Our office is eager to resume life as normal, while staying safe. Governor Pritzker released a 5 Phase Plan to bring us closer to that goal. Track how our Northeast Region is doing by visiting here: https://www.dph.illinois.gov/restore. For those who live in the City of Chicago, make sure to check out https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid-19/home/reopening-chicago.html, as Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan differs slightly from the rest of the state.
We may have a long way to go, but by following the guidelines below, we will get closer and closer to Phase 5, and protect ourselves and others in our community along the way.
More guidance, including best disinfecting practices, can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html
FEMA is also providing tools with suggested questions that organizations can use to think through their own planning process to return to full operations in a way and on a timeline that is appropriate for them. Follow these links to find a sample facilitator guide and sample slides that are designed to be adapted and customized for your own needs.
Illinois Department of Commerce has a hotline and email address for business who have questions related to reopening.
Be sure to keep reading below for our comprehensive list of COVID-19 Resources. You can also use the following links to access our Resource Guides, sorted by government entity.
Swedish Hospital is now offering free drive-thru COVID-19 testing regardless of your insurance status. To get assessed for testing, call Swedish at 773-907-7700 or complete an online screening. Interpretive services are available in many languages, including in Spanish and Polish.
- Unemployment – State of Illinois – If you’re a worker who has been laid-off or quarantined because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Those who quit their jobs because of COVID-19 are not eligible for unemployment benefits unless there is another legally valid reason. The Federal CARES Act also provides for a Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which provides an extra $600 weekly payment for eligible employees on top of what they will receive state wise, and increases the number of weeks an employee can receive benefits.
- Artists resources – National Endowment for the Arts – Find resources and information for artists and art organizations for COVID-19. Illinois also has a new Arts for Illinois Relief Fund. Not only can artists from all fields and non-for profit art organizations apply for grant funding, but artists can also submit some of their work to be featured on the website.
- Contractors and freelancers resources –
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) expands unemployment coverage to cover workers who are not typically covered by unemployment insurance, such as independent contractors and the self-employed. Can collect benefits for a maximum of 39 weeks (between January 27 and December 31, 2020) based on the weekly benefit the individual would have received under applicable state law, plus the $600 weekly benefit under the FPUC.
- Tax deadline – Federal Government – The deadline to file your taxes has been moved from April 15 to June 15. Illinois has also moved it’s deadline to align with the Federal Government.
- Student Debt – Federal Government – The Trump Administration announced a suspension of federal student debt payments for 60 days. In order to take advantage of this, you need to contact your loan servicer directly.
- Medicaid – Federal Government – On March 14, Governor Pritzker requested the federal government expand Medicaid coverage. We’ve not received an update on the status of the request.
- Telehealth – State of Illinois – Governor Pritzker issued an executive order requiring insurance issuers regulated by the Department of Insurance to cover costs of telehealth service for in-network providers. Read the linked executive order to all details.
- COVID-19 resources – CDC – Check the CDC webpage for the latest national guidance on COVID-19. For updates specific to Chicago or the State of Illinois go to the resources section.
- SNAP (Food Stamps) – Illinois Department of Human Services – USDA is allowing states to conduct telephone interviews instead of face-to face-interviews for SNAP in March, April and May 2020. If you have questions about applying, you can contact the Chicago Food Depository at 773-843-5416.
- CPS meals – CPS – CPS locations are Food Distribution Centers beginning on Tuesday (3/17) from 9AM to 1PM. Families can pick up 3 days worth of food for each child at any given time. Parents in need of delivery should call 773-553-KIDS (5437) or email email@example.com.
- Senior groceries – Several retailers have created dedicated shopping hours for older adults and those in high-risk groups to shop without crowds of other people. We recommend you call ahead to verify this information:
- Gene’s Sausage Shop: Older adults given priority 9am-10am daily
- Jewel-Osco: Older adults given priority 7am-9am Tuesday/Thursday
- Mariano’s: 6am-8am daily
- Target: First hour of each Wednesday
- Tony’s Fresh Market: Older adults given priority 7am-9am Tuesday/Thursday
- Walmart: Age 60+ can shop 1 hour before store open
- Whole Foods: Age 60+ can shop 1 hour before store open
- Meals on Wheels – Meals on Wheels is continuing to deliver meals to seniors who need them.
