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Visiting a Southern Illinois coal mine. Jason will fight for quality Southern Illinois jobs

Treasury, IRS Launch Online Tool to Help Non-Filers Receive Economic Impact Payments

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have launched a new web tool for those who did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 and are seeking Economic Impact payments.

The ‘Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here’ web portal allows individuals who are not required to file a federal tax return to submit basic personal information to the IRS to receive their Economic Impact payments quickly, safely, and efficiently.

To access the web portal, visit IRS.gov and click on the “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here” button. The tool will request the following basic information:

· Full names and Social Security numbers, including for spouse and dependents

· Mailing address

· Bank account type, account and routing numbers

Individuals who receive Social Security retirement benefits and did not file a tax return in 2018 or 2019 will receive the Economic Impact Payment automatically and do not need to fill out this form.

For more information on the new web tool or more information about Economic Impact Payments, click here.


ILLINOIS STATE POLICE DIRECTOR FILES EMERGENCY RULES REGARDING FOID AND CCL RENEWALS

The Illinois State Police filed emergency rules this week to address renewals of Firearm Owner Identification and Concealed Carry Licenses during the COVID-19 epidemic.

These rules are designed to provide FOID card holders and CCL relief from the renewal requirements during the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

These rule changes are as follows:

* FOID card holders, who submit their renewal application will remain valid during the duration of the state's disaster proclamation and for a period of 12 months following the termination of the disaster, even if their renewal application is/was not submitted prior to expiration.

* CCL licensees, who submit their renewal application, will remain valid during the duration of the state's disaster proclamation and for a period of 12 months following its termination, even if their CCL renewal application was not submitted prior to expiration.

* CCL licensees will not be required to immediately submit proof of three-hour training with their CCL renewal application.

* CCL licensees will need to submit proof of their three-hour renewal training within 12 months following the termination of the state's disaster proclamation in order to maintain the validity of their CCL license.

ISP will continue to enforce both FOID and CCL prohibitors.  FOID card holders who receive revocation notices shall return their FOID and Firearm Disposition Record form to the Illinois State Police. CCL holders who receive revocation notices shall return their CCL license to the Illinois State Police.

These new rules are effective immediately.


Sen. Plummer demands accountability and transparency regarding corruption concerns in Madison County

Accusations alleging misconduct and political corruption have been made against officials in the Madison County administration offices.  Madison County is one of eight counties represented by State Senator Jason Plummer (R – Edwardsville).

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office reviewed the case, but elected not to pursue charges. However, since the release of multiple affidavits for search warrants pertaining to the case, significant concerns have been raised within the community.

"The information that was made public this week contains extremely concerning accusations.  I urge county board chairman Kurt Prenzler to publicly address the accusations made against members of his administration," said Sen. Plummer. "The public deserves full transparency, and corruption - on any level - cannot and will not be tolerated."

In response to concerns that have been raised, Sen. Plummer sent a letter to the Illinois Attorney General asking for further information regarding their review of the case.

"Regardless of any further legal action pursued on this matter, elected officials and public servants should be held to a higher standard,” said Sen. Plummer. ​ "If Chairman Prenzler is not willing to transparently and publicly address these issues with immediacy, I call on the members of the Madison County board to take swift action to provide accountability and restore the public trust in their local government. Corruption and unethical behavior at any level can not be tolerated, no matter the person or the party."

Senator Plummer has led the charge in Springfield on issues relating to ethics, sponsoring several bills addressing pay to play politics, conflicts of interest among elected officials, transparency at all levels of government and other issues relating to Illinois' well-deserved reputation as one being one of the most corrupt states in the country.

"No elected official should, in good conscious, be willing to stand by while questions of these allegations remain unanswered. Former Madison County board member Lisa Ciampoli and Madison County treasurer Chris Slusser are true public servants, and I commend them for putting the public first in this matter."


