State of Illinois Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates - Click Here

Dear friends,

 

On Wednesday, the governor offered up a new plan to help address future COVID-19 outbreaks. This plan does three things:

  • Establishes concrete, measurable criteria to determine when extra steps are needed to control outbreaks.
  • Breaks Illinois down from four regions to 11, allowing more targeted responses.
  • Establishes a clear plan for addressing outbreaks that is less restrictive than immediately returning to an earlier phase of our reopening schedule.

I want to thank you for continuing to provide feedback to me and other elected officials. We have all been conveying your questions and concerns to the governor and the Illinois Department of Public Health, and this new, more targeted strategy is largely due to the people of Illinois’ willingness to work together to address this crisis.

 

I also want to urge you to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and follow other guidelines from health experts. Taking these safety precautions will help ensure no region needs to move backward and our local small businesses continue to recover.

 

To read more about the plan, click here.

 

Please continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and follow other guidelines from health experts. These safety precautions will help keep our neighbors safe, and ensure no region needs to move backward and that our local small businesses continue to recover.

 

Sincerely,


Heather A. Steans
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

Dear friend,

 

Thanks to the many Illinoisans who maintained social distancing measures, wore masks in public, and took care to watch out for neighbors, Illinois’ COVID-19 positivity rate continues to fall.  While we are not done fighting this virus, Illinois continues to see less infection, suffering and deaths as a result of it.

 

With Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan set to take effect June 26, including Chicago’s Phase IV, we will see gyms, movie theaters, museums, zoos and restaurants reopen under cautious public health guidelines that will include continued social distancing and face covering requirements. Gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed under these same guidelines.

 

Here are some activities you can expect to resume in these new reopening phases in the City of Chicago and statewide:

  • As child care centers continue to reopen, health screenings will be required for children before entry into classrooms, and children are required to wear face coverings while not in classrooms.
  • Customers are still required to wear face coverings in retail and all other public settings while indoors. In indoor dining venues, customers must wear masks when not seated.
  • Venues, meeting spaces and select indoor facilities (including bowling alleys, skating rinks and clubhouses) can reopen with occupancy restrictions.
  • Restaurants can resume indoor dining for parties of up to 10 people, as long as tables are 6 feet apart and standing areas are limited to 25% capacity. Outdoor dining is allowed with proper social distancing between tables.
  • Museums, zoos, theaters and other cultural attractions can reopen with 50-person occupancy restrictions and staggered entrance and exit times to prevent crowding at checkpoints.
  • Outdoor spectator sports can resume with certain safety measures.
  • Splashpads remain closed.

 

If progress continues to be made and Chicago reaches fewer than 100 new cases per day, capacity restrictions will be loosened further during Phase IV. A full list of guidelines by industry is available at the City of Chicago’s website here, and for the status of COVID-19 statewide visit coronavirus.illinois.gov—the site is updated continually to ensure you have access to the latest and most accurate statistics.

 

Please continue to use face coverings in public and respect social distancing requirements. These measures will ensure we don’t see a spike in cases that could cause us to move back to previous phases.

 

With questions about the state’s Phase 4 or the city’s Phase IV or other issues facing our state, please reach out to my office via email here, and we will do our best to assist you.

 

Sincerely,


Heather A. Steans
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

As protests continue in Chicago and across the nation this week, I encourage you to find ways to support peaceful protests and stand in solidarity with businesses that are trying to recover from damage at the same time they are cautiously reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.


We must stand together to say that Black Lives Matter. We must commit to the work ahead to reform our justice system and dismantle the layers of harm of systemic racism. As we stand in support of the peaceful protesters who are seeking reform, I want to highlight resources we can use to amplify Black voices and help in our communities. Read below for information on those resources.

 

Sincerely,


Heather A. Steans
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

 

Groups to support and follow for information on the protests and on seeking justice

 

Chicago/Illinois Organizations:

  • Assata's Daughters is a Black-woman led organization that organizes young Black people in Chicago by providing them with political education, leadership development, mentorship, and revolutionary services. (https://www.assatasdaughters.org/)
  • Black Lives Matter Chicago Chapter works to end state violence and criminalization of Black communities by deconstructing white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy. (https://www.blacklivesmatterchicago.com/about-us/)
  • Brave Space Alliance performs social activism against discrimination, racism, and bigotry against queer people of color. It provides resources to marginalized communities including a food pantry. https://www.bravespacealliance.org/
  • Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression is a local chapter of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. This group addresses and fights against discrimination based on race and religion. (https://www.caarpr.org/?fbclid=IwAR2xIoQjUyn3fXyoverRY9b4CBWFehByn7gd3AqF7g8FvaFYex4MBlo2XCw)
  • Chicago Community Bond Fund raises money for bail for those arrested in the protests who cannot afford it. https://chicagobond.org/
  • Chicago COVID-19 Hardship and Help organizes mutual-aid to families that are hard hit by the virus. Families make requests to the organization. Volunteers fulfill those requests. https://transformativespaces.org/2020/03/15/chicago-covid-19-hardship-and-help-page/amp/
  • My Block, My Hood, My City funds and organizes efforts to repair small businesses. It also provides aid to seniors for COVID-19. https://www.formyblock.org/
  • Imagine Englewood works to strengthen and empower the Greater Englewood community through teaching local youth and their families healthy living, environmental awareness, and positive communication skills. (https://www.imagineenglewoodif.org/). They are also using funds for neighborhood clean-ups.
  • SOUL (Southsiders Organized for Liberty and Unification) seeks to empower and support low income residents on the South Side. Currently, they are arguing for the release of arrested protestors and putting them in touch with legal services while spreading information about demonstrations/protests. (http://www.soulinchicago.org/)

