Coronavirus News Updates
Updated: May 20
This blog post will be updated with news and information as events evolve. The most recent posts are at the top of the blog. Our Coronavirus Resource Center page is available via this link.
May 20, 2020
Posted at 5:07 p.m.
Illinois’ COVID-19 Statistics
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting a total of 100,418 cases, including 4,525 deaths, in 100 counties in Illinois.
U.S. House Passes $3 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Proposal
As mentioned in our May 12, 2020, e-mail, Democrats in the United States House of Representatives officially released their plan to provide further financial relief to states, local governments, tribal governments and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. ISACo reviewed the proposal and identified key provisions for counties. ISACo’s analysis is available via this link.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved the legislation by a vote of 208-199 mostly along party lines. The U.S. Senate is not expected to approve the legislation without substantial changes. ISACo continues to work with the National Association of Counties (NACo) toward enactment of additional direct funding for counties and the ability to use these funds to offset lost revenues.
SMART Act Introduced in Congress
On Monday, May 18, 2020, legislation was introduced in Congress by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). This bipartisan legislation, known as the State and Municipal Assistance for Recovery and Transition (SMART) Act proposes $500 billion in emergency funding to every state, county and community. This amount includes $80 billion in flexible funding to counties of all sizes.
These funds could be used to help state and local governments meet current demands, expand testing capacity and contact tracing, provide further assistance to residents, local hospitals, small businesses and schools, in addition to maintaining critical services upon which residents depend.
It eliminates the current 500,000 population threshold, allowing every state, county, municipality, U.S. territory and the District of Columbia to qualify for direct federal assistance, regardless of its size.
More information is available via this link. ISACo will continue to monitor the SMART Act and any introduced federal legislation intended to provide financial relief for counties. ISACo will lend support to legislation in coordination with NACo.
General Assembly in Session
The General Assembly convened a special session on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, and will remain in session through Friday, May 22. Legislators will work toward approving a SFY2021 budget and other select issues before adjourning for the spring on Friday.
On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, an elections omnibus amendment was filed. House Amendment 5 to Senate Bill 1863 is available via this link. Among other provisions, the amendment would require election authorities to mail or e-mail ballot applications (not actual ballots) to everyone who voted in the 2018, 2019 or 2020 elections by August 1, 2020. ISACo is currently analyzing the amendment and will provide this analysis to county officials upon completion.
Restore Illinois Plan Modified
During his daily briefing on May 20, 2020, Governor Pritzker announced modifications to the Restore Illinois Plan that will begin to loosen restrictions for bars and restaurants when a region moves into Phase 3 of the re-opening plan. Upon entering Phase 3, bars and restaurants will be permitted to offer outdoor seating with specific social distancing restrictions. Each region of the state is on pace to enter Phase 3 as early as May 29, 2020.
Governor Pritzker also discussed other openings and easing of restrictions that will occur in Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan. More information is available via this link.
Emergency Rule Withdrawn; Plan to Introduce Via Legislation
On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, the Pritzker administration withdrew an emergency rule to be considered by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) that would have made it a Class A misdemeanor for certain businesses to reopen in defiance of the Governor’s “stay at home” restrictions. The emergency rule was filed on Friday, May 15, 2020, and would have remained in effect for 150 days had JCAR permitted the emergency rule to remain in effect at its meeting on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. The emergency rules are available via this link.
While not pursuing the policy change through an emergency rule, the General Assembly intends to work with the Governor to introduce legislation that provides a similar enforcement mechanism in a phased manner consistent with the Restore Illinois Plan. The pending legislation is likely to authorize a fine for violations. ISACo will provide additional information when it becomes available.
Election Petition Deadline Changed
A federal judge modified an initial ruling that gave third-party and independent candidates for Illinois’ November election until August 7, 2020, to submit petitions. The judge has subsequently ruled that date be moved up to July 20, 2020, to allow time for challenges and for the ballot to be printed.
Contact Tracing Pilot Program Announced
Illinois will begin piloting contact tracing with two local health departments: St. Clair County in the Metro East region and Lake County in the Northeast region. Illinois’ contact tracing will be a tech-based approach that will innovate and scale up existing systems. Illinois will be not only implementing a project management and comprehension tool to collect and hold all raw information relating to contact tracing for COVID-19, but also using relationship management software for deployment throughout the state. This personal contact management software will allow all local health departments to work on one platform, and allow the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to operate with an aggregated, real-time sense of where COVID-19 is in Illinois. More information is available here.
May 13, 2020
Posted at 3:13 p.m.
Illinois’ COVID-19 Statistics
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting a total of 84,698 cases, including 3,792 deaths, in 99 counties in Illinois.
Congressional House Democrats Unveil $3 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Proposal
On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, Democrats in the United States House of Representatives officially released their plan to provide further financial relief to states, local governments, tribal governments and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. ISACo reviewed the proposal and identified key provisions for counties. ISACo’s analysis is available via this link.
General Assembly Reconvening Next Week
The Illinois House and Senate will reconvene next week for the first time since early March. Both chambers will return to Springfield for a special session beginning May 20, 2020, to address specific topics identified within a Joint Proclamation (linked here) issued on May 13, 2020. These topics are as follows:
The COVID-19 pandemic or other disasters;
The State budget and its implementation;
Economic recovery, infrastructure projects and funding thereof;
The explanation, arguments for and against, and the form for constitutional amendments as required under the Illinois Constitutional Amendment Act;
Laws or authority scheduled to be repealed prior to June 1, 2021;
The 2020 General Election and the State Board of Elections; and
The hospital assessment program.
The House plans to convene at a convention center and the Senate will convene at the State Capitol Building. Appropriate social distance protocols will be followed.
ISACo Meets with Comptroller’s Office
On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, I had a virtual meeting with the Illinois Comptroller’s Office to discuss prioritizing local government revenue distributions as the state budget situation tightens. The initial impetus for the meeting was a letter I sent to the Comptroller’s Office on March 25, 2020 (available via this link).
During our conversation, the Comptroller’s staff conveyed that the process and timing of local revenue distributions will remain unchanged. They also offered that any counties facing an imminent hardship that can be alleviated by an expedited distribution of funds from the Comptroller’s Office can work with the Comptroller’s Office to triage the need. Counties that find themselves in this position are welcome to contact ISACo for assistance.
Furthermore, the Comptroller’s Office informed me that they do not intend to penalize counties for filing financial reports beyond their due dates under the current circumstances.
ISACo is appreciative of the Comptroller’s Office for their cooperation.
IDOR Local Revenue Distribution Report
The Illinois Department of Revenue has developed a report that will provide estimated monthly distribution amounts that local governments can expect to receive. These estimates are based on sales tax returns that have been filed, but not paid, because of the extension granted by the Governor (FY 2020-23). To request this information, contact the Local Tax Allocation Division at REV.LocalTax@illinois.gov, or by sending a message through your MyLocalTax Account.
Fast-Track Infrastructure Grants Available
On Wednesday, May 12, 2020, Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced Fast-Track Public Infrastructure Grants, an initiative to accelerate work on planned public infrastructure projects around the state. The State is expediting $25 million of existing Rebuild Illinois funding to local public infrastructure projects that are ready to begin work this summer, as many local governments face lost revenues, impacting their ability to finance these projects. More information is available via this link. Counties seeking to apply for the grants can do so via this link. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Projects will be funded on a first come, first qualified, first serve basis. Applications will be accepted until Monday, June 15, 2020, or until funds have been exhausted.