Paycheck Protection Program Applications Being Accepted

Small businesses looking to keep workers on the payroll have a new option in the Paycheck Protection Program. Starting now, small businesses may apply for loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that will be forgiven loans for businesses that keep all employees on the payroll for eight weeks. Money must be used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

Who Can Apply

  • Small businesses with fewer than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and self-employed persons)
  • 501 (c)(3) Private Non-Profit Organizations
  • 501(c)(19) Veterans Organizations
  • Businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standardsfor those industries.
  • Small businesses in the hospitality and food industry with more than one location could also be eligible if their individual locations employ fewer than 500 workers.

Where to Apply

  • Businesses can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally-insured depository institution, federally-insured credit union, or Farm Credit System institution that is participating.
  • Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the SBA program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.
  • Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020.
  • The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.

Loan Details and Forgiveness

  • Loans will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities.
  • It is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.
  • Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
  • No collateral or personal guarantees are required, and neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.
  • Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels.  Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.
  • This loan has a maturity of two years and an interest rate of 1%.

If you wish to begin preparing your application, you can download a copy of the PPP borrower application form to see the information that will be requested from you when you apply with a lender.

Other Federal Assistance

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small-business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are currently eligible to apply for disaster assistance.

Enhanced Debt Relief is also available in SBA’s other business loan programs to help small businesses overcome the challenges created by this health crisis.

For information on additional lending options, please click here.

SBA provides local assistance via 68 district offices and a nationwide network of resource partners. To find resources near you, please click here.

Other State Assistance

Small-Business Emergency Loan Fund


A new fund has been established to provide loans to Illinois businesses experiencing hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 will be eligible to apply. Applications are now available.

Learn more at this link: https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/SmallBizAssistance/Pages/IllinoisSmallBusinessEmergencyLoanFund.aspx

Downstate Small Business Stabilization Fund 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact small businesses in downstate Illinois, action has been taken to make $20 million available to provide working capital available to these businesses. Funds are now available for up to 60 days of verifiable working capital up to a grant ceiling of $25,000 for businesses that employ 50 people or fewer. These funds may be used to assist private for-profit small retail and service businesses, or businesses considered non-essential by the Governor's Executive Order without the ability for employees to work remotely. 

Learn more at this link: https://www2.illinois.gov/dceo/CommunityServices/CommunityInfrastructure/Pages/DownstateSmBizStabilizaition.aspx

State Treasurer Bridge Loans

Illinois small businesses can tap into $250 million in low-interest bridge loans as soon as this week to help push through the COVID-19 pandemic. The state Treasurer’s Office will make $250 million available to Illinois banks and credit unions that wish to participate. The financial institutions will determine who is eligible for the loans.

More information is available at this link: https://illinoistreasurergovprod.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/twocms/media/doc/march2020_smallbizreliefprogram.pdf


Letter to DOC Director regarding COVID-19 health crisis

Below is a letter I sent to DOC Director Rob Jeffrey's concerning protocols and precautions in place at DOC facilities during the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.

 

April 2, 2020


Mr. Rob Jeffreys, Acting Director
Illinois Department of Corrections
James R. Thompson Center
100 West Randolph
Chicago, IL 60601

Director Jeffreys,

As residents, hospitals and businesses throughout Illinois do their part to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, I wanted to take this time to commend you and your staff for the hard work you do each and every day to keep our communities safe. 

Every facet of state government has been impacted by these historic events, and our caucus has worked tirelessly to provide our communities with the information they need to ensure they and their loved ones remain health and safe.  This is true of our hard-working men and women who work within our corrections facilities throughout Illinois.  I had hoped to have you participate in a conference call with our caucus, which would provide an opportunity to have those questions our constituents have brought to us answered. 

In lieu of that call, I do have some questions that we ask you provided answers in writing.   

  • When did DOC take steps to stop the transfer of prisoners, lock down their facilities, close inmate gyms and prohibit visitation privileges of groups 10 or more? When were these procedures first discussed and when were they eventually implemented? 
  • Has DOC fully complied with all directives that have been issued by the Governor’s office?
  • What precautions are being undertaken within Illinois correctional facilities to maintain the proper social-distancing recommended by health care officials?
  • What Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) was available to corrections staff before this crisis, what’s available now and how long will that supply last?
  • What precautions and plans were put in place by DOC to care for inmates after contracting COVID-19, and what procedures were developed to determine where they would receive care?
  • What planning has DOC undertaken to care for inmates in off-site medical encampments that will ensure they receive the proper care without overwhelming our downstate hospitals?

