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STATE OF ILLINOIS RESPONSE TO COVID-19

NOTICEIllinois is currently in Phase 3 of the Governor’s Restore Illinois Plan, with some businesses continued closed while others have begun re-opening. Illinois is expected to move into Phase 4 in late June. To learn more about Phase 3 or 4, what is open and how we move forward to the next phase, please click here.

Where can businesses find guidelines for reopening and returning people to work safely?

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has a site set up here to address those questions, including their Phase 3 Business Toolkit.

If a non-essential business is operating unlawfully during the Stay at Home Order, where can a complaint be filed?

Complaints about non-exempt businesses operating unlawfully during the Stay at Home Order can be reported here.

EXECUTIVE ORDERS ISSUED BY GOVERNOR JB PRITZKER (FULL LIST). See the full list and link to the full text of every Executive Order issued by the Governor since January 1, 2020.

Statewide Telehealth/Mental Health Programs

A person who is showing COVID-19 symptoms, or is at high risk for contracting the virus, but does not require emergency or inpatient care, and can be digitally monitored at home can access a Statewide Telehealth hotline to assist with remote monitoring programs. The State of Illinois/ OSF Healthcare Hotline number is now available: (833) 673-5669. More information can be found at osfhealthcare.org.

Pandemic Health Workers (PHWs) will virtually visit recipients daily, deliver wellness kits that include essential tools to monitor their health, and follow-up over a 14-day period to ensure no further assistance is needed. Wellness kits will include items such as thermometers, pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs, and alcohol wipes.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT TO FAMILIES

The Department of Human Services launched a free emotional support text line, for Illinois residents experiencing stress and mental health issues related to COVID-19.

Individuals who would like to speak with a mental health professional can text:
• For English services text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0
• For Spanish services text “HABLAR” to 5-5-2-0-2-0

Individuals can also text 5-5-2-0-2-0, with key words such as “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” and will receive information on how to access these services.

ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE TO FAMILIES

HEALTH INSURANCE

Unemployment benefits may be available to some individuals whose unemployment is attributable to COVID-19.

A list of frequently asked questions and answers has been compiled by my office here.

YOU ASKED, SO WE GOT ANSWERS— What actions are taken to address the high volume of calls at IDES claims services line?

IDES hired additional staff and expanded their business hours to vulture the extremely high volume of calls. The caller is advised to try their call again if they get a busy signal. When the call gets through, there will be an average wait of 20-30 minutes before they speak to a specialist. To date, the department has taken several steps to improve the unemployment benefit claims process via the online portal and the call center. 

Call Center Filing Schedule:

FOR ON-LINE APPLICATIONS, click here. If your last name begins with letters:
o A through M file your claim on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays.
N through Z file your claim online on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
*Saturdays – anyone who missed their window can apply.

FOR PHONE APPLICATIONS, call (800) 244-5631. If your last name begins with letters:
A through M call between 7:30am – 6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
N through Z call between 7:30am – 6pm on Mondays and Wednesdays.
*Fridays (7am-6pm) & Saturdays (8am-noon) – those who missed their window can call.

The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not impact whether you receive benefits or your benefit amount.  Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid-off or let go from their job due to COVID-19.

IDES is currently working through an unparalleled number of unemployment benefit claims and questions, both online and through the call center.  IDES is doing everything possible to support our customers and meet the demand for unemployment benefit inquiries and claims. 

Those with questions or in need of assistance with unemployment benefit at this time are encouraged to visit IDES.Illinois.gov.

YOU ASKED, SO WE GOT ANSWERS— If a business decides to shut down voluntarily before mandated, will staff be able to qualify for unemployment? And does this go against the employer if they do so? If a business decides to shut down, employees would be potentially eligible for benefits and are advised to open a claim as soon as possible. IDES is working with the Governor’s office on legislation that would remove charge ability to employers for claims involving COVID-19 related issues.

FEDERAL STIMULUS PACKAGE IMPACT ON UNEMPLOYMENT

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). FPUC provides an additional $600 each week in 100% federally funded benefits to anyone entitled to regular state unemployment benefits, PEUC, PUA, EB, or certain
other specialized unemployment benefits. FPUC is potentially available for weeks beginning on or after March 29, 2020 and continuing through the week ending July 25, 2020.