Counties Waiving Penalties for Late Property Tax Payments
Several Illinois counties seeking to provide relief to local residents and businesses during the economic shutdown have approved ordinances waiving penalties for late property tax payments. These counties are acting on provisions in state law that vest county boards with the waiver authority. More information is available via this link.
IDPH Offers Visual of Progress Toward Re-Opening Illinois
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has a visual on its website that shows the phase each of the state’s four regions are in based upon metrics identified by the Governor as needing to be met before a region is permitted to advance through the five phases necessary to ease restrictions on re-opening various aspects of economic and social life. The website is available via this link.
Local Governments No Longer Need to Adopt and File Prevailing Wage Ordinances
While not related to the pandemic, the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) issued a press release (available via this link) reminding local governments that they are no longer required to adopt a prevailing wage ordinance and file it with the Department. This does not relieve local governments from adhering to the prevailing wage, just the filing requirement. The filing requirement was removed by Public Act 100-1177 (linked here), which took effect June 1, 2019. IDOL now ascertains the prevailing wage rate for each county and publishes the rates on its website.
Hospitals Receive Additional Funding to Fight COVID-19
On Tuesday, May 12, 2020, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) announced that Illinois hospitals have begun receiving $75 million in new stability payments to help fight COVID-19. The funds will help hospitals continue to provide essential COVID-19 services to their communities in the coming weeks and months. More information is available via this link.
IDHR Information for Businesses about Face Coverings
The Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) has published an FAQ to provide guidance for businesses concerning the use of face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAQ is available via this link.
May 8, 2020
Posted at 3:56 p.m.
Illinois’ COVID-19 Statistics
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting a total of 73,760 cases, including 3,241 deaths, in 98 counties in Illinois.
ISACo Meets with Senate Working Group
On May 7, 2020, I met via conference call with the members of the Senate Local Government Working Group. ISACo was invited to discuss our advocacy requests with the legislators. Our specific requests were included in an April 9, 2020, letter (available via this link) we sent to working group members.
In addition to the issues outlined in the letter, I requested that the Open Meetings Act (OMA) be amended to allow for the occurrence of remote meetings during emergency situations and discussed an amendment to the property tax code to provide additional clarification that counties have permissive authority to waive penalties and fees for late property tax payments under specified circumstances.
ISACo had a similar meeting with the House Local Government Working Group on April 29, 2020. We appreciate both the House and Senate inviting ISACo to participate in meetings to discuss county issues.
Governor Pritzker Issues New Executive Orders
Governor JB Pritzker issued the following Executive Orders (EO) of relevance to counties.
Onsight Review/Investigations of Certain Facilities
On May 1, 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order 2020-35 (available via this link) to suspend provisions in the Assisted Living and Shared Housing Act, the Nursing Home Care Act and the Community Care Act. For example, the EO suspends IDPH on-site reviews at each facility annually. IDPH will continue to conduct on-site reviews to the extent feasible. The EO suspends provisions regarding pest control, milk production, mobile homes, body piercing and speech language pathology.
On May 1, 2020, the Governor issued EO 2020-36 (available via this link) concerning marriage licenses. To obtain a marriage license, couples may appear before the county clerk and conduct a marriage ceremony using two-way audio-video communication technology if certain conditions are met. The EO suspends the requirement that a fully executed marriage license must be submitted to the county clerk within 10 days and the requirement that a marriage license becomes effective one day after the date of issuance.
Webinar Discusses Available Federal Funding for Counties
In this previously recorded webinar hosted by the National Association of Counties (NACo), experts from Witt O’Brien’s discuss the dozen federal funding streams available to local governments for COVID-19 aid, including which programs may be used to cover various costs, how they interact with CARES funding and how to prepare to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reimbursement. The free webinar can be viewed via this link.
NACo Publishes Report Explaining COVID-19 Fiscal Impact on Counties
NACo prepared a research report analyzing the fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on counties. The report estimates an overall $144 billion budgetary impact across all U.S. counties. An executive summary and the full report are available via this link.
NACo is continuing to collect information from counties regarding fiscal impacts. Please complete the 5-minute survey accessible via this link to add to NACo’s knowledge database. This is important information to collect because it will strengthen advocacy efforts in support of additional federal funding to counties. Thanks.
CISA Releases Report on COVID-19 Disinformation
The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a new CISA Insights titled, “COVID-19 Disinformation Activity” (available via this link). This CISA Insights provides guidance to deter false information and conspiracy theories related to COVID-19. It provides factual information to counteract inaccurate claims and provides simple steps the public can take to fact check information and minimize the risk of spreading false or misleading content.
May 5, 2020
Posted at 4:00 p.m.
Illinois’ COVID-19 Statistics
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting a total of 65,962 cases, including 2,838 deaths, in 97 counties in Illinois.
Governor Announces Plan to Re-Open Illinois
On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, Governor JB Pritzker announced a plan to begin re-opening the state based upon geographic regions and data. The five-phase plan is guided by public health metrics designed to provide a framework for re-opening businesses, education and recreational activities in each phase. This initial plan can and will be updated as research and science develop and as the potential for effective treatments or vaccines is realized. More information is available below:
U.S. Treasury Department Updates Frequently Asked Questions for CARES Act Distributions
On May 4, 2020, the Treasury Department updated its April 22, 2020, guidance for those local governments eligible for monetary distributions under the CARES Act. Local governments with more than 500,000 residents were eligible for this funding. The updated guidance is available via this link. The guidance released on April 22, 2020, is available via this link.
As Congress discusses further funding for state and local governments, ISACo is partnering with the National Association of Counties (NACo) to advocate that Illinois’ Congressional Delegation support additional direct funding to ALL counties regardless of population. Furthermore, we are pushing for the desired additional funding to be used for lost revenues as well as COVID-19 expenditures. We anticipate a federal plan proposing such provisions to be announced very soon.
COGFA Announces April Revenue Declines
The General Assembly’s Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) published its April revenue report showing the negative impact the economic shutdown is having on state revenue collections. Per the report, base revenues declined by $2.740 billion in April. The decline is attributed to a combination of COVID-19 impacts throughout the economy, deferment of income tax payments until July 15, 2020, and an expected reduction in revenues compared to higher than expected collections in April 2019.
The report also indicates that income tax proceeds from the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF) declined $129 million in April compared to April 2019. LGDF revenue is down $75 million during the current fiscal year. Counties and municipalities receive shared income tax revenue distributions from the state through LGDF. ISACo has a Policy Brief (available via this link) with more information about LGDF revenue and its importance to counties.
IEMA Announces Free PPE Decontamination System
To address the critical need for personal protective equipment (PPE), the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has procured technology capable of decontaminating PPE for reuse in the fight against COVID-19. This is a free service that will safely stretch the use of critical PPE for frontline workers.
Effective immediately, workers in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other frontline occupations should begin saving unsoiled N95 masks for decontamination right away. A Battelle Critical Decontamination System has been established in Waukegan to address this immediate need. More information is available via this link.
