101st General Assembly
The Illinois Senate created 17 bipartisan working groups to begin the process of identifying possible legislative responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and prioritizing the urgency of legislation. The Senators will meet by conference call. No word on how or if the groups will allow input from stakeholders. A preliminary list of membership is here . Membership is subject to change.The General Assembly remains adjourned until further notice.
As of yesterday, Illinois is reporting 1,344 new cases of COVID-19 bringing the state’s total positive cases to 16,422 in 81 counties. Illinois is reporting 66 deaths in the past 24 hours, down from a record 82 deaths on Wednesday. To date, 538 lives have been lost due to COVID-19 in Illinois. While cases and deaths continue to increase, according to Governor Pritzker, Illinois’ rate of rise is looking “less exponential”, which suggests that Illinois is bending the curve. He cautioned that now is not the time to give up; Illinoisans must continue to stay home.
Return to Normal: When asked about when we can return to normal and if we could go through this again later in the year, Governor Pritzker noted that before we can truly move on and return to normal, we must have the ability to administer widespread testing, perform contact tracing, and the means to treat those infected. According to the Governor, these are key elements in the battle against COVID-19 and the spread, even before there is an approved vaccine.
As we approach April 30th, the end of the current stay-at-home order, the Governor noted we have to determine how we move forward because a total return to normal instantaneously will likely cause a rebound of cases. Pritzker alluded to the fact that rules will be put in place to phase-in and safely roll out a return to normal. When asked about summer events, the Governor further cautioned that he would not recommend having large groups of people getting together, even during the summer months.
Testing Capacity: Illinois’ testing capacity is lagging behind where Governor Pritzker wanted it to be by this point. Illinois had planned for the ability to perform 10,000 COVID-19 tests/day by this point in time. Unfortunately, this week Illinois will have the ability to administer roughly 6,000 tests, falling short of the goal of 10,000 tests. Illinois acquired 5 RNA machines with the ability to conduct several thousand tests daily. Unfortunately, the machines are not providing the projected output and are not producing valid results. The Department of Public Health is working with the manufacturer to find a solution.
Illinois’ rapid testing capacity is also lagging. While the state had an agreement to secure 88,000 tests from Illinois manufacturer Abbott Labs, the federal government intervened and redirected the tests elsewhere. Illinois received only 15 rapid tests machines and 120 tests from the federal government’s allocation. Abbott Labs yesterday committed to the Governor that Illinois facilities can access swabs directly through them, rather than the federal government, which will allow for more rapid testing.
Illinois will be taking over the drive-through sites established by the federal HHS at Walgreens and Walmart effective April 10th. On the downside, in the turn over, Illinois will not be provided as many swabs for testing from the federal government as the Governor would like.
Healthcare Capacity: Governor Pritzker reports that as of April 6th, 3,680 individuals are hospitalized in Illinois due to COVID-19. Statewide, 43% of total hospital beds, 35% of ICU beds and 57% of ventilators are available. 43% of ICU beds and 29% of ventilators are occupied by COVID-19 patients.As of Wednesday, Illinois received 2,300 applications for temporary licenses from healthcare workers seeking to rejoin Illinois healthcare workforce. California shipped 100 ventilators to Illinois last night and Illinois has received 600 ventilators from the federal government. In addition, Illinois has also order 3,620 ventilators with the first batch arriving in April and the remainder due in the coming months.
Business Filings: According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security, effective immediately, employers will not face a penalty fee for filing their February 2020 wage reports late. Employers are still encouraged to file their February 2020 wage reports, which were due to the department on March 31, 2020, as soon as possible. These filings will assist the Department in making monetary eligibility determinations for workers who have been impacted by layoffs and job losses as a result of COVID-19 and are currently filing unemployment benefit claims.
Business Assistance: Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, in partnership with Accion Serving Illinois and Indiana, awarded $14 million in small grants to over 700 small bars, restaurants, and hotels. 12,000 businesses applied for funding and grantees were selected via a random lottery conducted by Accion. Bars and restaurants received an average grant of $14,000 while hotels received an average grant of $30,000. The grants can be used to support working capital, job training, and technology to support shifts in operations including increased use of carry out and delivery.
DCEO continues to identify new resources and services for businesses impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including resources under the federal CARES Act including the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, EIDL Emergency Advance, and the Paycheck Protection Program. A list of resources available to small businesses is here .
COVID-19 Relief Fund: The COVID-19 Relief Fund announced $5.5 million will be distributed to 30 organizations throughout Illinois to provide assistance with food, shelter, health care, mortgage assistance and help with utilities. The Fund has raised $28 million to date.Illinois Schools: The Illinois State Board of Education issued new guidance for Illinois schools. The additional guidance is here .
Economic Impact Report: The University of Illinois System’s Institute of Government and Public Affairs released a report focused on the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s budget. According to the IGPA, “this report is intended to identify fiscal pressure points in a timely enough manner that the information can be useful to policymakers currently working on the state’s budget.”FOID/Concealed Carry: The Illinois State Police issued emergency rules this week to address renewals of Firearm Owner Identification and Concealed Carry Licenses during the COVID-19 epidemic.
The changes include:
- 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.