- Parking ticket relief – City of Chicago – Through April 30, the city will waive late penalties on city debts, including vehicle tickets; suspend its vehicle booting program; and limit its ticketing, towing and impound operations to focus solely on public safety issues. Motorists are still required to pay parking meters. While the City’s parking enforcement efforts have been scaled back to prioritize safety-related violations, people should still pay for metered parking during this period.
- Vehicle registration relief – Illinois Secretary of State – Expiration dates for driver’s licenses, identification (ID) cards, vehicle registrations and other transactions and document filings will be extended for the duration of the disaster proclaimed by Governor Pritzker and 30 days after the disaster ends.
- CTA – CTA is offering a prorated credit for any unused days on active 7- and 30-day passes. Customers with active Ventra passses can receive a prorated credit for any remaining days, based on when the pass was last used. Prorated credits will transfer to the cardholder’s Ventra account.
- Metra – Metra is reducing service during COVID-19. Check their website for the most up-to-date information about their alternative schedule.
- Divvy – The Divvy bike-share program is offering discounts through April 30, with the annual cost of membership cut in half from $99 to $49.50. Single rides will cost $1. Divvy is also launching a 30-day program to give healthcare workers free 45-minute rides starting Tuesday, March 24 through April 30. Healthcare workers can sign up through their employer.
- Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has an agreement with 20 private loan servicers to help provide relief for those with private student loans. Students with these loan servicers can now request a 90 day forbearance (but not automatic like it is for public loans). Information can be found here: https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/student-loans
- To speak to a mental health professional for those experiencing stress and mental health issues related to COVID-19 text “TALK” or “HABLAR” for Spanish to 5-5-2-0-2-0.
- Individuals will receive a call within 24 hours
- It is free and anonymous
- Individuals can also text 5-5-2-0-2-0, with key words such as “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” to receive information on how to access supports and services
- Individuals can also call the medical social worker at their clinic or 312 864-0200 and ask to speak to a social worker for further information about resources
- United Way Illinois is collecting money to be disbursed to non profits across the state serving individuals, families and communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the application is not yet open, you can fill out a google form requesting an application and information when it is open.
- Illinois Emergency Management Agency. This is a cost-share reimbursement program typically reserved for local governments, but in some cases, applies to private non-for-profits. Private non-profit organizations that provide services of a government nature, such as educational institutions, utilities, emergency services, medical facilities, custodial care and other health and safety service providers may be reimbursed for certain expenses. These expenses are referred to as “eligible work” incurred during a major disaster or emergency such as COVID-19. The eligible work must be required as a result of the federally declared event (in this case, COVID-19) and it must be the legal responsibility of the non-profit to do this work. This also includes if a government entity has contracted with your organization to provide this work. It is important to note that this money cannot be used to replace lost revenue, and that the expenses must be tied directly to performance of the eligible work. All applicants must fill out forms PA101, PA108, and PA109. These forms require a signature from the chief elected official of the requesting organization.
- Illinois Humanities COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. Illinois Humanities is a Chicago-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established in 1974 to ensure that the humanities are accessible to people in all corners of the state. The Emergency Relief Funds program is eligible to nonprofit arts and cultural organizations with budgets of less than $500,000; registered 501(c)(3); received an IACA program grant, Grant to Arts Service Organizations, or Partners in Excellence Grant within one of the last three fiscal years; registered with the Illinois Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (“GATA); be compliant with IACA requirements, including no record of penalties or forfeiture for the last three fiscal years.
For Small Business:
- City of Chicago – The City is extending due dates for tax payments until April 30, 2020 for the following City taxes: bottled water tax, checkout bag tax, amusement tax, hotel accommodation tax, restaurant tax, and parking tax.
- Illinois Department of Revenue – Gov. Pritzker has directed the Illinois Department of Revenue to defer sales tax payments for more than 24,000 small- and medium-sized bars and restaurants. Eating and drinking establishments that incurred less than $75,000 in sales tax liabilities last year will not be charged late payment penalties or interest on payments due in March, April or May. Penalties and interest will be automatically waived; however, qualified taxpayers must still file their sales tax return even if they are unable to make a payment. Any taxpayers taking advantage of this relief will be required to pay their sales tax liabilities due in March, April and May in four installments starting on May 20 and extending through August 20.
- Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance – Federal Government – SBA now offering federal low interest loans (3.75%) up to $2 million. The Illinois office of the Small Business Administration is hosting twice daily webinars to help small business owners looking to apply for assistance. You can view available training and sign up to participate at this link.
- Small Business Resiliency Loan – City of Chicago – Mayor Lightfoot announced $100 million made available for small businesses most affected by COVID-19. Use the link to express interest in the program. Applications will be released at the end of March. To be eligible, businesses must attest to a more than 25 percent revenue decrease due to COVID-19, employ fewer than 50 workers and have gross revenues of less than $3 million in 2019.
- Business Invest – $500 million fund through the State Treasury’s Office – the Office will deposit these funds with qualified financial institutions.
- 1 year term with .01% interest rate.
- Deposits can be drawn in $1 or $5 million increments, up to $25 million per financial institutions.
- The financial institutions use the funds to facilitate affordable loans (not to exceed 75%) to small businesses and not-for-profits for bridge funding.
- Eligible Illinois businesses or non-profits must: (1) have been shut down or limited due to COVID-19; (2) have less than $1 million in liquid assets or $8 million average annual receipts (per SBA standards); and (3) be headquartered in the state of Illinois or agree to use the funds in Illinois.
- Deposits can be renewed on a basis determined by the Treasurer’s Office.
- Financial institutions will be required to provide reports to the Treasurer’s Office regarding the usage of program funds, including the number and types of loans provided and the economic impact of such loans.
- To apply to become a lender under the program, visit here.
- Hospitality grants: To help hospitality businesses make ends meet in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois is launching the Hospitality Emergency Grant Program with $14 million drawn from funds originally budgeted for job
training, tourism promotion, and other purposes. Grant funds are available
to support working capital like payroll and rent, as well as job training, retraining, and technology to support shifts in operations, like increased pick-up and delivery. Bars and restaurants that generated between $500K and $1M in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $25,000, and bars and restaurants that generated less than $500K in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $10,000. Hotels that generated less than $8M in revenue in 2019 are eligible for up to $50,000.
- Tax deadline – Federal Government – The deadline to file your taxes has been moved from April 15 to June 15. Illinois has also moved it’s deadline to align with the Federal Government.
- Veterans organizations are included in the organizations eligible for SBA loans.
- Recipients of Veteran’s Affairs benefits will automatically receive automatic Economic Impact Payments.
- Veterans and their beneficiaries who receive Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefit payments from VA will receive a $1,200 Economic Impact Payment with no further action needed on their part.
- If they have children who qualify, an extra step is needed to add $500 per child onto their automatic payment of $1,200 if they didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019. They can quickly register by visiting “Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info” available only on IRS.gov.
- Recipients will generally receive the automatic payments the way they receive their current benefits.
Utilities and Housing
- Gas – Peoples Gas – Peoples Gas will suspend shut-offs until after the health crisis. They will also waive late fees.
- Electric – ComEd – ComEd will suspend residential and commercial disconnects until at least May 1st.
- Water – City of Chicago – The City’s previously announced moratorium on water shut-offs is still in effect. In addition, no late penalties will be assessed and no debt will be sent to collections until after April 30. This means payment for water bills is not expected until May 1, 2020.
- Internet – AT&T – For 60 days, AT&T will waive late fees and will not terminate service for those who cannot pay their bills due to COVID-19. Contact AT&T to confirm these benefits. AT&T is expanding “Access from AT&T,” their low-cost home internet offering to qualifying households The program offers Internet for $10 a month. New customers will receive 60 days of free service.
- Internet – Comcast – Comcast will not disconnect service or assess late fees for customers who contact them during this period. Xfinity hotspots will be available to anyone for free. You can also get their “Internet Essentials” for free for 60 days, followed by $9.95 per month.
- Emergency rental assistance – Administered by the City of Chicago – You must apply in-person.
- Evictions – Governor Pritzker issued an executive order ordering all state, county, and local law enforcement to not enforce evictions through the duration of the Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation. This order does not stop your landlord from filing for and starting eviction proceedings, which could be completed after the disaster proclamation.