Office Re-Entry Resources
County governments will eventually need to begin planning for how their offices will be re-opened to employees and the public at the appropriate time. To assist in this planning, ISACo is pleased to share the following resources prepared by Jones Lang LaSalle IP, Inc.
May 1, 2020
Posted at 3:08 p.m.
Governor Issues New Disaster Proclamation; Extends Executive Orders
On April 30, 2020, Governor JB Pritzker issued a new state disaster proclamation (available via this link) that takes effect immediately and lasts through May 29, 2020. The proclamation will assist in obtaining federal emergency aid and disaster assistance resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Governor issued three new Executive Orders (EO) on April 30. They are as follows:
EO 2020-32 – Extends “Stay at Home” Policy
EO 2020-32 (available via this link) modifies and extends the Governor’s initial “stay at home” order and goes into effect on May 1, 2020, and continues through May 30, 2020.
The EO allows Illinoisans to leave their home for essential activities, including for health and safety, for necessary supplies and services, for outdoor activity, for certain types of work, to take care of others, and to engage in the free exercise of religion, but otherwise requires them to stay at home or their place of residence to prevent spread of COVID-19. Individuals are required to wear a face covering in public places when they are unable to maintain a six-foot social distance, such as in stores. The EO defines essential businesses and operations and allows non-essential retail stores to fulfill online and telephonic orders through pick-up outside the store or delivery.
The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) prepared an updated “Essential Business and Operations Frequently Asked Questions” document (available via this link) intended to increase understanding of provisions within EO 2020-32.
DCEO also issued a document entitled “Alternative Occupancy Restriction for Essential Stores” (available via this link).
DCEO requested that ISACo share the new restrictions for golfing (available via this link). Golfing while adhering to specified restrictions became permissible on May 1, 2020.
In order to aid compliance with workplace safety protocols, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Attorney General’s Office issued a document entitled “Workplace Health and Safety Guidance for Employees and Staff of Businesses” (available via this link).
On May 11, 2020, hospitals and Ambulatory Surgical Treatment Centers (ASTCs) may begin performing procedures previously considered nonessential during the pandemic. The new guidelines concerning these procedures are available via this link.
EO 2020-33 – Reissues EOs 2020-03 through 2020-31
EO 2020-34 – Suspends Conditional Cannabis Dispensing Organization Licenses
EO 2020-34 (available via this link) suspends the requirement that the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issue up to 75 Conditional Adult Use Dispensing Organization Licenses before May 1, 2020. Suspends certain requirements, including the need for an adult use cannabis dispensing organization agent to obtain an agent identification card from IDFPR prior to beginning work at a dispensary and the need for a medical or adult use cannabis dispensing organization agent to keep an agent identification card visible at all times when in the dispensary.
ISACo Presents Policy Recommendations During Meeting of House Working Group
On April 29, 2020, I presented several policy requests intended to protect county revenues during a meeting of the Illinois House of Representative’s Local Government Working Group.
The meeting was held using conference call and video technology. In addition to presenting on the issues included within our letter (available via this link) previously sent to legislators serving on the House and Senate Local Government Working Groups, I discussed the need to amend the Open Meetings Act (OMA) to allow for public bodies to meet remotely during future emergency situations. ISACo thanks the House Local Government Working Group for inviting us to share our advocacy requests.
ISACo has also been communicating with members of the Senate Local Government Working Group and its staff about our advocacy requests. A list of ISACo’s advocacy efforts are available at the bottom of our Coronavirus Resource Center webpage (available via this link).
April 28, 2020
Posted at 3:03 p.m.
COVID-19 Relief Legislation Enacted into Law
On April 24, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, also known as the “COVID-19 3.5” relief package. As reported in our April 22, 2020, e-mail (available via this link), the package includes $484 billion in funding.
The package includes $320 billion to replenish the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan initiative aimed at assisting small businesses to survive the economic fallout from the COVID-19 response.
Also included in the package is $11 billion to states and localities to scale up local COVID-19 testing capacity. $225 million will be allocated to rural health clinics. Finally, the package includes $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers.
While the package does not include additional direct funding for counties similar to what was contained within the CARES Act, ISACo continues to work with the National Association of Counties (NACo) to advocate for a fourth relief package with funds for state and local governments. A key component of our advocacy is allowing all local governments to use CARES funding to make up for revenues lost as a result of the economic shutdown.
ISACo continues to be active with our state and federal advocacy during the pandemic. The letters and action alerts we have sent out are available on our Coronavirus Resource Center webpage (available via this link).
Court Ruling Challenges Gubernatorial Executive Order
On April 27, 2020, a Clay County Circuit Court judge sided with the plaintiff, State Representative Darren Bailey, and ruled that Governor Pritzker’s “stay at home” order exceeded the Governor’s authority and violated the plaintiff’s civil rights.
The ruling (available via this link) grants a restraining order prohibiting enforcement against the plaintiff and is therefore limited to Representative Bailey as an individual. The potential for broader legal ramifications are being examined and the ruling may open the door to similar lawsuits going forward.
The circuit court determined that the restraining order shall remain in effect until a date agreed upon by the parties, not to exceed 30 days from the date of the ruling (April 27). A preliminary injunction will be heard on the agreed upon date.
Following the decision, Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed an intent to appeal the ruling.
ISACo will provide updates as they occur.
Workers’ Compensation Emergency Rule Repealed
In our April 14, 2020, e-mail update (available via this link) we reported on an emergency rule issued by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) that granted certain classes of employees a rebuttable presumption that a COVID-19 infection occurred at the workplace. This change to workers’ compensation law would have a significant impact on local governments with first responders and frontline employees.
On April 27, 2020, the IWCC formally repealed the emergency rule. This action followed a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Manufacturers Association (IMA) and Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA). The presumption issue may be considered by the General Assembly in the future.
April 23, 2020
Posted at 3:25 p.m.
Governor to Issue Modified “Stay at Home” Executive Order Beginning May 1
This afternoon, Governor JB Pritzker announced that he will sign a modified version of the state’s “stay at home” order that will go into effect on May 1, 2020, and continue until the end of the month.
The new executive order will include the following modifications effective May 1:
OUTDOOR RECREATION: State parks will begin a phased re-opening under guidance from the Department of Natural Resources. Fishing and boating in groups of no more than two people will be permitted. Golf will be permitted under strict safety guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and when ensuring that social distancing is followed.
NEW ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES: Greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries may re-open as essential businesses. These stores must follow social distancing requirements and must require that employees and customers wear a face covering. Animal grooming services may also re-open.
NON-ESSENTIAL RETAIL: Retail stores not designated as non-essential businesses and operations may re-open to fulfill telephone and online orders through pick-up outside the store and delivery.
FACE COVERINGS: Beginning on May 1, individuals will be required to wear a face-covering or a mask when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance. Face-coverings will be required in public indoor spaces, such as stores. This new requirement applies to all individuals over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask.
ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES AND MANUFACTURING: Essential businesses and manufacturers will be required to provide face-coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain six-feet of social distancing, as well as follow new requirements that maximize social distancing and prioritize the well-being of employees and customers. This will include occupancy limits for essential businesses and precautions such as staggering shifts and operating only essential lines for manufacturers.
SCHOOLS: Educational institutions may allow and establish procedures for pick-up of necessary supplies or student belongings. Dormitory move-outs must follow public health guidelines, including social distancing.
