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

SNAP benefits – food assistance for families that need help – will increase in April and May due to COVID-19. If you are already receiving benefits, you do not need to make any changes in order to be eligible for this increase. If you are having trouble affording food and believe you may be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, you can create an account here or call 1-800-843-6154.

 

To see if you and your family would qualify, visit the Illinois Dept. of Human Services website here http://fscalc.dhs.illinois.gov/FSCalc/ to use their calculator.

 

Between April 8 and April 20, all eligible SNAP recipients will see their first additional funds if they are not currently receiving the maximum benefit. Additional funds are intended to help Illinoisans obtain food and support for their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The maximum SNAP benefit amounts will be implemented for April and May, but it is not known at this time whether these extended maximum payments will continue beyond May. 

 

Increased benefits will be automatically loaded onto SNAP recipients’ Link cards, and there is no need for anyone to re-apply, to visit an office, or to call. All new applications authorized in April will also receive the maximum allotment for their household size.

 

Update from Swedish Hospital

Swedish Hospital reports it will institute a drive-up COVID-19 testing site in an effort to keep the community safe by removing the need to come inside the hospital building. Swedish Hospital’s plan is to begin with 50 tests a day starting April 8, with those seeking tests requiring a referral from a Swedish Hospital doctor. The hospital is exploring plans to expand that prerequisite to be a referral from any doctor, depending on the success of these initial tests. As always, if you believe you are displaying COVID-19 systems, contact your doctor by phone to determine if you should be tested and how to go about doing so.

 

Sincerely,

 


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

As the Census bureau takes its 2020 count, the questionnaire has never been easier to complete — whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker.

 

The information you provide will impact your community every day — from influencing highway planning to determining how money is allocated to public school programs.

 

By now, most of you should have received mail from the U.S. Census Bureau. The letter contains your household’s Census ID number to be used when filling out the census online at my2020census.gov.

 

Simply go to the website, click the “start questionnaire” button on the right side of the screen and answer the questions. It should take no more than 10 minutes.

 

Would you rather respond by phone or mail? No problem — a paper questionnaire will be sent to your home soon if you have yet to respond online.

 

The census determines congressional representation, helps determine how federal funds flow into states and provides information that will impact your community for the next decade.

 

Please take time to help shape the future. Your response matters.

 

If you have any questions, please reach out to my office at (773) 769-1717.

 

Sincerely,


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

Yesterday the Governor announced he is extending the Stay at Home order through the month of April. I appreciate that our leader is following the advice of epidemiologists and health care professionals, and understand his desire to have folks stay home to save lives. It is challenging on many fronts, so please reach out if you have suggestions on ways we can assist individuals and families that are faring poorly during this pandemic.

 

As COVID-19 has spread across the country, other states have followed Illinois’ lead by limiting crowds, closing nonessential businesses, and instituting shelter-in-place orders.

 

To address the uncertainty and instability many Americans are facing during this outbreak, the federal government passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides assistance to hospitals, nonprofits, individuals, and businesses.

 

If you are wondering about what the CARES Act means for you and your community, here’s some information that may help you navigate the legislation:

 

How will the CARES Act help individuals and families?

  • Individuals who earn less than $75,000 annually will receive a direct payment of $1,200, plus an additional $500 for every qualifying child age 16 or under. Married couples who file a joint return and earn less than $150,000 are eligible for up to $2,400 plus an additional $500 for every qualifying child age 16 or under.
  • Eligible workers will get an extra $600 per week on top of state unemployment benefits to cover lost wages. Part-time, self-employed, and gig-economy workers are newly eligible for benefits.
  • States will receive $3.5 billion in Child Care Development Block Grants to help provide child care to health care workers, first responders, and other essential employees.
  • Federal student loan payments will be suspended until Sept. 30.

 

What about protections for health care workers and first responders?

  • Over $120 billion in assistance will go to hospitals and health agencies to help them cover COVID-19 expenses, replenish life-saving supplies, and purchase tests.

 

Will the CARES Act support local and state governments?

  • State and local governments will receive $150 billion to pay for new expenses related to COVID-19. The CARES Act also doubles the amount of FEMA funding available to state governments, local governments, and nonprofits.

 

What kind of benefits will schools receive?

  • Schools across the country—including colleges and universities—will receive over $30 billion in emergency support.

 

Will businesses get relief?

  • Small businesses and non-profits will have access to $350 billion in forgivable loans to help them retain employees and pay for expenses like rent, mortgages, and utilities.
  • The Small Business Administration is offering $10 billion in emergency grants of up to $10,000 to provide immediate relief to local business owners. SBA has also established the Debt Relief Program to cover six months of interest payments for small businesses with existing loans.

