COVID-19 Update: On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 11,101 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 196 additional deaths. As of Wednesday night, 5,138 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 1,081 patients were in the ICU and 606 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
This week, the state’s COVID-19 case positivity rate fell below 10 percent for the first time in a month. The seven-day rolling average positivity rate stands at 9.5%. The seven-day statewide test positivity is 11.4%.
Members of the Illinois National Guard staff have been sent to the LaSalle and Quincy Veterans’ homes to assist with COVID-19 testing and screening at the facilities. National Guard staff are scheduled to assist at the Quincy and Manteno Veteran’s Homes beginning Monday, December 14th.
Governor Pritzker anticipates the state will take delivery of its 109,000 doses of Pfizer-manufactured vaccines next week and begin its Phase 1a distribution per CDC guidelines. The vaccines will go to front line healthcare workers and long-term care facilities.Dosing is a two-step process, with three weeks between.
The state is home to 655,000 frontline healthcare workers and 110,000 long term care residents. National statistics indicate that long term care residents account for 6% of COVID cases, but 40% of its deaths.
Because production of the vaccine is expected to be fairly rapid, and other pharmaceutical companies have products on the cusp of FDA approval or in the development pipeline, all 109,000 vaccines will be administered. The 50 counties in the state with the highest (per capita) death rates will be receiving the vaccine. IDPH has purchased 20 special freezers for the Pfizer vaccine, as it must be stored at -70 degrees Celsius (although once thawed, the medicine can be stored for five days at regular refrigerator temps).
IDPH will be working in partnership with the 10 hospitals that are part of the regional hospital coordination plan in distributing the vaccines. Local health departments will then coordinate with the hospitals in the given area to key in on high-risk and critical healthcare workers in administering the vaccine. A federal effort is in place with CVS and Walgreens to directly vaccinate residents of long-term care facilities.
As progress is made in Phase 1a and then Phase 1b is implemented, the hope is more healthcare providers in the state can place their own vaccine orders through ICARE, the Illinois Comprehensive Automated Immunization Registry Exchange. This web-based immunization record sharing platform will allow both public and private providers to share their records on immunization.
Illinois Commission on Poverty Elimination and Economic Security: Citing a commitment to improve the lives of low- and middle-income Illinoisans, Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Human Services announced the launch of the Illinois Commission on Poverty Elimination and Economic Security. The Commission was signed into law earlier this year as part of the Intergenerational Poverty Act. The Commission is developing a strategic plan — to be released next Spring — focusing on ensuring long-term, multigenerational economic mobility regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation or identity, ability, or geographic location.Specific goals for The Commission include reducing poverty in Illinois by 50% by 2026, eliminating child poverty by 2031 and eliminating all poverty by 2036. The 25 members of the Commission are drawn from the General Assembly; the judiciary; and 20 public leaders representing constituencies impacted by poverty.More information and a complete listing of membership is here.
SECRETARY OF STATE
Due to the COVID-19 crises, Secretary of State Jesse White has extended the closure of Driver Services facilities until Jan. 5, 2021. Select facilities are open to serve new drivers only; see the list and additional info at www.cyberdriveillinois.com.
Possible candidates for the office of Secretary of State are making their intentions known, with long-time officeholder Jesse White choosing not to run again in 2022. Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia is among those eyeing a run, and has formed an exploratory committee to help evaluate her options. Others considering throwing their hats in the ring for the SOS position are Alexi Giannoulias (former State Treasurer); state Sen. Michael Hastings; Ald. Walter Burnett; and Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough.
NOVEMBER ELECTION UPDATE:
Records Set: The Illinois State Board of Elections on Dec. 4 certified the results of the Nov. 3 General Election. New records were set for total registered voters and total number of votes cast. The voter participation rate of 72.92% is the highest since 1992.
The ISBE estimates that voters exercised the modes of casting votes — in person, by mail, and early voting — in roughly equal amounts of two million votes each.
Seeking Recounts: State Rep. John Cabello has filed papers with the Rockford Board of Elections for a recount of 10 Rockford precincts. Final results have Dave Vella beating the Republican by 239 votes of 53,301 votes cast. Cabello has held the seat since Aug. 2012.
Also seeking a recount is state Sen. Jim Oberweis, who sought the Congressional seat now held by Lauren Underwood. All seven counties within the 14th Congressional district are a part of the discovery recount request. According to unofficial results, Underwood garnered 5,374 more votes than Oberweis. The first-term Democrat declared victory on Nov. 18.
101st GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
Jackie Haas was sworn in December 8th as the new 79th District State Representative. Haas is succeeding former Representative Parkhurst, who was sworn in as Circuit Judge on December 7th. Parkhurst has served as State Representative since 2017.
Representative Fred Crespo filedHB5867 which would, among other aspects, reduce by 20% the capitation rates for managed care organizations during the duration of a disaster proclamation like the current one (and any subsequent ones) issued by the Gov. on the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Department of Healthcare and Family Services establishes the capitation rates. Senator Dave Koehler filed companion legislation, SB 4207, in the Senate.
Former State Senator Martin Sandoval passed away December 5th from complications due to COVID-19.
Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission: The Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission met on Dec. 8 with the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget to discuss how Illinois is distributing federal funds issued under COVID-19 relief programs. The Commission — which draws its membership from both legislative chambers and both political parties — is tasked with monitoring the state’s overall economic recovery in the face of the pandemic.
Illinois has received $3.5 billion from the federal government under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The monies have been used to provide assistance for the state’s residents, local governments, and small businesses. Chief among the Illinois measures have been the Business Interruption Grant; the Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance programs; and the Local Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency effort.
To date, $1.7 billion of the federal assistance has been disbursed. Commitments are in place for the rest of the funding and by early spring 2021 will be allocated.
This month the Commission began live streaming its meetings.The meeting schedule for the Restore Illinois Collaborative Commission can be found here. The livestream can be viewed here.
102nd GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
The Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability published their new legislator publication on the 102nd General Assembly, including detailed information on incoming members, is here.
Senate President Don Harmon was selected by the Senate Democratic Caucus to continue to lead the chamber during the 102nd General Assembly. Harmon was first elected Senate President in January of 2020 after former Senate President John Cullerton resigned.
The House Black Caucus endorsed House Speaker Michael Madigan for another term as House Speaker following a candidate forum last week. Madigan reportedly told the caucus that he was best positioned to lead the caucus efforts on redistricting and shepherding through any tax increase that the Governor might request. In endorsing Speaker Madigan, the Caucus said “we believe our caucus is in a more advantageous position under the leadership of Speaker Madigan to deliver on our priorities”.
The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus will operate under new leadership for the 102nd General Assembly. Representative Sonya Harper will Chair the caucus, replacing Senator Kimberly Lightford who served for six years in the position. Senator Emil Jones, III will serve as Treasurer, Representative Lakesia Collins will serve as Secretary and Representative Curtis Tarver will serve as Sargent at Arms. Senator Robert Peters was elected to Chair to the Senate Black Caucus. An election is expected soon to fill the House Caucus Chair position.
The Senate Higher Education Committee will hold a virtual hearing on December 14th at 1pm to discuss the Discovery Partners Institute and University of Illinois SHIELD Testing Program.The House Veterans’ Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on December 16th at 10:00 AM in the Bilandic Building, Room C – 600 in Chicago to hear testimony from agencies regarding the State’s COVID-19 mitigation at LaSalle Veterans’ Home.The 102nd General Assembly is sworn into office at noon on January 13th.