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

Over the past few days, Governor Pritzker has been offering daily updates and guidelines on some of the measures recommended to ensure minimal spreading of the coronavirus.

While the coronavirus is changing how we go about our daily lives, it’s important to remain calm and to take proper precautions. Right now, the best possible thing you can do to help is to stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary to venture out.  Regardless of your health or age, it is vital that we take this recommendation seriously, as preventing further spread of the disease is the key to keeping you, your family, and our community healthy.

I also want to tell you about measures the government is taking to try to mitigate the economic harm this situation is causing so many. Read below for information about how you may qualify for unemployment benefits if you've suddenly found yourself unemployed during this outbreak.


Heather A. Steans

State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

Unemployment benefits

The Illinois Department of Employment Security has extended the availability of unemployment benefits to those unable to work due to COVID-19. You can read about the specifics of what qualifies for unemployment insurance and how you can apply for it at the IDES website here.

Food assistance

These food pantries may have limited hours during this pandemic. Please call or view their websites prior to your visit.

For those who are able and willing, donations to these food banks are much appreciated.

St. Ignatius Parish
Food Pantry: Wed. 2-4 p.m., Fri 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Service Area: Pratt to Devon, Western to the lake
A Just Harvest
Produce: 3rd Mon. 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Soup Kitchen: Mon.-Fri. 5:30-6:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 5-6 p.m.
Service Area: Cook County
Howard Area Community Center
Food Pantry: 1st & 3rd Mon. 9-11 a.m., 2nd & 4th Wed. 2-5 p.m.
Service Area: 60626 and 60645 zip codes, Juneway to Devon, Sheridan to Kedzie
Warren Park Produce Program
Produce: 2nd Wednesday 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Service Area: Cook County
Congregation K.I.N.S.
Soup Kitchen: Tuesday 5:45-7:45 p.m.
Service Area: Cook County
ICNA Relief - Chicago
Food Pantry: Sat. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (sometimes opens and closes early based
on community needs)
Service Area: Howard to Foster, Ridge to Kedzie
Care for Real
Food Pantry: Mon. and Wed. 9 a.m.-12 p.m., Fri. 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 3-5 p.m.,
Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Service Area: Devon to Lawrence, Western to the lake
Also provides clothing closet and other support services (limited hours)
Evanston Vineyard Food Pantry
Food Pantry: Wed. 6-8 p.m.
Service Area: Illinois residents
Also has clothing closet

Further updates on government response to COVID-19

Among other measures the government is taking:

  • The Illinois State Board of Education is working to provide meals every day to all students, no questions asked. 
  • All bars and restaurants are closed as of Monday, March 16 at 9 p.m. Restaurants will have take-out, drive-thru and delivery options still available.
  • All gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited starting Wednesday, March 18. Grocery stores, pharmacies and medical facilities are exempt. However, fitness clubs, theaters, religious services, and bowling alleys are included.
  • To provide some relief to local eateries during the coming weeks, Grubhub is suspending commissions and Uber Eats is waiving delivery fees on orders from independent restaurants. Some larger restaurants are offering free delivery. Many delivery services have introduced no- or low-contact delivery options.
  • Ameren and ComEd are suspending any disconnections and waiving late payment fees. Other major utility companies, like People’s Gas and Nicor, are suspending disconnections as well.
  • The Attorney Generals Office will work to impose a moratorium on utilities shut-offs in the immediate term.
  • AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and others are preserving telecom services.
  • The Illinois Department of Employment Security is allowing workers who are unemployed due to COVID-19 to apply for unemployment.
  • All Illinois Secretary of State offices and Driver Services facilities are closed to the public through March 31. Expiration dates for driver’s licenses, ID cards, vehicle registration and other transactions will be extended by 30 days. More information and some services are available online.
  • The Small Business Administration is providing disaster assistance loans for small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
  • In order to apply for an emergency injury disaster declaration from the Small Business Administration, Illinois needs data from businesses across the state. If your business has been affected by COVID-19, please complete this online survey.
  • The Illinois Attorney General’s office encourages residents to file a complaint if they notice price gouging on essential items related to the coronavirus outbreak, including hand sanitizer, cleaning products and protective gear.

For daily updates on what the state is doing, check the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website

As state government moves rapidly to respond to the unprecedented situation with COVID-19 containment, I will be providing updates on important information.

Gov. Pritzker today announced an order limiting gatherings to under 50 people. The current number of confirmed cases stands at 105, and Director Ngozi Ezike of the Illinois Department of Public Health has said cases continue to climb.

This is a situation unlike any we’ve faced in our lifetimes. I’m here to help, and urge you to be as helpful as you can to those who need it.

School closures and free lunches

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. JB Pritzker have clearly signaled that they understand many families rely on the meals provided by their local schools. Schools will be closed starting tomorrow until at least March 30. All CPS school sites will serve as food distribution sites for CPS students. Food pick-up will take place outside of the school building. It begins at every school on Tuesday, March 17 and is scheduled from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Monday through Friday. CPS families can pick-up three days' worth of meals at a time, each with two meals per child. You do not have to go to your child's school. If you need assistance, please call the CPS Command Center at 773-553-KIDS (5437) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Here is more information on how to pick up meals, as well as other information on how Chicago schools are handling the closing:


Childcare Centers and Early Education Programs: What you need to know

The governor has not mandated the closure of childcare centers. Those remaining open are strongly urged to adhere to federal safety guidelines. You can read the latest information from the Illinois Department of Human Services here.