I know these are unprecedented times, requiring extraordinary measure.  However, it is my hope that any policy and health decisions made within the Department of Corrections is made solely by department personnel and health care officials. Furthermore, I trust these decisions are being made with the health of both the inmate and community in mind.

 

Sincerely,

State Senator Jason Plummer  


Stay at Home Order Extended through April 30

With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases growing daily, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has announced that he will be extending the state’s disaster proclamation for 30 days. This is the second disaster declaration issued by the Governor in hopes of combating the ongoing COVID-19 health issue. 

Under the authority of the disaster declaration, Governor Pritzker has also announced that his original “stay-at-home” order will also be extended through April, and on-site learning for K-12 schools will be extended through the end of April.

As with the original order, essential activities will still be permitted, and essential facilities, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, will remain open. Residents are encouraged to continue practicing social distancing in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, school districts are preparing to transition from Act of God Days to Remote Learning days, with each school district responsible for creating and implementing Remote Learning Day Plans based on their local resources and student needs.  Illinois’ K-12 schools were initially closed by the Governor on March 13.

As of March 31, Illinois has nearly 6,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health.


Sen. Plummer urges income tax deadline extension

Illinois' current income tax filing deadline is April 15. Recently, the federal government has already pushed back the income tax filing deadline from April 15 to July 15.

State Senator Jason Plummer (R-Vandalia) issued the following statement urging Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker to do the same:

"The ongoing COVID-19 health crisis has created so many new and daily challenges for the concerned residents and businesses of Illinois, leaving many hardworking men and women worried about how they will support their families during this crisis. As the citizens of this state continue to navigate this unprecedented pandemic, I urge the governor to extend the state's income-tax filing deadline, like the federal government has done under the leadership of President Trump, to show empathy and help provide a measure of relief to our taxpayers now."


COVID 19 - Useful Information Cont.

Small Business

As small businesses and restaurants across the state continue to feel the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, new assistance measures have been put in place to provide relief to Illinois' small business community 

The Illinois Department of Revenue will defer sales tax payments for more than 24,000 bars and restaurants.

Bars and restaurants that incurred less than $75,000 in sales tax liabilities last year will not be charged penalties or interest on late payments due between March and May. However, qualified taxpayers must still file their sales tax return even if they are unable to make a payment, and will be required to pay their sales tax liabilities in four installments beginning May 20.

Additionally, Illinois has now been approved for disaster assistance loans for small businesses facing challenges amid the growing health crisis. Eligible businesses can apply for up to $2 million in low-interest loans available through the U.S. Small Business Administration.  To learn more, visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov.

Health Care Services

Illinoisans will soon have greater access to healthcare from home as the state continues to work to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rules have been relaxed around telemedicine for Medicaid and private insurers that will allow more providers to be reimbursed for providing these services. Plans regulated by the Department of Insurance will be reimbursed at the same rate at which they are reimbursed for in-person visits.  Private health insurers are prohibited from imposing any cost-sharing for in-network providers. For Medicaid, the emergency rules also require providers to be reimbursed at the same rate at which they are reimbursed for in-person visits.

Additionally, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services has filed an 1135 waiver with the federal government that would remove barriers for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The goal is to increase access to telehealth, increase the number of health care providers that can screen patients, allow 90-day prescription supplies without prior authorization and early refills.

The Department of Human Services has also filed a federal waiver that would ease eligibility requirements for food assistance programs like SNAP and WIC, which cover 1.8 million Illinoisans and 174,000 pregnant women and parents of young children, respectively.

Education

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has released updated guidance for schools on various issues related to mandatory school closures due to Covid-19/Coronavirus.

One area of concern has been advanced placement or AP tests. According to ISBE, the College Board, which administers AP programs, is finalizing options for students to be able to take the tests from home, if necessary, in May. The College Board is also developing tools to help students in AP programs by providing students and teachers with online resources available through mobile phones and other devices.

Open Meetings Act (OMA) requirements have also been relaxed to allow school board members to attend meetings remotely.

