Dear Friend,

To help relieve the burden on the small business owners who are bearing an unprecedented burden during the COVID-19 outbreak, the State of Illinois is working with authorities to make relief available. Read about how below.

Small business loans



To assist business owners, the State of Illinois has received an economic injury disaster declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The application requires data from businesses in every county to justify the declaration from the federal government. This disaster declaration will help open up avenues of funding for small businesses in Illinois that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. You can see all related info on their website here.

If your business, regardless of how small, has been affected by COVID-19, please take two minutes to complete the survey here.

Sales tax deferral

Sales taxes will be deferred for small- and medium-sized bars and restaurants in March, April and May. More details about tax relief are available from the Illinois Department of Revenue website here.


Heather A. Steans

State Senator, 7th Illinois Senate District

With schools throughout the state closed, I know becoming the head of your own small classroom is going to seem daunting. Fortunately, there has never been a time with more accessible online learning tools than today. You can explore some of the options below.


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

Continuing education as kids stay home




















VIRTUAL FIELD TRIPS: Here’s a Google Doc showing some options for virtual field trips





Here are some other fun activities you can try when screen time is getting boring. Click the image to see a larger version.

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

COVID19 Updates

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