ELECTIVE SURGERIES: The Illinois Department of Public Health will also be issuing guidance to surgi-centers and hospitals to allow for certain elective surgeries for non-life-threatening conditions, starting on May 1. Facilities will need to meet specific criteria, including proper PPE, ensuring enough overall space for COVID-19 patients remains available, and testing of elective surgery patients to ensure COVID-19 negative status.
April 22, 2020
Posted at 3:00 p.m.
White House, Congress Reach Deal on COVID-19 Relief Legislation
On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, the U.S. Senate approved the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, also known as the “COVID-19 3.5” relief package. The package includes $484 billion in funding. The House is expected to vote on the package later this week.
The legislation includes $320 billion to replenish the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan initiative aimed at assisting small businesses to survive the economic fallout from the COVID-19 response.
Also included in the legislation is $11 billion to states and localities to scale up local COVID-19 testing capacity. $225 million will be allocated to rural health clinics. Finally, the legislation includes $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers.
More information is available via this link.
While the legislation does not include the additional direct funding to counties sought by ISACo and the National Association of Counties (NACo), President Trump pledged to seek further legislation to enable counties to use existing CARES Act funding as well as future funding to cover lost revenue. ISACo will continue to work with NACo and our Congressional delegation to build support for additional funding for counties with the ability to use the funds to compensate for lost revenue.
Links to previous ISACo letters to Illinois’ Congressional delegation are below:
ISACo Submits Legislative Proposals to Local Government Working Groups
The Illinois House and Senate have created several working groups to consider proposals that might be acted upon when the General Assembly eventually reconvenes. ISACo sent a letter to each member of the House and Senate local government working groups with our requests. These “asks” are intended to help curb the harmful impact the emergency response will pose to county budgets and operations. ISACo’s letter to the working groups is available via this link.
NACo Seeking Data from Counties about COVID-19 Emergency Response Budget Impacts
NACo is collecting data from counties around the country to gauge COVID-19 response expenditures and revenue losses. The data will be used by NACo in their federal advocacy efforts. Please take five minutes to fill out the survey available via this link. This is very important. Thank you!
White House Releases Guidance for Health Care Facilities to Reopen
On April 19, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance on the provision of non-COVID-19 health services to patients without coronavirus symptoms in areas with “low and stable incidence” of the virus. The new recommendations, which update guidance published by CMS last month on limiting non-essential medical procedures, represent the first “phase” of what the Trump Administration is proposing as a broader reopening plan, outlined in the Guidelines for Opening Up American Again. More information is available via this link.
State to Provide Additional SNAP Benefits
On Monday, April 20, 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) announced that Illinois has been approved to provide approximately 316,000 Illinois households with additional benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). More information is available via this link.
Payment Relief Expanded for Student Loan Recipients
On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, Governor JB Pritzker announced that Illinois has secured relief options with twenty private student loan servicers to expand on the protections the federal government granted to federal student loan borrowers. More information is available via this link.
April 16, 2020
Posted at 6:01 p.m.
Federal Legislative Action Alert – Please Act Immediately!
The National Association of Counties (NACo) is urging counties to contact their members of Congress immediately to advocate for county needs as a fourth COVID-19 relief package is under discussion.
To assist in this effort, NACo has prepared a model letter (available via this link) that can be customized by your county and sent to your members of Congress. The letter requests that Congress make direct funding available to all counties regardless of population (not only counties with more than 500,000 residents) and urges that emergency response funds not be allocated based on the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) formula. The CDBG formula shortchanges COVID-19 emergency response funding to counties compared to cities.
NACo has produced an informative video to highlight the important role counties are playing during the COVID-19 response. The video is available via this link. Counties are encouraged to use this video in their social media feeds, on their websites and in other communications with residents.
State Spending on COVID-19 Response
The Illinois Comptroller’s Office announced that Illinois’ spending on the COVID-19 response can be tracked on their website. The site is available via this link and will be updated daily.
Revised State Revenue Forecast Projects Losses
The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB) issued a revised revenue forecast for April 2020 along with updated projections for State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2020 and SFY 2021. These revisions are necessitated by the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The revised forecast and updated projections are available via this link. From the report:
Utilizing recent data forecasts available from IHS Markit, GOMB and the Department of Revenue currently estimate that fiscal year 2020 general funds state source base revenues will be approximately $2.7 billion below the February estimate of $36.9 billion, partially offset by expected additional federal revenues and additional interfund borrowing processed by the Office of the Comptroller.
Fiscal year 2021 general funds state source revenue estimates are being revised $4.6 billion down from an estimated state source base revenue estimate of $38.5 billion. This revenue shortfall, combined with additional fiscal year 2020 borrowing, has created a budgetary gap when compared to the fiscal year 2021 spending plan outlined by the Governor in February. Because the budget for fiscal year 2021 will be impacted by whether the graduated income tax structure in PA 101-0008 takes effect, there are two scenarios for the budget gap in fiscal year 2021. If PA 101-0008 takes effect, the budget gap is approximately $6.2 billion. If the graduated income tax structure in PA 101-0008 does not go into effect, the estimated budget gap is approximately $7.4 billion.
A press release from the Governor’s Office is available via this link.
Midwest Governors to Partner on Re-Opening Economy
On April 16, 2020, Governor JB Pritzker announced that Illinois would join Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky in coordinating how to reopen state economies in the region. The press release with the announcement is available via this link.
April 14, 2020
Posted at 4:38 p.m.
ISACo Joins NACo Advocacy Efforts Ahead of Potential Fourth COVID-19 Funding Legislation
Discussions are ongoing in Congress on a fourth COVID-19 funding bill. ISACo is partnering with the National Association of Counties (NACo) to urge Congress to reevaluate how it apportions federal COVID-19 emergency response funding to local governments with the goal of increasing the share provided to counties. Our mutual advocacy is also in support of the federal government providing additional funding to counties directly. On April 13, 2020, ISACo sent a letter (available via this link) to each member of Illinois’ Congressional delegation with these requests. Other state county associations across the country are urging their Congressional delegations to pursue these policies as well.
Emergency Workers’ Compensation Rules Approved
On April 13, 2020, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) issued emergency rules granting certain classes of employees who suffer an injury or period of incapacity from exposure to the COVID-19 virus during a COVID-19 related state of emergency a rebuttable presumption that the injury or incapacity arose out of and in the course of their employment. These rules are likely to have a significant impact on local governments with first responders and frontline employees. The emergency rules are available via this link.
Governor Pritzker Files Emergency Rules to Ease Access to Unemployment Benefits
On April 13, 2020, Governor Pritzker announced that his administration filed emergency rules to expand access to and eligibility for unemployment insurance. Steps taken include easing eligibility requirements, waiving the waiting week for claimants and implementing Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs. The Governor also provided an update on measures taken by the state to more rapidly absorb and process the high number of unemployment claims. Additional information is available via this link.
Free Webinar Opportunity – Local Government COVID-19 Cost Recovery
Ernst and Young, LLP is offering a free 30 minute webinar to share information about how local governments can best position themselves to obtain financial recovery through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act; the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other granting agencies. The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, April 16, 2020, at 1 p.m. (CST). Additional information is available via this link.
April 10, 2020
Posted at 3:19 p.m.