All days of mandated school closure will be counted as Act of God Days, so schools will not have to use emergency days. Teachers should be paid during the closure, and their time will still count toward their retirement.

Schools are still encouraged to provide e-learning materials and other work for students during the closure. However, the districts will have more flexibility in terms of preparing materials, and the schoolwork should not negatively impact a student’s grades or academic standing.

ISBE is also extending deadlines for applications for Early Childhood Block Grants (to April 15) and Title III (to April 27). The state board is also strongly recommending that schools work to provide meals for students who need them. ISBE has obtained a waiver from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give non-congregate or to-go meals. 

Because the Secretary of State offices are also closed at this time, all driver’s licenses and instruction permits that would have expired on or after March 17 have been extended 30 days. A 30-day grace period is also being offered for School Bus Permits.

During the closure, all pre-kindergarten programs at K-12 schools, extracurricular activities, internships, experiential learning opportunities, and school-based driver’s education training are closed as well. Non-public driver’s ed programs are not required to close. While schools could open on March 31, no official date for re-opening has been announced.

Licensure

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) has announced that it will extend deadlines for professional license renewal and continuing education requirements. 

Any professional licenses issued by IDFPR that have renewal dates from March 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020, are granted an automatic extension to renew to September 30, 2020.

Also, all current licensees under IDFPR’s jurisdiction whose license renewal deadlines are from March 1, 2020, through July 31, 2020, shall have through September 30, 2020, to complete their continuing education coursework.

A complete list of professions affected by this renewal extension is available by clicking here.

Grocery Store Hours

After a wave of a panic buying that saw stores jammed with customers and merchandise depleted due to stockpiling, the Governor and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association have worked to organize a statewide coalition of grocery stores. This coalition will set aside one or more hours of operations for senior citizens and other vulnerable populations.

These special shopping hours will typically take place before the store opens to the general public, which should help ensure our most vulnerable can find essential items.

Some notable stores that will be holding special shopping hours include ALDI, Costco, Jewel-Osco, Schnucks, Target and Walmart. For the full list of participating grocery stores and their designated special shopping hours, follow this link: https://irma.org/covid-19-senior-shopping/ 


Governor Issues Stay at Home Order

The Governor has issued a stay-at-home order starting at 5 PM Saturday, March 21, until Tuesday, April 7. We want to make sure you understand what this means for you and dispel some rumors you may have heard.
 
Under this order, many things won’t change. You’ll still be able to leave your house to go to the doctor, buy groceries, visit a pharmacy, fill your car with gas, and to take a walk or go for a run. Many people will still be able to go to work.
 
Please, don’t rush to the grocery store and don’t hoard food or supplies. These resources will continue to be available to you. You’ll also still be able to pick up dinner from local restaurants. Banks will remain open as will veterinarians, plumbers, laundromats, and banks. Farmers will continue to work their fields.
 
Roads, bridges, and the fundamental building blocks of our society will remain open.
 
So what will change? Starting tomorrow at 5 PM, all non-essential businesses must stop operating. If you can work from home, but aren’t already doing so, now is the time to start. If you don’t have to go out, stay at home and do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19. If you do have to go out, be safe about it. Maintain proper social distancing, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face.
 
As we enter this new phase in the fight against COVID-19, we hope you’ll take a moment to remember the heroes who are on the front lines of this pandemic. Doctors, nurses, and healthcare providers are on the front lines providing vital medical care. National Guard, police, fire, and EMTs are keeping us safe while truckers and people in the manufacturing business are keeping our supply chain moving.
 
Grocery store, gas station, and pharmacy employees continue to provide access to daily essentials like food, fuel, and medication. Small businesses, people in the food service industry, and delivery drivers are going above and beyond to provide goods and services and comfort to us as we stay at home to prevent further spread of the virus. Members of the media are working to provide information to the public.
 
What the Governor’s Executive Order does is ask you to stay home and support these people in the critical work they’re doing. We are asked to stay at home because these people can’t. We must all do our part.
 
For more details about the executive order, please click here.

COVID-19: Useful Information Cont.