Pursuant to the federal legislation, this $600 will not be retroactively applied to unemployment claims that arose prior to March 29, 2020. In many cases, individuals will also be eligible for more weeks of unemployment above the 26 weeks provided under regular unemployment rules. Both benefits will be applied automatically if you qualify.

Status: FPUC was implemented and began disbursing funds being disbursed the week starting April 5, 2020, which was the first week the federal legislation allowed FPUC to be paid.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

PUA provides 100% federally funded unemployment benefits for individuals who are unemployed for specified COVID-19-related reasons and are not covered by a state’s regular unemployment insurance program, the extended benefit (EB) program under Illinois law, or the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program (PEUC), including self-employed sole proprietors. Up to 39 weeks’ worth of benefits are potentially available under the program for COVID-19-related unemployment claims. PUA claims will be backdated to the individual’s first week of unemployment, but no earlier than February 2, 2020, and will continue for as long as the individual’s remains unemployed as a result of COVID-19, but no later than the week ending December 26. The program is intended to be similar to the federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance program, which provides unemployment benefits in response to local disasters. This is a brand-new program that requires an entirely new system to be built from scratch by IDES.

Status: IDES is contracting with Deloitte to implement and maintain a web-based solution for PUA. Deloitte has been building a PUA system for
Colorado, and it will be modified to fit Illinois law. While a program of this
magnitude might normally take up to a year to design and implement, the
department is committed to getting this program online by the week of May 11, 2020.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

PEUC provides up to 13 weeks’ worth of 100% federally funded benefits to
individuals who have exhausted their rights to regular state unemployment benefits up to 26 weeks in Illinois. PEUC is potentially available for weeks beginning on or after March 29, 2020 and continuing through the week ending December 26, 2020. PEUC will be retroactive once implemented.

Status: IDES received USDOL guidelines on April 10 and expects the program can be implement through the current IDES computer system the week of April 20.

What do I do if I have already received my maximum benefits?

Some individuals who have received their entire 26 weeks of regular unemployment benefits may be eligible for more weeks of benefits under the stimulus package. If you have exhausted your benefits, or you are close to exhausting your benefits, we are finalizing the process to continue benefits under the stimulus package. Details will be available as soon as we have received further guidance from the US Department of Labor.

HOUSING

The Governor has ordered all state, county and local law enforcement cease enforcement of orders of eviction during the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation and until to July 31, 2020. No provision contained in the Executive Order 10 must be construed as relieving any individual of the obligation to pay rent, to make mortgage payments, or to comply with any other obligation that an individual may have under tenancy or mortgage.

Rent & Mortgage Assistance Program funded with $300 million is under development by the Illinois Housing Development Authority and will be available in August 2020. More information will be posted at ihda.org.

Housing counselors designated by the Illinois Housing Development Authority can help you understand your options if you are having trouble paying your mortgage. They can communicate with your mortgage lender or servicer on your behalf and help you find legal representation if necessary. Counselors can also help you create a budget to manage your expenses and possibly stay in your home. All services are free. Find a counselor near you today and begin to get the help you need.

AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSINGILHousingSearch.org will allow you to search thousands of affordable, subsidized and market rate units throughout Illinois. You can customize your search based on your specific needs, budget, and desired location. The service is also available through a toll-free, bilingual call center at: (877) 428-8844.

JOBS (NOW HIRING)

FEDERAL & STATE INCOME TAX DEADLINE POSTPONED

ASSISTANCE TO EMPLOYERS

In addition to loans and grants from the US Small Business Administration, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has put together a comprehensive list of Emergency Resources to Businesses here.

Business advisors at our Illinois Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are available to assist small businesses with the loan application process and are currently operating remotely. Businesses can locate their nearest Small Business Development Center here.

TAX CREDITS TO EMPLOYERS FOR PAID SICK AND PAID FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE Subject to certain limits, in the case of an employer, there shall be allowed as a credit an amount equal to 100 percent of the qualified sick leave wages and qualified family leave wages paid by the employer with respect to the calendar quarter.