Illinois COVID-19 Cases
On April 10, 2020, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced 1,465 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the total number of counties with cases to 83. As of April 10, Illinois has 17,887 cases and 596 deaths. ISACo has a list of counties with cases on our Coronavirus Resource Page (available via this link).
Governor Signs Executive Order (EO) 2020-23
EO 2020-23 (available via this link) is intended to increase the number of licensed professionals able to respond to the disaster.
Federal Reserve Announces Liquidity Options for State and Local Governments
On April 9, 2020, the Federal Reserve took additional actions to provide up to $2.3 trillion in loans to support the economy. This funding will assist households and employers of all sizes and bolster the ability of state and local governments to deliver critical services during the coronavirus pandemic. Additional information is available via this link.
Economic Impact Report
The University of Illinois System Institute of Government and Public Affairs released a report discussing the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on state and local budgets. The report utilizes a range of possible fiscal impacts due to the difficulty of modeling based on uncertainties about the severity of the pandemic and resultant economic disruption. Estimates about the impact on local governments begins on page 10 of the report. The report is available via this link.
The Illinois State Police issued emergency rules this week to address renewals of Firearm Owner Identification and Concealed Carry Licenses during the COVID-19 epidemic.
The changes include:
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.
Guidance for Workers Potentially Exposed to COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have provided guidance for critical infrastructure workers who have been exposed to COVID-19. These two important informational products include Interim Guidance for Implementing Safety Practices for Critical Infrastructure Workers Who May Have Had Exposure to a Person with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 and a quick reference of the Do’s and Don’ts for employers and employees related to COVID-19 exposures.
While the guidance (available via this link) specifically calls attention to critical infrastructure workers serving in the specific capacities and functions, as below, the guidance can apply to all critical infrastructure workers with the exception of Healthcare Providers who are covered under separate guidance (available via this link).
Federal, state, & local law enforcement
911 call center employees
Fusion Center employees
Hazardous material responders from the government and the private sector
Janitorial staff and other custodial staff
Workers – including contracted vendors – in food and agriculture, critical manufacturing, informational technology, transportation, energy and government facilities
Employers should implement the recommendations in the Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers, to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019, to help prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Please continue to monitor the CDC website for the most current medical guidance (available via this link).
April 8, 2020
Posted at 3:12 p.m.
Federal Legislation Filed to Authorize Additional Funding for Local Governments
On April 7, 2020, legislation was filed in the U.S. House of Representatives to create a new $250 billion Coronavirus relief fund for local governments with populations under 500,000. The text of the legislation is available via this link. The sponsors of the bill are seeking to have this funding included within a fourth COVID-19 package.
All local governments (defined as “a county, municipality, town, township, village, parish, borough, or other unit of general government below the State level”) would be eligible for the funding. The language defines costs to include “lost revenue, reimbursement for expenses already incurred, and increases in costs reasonably believed to be the direct or indirect result of, or direct or indirect responses to circumstances caused by, the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” It is unclear at this time how the U.S. Treasury Department would distribute the funding or how quickly counties could access it.
In ISACo’s April 1, 2020, e-mail to county officials (available via this link), we shared a letter sent by ISACo to each member of Illinois’ congressional delegation urging support for direct federal funding for counties with 500,000 or fewer residents. A scanned copy of that letter is available via this link.
On April 6, 2020, the National Association of Counties (NACo) sent a letter to Congressional leaders identifying key priorities for counties as additional federal legislation is discussed and developed. That letter is available via this link.
DCEO Emergency Small Business Grants and Loans Assistance
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has a webpage (available via this link) with information about the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund and the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program. The website includes eligibility information and instructions on how to apply for the emergency assistance.
Remote Notarization Authorized During COVID-19 Emergency
In order to further eliminate barriers that hinder virtual or remote real estate closings and all related financial transactions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor’s Office, the Secretary of State’s (SOS) Office and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) have expanded how real-time electronic technologies may be utilized. Remote notarization can be used for the duration of Governor Pritzker’s stay at home order which is in effect until April 30, 2020. Additional information is available via this link.
No Penalty for Employers Filing Wage Reports Late
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced that employers will not face a penalty fee for filing their February 2020 wage reports late. The emergency rule was electronically filed with the Secretary of State on April 7, 2020 and becomes immediately effective. Additional information is available via this link.
April 6, 2020
Posted at 5:20 p.m.
Sharing Identities of COVID-19 Cases with First Responders
ISACo has received inquiries about whether it is permissible to share with first responders the identify of persons infected with COVID-19. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) indicates that providing information to first responders about who may have COVID-19 is of limited infection control value and therefore recommends against it. The Department does recommend that first responders take appropriate protective precautions when responding to calls. IDPH has published a resource (available via this link) with information about this issue.
Expanded Emergency Child Care
All essential workers in health care, human services, essential government services and essential infrastructure now qualify for the state’s Child Care Assistance Program. The state will cover most of the cost of care provided by emergency child care centers and homes. This expansion of eligibility includes those working as nurses and doctors, supporting staff in hospitals, grocery store clerks and food producers. More information is available via this link.
SNAP Recipients to Receive Maximum Benefits
On April 6, 2020, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) announced that more than 450,000 Illinois households will receive additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits beginning Tuesday, April 8, 2020. All who are eligible for the additional benefits should receive them by April 20th. 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. Additional information is available via this link.
AT&T COVID-19 Response
ISACo corporate partner AT&T is providing information about how they are adjusting their business operations and working to help people stay connected with each other during the pandemic. The company is pitching in to help consumers, first responders, health care professionals and educators during this difficult time. More information is available via this link.
April 3, 2020
Posted at 4:33 p.m.
Executive Order Defines Health Care Facilities, Professionals and Volunteers
On Wednesday, April 1, 2020, Governor JB Pritzker issued Executive Order (EO) 2020-19 (available via this link) to define healthcare facilities, health care professionals and health care volunteers. The EO calls for the postponement or cancelation of elective surgeries. Health care facilities, professionals and volunteers are rendered immune from civil liability for any injury or death alleged, unless caused by gross negligence or willful misconduct.
As reported in our e-mail on Wednesday, April 1, 2020, Governor JB Pritzker issued an extension to his “stay at home” directive through April 30, 2020. EO 2020-18 was not available at the time we sent out our email on Wednesday but is now available via this link.
FFCRA and Paid Leave
The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) has prepared information about paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) that must be posted at workplaces and may also be shared with employees via mail or e-mail. The poster (available via this link) provides information about the rights of employees to take paid leave related to COVID-19.
USDOL has published another resource providing information (available via this link) about the paid leave requirements under FFCRA. USDOL also has a “Questions and Answers” resource to provide information about FFCRA. This resource is available via this link.
“All in Illinois” Campaign Launched to Encourage People to Remain at Home
On Thursday, April 2, 2020, Governor JB Pritzker launched a new statewide effort called ‘All in Illinois' to reinforce the state's core message, backed by scientists and public health experts: stay at home and stay safe. As Illinoisans continue to practice social distancing to stay healthy, ‘All in Illinois' is a way to unite residents across the state and remind them we are all in this together. Additional information is available via this link.