 

Will my unemployment insurance be affected by this payment?

The Illinois Department of Employment Security explains how this relates to your unemployment insurance here, including details on additional money those on unemployment insurance will receive, as well as a new, temporary program to help people like self-employed workers, freelancers, and independent contractors are not normally subject to unemployment taxes.

 

If you have other questions about the CARES Act, I encourage you to read this summary from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means.

 

The COVID-19 outbreak is bigger than Illinois—it’s a nationwide crisis. When we follow recommendations from our top health experts by washing our hands, keeping our distance from others, and staying home as much as possible, we are protecting our fellow Illinoisans and our fellow Americans from this illness.

 

Updates and guidance on the COVID-19 crisis are available 24/7 from the Illinois Department of Health or at the state’s dedicated COVID-19 response website, coronavirus.illinois.gov.

 

And as always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office with questions and concerns. My staff is working remotely, but we are still responding to calls and emails. You can contact us at (773) 769-1717 or through my website here.

 

Stay safe and healthy.

 

Sincerely,


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

At a time when many are experiencing a greater need for assistance than ever, I want to make you aware of resources you can use as you adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic in your home or at your business. In addition to an expansion of availability for services like food, shelter and housing assistance, you should know that both the state and federal government have made a wide variety of resources available to help small businesses weather the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 and resulting business disruptions.

 

I will also be sending out an update soon on the federal relief package recently passed. Read below to find out more, and don’t hesitate to contact my office at http://senatorsteans.com/contact-us or by calling (773) 769-1717.

 

Sincerely,


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

 

Help for families

For needs like food, shelter, child care, and help for those experiencing domestic violence, the Illinois Department of Human Services has made strides in expanding coverage wherever possible in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. You can access information and links to applications for these services here. Among the services available through IDHS:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps). The online application process can be reached here.
  • A list of food pantries.
  • Medicaid coverage.
  • The Illinois Healthcare Portal, which provides information about a broad range of services for which you may qualify.
  • Get Covered Illinois, which provides Illinois residents the opportunity to purchase a health plan if they do not qualify for Medicaid coverage.
  • Homeless services such as rental or utilities assistance.
  • A list of homeless shelters.
  • Lists of substance use disorder and mental health services, found under the Recovery tab.
  • An application for someone to help bathe you, clean your home, buy groceries, or help with other needs in your home because you have a disability, or for another reason, through IDHS' Home Services program.
  • Expanded child care options for those deemed essential workers.
  • Information about domestic violence help.
  • IA list of resources for immediate help because of a mental health crisis through IDHS’ Talk To Someone tab.

 

Help for businesses

Loans

  • Small business loans – The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering assistance loans to affected businesses.
  • Small business disaster assistance loans – The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering disaster assistance loans for up to $2 million.
  • Low-interest loans – Backed by the Illinois treasury, banks and credit unions throughout Illinois are offering low-interest loans to businesses that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Hospitality Emergency Grants – The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Activity is making $14 million in emergency grants originally earmarked for tourism development to help bars, restaurants, and hotels for expenses like payroll and rent
  • Chicago-only: Small business loans – The city of Chicago has created its own small business resiliency loans.

 

Tax deferment

  • Sales tax deferment – Small- and mid-sized restaurants and bars will be able to defer sales tax payments for February, March, and April.
  • Income tax collection postponed – The federal government has postponed income tax collections until July 15.
  • State income tax filing deadline extended – Illinois has announced that, like the federal government, income tax filing has been extended to July 15.

 

Licensing extensions and modifications

 

Utilities

  • Utilities – The ICC has banned disconnections during the crisis and assessing late fees through at least May 1.

 

Unemployment help

IDES is now implementing a new alphabetized schedule to help reduce wait times for claims filed both online and over the phone. The day or time of day you call will not affect whether you receive benefits or your benefit amount. The schedules are as follows:

 

Online Filing Schedule

  • People with last names A-M are asked to file claims on Sundays, Tuesday or Thursdays.
  • People with last names N-Z are asked to filed claims on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Saturdays are available for those who are unable to file during their allotted time.

Call Center Filing Schedule

  • People with last names A-M are asked to file claims on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
  • People with last names N-Z are asked to file claims on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
  • Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. will be reserved for those who are unable to file during their allotted time.

 

IDES has indicated it will soon provide guidance on implementing the changes to unemployment compensation in the federal relief package known as the CARES Act, including self employed and gig-economy workers.

 

You can file your unemployment insurance claim online here. To file your claim over the phone, you can call 1-800-244-5631. Although this new schedule is expected to improve this process, IDES says you may still experience some wait time to file your claim, and asks for applicants' patience.

COVID19 Updates

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Office: 773-769-1717
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