November 23, 2020 Update

COVID-19 Update: Beginning Friday, November 20th, all of Illinois entered Tier 3 mitigations designed to slow the spread of COVID-19. The new mitigations fall just short of a mandatory stay-at-home order. The Governor noted that a stay-at-home order is a last resort if the Tier 3 mitigations are not effective at “bending the curve” to slow transmission of the virus. A full copy of the Tier 3 mitigations is here
Highlights from Tier 3 mitigations include: 

  • Office employees who can work remotely should work remotely.  
  • Retail settings may operate at no more than 25% capacity with the exception of grocery and pharmacies, which may operate at 50% capacity.  
  • Personal care services can operate at the lesser of 25 clients or 25% capacity. Face coverings must be worn by clients and providers. Suspends any services where a face covering cannot be worn.
  • Health and fitness centers can operate at no more than 25% capacity and face coverings must be worn during exercise. Indoor group classes are prohibited. Locker rooms are closed. 
  • Hotel room occupancy is limited to registered guests only and event and meeting space is closed.  
  • New guidelines are issued for manufacturing facilities, including allowing only staff and key personnel into the facility.
  • Funerals are limited to 10 people. 
  • Indoor group recreation and sporting activities are prohibited, including park districts and travel leagues.  
  • Casinos and gaming are closed. 
  • School districts are not subject to the Tier 3 mitigations The Governor advised they should follow extensiveguidelines released by IDPH and ISBE in August and decide on in-person and remote learning at the local level, based on the unique needs of their communities. The Illinois Federation of Teachers, one of the state’s largest teacher’s unions, is calling on Pritzker to move all schools to remote learning statewide. 
  • Child care facilities may continue to operate subject to DCFS guidelines.

Each region will be assessed individually and can move back to Phase 2 when target metrics are achieved. In order for a region to move back to Tier 2 mitigations, a region must experience less than 12 percent test positivity rates for three consecutive days AND greater than 20 percent available intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital bed availability AND declining COVID hospitalizations in 7 out of the last 10 days.Governor Pritzker continues to remind Illinoisans that the virus is not a hoax. COVID-19 is now the third leading cause of death in Illinois, behind heart disease and cancer. Over 1,000 Illinoisans have died from the virus in just the past two weeks. Hospitalizations are now surpassing the highest levels in the spring. 
On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 14,612 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 168 additional deaths. To date, IDPH is reporting a total of 621,383 cases — including 11,178 deaths — in 102 counties in Illinois. On Thursday, labs reported 113,447 tests. As of Wednesday night, 6,037 individuals in Illinois were in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 1,192 patients were in the ICU and 587 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators. 
The preliminary 7-day statewide case positivity is 12.0%. The preliminary 7-day statewide test positivity is 14.0%. Hope is on the horizon. Two drug manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, will be seeking emergency authorization from the FDA for COVID-19 vaccines. If approved, vaccines could begin being distributed to front line workers and other vulnerable populations by the end of the year. A copy of Illinois’ mass vaccine distribution plan is here.
In addition, this week the FDA approved the first COVID-19 rapid result home test. The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit is a single use test and requires prescription authorization and is approved for at-home use for persons age 14 or older. The test is also approved for use in point-of-care settings for all ages.  
As COVID cases continue to surge, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White closed Driver Services facilities to the public for in-person transactions for the next three weeks. Facilities will reopen Monday, December 7th. Online services remain available during this time. 
Congresswoman Cheri Bustos announced she has tested positive for the COVID virus. She is self-isolating at home.Executive Orders:   Executive Order 2020-71  Reissues most executive orders, extending a majority of the provisions through December 12, 2020.
Executive Order 2020-72 Extends the moratorium on evictions. Under the order, a person or entity may not commence a residential eviction action. All state, county, and local law enforcement officers are instructed to cease enforcement of orders of eviction for residential premises. This shall not be construed as relieving any individual of the obligation to pay rent or comply with a lease or rental agreement.
Executive Order 2020-73 Imposes Tier 3 mitigations statewide.  Budget Update: In a new report released last Friday, the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget estimates a $3.9 billion deficit for FY 21. The projected shortfall grows to $4.8 billion for FY 22 and beyond. A full copy of the report is here. Lawmakers and the Governor are expected to tackle the current budget shortfall when they reconvene in January. Pritzker has noted that budget cuts are on the table and they will be “deep and painful.” Once cuts are identified, the Governor will explore other revenue options with the General Assembly. 
Equity-centric Healthcare Plan: The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services issued an equity-centric healthcare plan – an approach that considers the social and structural components of health. The result of a partnership with the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and HFS, the plan emerged from statewide community listening meetings and in-depth research. The plan represents a significant shift in healthcare delivery. The proposal ishere. An executive summary ishere.
If put into place, the HFS plan will:

  • underwrite pilot projects and planning grants that focus on both social determinants of health and healthcare;
  • stress collaboration among organizations at the community level (including one unrelated healthcare provider); and
  •  ensure that projects have a measurable, primary focus on health equity.

The pilot projects will be organized into three categories: cross-provider partnerships; safety net hospital partnerships; and critical access or distressed hospital partnerships.As the projects are implemented, they will be monitored and evaluated; successful projects will then “graduate” into larger healthcare transformation projects replete with additional funding and benchmarks.
The Department is seeking an initial $150 million to start the project, pending review and input from the General Assembly.  

High-Speed Internet: Addressing gaps in high speed internet – its access, affordability, and adoption – is the goal of the new $750,000 Digital Equity Package announced by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Broadband. State, local, nonprofit, and philanthropic support will be marshalled to help communities identify and respond to existing broadband equity gaps and to leverage funding to ensure long-term equity in broadband. 
Three channels for funding and collaboration are available:

  • Broadband READY grants — $250,000 earmarked to qualified regional parties across Illinois. Grants up to $50,000 can be used to identify digital inequities and map out next steps. All 10 Illinois economic development regions will be eligible for the monies, which also will address critical areas like telehealth and remote learning.  
  • Illinois Connected Communities Grants – $150,000. Summer of 2020 saw the first round of funding in this area, to promote broadband capacity and community planning. The second round of monies will total $150,000 to cover fees for consultants and learn from best practices curriculum. Communities can apply for grants up to $15,000. Intended recipients of the funding are local governments, libraries, schools, and other various local organizations.
  • Digital Navigator Collaboration. This element of the Digital Equity Package will establish “digital navigator capacity” to increase community participation in the digital world. Among the navigators’ roles will be to evaluate residents’ needs and help them secure appropriate resources for their digital lifestyle aspects. Navigators will be volunteers or staff who are cross-trained (for example, as employees in social services, libraries, or healthcare). The Digital Navigator is a collaborative effort among the Office of Broadband, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, and PCs for People. 

Click here for the NOCO.

NOVEMBER 2020 ELECTION UPDATE:After all votes were counted, in the 68th Representative District, Democratic challenger Dave Vella defeated incumbent Representative John Cabello by 239 votes. Cabello is considering requesting a recount. 

With Representative John Cabello’s loss to Democrat Dave Vella, the House Republicans have gained one seat of the 102nd General Assembly, leaving the partisan split at 73 Democrats to 45 Republicans. 
The list of House Democrats who are publicly withdrawing their support for House Speaker Michael Madigan’s reelection as Speaker is growing. As it currently stands, approximately 17 members are signaling they want a change in the chamber’s leadership. Representative Stephanie Kifowit has indicated interest in the position. No other candidates have emerged at this time. It will take 60 votes to elect the House Speaker and as it stands now, Madigan falls short of that 60-vote threshold. It is unknown if any of those calling for Madigan to step aside will change their mind. The Democratic caucus has not set a date to elect the Speaker for the 102nd General Assembly. 
When asked about Speaker Madigan’s continued tenure as Speaker, on Thursday Governor Pritzker called on Madigan to be completely transparent and answer all questions about his involvement. If he is not able or willing to do that, the Governor called for Madigan to resign as House Speaker.
The Senate Veterans Affairs will hold a virtual hearing on November 24th at 1:00 PM to discuss testimony from agencies regarding the State’s COVID-19 mitigation at the La Salle Veterans’ Home.
Please have a safe an Happy Thanksgiving!