IDOR Estimated Tax Payments
A significant number of taxpayers will not be able to properly calculate their 2020 estimated state income taxes as a result of the filing and payment deadline being deferred until July 15, 2020. Since taxpayers may not know their prior year’s tax liability if they do not file by the original due date, the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) is providing for an additional option upon which taxpayers can base their 2020 estimated tax payments. More information is available via this link.
IDHS Increasing Resources to Address Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) announced the launch of a $1.2 million plan to increase the capacity of its current statewide network of services for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Additional information is available via this link.
April 1, 2020
Posted at 4:22 p.m.
Governor Extends “Stay at Home” Directive On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, Governor JB Pritzker announced his decision to extend his disaster proclamation and the “Stay at Home” directive through April 30, 2020. This also extends the suspension of onsite school learning through April 30. A press release about the extension of the “stay at home” directive and suspension of onsite school learnin is available via this link.
ISACo Advocates for Direct Federal Assistance to More Counties The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748) approved by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020, includes several provisions intended to provide financial assistance to local governments. A complete analysis of the Act from the National Association of Counties (NACo) is available via this link. ISACo initially shared this analysis in our March 27, 2020, e-mail (linked here).
One provision within the Act is a $150 billion state stabilization fund that will provide direct financial assistance to states, tribal governments, territories and local governments with more than 500,000 residents for costs incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. In Illinois, this financial assistance would benefit five counties and the City of Chicago. According to the federal government, revenue available through this state stabilization fund can only be used to offset expenses related to COVID-19 and cannot be used to offset lost revenues. The United State Treasury Department is developing a website portal where eligible local governments can apply for the funds.
On April 1, 2020, ISACo sent a letter to each member of Illinois’ Congressional delegation requesting that Congress include within any future COVID-19 emergency response legislation direct financial assistance to counties with 500,000 residents or fewer for costs incurred because of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The letter sent to Senator Durbin is available via this link.
The mission of ISACo is to advocate for all counties regardless of population or geographic location.
IDOR Extends Expiration Date for Certain Illinois Sales Tax Exemption Numbers Due to staffing issues related to the ongoing COVID-19 virus pandemic, the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) is unable to process most renewal applications for Illinois Sales Tax exemption (“E”) numbers at this time. To allow time to process outstanding renewal applications, the Board of Appeals at IDOR has issued an order extending the E-number expiration date by 90 days for impacted organizations and individuals. Local governments are provided an exemption from sales taxes. Additional Information is available via this link.
DCEO Resources for Businesses Local officials are receiving questions from their business communities about resources that may be available to assist businesses harmed by the emergency response to the pandemic. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) has published information identifying resources available for businesses and communities (available via this link).
March 30, 2020
Posted at 5:03 p.m.
Social Distancing Guidelines Extended
On March 29, 2020, President Trump announced that federal social distancing guidelines are being extended through the end of April. This means that Americans are being asked to remain at home as much as possible, forego non-essential travel and avoid groups with more than 10 people.
President Trump Declares Illinois Major Disaster Area
On March 26, 2020, Illinois received a major disaster area designation from the federal government. As a result, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance applications will be processed using a specific declaration number. From this point forward, counties applying for Public Assistance should reference Illinois Declaration Number: FEMA-4489-DR-IL. Previous applications submitted by counties do not need to be modified. They will be converted by FEMA. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has published an updated Public Assistance (PA) Program Fact Sheet with the information (available via this link).
IDHS Requesting Information about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Needs
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is seeking to determine the extent of need for PPE among community-based organizations. They have created a survey (available via this link) to collect this information and asks that you complete the survey by April 1, 2020. As you fill out the survey, please give your best estimate of what will be needed over the next 30-90 days, accounting for both your organization’s staff and customer/client populations. Please complete the survey!
Clarification Regarding Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has provided additional information regarding implementation of certain provisions of the FFCRA (available via this link). The updated information begins with Question #38. The updated guidance, in part, further clarifies the definitions of an “emergency responder” and “health care provider.”
Updated Federal Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce
On March 28, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) – released updated guidance on the essential critical infrastructure workforce (available via this link). See also the Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response (available via this link). The guidance and accompanying list (linked here) are intended to support State, Local and industry partners in identifying the critical infrastructure sectors and the essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response.
ISACo’s March 20, 2020, e-mail (linked here) included Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order (EO) 2020-10 (linked here). This EO declared the “stay at home” directive and includes a description of essential infrastructure, essential government functions and essential businesses and operations.
Governor Pritzker Announces Medicaid Coverage Expansion Effort
As the state continues to build on its robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for increased demand across the state’s health care system, Governor Pritzker announced the “Care Comes First” action plan, a series of efforts led by the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (IDHFS) to expand medical coverage for residents across the state. Additional information is available via this link.
IDFPR Announces Efforts to Aid Consumers Facing Debts Associated with COVID-19
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) announced a series of actions to ensure the protection of Illinoisans in many areas of consumer borrowing, servicing and collections. The Department also provided Guidance to its regulated entities, state banks, credit unions, installment lenders, payday lenders, title loan lenders, sales finance lenders including auto loans, currency exchanges, student loan servicers, mortgage servicers and collection agencies concerning their lending, servicing and collection during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional information is available via this link.
March 27, 2020
Posted at 2:42 p.m.
Federal COVID-19 Relief Package Approved
The United States Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748). The Act was passed by the Senate on March 25 and the House on March 27. President Trump indicated he will sign the legislation into law. This significant relief package is the largest in U.S. history and will provide hundreds of billions of dollars in loans and grants to major industries and small businesses, direct cash payments to taxpayers and significantly expand unemployment benefits. The package includes several relevant provisions for county governments. The National Association of Counties (NACo) has prepared a section-by-section analysis of these provisions. The NACo analysis is available via this link.
Transfers from County Jails Suspended
On March 26, 2020, Governor Pritzker signed Executive Order (EO) 2020-13 (available via this link). The EO suspends, through April 7, 2020, transfers of prisoners from county jails to the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). Exceptions are allowed for limited essential transfers if approved by the Director of IDOC.
OMA and Remote Meetings
ISACo’s March 19 e-mail (linked here) referenced Governor JB Pritzker’s Executive Order (EO 2020-07 – linked here) suspending elements of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) to allow for local governments to conduct business without having to physically convene. We also shared Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s guidance (linked here) concerning OMA and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in light of the Governor’s Executive Order. ISACo would also like to share a document providing tips for hosting virtual meetings (available here).
Executive Order Modifies Requirements for Signing Legal Documents
Governor Pritzker signed EO 2020-14 (linked here) on March 26 to allow legal documents to be signed in counterparts by the witness(es) and the signatory during the period of the disaster proclamation. A Notary Public must be presented with a fax or electronic copy of the document signature pages showing the witness signatures on the same date the document is signed by the signatory if the Notary Public is being asked to certify to the appearance of the witnesses to a document.
General Assembly Cancels More Session Days
The General Assembly will not convene next week (March 30-April 3) and continues to push key legislative deadlines to later dates on the calendar.
State Tax Filing Date Delayed
On March 25, 2020, Governor Pritzker announced that the date to file Illinois income tax returns will be extended to July 15, 2020 (press release available via this link). The federal income tax filing deadline had already been pushed back to July 15, 2020.
