governor has waived all overweight fees for the transportation of emergency relief and supplies.  Increased weight limits and fee waivers expire April 30, 2020.
    • CDL. Effective April 10, employers who are registered with the Secretary of State’s office as Third Party Testers can send in a completion form for each student that indicates the student took the road exam and the results of that exam. A commercial driver’s license will be processed in Springfield and mailed to the driver. If the employer is not a Third Party tester, then the applicant will have to wait for Secretary of State Driver Services facilities to open.
    • Vehicle Emissions Testing Stations Temporarily Closed– The Illinois EPA will temporarily suspend vehicle emissions testing, including at all centralized and decentralized inspection station locations.  This suspension is effective Saturday, March 21, 2020, through April 30, 2020, and may be extended depending on circumstances.  The Illinois Air Team Call Center will remain open and available to address motorist emissions testing inquiries.  Motorists with questions may call 844-258-9071 Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Saturday from 7:30 AM to 1:00 PM or visit the Illinois Air Team website at http://illinoisairteam.net
  • MEAL DELIVERY– UberEats has made the decision to waive the delivery fee for independent local restaurant food delivery, through the popular food delivery app.  The company is also offering “contactless deliveries” to limit exposure between individuals.

PUBLIC SAFETY/ LEGAL/ CONSUMER PROTECTION

  • CONSUMER PROTECTION. The Office of the Illinois Attorney General is taking action against reports of price gouging on critical products tied to the pandemic. Consumers should report instances of unfair practices to the Attorney General. The Office also warns against COVID-19 marketing scams. Complaints can be filed here.
  • Tips to avoid scammers taking advantage of stimulus checks.
  • LEGAL
    • NOTARIZING/ WITNESSINGAre individuals obligated to attend in person any legal witnessing such as getting documents notarized or witnessing signing a will? Per Executive Order 14, any act of witnessing required by Illinois law may be completed remotely by via two-way audio-video communication technology provided certain requirements are met. Please refer to the Executive Order 14 for further guidance.
  • Firearm Owners Identification Card/ Concealed Carry Licenses. On April 9, the Illinois State Police filed emergecy rules regarding FOID & CCL renewals. These rules are designed to provide FOID card holders and CCL relief from the renewal requirements during the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
    • These rule changes are as follows:
      • FOID card holders, who submit their renewal application will remain valid during the duration of the state’s disaster proclamation and for a period of 12 months following the termination of the disaster, even if their renewal application is/was not submitted prior to expiration.
      • CCL licensees, who submit their renewal application, will remain valid during the duration of the state’s disaster proclamation and for a period of 12 months following its termination, even if their CCL renewal application was not submitted prior to expiration.
      • CCL licensees will not be required to immediately submit proof of three-hour training with their CCL renewal application.
      • CCL licensees will need to submit proof of their three-hour renewal training within 12 months following the termination of the state’s disaster proclamation in order to maintain the validity of their CCL license.
    • ISP will continue to enforce both FOID and CCL prohibitors. FOID card holders who receive revocation notices shall return their FOID and Firearm Disposition Record form to the Illinois State Police. CCL holders who receive revocation notices shall return their CCL license to the Illinois State Police.
    • These new rules are effective immediately (beginning April 9)
    • Illinois State Police UPDATED FOID and CCL FAQ website– https://www.ispfsb.com/Public/Faq.aspx
  • FACE COVERINGS- CCL HOLDERS- According to the Illinois State Police, the Governor’s Executive Order regarding the wearing of masks or protective facial coverings in public settings during this serious global pandemic was not intended to negatively impact permit holders under the Illinois Concealed Carry Act while legally carrying firearms.  The Executive Order does not require or suggest that law enforcement should arrest or criminally charge conceal carry license permit holders for wearing protective masks while in public as long as they are complying with the other provisions of the Illinois Concealed Carry Act and are not committing any other violations of Illinois law.  ISP has confidence that law enforcement officers across the state will use appropriate judgment and that elected State’s Attorneys will likewise exercise sound prosecutorial discretion.
  • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. The Illinois Department of Human Services is dedicating $1.2 million to increase the capacity of its current statewide network of services and to streamline access to emergency shelter for individuals and families impacted by domestic and sexual violence. Those experiencing domestic violence and/or abuse, plus anyone concerned about a friend, family member, or loved one, can call toll free at 1-877-TO-END-DV (1-877-863-6338) to be connected to shelter through existing local domestic violence shelters or connected to emergency shelter through available hotels and motels. Victims and families can also visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline at http://www.thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

  • Legislative session cancelled until at least May.  Due to concerns over the potential spread of COVID-19, the Illinois General Assembly has cancelled the session days  planned until at least May. The deadline for House Bills out of Committees, which had previously been rescheduled for April 30, will be extended to Thursday, May 7. The 3rd Reading deadline for House Bills, which had previously been rescheduled for May 8, will be extended to Friday, May 15.