New COVID-19 website launched to provide information and resources

In another effort to provide timely and accurate information to the public, Coronavirus.illinois.gov  has been launched to centralize the breaking updates from state government, prevention and preparation tips, frequently asked questions and resources from public health experts.

The website includes resources like:

News:The latest announcements from the Governor’s Office and state agencies on the evolving response to COVID-19.

Prevention: Tips to keep safe and healthy practices at home, in the office, in long term care facilities, in homeless shelters, around local neighborhoods and during day-to-day activities.

Preparation: How to take effective actions to plan for a situation where you may get sick, such as implementing family action plans, and what to do if you suspect you may have been exposed to COVID-19.

FAQs: Answers to general questions on COVID-19 and more specific questions related to education and unemployment.

Resources: Guidance from experts at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and crucial information for both families and medical providers.

About Coronavirus: What is coronavirus? Instructions on what individuals can do to protect themselves and help prevent community spread.
Insurance

The Illinois Department of Insurance has issued a consumer FAQ in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that tackles questions about health coverage and the public’s ability to access health care services.

The FAQ tackles questions like, “Who pays for COVID 19 diagnostic testing if needed?” and “Can my insurance carrier cancel or refuse to renew my insurance policy if I am diagnosed with COVID 19 or a preexisting respiratory illness?”

Read answers to these questions and more at this link. https://insurance.illinois.gov/Newsrls/2020/03/COVID-19-FAQ.pdf



Small Business

Small businesses facing economic challenges due to COVID-19 may soon find relief. The Governor’s administration has announced its intention to file for statewide eligibility in a federal loan program for small businesses.

The Department of Commerce and Economic opportunity has gathered information from more than 1,000 businesses throughout Illinois to file for relief with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

These low-interest loans would offer up to $2 million in assistance for each eligible small business or non-profit organization. Funds received via these loans could be used to pay fixed debts, payroll accounts, and other bills that cannot be paid because of the pandemic. The interest rate for businesses without credit available elsewhere is 3.75%, and the non-profit rate is 2.75%. According to the Small Business Administration, loans are available with long-term repayments to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years.

Once approved by the federal government, business owners and non-profit leaders can apply for the loans here: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/



Transportation

All Illinois Secretary of State facilities will be closed through at least March 31.  To help motorists during the closures, expiration dates have been extended for 30 days for driver’s licenses and license plates.

Cash payments are not being accepted right now at Illinois tollways. Toll collections will be handled exclusively by I-Pass, E-ZPASS, and the tollway’s online payment portal. Grace period tolling will be extended, and violations will be held through the duration of the closure. You can find more information here: https://www.illinoistollway.com/media-center/inside-the-tollway?p_p_id=33&p_p_lifecycle=0&p_p_state=normal&p_p_mode=view&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_33_urlTitle=illinois-tollway-to-implement-all-electronic-tollingentryId832862entryId  

Emergency declarations signed by the Governor will help ease the shipping of emergency relief supplies through Illinois. Through April 12, fees for overweight trucking permits have been waived for trucks hauling the much-needed supplies. The permits allow for weights not more than 10 percent higher than the gross axle, gross axle combination, or gross vehicle weight restrictions.

There are still some restrictions, however, on where permitted trucks can haul the overweight loads. Route restriction information can be found here: http://www.gettingaroundillinois.com/. The permits can be applied for here: https://webapps.dot.illinois.gov/ITAP/



Banking

Recognizing the impact the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis is having on consumers, the FDIC is encouraging financial institutions to give consideration to potential future steps to provide relief to costumers. 

On March 9 the FDIC issued a release, urging financial institutions to meet financial needs of customers and members affected by the coronavirus. 

The FDIC's release stated, "The agencies recognize the potential impact of the coronavirus on the customers, members and operations of many financial institutions and will provide appropriate regulatory assistance to affected institutions l subject to their supervision."

While much uncertainty still surrounds the COVID-19 health crisis, several banks are working to provide reassurance to their customers. 

For a list of banks and their current relief efforts, follow this link:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/03/12/list-of-banks-offering-relief-to-customers-affected-by-coronavirus/#5b86746c3ee3

 

Food Pantries

Changes in policy for local food pantries to address safe distancing recommendations for COVID-19 are as individual as the food pantries themselves; however, one source of information is providing general guidelines that could be helpful to all. 