Small Business Emergency Assistance
Governor Pritzker announced a new package of emergency assistance programs for small businesses in need of additional capital, totaling more than $90 million. Illinois businesses will be able to apply for these programs on the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) website (available via this link).
IDES Addressing Surge in Unemployment Claims
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) is taking steps to deal with the increase in unemployment benefit claims. Additional information is available via this link.
Real ID Deadline Extended
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) is pushing back the deadline for REAL ID enforcement October 1, 2021. The previous deadline was October 1, 2020. The press release is available via this link.
The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the Act’s minimum standards. The purposes covered by the Act are: accessing Federal facilities, entering nuclear power plants, and, boarding federally regulated commercial aircraft.
March 25, 2020
Posted at 2:55 p.m.
Governor JB Pritzker announced that Illinois will delay its income tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020.
ISACo Executive Director Joe McCoy sent a letter to Comptroller Susana Mendoza requesting that revenues normally distributed to counties be prioritized. The letter is available via this link.
March 21, 2020
Posted at 3:26 p.m.
Governor JB Pritzker is requesting that retired health care workers to return to service to help in the fight against the Coronavirus. The Governor indicated licenses would be expedited and fees waived.
March 20, 2020
Posted at 7:39 p.m.
The Governor’s Executive Order (EO) requiring residents to "shelter in place" describes the kind of government services exempt from the order and provides local governments with the authority to determine what is an essential governmental function and what employees or contractors are involved with these functions. From the EO:
Section I, Number 10
For purposes of this Executive Order, all first responders, emergency management personnel, emergency dispatchers, court personnel, law enforcement and corrections personnel, hazardous materials responders, child protection and child welfare personnel, housing and shelter personnel, military, and other governmental employees working for or to support Essential Business and Operations are categorically exempt from this Executive Order.
Essential Government Functions means all services provided by the State or any municipal, township, county, subdivision or agency of government and needed to ensure the continuing operation of the government agencies or to provide for or support the health, safety and welfare of the government agencies, and including contractors performing Essential Government Functions. Each government body shall determine its Essential Governmental Functions and identify employees and/or contractors necessary to the performance of those functions.
Posted at 4:34 p.m.
Governor Invokes “Shelter in Place” Order
On Friday, March 20, 2020, Governor JB Pritzker instituted a “shelter in place” order for Illinois residents beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 21 and continuing through Tuesday, April 7. Under the order, “non-essential” business and operations must cease. Grocery stores, food delivery services, pharmacies and healthcare facilities are among those businesses that will remain open. Essential local government services will not cease. Residents can still venture outdoors for a walk while practicing social distancing. The Executive Order (EO 2020-10) is available via this link.
Additional Actions by the Governor
On Thursday, March 19, 2020, Governor JB Pritzker announced additional measures to assist Illinoisans during the pandemic. These measures are discussed in the press release available via this link. A bullet point summary is below:
Sales Tax Deferral for Bars and Restaurants (additional information via this link)
SBA Approval of Small Business Loans in Illinois
New Grocery Store Hours for Older Residents
Expansion of Health Care Services
Executive Order 2020-09
Governor JB Pritzker issued Executive Order (EO) 2020-9 on March 19, 2020. The EO expands telehealth services and requires insurance companies to cover the services. The EO is available via this link.
Unemployment Insurance and COVID-19
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) has created a website to answer frequently asked questions about unemployment insurance. The page is available via this link. Employees laid off for seven days or otherwise separated from payroll must be provided with the document available via this link. Employers must provide the document.
Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce Guidance
On March 19, 2020, the Federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) developed an initial list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” to help State and local officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. The memorandum is available via this link.
Federal Tax Payments Deferred Until July 15, 2020
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing special payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak. The filing deadline for tax returns remains April 15, 2020. The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. For those who cannot file by the April 15, 2020, deadline, the IRS reminds individual taxpayers that everyone is eligible to request a six-month extension to file their return. Additional information is available via this link.
Municipal Bond Market Backstopped by Federal Reserve
One of the impacts the pandemic is having on the economy is increased borrowing costs for states and local governments as a result of a large selloff in municipal debt. According to an article inThe Washington Post, “the Federal Reserve will make loans available to financial institutions that can be secured by ‘high quality’ state and local bonds. This will make owning these tax-exempt municipal bonds more attractive and should help ensure there is plenty of demand for these bonds as many states and cities begin to issue more debt in the coming weeks and months.” The Federal Reserve Board took this action on Friday, March 20, 2020. The Post article is available via this link. The press release from the Federal Reserve is available via this link.
Document Coronavirus Expenses
As indicated in our prior e-mail communications, it is imperative that counties keep careful documentation about all expenses associated with their Coronavirus response. Accurate records will greatly assist in obtaining revenue reimbursements.
March 19, 2020
Posted at 1:06 p.m.
OMA Protocols During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Governor Pritzker’s Executive Order (EO) 2020-07 (linked here) allows for the suspension of elements of the Open Meetings Act (OMA). The Illinois Attorney General’s Office has issued guidance for local governments with respect to OMA and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The information is available via this link. Local officials are encouraged to review the document and plan accordingly.
FEMA Public Assistance
This morning ISACo received an inquiry about whether a county needs to declare an emergency before being eligible to receive public assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Other county officials may have this question as well. Because President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, 2020, and included emergency declarations for each state, local governments are not required to formally declare an emergency for their jurisdictions in order to receive FEMA assistance.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has made a document available (available via this link) to aid local governments in applying for federal funds through the Public Assistance Program. Applications must be received by April 12, 2020.
IDOR Coronavirus Resources
Like many employers, the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) has reduced staff during the pandemic. Consequently, the taxpayer phone system is not available. According to IDOR, a limited number of staff will be monitoring and responding to emails. The website with the e-mail addresses for various topics is available via this link. You may want to share this information with your residents.
Congress Approves Coronavirus Aid Package
On March 18, 2020, the United States Senate approved a second, bipartisan coronavirus aid package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201). The multi-billion dollar bill had previously been approved by the House on March 14, 2020. President Trump signed the legislation into law on March 18, 2020. An analysis by the National Association of Counties (NACo) is available via this link.
Free Coronavirus Testing
Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) Rate Increase
Paid Sick and Medical Leave
A provision requiring local governments receiving funds or assistance to ensure their State Emergency Operations Center receive regular and real-time data-reporting on testing and results from state and local public health departments.
NACo issued a statement following passage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (available via this link). Congress is working on a third relief package expected to receive a vote by the end of the week. The first bi-partisan legislation enacted into law to assist with the Coronavirus response was an $8.3 billion package signed into law on March 6, 2020.
March 18, 2020
Posted at 4:21 p.m.
Congress has approved additional legislation intended to aid the response to the Coronavirus pandemic. President Trump has indicated he would sign the bill into law. The bill includes the following provisions:
Offer two weeks of paid sick and family leave to many American workers who are in quarantine, helping a family member with COVID-19 or who have children whose schools have closed. Workers will get 100% of their normal salary.
A total of 12 weeks of paid leave to many of those who have children whose schools have closed. Workers would get about 67% of their normal salary for this period.
Bolsters unemployment insurance
Free testing for the coronavirus for those who need it
Boosts food assistance (SNAP) and federal funding for Medicaid
Posted at 1:19 p.m.
