August 28, 2020 Update

COVID-19 Update: On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced 1,707 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 24 additional deaths. IDPH is reporting a total of 227,334 cases, including 7,977 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from August 20 – August 26 is 4.1%. As of Wednesday night, 1,631 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 390 patients were in the ICU and 151 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

Governor Pritzker issued new face covering requirements for patrons of bars and restaurants in Illinois. Effective Wednesday, August 26th, patrons must wear a mask during any interaction with wait staff, food service workers, and other employees at bars and restaurants. The guidance will also apply to other facilities with food services areas such as indoor recreational facilities, museums and entertainment venues. The guidance applies to both indoor and outdoor settings statewide. The new guidance is here.
Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee Counties, became the second region in Illinois to reach an 8% positivity rate for three consecutive days. New mitigations for the region began on August 26th.   The new mitigations do not currently apply to schools and the measures will remain in effect for two weeks. The Governor warned that additional mitigations are likely if the region’s metrics do not improve during that time. The mitigations imposed for Region 7 are different than the mitigations imposed on Region 4 last week. View the Region 7 mitigations here.
COVID-19 cases continue to soar in Region 4, the metro east region. The region now reports a 9.8% positivity rate. Governor Pritzker warned that additional mitigations are likely to imposed at the end of the initial two-week mitigation period. Pritzker was criticized for imposing less stringent mitigations on this region from the outset. 
Inmate Transfers: The Fourth Appellate District stayed a Logan County Judge’s prior ruling that the Department of Corrections must accept inmates within 14 days of a transfer. Governor Pritzker halted prison transfers from county jails during the pandemic.
Executive Orders: Executive Order 2020-52  Reissues most executive orders, extending a majority of the provisions through September 19, 2020.
Executive Order 2020-53 Institutes public health restrictions and mitigations for Region 7, comprised of Will and Kankakee Counties.
Quantum Information Science Research: Illinois was chosen to host two of the five new National Quantum Information Science Research Centers led by Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in affiliation with the University of Chicago. Each project is projected to received $115 million in federal funding to support breakthroughs in quantum information and science. The Quantum Exchange is hub for researchers, both academic and industrial, oriented around the goal of advancing efforts in the science and engineering of quantum information.
November 2020 Elections: The General Assembly passed a law in May requiring the state’s election authorities to mail absentee ballot applications to 6.4 million registered voters. As of Monday, 937,257 ballots from 70 of Illinois’ 102 counties have been requested from the State Board of Elections.  Only 430,000 absentee ballots were cast in the 2018 general election. The sheer volume of absentee ballots cast this November could delay final results in close races. 

101ST GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The Senate Special Committee on Public Safety will hold a joint virtual hearing with the Senate Criminal Law Committee on September 1 at noon to discuss police training and use of force. The hearing will be conducted remotely via Zoom and be broadcast live on the General Assembly website. Members of the public may submit electronic testimony or electronic witness slips via the General Assembly website in advance of the hearing
Senator Terry Link announced that he is stepping down as chairman of the Lake County Democratic Party effective September 15th. It is reported that Link, who is facing federal tax evasion charges, will resign his Senate seat prior to September 15th. If this happens, Link, in his capacity as party chairman, would be able to appoint his Senate successor. Local party officials have scheduled an emergency meeting for August 31st presumably to consider removing Link from the party position prior to September 15th. If Link resigns his Senate seat prior to September 11th, a special election will be triggered to fill the remainder of his term. If he resigned after September 11th, the successor would serve out the remainder of the term through 2022.