BUSINESS INSURANCE COVERAGE. Business Insurance Issues Resource Page from the Illinois Department of Insurance can be found here.

SALES TAX DEFERRAL FOR BARS & RESTAURANTS The Illinois Department of Revenue will defer sales tax payments for more than 24,000 small and medium sized bars and restaurants- accounting for nearly 80% of all such entities statewide. Establishments charged less than $75,000 in total sales tax liability last year will not be charged penalties or interest on payments due in March, April or May made late. Qualified taxpayers must still file their sales tax return on time, even if they are unable to make a payment. Informational Bulletin with more on this here.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM

FEDERAL CARES ACT

What does it mean to Illinoisans? Congress approved and the President has signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). The $2.2 trillion economic rescue package provides help for families, small business, hospitals, local governments and others. A brief outline of the CARES Act can be found here. A Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act can be found here.

GRANTS

Illinois Hospitality Emergency Grant Program

Downstate Illinois Small Business Stabilization Program

NONPROFIT GRANTS

The United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations announced the launch of the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund (ICRF), a new statewide fundraising effort to support nonprofit organizations serving those whose lives have been upended by this pandemic.

The ICRF is launching with nearly $23 million in initial donations. In the upcoming weeks, the steering committee will evaluate and disburse funds to the initial wave of charitable organizations serving at-need communities across the entire state. All donations and distributions will be available to the public. Donations and applications for assistance can be made here.

LOANS

Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund

Business Invest” Low Interest Bridge Loans backed by State Treasury

FOOD SECURITY

SNAP & WIC. The Illinois Department of Human Services is submitting multiple waivers to the federal government to deliver as much nutrition support to as many Illinoisans as possible. DHS has been able to automatically extend SNAP certifications set to expire March, April or May, another six months until September, October and November. DHS has also been able to waive the physical presence requirements for SNAP applicants and participants, enabling people to further reduce the time that they spend outside their homes and increase the ability to apply for assistance online.

DHS Director Hou indicated that the recent passage of the federal Family First legislation will cause monthly SNAP benefits to increase dramatically – in some cases by over 90%, a month. For example, a single person with a disability, or an older adult with less than $2,000 of monthly income is eligible for $194 in monthly SNAP benefits. Now, before the legislation passed, they would have received $16 a month. A family of four making less than $42,000 a year is now eligible for $646 a month in SNAP benefits.

Between April 8th and April 20th, all eligible SNAP recipients will see their first additional funds if they are not currently receiving the maximum benefit.  This will impact more than 450,000 Illinois households. The 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. 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. 

CHILD LUNCHES.  The USDA has launched of an online tool – the “Meals for Kids” Site Finder – to help families find meals for children while schools are closed during the coronavirus pandemic. The “Meals for Kids” interactive map directs people to local sites where kids can get free meals. The map is available in both English and Spanish at www.fns.usda.gov/meals4kids

UTILITIES

On March 18, 2020, the Illinois Commerce Commission formalized an order to cease disconnections and the threat of disconnections during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This applies to electric utilities, natural gas, water, and waste water utilities. The order also calls on them to suspend late payment fees until May 1, 2020, or the crisis has passed, and to implement flexible utility credit and connection procedures to ensure customers remain connected to essential utility service when the emergency status ends.

A consumer protection effort, initiated by the Illinois Commerce Commission, helps ensure eligible residential and small business utility customers can continue to receive life-saving electric, gas, water and sewer services once the moratorium on disconnections for non-payment and late payment fees expires. On June 18, the ICC voted unanimously in favor of a stipulated agreement negotiated by Commission Staff, the Attorney General’s Office and other consumer advocate groups, and the state’s largest utilities, offering temporary, more flexible credit and collection procedures to customers financially hard hit by COVID-19. A separate agreement was also approved with smaller electricity, gas and water utilities that serve Illinois residents.