On March 17, 2020, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2020-08 – linked here). The EO suspends expiration provisions of state law applicable to driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations, parking decals and other programs and services handled by the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office. The SOS offices are closed through Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
Posted at 11:15 a.m.
ISACo has been in communication with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to inquire if the agency has developed a plan for releasing federal funds intended for local governments that will first pass through the agency. This funding is part of the $8.3 billion package approved by Congress and signed into law by President Trump (H.R. 6074 - available via this link). We will share this information as it becomes available.
FEMA Emergency Protective Measure Reimbursement
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is directed to assist state, local, tribal, territorial governments and other eligible entities with the health and safety actions they take on behalf of the American public. FEMA actions will be in support of HHS and in coordination with state, tribal and territorial governments. Eligible emergency protective measures taken at the direction or guidance of public health officials in response to this emergency, and not supported by the authorities of another federal agency, will be reimbursed strictly under the FEMA Public Assistance program. FEMA assistance will be provided at a 75 percent Federal cost share. Reimbursable activities typically include emergency protective measures such as the activation of State Emergency Operations Centers, National Guard costs, law enforcement and other measures necessary to protect public health and safety. Counties are encouraged to work directly with their local emergency management offices and through the State Emergency Management Agency for all requests for assistance.
Expanded Medicare Telehealth Coverage
The Trump Administration announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. Beginning on March 6, 2020, Medicare administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—will temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries residing across the entire country. Consistent with President Trump’s emergency declaration, CMS is expanding Medicare’s telehealth benefits under the 1135 waiver authority and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. This guidance and other recent actions by CMS provide regulatory flexibility to ensure that all Americans—particularly high-risk individuals—are aware of easy-to-use, accessible benefits that can help keep them healthy while helping to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Overweight Truck Permit Fees Waived
Governor JB Pritzker has waived overweight permit fees for trucks delivering emergency relief supplies. The press release is available via this link.
Attorney General Fights Price Gouging
On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued a warning against price gouging and indicated his office is prepared to take action against unfair pricing with a primary focus on essential medical supplies, such as protective gear, and other items identified in the governor’s executive order. The press release is available via this link.
National Guard Activated
Governor Pritzker has activated the National Guard to assist with logistical support and medical staffing. Story available via this link.
March 17, 2020
Posted at 4:08 p.m.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) has an informative analysis of various federal legislative initiatives introduced to address issues related to Coronavirus. This includes revenue and assistance to state and local governments. The document (PDF) is available via this link. Be patient while it loads.
President Trump has already signed an $8.3 billion funding bill into law (H.R. 6074 - available via this link). This new law includes:
$2.2 billion in public health funding to support prevention, preparedness and response efforts, including a $1 billion set-aside for State and Local Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) grants to support states, counties, cities and tribes, half of which will be distributed within 30 days. Under this provision, each state will receive at least $4 million in PHEP grants. While the federal money will be expedited to the states, there is no timetable on how long the states will take to suballocate the money to local governments. ISACo will work with county officials and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to expedite the flow of money to counties.
$100 million in supplemental appropriations for Community Health Centers (CHC).
March 16, 2020
Posted at 9:28 p.m.
The Illinois Gaming Board is suspending all video gaming operations at licensed video gaming establishments effective at 9:00 p.m. on Monday, March 16, 2020. This suspension will extend through Monday, March 30, 2020. The announcement is available via this link.
Posted at 8:26 p.m.
The Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) is suspending all wage claim and other scheduled hearings until further notice. The press release is available via this link.
Posted at 7:46 p.m.
Governor Pritzker approved Executive Order (EO) 2020-07 (linked here). This EO clarifies what businesses are affected by the Governor's action to close bars and restaurants to prevent any service to customers other than take-out. The provision is below:
"Beginning March 16, 2020 at 9 p.m. through March 30, 2020, all businesses in the state of Illinois that offer food or beverages for on-premises consumption -- including restaurants, bars, grocery stores and food halls -- must suspend service for and not permit on-premises consumption. Businesses located in airports, hospitals and dining halls in colleges and universities are exempt from the requirements of the EO. Hotel restaurants may continue to provide room service and carry-out. Catering services may continue."
EO 2020-07 also includes the following language prohibiting gatherings of 50 people or more:
"Beginning March 18, 2020, all public and private gatherings in the State of Illinois of 50 people or more are prohibited for the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation. This includes venues such as fitness centers/health clubs, bowling alleys, private clubs and theaters. This does not include venues that provide essential goods and services such as grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, gas stations, banks/credit unions and shelters."
The provisions above will be enforced by the Illinois State Police (ISP), Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal (OSFM) and the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.
The EO also suspends provisions of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) to allow public officials to attend official meetings electronically during the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation. This provision should be of great benefit to local officials seeking to conduct important public business over the coming weeks.
In the section of the EO suspending OMA provisions, the Governor encourages local governments to postpone public business where possible and to provide the public with opportunities to monitor meetings where electronic attendance occurs.
Posted at 3:34 p.m.
During his daily press briefing, Governor JB Pritzker warned that people living in counties outside of the Chicago metropolitan area should not assume they are safe from the spread of the Coronavirus. Residents of these counties are at risk just like everyone else.
Posted at 2:09 p.m.
Closings include the Illinois State Museum and its branches (press release available here). Illinois Department of Natural Resources has closed all state sites as well (press release available here). The state's server appears to be experiencing problems and pages may not open immediately.
Posted at 1:46 p.m.
House Democrats received a memo from House Democratic Chief of Staff Jessica Basham indicating that members will only be expected to return to Springfield for legislative work during the public health crisis if necessary. The memo is available via this link.
Posted at 9:23 a.m.
On Saturday, March 14, 2020, Governor Pritzker announced that all schools would be closed through March 30, 2020. Executive Order 2020-05 is available via this link. This Executive Order was amended by Executive Order 2020-06 which is available via this link.
On Sunday, March 15, the Governor announced that all restaurants and bars would be closed to dine-in service through March 30. The closure will begin at 9 p.m. on Monday, March 16, 2020. These businesses will be permitted to continue providing take out service to customers.
Details of this bar and restaurant closure policy have not yet been clarified. For example, how does the policy affect bowling alleys and other entertainment venues that serve food and beverages? What is the role of local public safety agencies? I have been in contact with the Governor's staff and told that these kinds of details are being worked out and will be communicated on Monday, March 16. ISACo will provide this information on our blog.
The press release announcing the closure of restaurants and bars is available via this link.
As indicated in an e-mail we sent out on Friday, March 13, 2020, inquiries have been made about amending state law to allow all local officials to participate in official meetings through electronic means. I have nothing new to report about this issue at this time, but ISACo is supportive of such an accommodation during times of public crisis.
The decision to cancel some or all public meetings for a limited period of time rests with local leaders. The decision by the State of Illinois to close schools, restaurants and bars through March 30, 2020, may provide a useful timetable for the duration of time public meetings should be cancelled. Should meetings be held, it is recommended that reasonable protocols be pursued. This includes restricting meetings to essential business, practicing social distancing and making hand sanitizer available.
ISACo continue to serve as an intermediary between counties and the federal government through the National Association of Counties (NACo).
We have created a resource page with essential information about the Coronavirus along with best practices to avoid contraction and transmission. This page is updated as new information becomes available. You can view this resource page via this link.