STATE BUDGET- REVENUE & SPENDING

  • STATE REVENUE OUTLOOK FROM COGFA (MARCH 3, 2020)– The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA) issued its March 2020 report showing that good cash flow was coming into Illinois state government during the final weeks prior to the COVID-19 stay-at-home shutdown.  The two largest sources of State general revenue, income taxes and sales taxes, showed healthy cash flow during the month that ended on March 31.  Personal income tax revenues were up by $188 million over the prior-year March figure, up almost 9%, signaling healthy hiring and tax payments automatically withdrawn from worker paychecks.  Sales tax revenues were up $19 million, almost 3%, signaling healthy retail sales at online and bricks-and-mortar shops. The full CGFA report includes narrative commentary on the negative effects that will be imposed upon State revenues in April and following months as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic.  Many Americans have been laid off, with 10 million unemployment claims filed during the final two weeks of March.  This will affect State income tax and sales tax receipts.  Smaller but significant sources of revenue are being affected or, as in the case of gambling tax revenues earned at riverboat casinos, entirely cut off.  Income from federal aid is increasing sharply, but not enough to make up for the lost tax revenue.  Legislators will be working closely with CGFA staff in the to get greater clarity on the new revenue picture facing the State.
  • Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) PROJECTIONS FROM GOMB (as of April 15, 2020)- According to the Governor’s Office of Management & Budget (GOMB), they are projecting a $2.7 billion revenue decrease in FY20 below their projected revenue estimates in February. These reductions include:
    • $1.6 billion in personal and corporate income taxes
    • $737 million in sales taxes
    • $150 million in lottery revenue
    • $57 million in casino and video-gaming revenue
    • $77 million in other sources
  • GOMB estimates that some of those reductions will be offset by an increase in federal resources, including $450 million from an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate (FMAP).
  • This results in an estimated $2.2. billion revenue decrease in FY20. In order to get through FY20 with a balanced budget, GOMB has been working with the Treasurer and Comptroller’s Offices. The Treasurer’s Office plans to delay repayment of $400 million in investment borrowing used in FY20 until FY21. Additionally, GOMB has a plan to use $323 million in previously authorized interfund borrowing.
  • On top of the above revenue relief items, GOMB plans to issue $1.2 billion in authorized short-term borrowing, which will have to be repaid within 12 months. With this plan, GOMB projects an FY20 budget deficit of $255 million.
  • Read the full report here.
  • Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) PROJECTIONS FROM GOMB (as of April 15, 2020)- GOMB is preliminarily revising FY21 state source revenues downwards by $4.6 billion compared to their projections released in February. These reductions include:
    • $2.4 billion in personal/corporate income taxes
    • $1.5 billion in sales tax
    • $92 million in lottery revenue
    • $7 million in casino and gaming – assuming they can reopen.
    • $472 million in other sources
    • The FY21 budget proposal included a $170 million surplus in the income tax refund fund that would then transfer to GRF in fall 2020. Due to filing date delay and the projected drop in revenue due to COVID-19 – GOMB does not believe there will be a surplus in the refund fund.
    • The FY21 budget proposal also assumed a $20 million surplus in the Tourism Fund that would be transferred to GRF. However, GOMB believes that that Hotel Tax Revenue will not provide a surplus.
  • GOMB concluded that, all things considered, the projected budget deficit in FY21 will be $7.4 billion – depending on if the constitutional amendment on the graduated income tax is approved by voters in November. This assumption is based on spending at the Governor’s proposed FY21 level and includes:
    • $4.6 billion downward revision in GRF
    • $1.6 billion in borrowing that we will have to be repaid in FY21
  • Read the full report here.
  • Current State Spending on COVID-19- Comptroller Mendoza launched an online portal tracking COVID-19 expenditures.  The portal, which is to be updated daily, will show COVID 19-related purchases and amounts spent on supplies.  The portal is available at: illinoiscomptroller.gov/covid19-information/

ACTIVITIES FOR ADULTS WHILE SOCIAL DISTANCING

CENSUS

Complete the 2020 Census Online.  Illinois residents can now complete the census questionnaire online at my2020census.gov.  Completing the census online will ensure that Illinoisans get both the representation and federal funding for the critical services that they deserve,

The online questionnaire is the quickest and easiest way to get counted in Illinois and can be accessed from a smart phone, tablet, laptop, computer and terminals at local libraries. The census is nine questions long and will take less than 10 minutes to complete.

An accurate count of Illinois’ population is essential to ensure the State receives the funding needed to properly care for its residents and provide critical services and programs. In 2015, Illinois received $19,738,866,367, or approximately $1,535 per capita, in federal assistance for sixteen programs. Failure to count every Illinois resident will have devastating effects on Illinois’ ability to meet the needs of its residents. Even a one-percent undercount would result in the loss of $19,557,435 per year, for a decade, resulting in a total loss of $195,574,350 for the State of Illinois. Additionally, the number of seats Illinois has in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next 10 years will be determined by the census count this year. Illinoisans deserve proportionate representation in the U.S. Congress, and a fair and accurate census count is how we ensure that happens.

The Census Bureau has extended the window for field data collection and self-responses to October 31, 2020.

If you are interested in viewing Census response rates, the US Census has launched an interactive tool. You can view response rates by date and geographic region. For more information about the US Census, please visit www.2020census.gov.

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION OFFERS FREE WEBINARS AND TRAININGS. With all in-person meetings currently canceled or postponed until after May 31, U of I Extension is expanding their online webinars and trainings. Check back frequently for new upcoming or recorded webinars. These are offered by Illinois Extension professionals unless otherwise noted. Learn more here.

 

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