The large utility stipulated agreement covers eight of the state’s major utility companies, including: Aqua Illinois, Illinois-American Water Company, Utility Services of Illinois, Inc., Ameren Illinois Company, Northern Illinois Gas Company (Nicor Gas), North Shore Gas Company, The Peoples Gas Light & Coke Company (Peoples Gas), and Commonwealth Edison (ComEd). The terms of the stipulated agreement with the large utilities include extending the moratorium on disconnections and suspension of late payment fees until Illinois enters Phase 4 of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, or August 1, 2020, whichever comes first, and for an additional 30 days beyond that for most customers. The large utilities will then have 30 days to notify residential consumers with
past due balances on their account about the more flexible payment and bill assistance options available and how to enroll before disconnection notices are sent.

Other meaningful provisions of the large utility agreement will allow residential customers struggling to pay their utility bills to pay back accrued balances over an extended period of time depending on financial hardship. The customer’s expression of financial hardship can be verbal and not require documentation. Additionally, reduced down payments on deferred payment arrangements (DPAs) will be available, and for those eligible for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or other bill payment assistance, DPAs will be offered with no down payment.

Among other terms of the stipulated agreement with the state’s largest utilities are:

The Commission also approved a similar consumer protection focused agreement with five of Illinois’ smaller utility companies, namely Consumers Gas Company, Illinois Gas Company, Liberty Utilities Corp., MidAmerican Energy Company, and Mt. Carmel Public Utility Company. In alignment with the large utility agreement, the agreement with the small utilities suspends disconnections and late fees for nonpayment until Illinois enters Phase 4 of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, or August 1, 2020, whichever comes first. Among a variety of independent commitments, the small utility agreement further provides protections for residential customers through temporary waivers of reconnection fees and new deposit requirements, as well as more flexible DPA terms.

FREE INTERNET ACCESS RESOURCES. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) is providing information on programs offering free internet access to Illinois families to support learning during the school closures. Information on these resources can be found at ISBE’s Keep Learning website.

Illinois launched its Drive-Up Wi-Fi Hotspot Map as part of a multi-agency effort to improve Broadband access in the State. The publicly available hotspots indicated on this map are available for remote learning and other uses at this time.

HOW TO HELP/ CALLS TO ACTION

Visit serve.illinois.gov for more info on volunteering.

The Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund has been established to support Illinois nonprofits and the individuals, families and communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund announced its first round of grant distributions on April 8 of $5.5 million to 30 organizations that serve families across 96% of the state’s population by providing people with access to food, shelter, healthcare and more. To date, the fund has raised more than $28 million from nearly 2,000 donors, and many more rounds of funding will be coming soon.

BLOOD SUPPLY

AMERICAN RED CROSS.  The Red Cross urges healthy individuals to give blood amid coronavirus concerns.  Low donor turnout could hurt U.S. Blood supply.  Learn more and schedule if you’re feeling healthy and well here.

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY REGIONAL BLOOD CENTER.  The Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center urges healthy individuals to give blood amid coronavirus concerns.  Low donor turnout could hurt U.S. Blood supply.  Learn more and schedule an appointment if you’re feeling healthy and well here.

ROCK RIVER VALLEY BLOOD CENTER.  The Rock River Valley Blood Center urges healthy individuals to give blood amid coronavirus concerns.  Low donor turnout could hurt U.S. Blood supply.  Learn more and schedule an appointment if you’re feeling healthy and well here.

MEDICAL PERSONNEL & PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT(PPE)

HEALTHCARE PROVIDER REGISTRATION. The State of Illinois is calling on all licensed healthcare providers, available to help in the fight against COVID19, to register at www.IllinoisHelps.net. This includes physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, physician assistants, medics, LPNs, CNAs, Podiatrists and Dentists.

RETIRED HEALTHCARE WORKERS. On March 21, the Governor announced a call to action in the fight against COVID-19 for anyone working in the healthcare related field who has let their licenses lapse or chose to retire. He is calling on physicians, nurses, physicians’ assistants, and respiratory therapists to come back and join the fight against this outbreak. To make this process easier the Governor will be implementing the following actions in the very near future: Waving fees and expediting licensure for healthcare positions; Automatically extending licenses soon to expire; Making it easier for out-of-state healthcare professionals to practice here, that way border communities can deploy physicians where they are needed most. Applications available online at IDFPR’s website include: Health Care License Reinstatement Physician License Reinstatement Out of State Temporary Practice Permit