The Feeding Illinois Web site at http://feedingillinois.org/index.php/covid-19 offers this information:

Feeding Illinois food banks and their agencies are trusted community resources; and our respective and collective efforts can be essential to your community’s health by:

Providing nourishment to vulnerable populations during this time of heightened anxiety.
Ensuring that we treat all people with respect and dignity.

Conveying accurate information to help protect the neighbors we serve.

Please consider helping us meet this obligation with a generous gift to provide continued – and expanded – support and relief to those individuals and families impacted most by the ongoing health emergency.

Please, consider helping our state’s food banks meet the needs of people in their community. Your gifts will help local food banks provide continued and expanded support and relief to families in need in your community.  To help, check the Feeding Illinois Web site at http://feedingillinois.org/index.php/covid-19.


Seniors

While much of the public’s focus is on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, many Illinois seniors have concerns about access to medication.  Care Coordination units within the Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA) ensure the medication needs of Illinois seniors are being met by providing tailored person-centered plans of care for all participants.

While Adult Day Centers have temporarily suspended activities, IDoA is providing direction to ensure the needs of seniors are communicated and, if necessary, to provide automated medication dispensers. IDoA is in regular contact with all providers in the Aging Network to ensure collaboration and communication, particularly concerning medications and seniors living alone.

The Care Coordination Units maintain back-up plans and emergency contact information for all seniors. These plans ensure caregivers and family members are notified of medication needs. IDoA is providing Care Coordination Units with capacity grants to provide emergency-related supplies to seniors, including medical supplies.

More information on care coordination units can be found at this link https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/CommunityServices/Pages/case-mgmt.aspx, and more on COVID-19 efforts from IDoA can be found here https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/coronavirus/Pages/default.aspx.  

In addition, private business organizations such as CVS and Walgreens are offering free delivery of medications to vulnerable seniors throughout the State.

 

New COVID-19 website launched to provide information and resources

In another effort to provide timely and accurate information to the public, Coronavirus.illinois.gov  has been launched to centralize the breaking updates from state government, prevention and preparation tips, frequently asked questions and resources from public health experts.

The website includes resources like:

News:The latest announcements from the Governor’s Office and state agencies on the evolving response to COVID-19.

Prevention: Tips to keep safe and healthy practices at home, in the office, in long term care facilities, in homeless shelters, around local neighborhoods and during day-to-day activities.

Preparation: How to take effective actions to plan for a situation where you may get sick, such as implementing family action plans, and what to do if you suspect you may have been exposed to COVID-19.

FAQs: Answers to general questions on COVID-19 and more specific questions related to education and unemployment.

Resources: Guidance from experts at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and crucial information for both families and medical providers.

About Coronavirus: What is coronavirus? Instructions on what individuals can do to protect themselves and help prevent community spread.
Insurance

The Illinois Department of Insurance has issued a consumer FAQ in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that tackles questions about health coverage and the public’s ability to access health care services.

The FAQ tackles questions like, “Who pays for COVID 19 diagnostic testing if needed?” and “Can my insurance carrier cancel or refuse to renew my insurance policy if I am diagnosed with COVID 19 or a preexisting respiratory illness?”

Read answers to these questions and more at this link. https://insurance.illinois.gov/Newsrls/2020/03/COVID-19-FAQ.pdf



Small Business

Small businesses facing economic challenges due to COVID-19 may soon find relief. The Governor’s administration has announced its intention to file for statewide eligibility in a federal loan program for small businesses.

The Department of Commerce and Economic opportunity has gathered information from more than 1,000 businesses throughout Illinois to file for relief with the U.S. Small Business Administration.

These low-interest loans would offer up to $2 million in assistance for each eligible small business or non-profit organization. Funds received via these loans could be used to pay fixed debts, payroll accounts, and other bills that cannot be paid because of the pandemic. The interest rate for businesses without credit available elsewhere is 3.75%, and the non-profit rate is 2.75%. According to the Small Business Administration, loans are available with long-term repayments to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years.