Unemployment considerations

No decision has been made without the acknowledgment that this health crisis could potentially cause a major economic crisis. Be aware that the governor and the Illinois Department of Employment Security will be seeking ways for those out of work due to the COVID-19 outbreak to seek unemployment benefits. As more information becomes available, I will update you. You can also learn more at the IDES website here:


Volunteering opportunities

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless at times like these, so it’s important to remember that your individual actions in a pandemic are directly responsible for saving lives. If you are in a situation where your regular plans are canceled and you are available to help others, I urge you to first be mindful of safe social distancing protocols and second to consider helping others in whatever way you can. For many, this period will be one of uncertainty and hardship.

Residents of the 47th Ward can sign up to volunteer through Alderman Matt Martin's office. Click here and fill out information to see where you can be of the most help.

For those residents of the 48th Ward, consider seeing if you can be of help with the Community Response Team, which will aim to check in on older and homebound residents. You can look for information about how to volunteer for this group through Alderman Harry Osterman's office at

Residents of the 49th Ward can sign up to volunteer through the Rogers Park Community Response Team. Information, including access to an online sign-up sheet, is here.

This is a major disruption to everyone’s life. I’m committed to helping you however I can. You can reach out to my office through my district office director, Cathy Smith, by emailing her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please do not hesitate to reach out with questions.


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

The state of Illinois is taking numerous steps to mitigate the further spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19. This email provides an overview and points you in the direction of accurate, up-to-date information.


Be aware of verified facts about COVID-19

According to the CDC, coronavirus mainly spreads from person to person. Act the same way you would act if you had the flu— if you think you may be sick, keep your distance from other people and always cover your coughs and sneezes.

The IDPH and the CDC have issued recommendations to help people avoid coming down with coronavirus. These tips are the same ones you can use to avoid flu or the common cold.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.


Currently, the number of coronavirus cases in the state remains low, but it continues to climb. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has posted coronavirus case totals and test results on its website, updated daily.

As of this writing, more than 30 confirmed cases of the virus are present in Illinois, according to the most recent reports from our public health officials. The World Health Organization’s information about COVID-19 can be accessed here.

What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms

If you are displaying COVID-19 symptoms and have reason to believe you may have been exposed, the Centers for Disease Control recommendations include the following:

If you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, and/or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19, stay home and call your healthcare provider. Older patients and individuals who have severe underlying medical conditions or are immunocompromised should contact their healthcare provider early, even if their illness is mild. If you have severe symptoms, such as persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips of face, contact your healthcare provider or emergency room and seek care immediately. Your doctor will determine if you have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and whether you should be tested.

If you are at all unclear about how to proceed, call the 24-hour IDPH hotline at 1-800-889-3931 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Public health officials will reach out to individuals who may have been exposed. They are actively monitoring the situation and will update the public in the event that certain measures— like school and business closures— are necessary.

Be prepared to stay home if you are sick

The governor and public health officials have also urged employers who can accommodate working from home to do so, and encouraged employees who are sick to remain at home. I understand that your individual circumstances may make you feel you must go in to work, but I urge you to stay home if you are sick.

Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) have announced they are taking additional steps to support workers and families affected by COVID-19. The administration will file emergency rules to clarify that individuals unemployed due to COVID-19 can generally qualify for unemployment benefits to the full extent permitted by federal law.

Per IDES, if an individual is off work through no fault of their own, they can seek unemployment insurance benefits from IDES. The emergency rules will provide assistance to individuals who may be restricted in the type of work they can perform due to COVID-19.

Be prepared to change plans

As of yesterday, the governor, Cook County Board president and mayor of Chicago have all issued bans on gatherings of more than 1,000 people and have issued their strong recommendation to cancel or postpone any event that involves a gathering of more than 250 people. All Chicago-based major league sports teams have voluntarily committed to cancelling games or playing without spectators until May 1. Legislative session in Springfield has been cancelled for this coming week.

I realize this affects weddings, church gatherings, school events, and other long-planned-for engagements, so please understand that these measures are not taken lightly. If you are in a position to cancel such a gathering or to decline to attend it, I urge you in the strongest terms to do so. Public health officials in all affected countries have stated that social distancing is the strongest means yet available to reduce transmission of COVID-19.

Be wary of unverified information or fake cures

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of unverified and inaccurate information circulating in some corners of social media, and there are people looking to profit off of panic. Attorney General Kwame Raoul has issued a warning about hoaxes and scams related to COVID-19, including information about how to report them. It is of the utmost importance that you understand there is at present no vaccine and no cure. Claims to the contrary are aimed at exploiting you.

Based on the virus’ effect on other developed nations, it is my duty as a public servant to impress this upon you: There are likely very hard times ahead, and it will be up to each of us to do all we individually can to help our communities see it through. I urge you not only to take care of yourself and your family, but also to do whatever you safely can to help those you can.

I remain committed to serving and representing you. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to my office by responding here or calling (773) 769-1717.


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


COVID19 Updates

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District Office
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Chicago, IL 60640
Office: 773-769-1717
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