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE). During this unprecedented public health emergency, supplies of PPE for healthcare providers are being rapidly depleted. Health care personnel need to protect themselves when caring for patients by adhering to infection control and prevention practices, which includes having access to a sufficient supply of PPE. On March 17, IDPH provided guidance to hospitals, outpatient surgical and procedural centers to limit non-essential adult elective surgical procedures, including all dental procedures until further notice. IDPH is encouraging all outpatient surgical and procedural centers, ambulatory surgical centers, and veterinarians to donate their unused PPE that is not immediately needed to assist those on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19. Especially of need are surgical gloves, gowns, goggles, face shields, surgical masks, and N95 respirator masks.  To donate PPE (including homemade masks) locally to FHN, click here. To donate PPE, please e-mail PPE.donations@illinois.gov. To donate to the State of Illinois’ PPE Donation program, please e-mail PPE.donations@illinois.gov. -In addition, the Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization (iBIO), working with the State, has established a fund so people and organizations can donate money to help healthcare workers and first responders here.

PPE AND CRITICAL SUPPLIES PROCUREMENT. With Illinois well-positioned with in-state manufacturers of diverse goods and services, leads or connections on COVID-19–related goods or services (i.e. PPE) can be sent to the State for maintaining elements of the critical supplies supply chain. Businesses interested in supplying the necessary goods/needs for the current crisis, can contact the Governor’s Office related to these offers of products at Covid.procurement@illinois.gov. If a business wants to retool to manufacture PPE in Illinois, they may also contact the Illinois Manufacturing Association at ima@ima-net.org.

SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES/ COMMUNITY EVENTS

RELIGIOUS SERVICES

SCHOOLS

CHILD CARE CENTERS & EARLY EDUCATION PROGRAMS

PETS AND COVID-19 (ADVICE FOR PET OWNERS)

AGRICULTURE

RECREATION

GOVERNMENT

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

BUSINESSES AND WORKPLACES

GROCERIES

RESTAURANTS & BARS

 VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

TRANSPORTATION

NON-COMMERCIAL– The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has announced all roads, bridges and rest areas will remain open 24/7, barring necessary construction or maintenance closures. Travelers can visit www.GettingAroundIllinois.com for more information on rest area locations.

PUBLIC SAFETY/ LEGAL/ CONSUMER PROTECTION

STATE SPENDING ON COVID

ACTIVITIES FOR ADULTS WHILE SOCIAL DISTANCING

CENSUS

Complete the 2020 Census Online.  Illinois residents can now complete the census questionnaire online at my2020census.gov.  Completing the census online will ensure that Illinoisans get both the representation and federal funding for the critical services that they deserve,

The online questionnaire is the quickest and easiest way to get counted in Illinois and can be accessed from a smart phone, tablet, laptop, computer and terminals at local libraries. The census is nine questions long and will take less than 10 minutes to complete.

An accurate count of Illinois’ population is essential to ensure the State receives the funding needed to properly care for its residents and provide critical services and programs. In 2015, Illinois received $19,738,866,367, or approximately $1,535 per capita, in federal assistance for sixteen programs. Failure to count every Illinois resident will have devastating effects on Illinois’ ability to meet the needs of its residents. Even a one-percent undercount would result in the loss of $19,557,435 per year, for a decade, resulting in a total loss of $195,574,350 for the State of Illinois. Additionally, the number of seats Illinois has in the U.S. House of Representatives for the next 10 years will be determined by the census count this year. Illinoisans deserve proportionate representation in the U.S. Congress, and a fair and accurate census count is how we ensure that happens.

The Census Bureau has extended the window for field data collection and self-responses to October 31, 2020.

If you are interested in viewing Census response rates, the US Census has launched an interactive tool. You can view response rates by date and geographic region. For more information about the US Census, please visit www.2020census.gov.

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS EXTENSION OFFERS FREE WEBINARS AND TRAININGS. With all in-person meetings currently canceled or postponed until after May 31, U of I Extension is expanding their online webinars and trainings. Check back frequently for new upcoming or recorded webinars. These are offered by Illinois Extension professionals unless otherwise noted. Learn more here.