Once approved by the federal government, business owners and non-profit leaders can apply for the loans here: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/



Transportation

All Illinois Secretary of State facilities will be closed through at least March 31.  To help motorists during the closures, expiration dates have been extended for 30 days for driver’s licenses and license plates.

Cash payments are not being accepted right now at Illinois tollways. Toll collections will be handled exclusively by I-Pass, E-ZPASS, and the tollway’s online payment portal. Grace period tolling will be extended, and violations will be held through the duration of the closure. You can find more information here: https://www.illinoistollway.com/media-center/inside-the-tollway?p_p_id=33&p_p_lifecycle=0&p_p_state=normal&p_p_mode=view&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_pos=1&p_p_col_count=2&_33_urlTitle=illinois-tollway-to-implement-all-electronic-tollingentryId832862entryId  

Emergency declarations signed by the Governor will help ease the shipping of emergency relief supplies through Illinois. Through April 12, fees for overweight trucking permits have been waived for trucks hauling the much-needed supplies. The permits allow for weights not more than 10 percent higher than the gross axle, gross axle combination, or gross vehicle weight restrictions.

There are still some restrictions, however, on where permitted trucks can haul the overweight loads. Route restriction information can be found here: http://www.gettingaroundillinois.com/. The permits can be applied for here: https://webapps.dot.illinois.gov/ITAP/



Banking

Recognizing the impact the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis is having on consumers, the FDIC is encouraging financial institutions to give consideration to potential future steps to provide relief to costumers. 

On March 9 the FDIC issued a release, urging financial institutions to meet financial needs of customers and members affected by the coronavirus. 

The FDIC's release stated, "The agencies recognize the potential impact of the coronavirus on the customers, members and operations of many financial institutions and will provide appropriate regulatory assistance to affected institutions l subject to their supervision."

While much uncertainty still surrounds the COVID-19 health crisis, several banks are working to provide reassurance to their customers. 

For a list of banks and their current relief efforts, follow this link:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/03/12/list-of-banks-offering-relief-to-customers-affected-by-coronavirus/#5b86746c3ee3

 

Food Pantries

Changes in policy for local food pantries to address safe distancing recommendations for COVID-19 are as individual as the food pantries themselves; however, one source of information is providing general guidelines that could be helpful to all. 

The Feeding Illinois Web site at http://feedingillinois.org/index.php/covid-19 offers this information:

Feeding Illinois food banks and their agencies are trusted community resources; and our respective and collective efforts can be essential to your community’s health by:

Providing nourishment to vulnerable populations during this time of heightened anxiety.
Ensuring that we treat all people with respect and dignity.

Conveying accurate information to help protect the neighbors we serve.

Please consider helping us meet this obligation with a generous gift to provide continued – and expanded – support and relief to those individuals and families impacted most by the ongoing health emergency.

Please, consider helping our state’s food banks meet the needs of people in their community. Your gifts will help local food banks provide continued and expanded support and relief to families in need in your community.  To help, check the Feeding Illinois Web site at http://feedingillinois.org/index.php/covid-19.


Seniors

While much of the public’s focus is on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, many Illinois seniors have concerns about access to medication.  Care Coordination units within the Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA) ensure the medication needs of Illinois seniors are being met by providing tailored person-centered plans of care for all participants.

While Adult Day Centers have temporarily suspended activities, IDoA is providing direction to ensure the needs of seniors are communicated and, if necessary, to provide automated medication dispensers. IDoA is in regular contact with all providers in the Aging Network to ensure collaboration and communication, particularly concerning medications and seniors living alone.

The Care Coordination Units maintain back-up plans and emergency contact information for all seniors. These plans ensure caregivers and family members are notified of medication needs. IDoA is providing Care Coordination Units with capacity grants to provide emergency-related supplies to seniors, including medical supplies.

More information on care coordination units can be found at this link https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/CommunityServices/Pages/case-mgmt.aspx, and more on COVID-19 efforts from IDoA can be found here https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/coronavirus/Pages/default.aspx.  

In addition, private business organizations such as CVS and Walgreens are offering free delivery of medications to vulnerable seniors throughout the State.