 

National Organizations:

  • Black Youth Project 100 is a grassroots organization building a network focused on transformative leadership development, direct action organizing, advocacy, and education. Our membership core believes in the principles of decision-making, radical inclusivity, and is building a Black politic through a Black, queer, feminist lens. (https://www.byp100.org)
  • Color of Change is an online organization that develops campaigns to challenge
    injustice, hold corporate and political leaders accountable, commission game-changing research on systems of inequality, and advance solutions for racial justice that can transform our world. (https://colorofchange.org)
  • Dignity and Power Now is a grassroots organization grounded in the principles of abolition, healing justice, and transformative justice. Dignity and Power Now has multiple programs centered around activism, health and wellness, and leadership building. (http://dignityandpowernow.org)
  • Campaign Zero supports the analysis of policing practices across the country, research to identify effective solutions to end police violence, technical assistance to organizers leading police accountability campaigns and the development of model legislation and advocacy to end police violence nationwide. (https://www.joincampaignzero.org/#vision)

 

Aid for businesses affected by civil unrest

The state's Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is working to secure access to helpful resources for businesses affected by circumstances arising out of the past weeks of protests and police action. DCEO is working with the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely affected by these events in counties that have received a disaster declaration (including Cook). As a part of this process, DCEO is collecting information from businesses that have been negatively impacted. You can access the form by clicking here.

Dear friends,

 

I’m writing to update you on efforts the state is taking to expand unemployment and to bolster the system for processing applications. Unemployment claims are at an unprecedented high, and I am in contact with the Illinois Dept. of Employment Security to keep up to date on the latest information to help you file a claim if you need to.

 

Yesterday, IDES spoke with lawmakers on some of the issues that the department has had with the massive influx of applications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Deputy Governor Dan Hynes and IDES Director Thomas Chan hosted the call.

 

Director Chan spoke about the process of applying for regular unemployment insurance (UI). To briefly recap, for a person to be eligible for UI:

  • They must be unemployed through no fault of their own.
  • They must be actively seeking work.

 

Due to the closure of offices, applications are handled via telephone or online application. After filing an application, an applicant is assigned an initial certification date and the applicant must certify that they were unemployed. Recertification must be completed every other week after that initial certification. Also, claims can be backdated as long as IDES knows when your last date of work was.

 

Next, we discussed the new federal programs under the CARES Act, the coronavirus stimulus package recently passed by Congress. The three programs are known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

  • FPUC- provides an additional $600 each week in federally funded benefits until the week ending July 25, 2020. This program has been implemented and payments are being made.
  • PEUC- provides an additional 13 weeks’ worth of federal funded benefits to those who have exhausted the initial 26 weeks. This will be implemented by next week.
  • PUA- provides 100% federally funded UI for those who do not normally receive UI including independent contractors and those not monetarily eligible (churches, church employees, those who didn’t earn money in the base period). This will be implemented by the week of May 11th.

 

Director Chan discussed why there have been delays on the PUA system, the unemployment for independent, gig economy, and contract workers. First and foremost, independent contractors are advised to apply now, which is a change from previous news on this. Those applicants have to be denied traditional unemployment to be eligible for the PUA program.

 

Part of the delay was due to the fact hundreds of pages worth of federal guidance for the PUA program was received just eight days ago, and the unemployment system that IDES uses was originally designed to exclude independent contractors. As a result, IDES has had to design a separate method to look at tax returns of those applicants who are independent contractors.

 

Next, Director Chan talked about how Illinois is handling the high amount of funds needed and the solvency of funding for unemployment. The good news: Illinois in in good shape currently, even with the increase in payouts. He said if our state fund were to become underfunded as a result, (as it did during the Great Recession), we would be able to borrow money from the federal government at little to no interest, or to issue bonds.

 

I am determined to keep you up to date as new information about unemployment becomes available, and will communicate further as soon as we know more.

 

Join me for a virtual town hall tonight at 7 p.m.

Tonight I will join U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and 48th Ward Alderman Harry Osterman for a virtual town hall event to speak about coronavirus response at all levels of government. I hope you’ll join me for some important information and submit questions. The event will be available through a Facebook Live event, which you can find at the the 48th Ward Facebook Page at 7 p.m. tonight.

 

Volunteers Needed at the Lakeview Pantry

Since the COVID-19 outbreak hit the city, visitors to Lakeview Pantry, Chicago's largest food pantry, including all of the Pantry's food programs (physical sites, Online Market and Home Delivery) have increased by over 80%. To help keep up with demand, and offer a safe space for volunteers to help sort and pack food, the Pantry will be setting up and managing a temporary satellite food distribution center on the main concourse at Wrigley Field. They are in need of more volunteers to meet demand. Visit lakeviewpantry.org/volunteer/ to learn more and sign up. Can't volunteer? Consider making a donation to help those in need.

 

Sincerely,


Heather A. Steans
State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

COVID19 Updates

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