COVID-19 Update: Governor Pritzker reversed course and announced Monday that all Illinois regions will remain under Tier III COVID mitigations until further notice. Under Illinois’ resurgence mitigation plan, each of Illinois’ eleven regions are allowed to scale back mitigation measures once certain metrics are reached. Instead of allowing restrictions to loosen on a regional basis, the Governor made the decision to keep the enhanced restrictions statewide. This followed a discussion with Dr. Fauci and other public health officials who are concerned about the possibility of a post-Thanksgiving surge in COVID cases across the country. Dr. Fauci warned that “now is not the time to scale back mitigation efforts.”
On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 10,959 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 192 additional deaths. Please note, some data reported to IDPH is delayed from the holiday weekend. On Thursday, labs reported 106,778 tests. As of Wednesday night, 5,653 in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 1,170 patients were in the ICU and 693 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. The seven-day statewide case positivity is 10.4%. The seven-day statewide test positivity is 12.3%.
Illinois is preparing to receive its first vaccine shipment in the coming weeks. On Tuesday, the Governor indicated Illinois may receive 109,000 vaccine doses in the initial shipment, although the exact number may vary. Dr. Fauci indicates that by June 2021, everyone who wants a COVID-19 vaccine should be able to get one.
On another topic, some Democratic Senators are calling on Governor Prizker to introduce a new moratorium on utility disconnections. While several utility companies have voluntarily enacted moratoriums, Senators Fine, Villivalam, Gillispie, Morrison, Peters, and Villanueva all sent a letter to the Governor urging him to enact a mandatory moratorium on utility shutoffs.
Department of Insurance:
Robert Muriel, Director of the Illinois Department of Insurance, announced he will leave his position on December 11, 2020. The Department’s Chief Deputy Director of Product Lines, Shannon Whalen, will fill in as Interim Acting Director.
The following individuals were appointed by the Governor:
· Rachael Sinnen will serve as an Arbitrator for the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
· Raychel Wesley will serve as an Arbitrator for the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
· Monica LeGrand will serve on the Health Facilities and Services Review Board.
· Brad Cole will serve on the permanent Board of Trustees for the Police Officers’ and Firefighters’ Pension Investment Funds.
· Chuck Sullivan will serve on the permanent Board of Trustees for the Firefighters’ Pension Investment Fund.· Julie Pryde will continue to serve on the State Board of Health.
· Esther Sciammarella will continue to serve on the State Board of Health.
· Christopher Woodrow will serve on the State Board of Health.
REPORT ON WORKER PROTECTION UNIT TASK FORCE
The Worker Protection Unit Task Force report was issued Nov. 24 by Attorney General Kwame Raoul, spotlighting issues confronting workers in Illinois and recommendations to ensure protection of workforce members. Created in Jan. 2020, the Task Force drew its membership from the Illinois departments of Human Rights; Labor; and Employment Security; state’s attorneys, the Workers’ Compensation Commission, and the office of the Attorney General. According to Raoul’s office, the Task Force heard testimony that identified challenges facing Illinois workers like “dangerous working conditions for low-wage workers, wage theft, misclassification, erosion of employee protections and benefits, employers circumventing Illinois’ prevailing wage law, harassment, and discrimination toward women and people of color.” The COVID-19 pandemic during 2020 further highlighted severe issues Illinois workers were forced to try to navigate.
The Worker Protection Unit Task Force recommendations include sharing data and information among agencies; creating enforcement working groups on specific subject matters; and ensuring regular communications among stakeholders to exchange information and insights.View the entire Task Force report here.
The City of Chicago released a summary of the 11 responses to their Request for Information for the Chicago casino. The respondents included Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, Christiansen Capital Advisors, Development Management Associates (DMA), DL3 Realty, Hard Rock International, JDL, MGM Resorts International, MGM Growth Properties, R2 Companies, Rush Street Gaming and Related Midwest, and Wynn Resorts. Eight of the respondents said the new casino should be located downtown. More information is here.
101st GENERAL ASSEMBLY
House Speaker Michael Madigan signaled that he intends to run for another term as Speaker for the 102nd General Assembly which begins January 13, 2021. At present, 19 members of the House Democratic caucus have publicly stated they will not support Madigan’s reelection as Speaker, leaving Madigan short of the 60 votes needed for retaining the top post. In a statement, Madigan said “the decision on the next speaker of the Illinois House will be made at a caucus, after a full discussion of the issues facing our state and the qualification of the candidates.” A caucus meeting has not been scheduled.
In response to their request for information from Commonwealth Edison, the House Special Investigation Committee received more than 100 documents from the utility. Representative Welch, who chairs the committee, announced the next hearing would be December 14th at 1 pm in Springfield.
Representative Welch, who chairs the House Special Investigating Committee, was diagnosed over the weekend with COVID-19. He is isolating at home with mild symptoms.
Senator Iris Martinez was sworn in Tuesday as Cook County Circuit Court Clerk. Her Senate replacement has not been named.
Representative Lindsay Parkhurst is resigning effective Sunday, December 6th. Jackie Haas won the November election to replace Parkhurst, who did not seek reelection.
The Senate Higher Education Committee will hold a virtual hearing on December 14th at 1 pm to discuss the Discovery Partners Institute and University of Illinois SHIELD Testing Program. Members of the public may submit electronic testimony or electronic witness slips via the General Assembly website in advance of the hearing.
Key Dates:January 13, 2021 – 102nd General Assembly Inauguration