- Property Taxes: Commissioner Bridget Degnen sponsored a bill that delays the interest accrual date for late payments on property taxes in Cook County.
- Second installment bills are due August 3, 2020
- For payments made after that date: interest accrual will not begin until October 1, 2020
- Any payments made before October 1 shall be deemed timely, with no late penalties or fees
- No application is needed
- Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi is reassessing ALL properties in Cook County with COVID impact in mind. In 2020, the South/Western suburbs are scheduled to be reassessed. Those who have not yet been assessed for 2020 will receive assessments that reflect the economic impact of COVID-19 on property values. Properties that have already been assessed in south suburbs, and properties in the North suburbs and Chicago will have their property values reviewed again with COVID impact taken into consideration. These reassessments will be sent after the appeal period. These changes would be reflected in the 2021 second installment bills.
- Reporting price gouging – Illinois Attorney General – Submit a consumer complaint to the Illinois Attorney General’s office if you notice price gouging.
- Reporting price gouging – City of Chicago – Submit a consumer retail store complaint on 311 if you notice price gouging.
Federal Stimulus Package
On March 27th, Congress approved a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. Here are the highlights of what is in the package:
Single Americans will receive $1,200, married couples would get $2,400 and parents would see $500 for each child under age 17. Taxpayers cannot be a dependent of another tax payer, and must have a work eligible social security number to receive payments. Payments will start to phase out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000, and those making more than $99,000 would not qualify at all. The thresholds are doubled for couples. If you haven’t prepared a tax return yet, you can use your 2018 return. If you haven’t filed that yet, you can use a 2019 Social Security statement showing your income to see what an employer reported to the I.R.S. Payment is expected to come in 3 weeks (as of March 27). If the Internal Revenue Service already has your bank account information, it will transfer the money to you via direct deposit based on the recent income-tax figures it already has.
- The Department of Education suspended payments on student loan borrowers without penalty through September 30.
- Unemployed people will receive an extra $600 a week for four months, on top of any state benefits they are receiving. Benefits would also be extended 13 weeks.
- The federal government will also provide jobless benefits to those who do not qualify for traditional benefits, like independent contractors, and the self employed.
- The Treasury Department will be able to provide $500 billion dollars in loans. $25 billion would go to passenger air carries, $4 billion for cargo air carriers, and $17 billion for business that work in national security. The remaining $454 billion would provide loans not to exceed 5 years to businesses, states, and municipalities, with certain restrictions. Businesses who received these loans would not be able to issue dividends for up a year after the loan is paid off, and must retain 90% of employment levels as of March 24th. For mid-sized businesses (500 – 10,000 employees) and non-profits, no payments would be due for 6 months after the loan is issued. No elected officials or their immediate family members would be able to obtain these loans for their businesses.
- $117 billion is going to hospitals. This money would go to reimburse providers for expenses and lost revenues related to the coronavirus. It would also boost reimbursement by 20% for treating Medicare patients with coronavirus.
- The bill will give a forbearance on federally backed mortgage loan of up to 60 days, which could be extended up to four times, for 30 days each. Servicers of federally backed mortgage loans would not be able to begin the foreclosure process for 60 days from March 18th. It also waives fees, penalties, and additional interest as a result of delayed payments. Landlords with federally baked mortgage loans who have tenants would not be allowed to evict tenants solely for failing to pay rent for a 120 day period, and cannot charge fees or penalties for failing to pay rent.
- $1.935 billion to allow public housing agencies (PHAs) to keep over 3.2 million Section 8 voucher and public housing households stably housed;
- $1 billion to allow the continuation of housing assistance contracts with private landlords for over 1.2 million Project-Based Section 8 households;
- $65 million for housing for the elderly and persons with disabilities for rental assistance, service coordinators, and support services for the more than 114,000 affordable households for the elderly and over 30,000 affordable households for low-income persons with disabilities; and
- $65 million for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS in order to maintain rental assistance and expand operational and administrative flexibilities for housing and supportive service providers to assist nearly 61,000 households. Given that this population is particularly vulnerable, the bill includes temporary relocation services to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19 for these at-risk households.
- $4 billion is included to address the impact of COVID-19 among individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance. Eviction prevention activities including rapid rehousing, housing counseling, and rental deposit assistance will mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic on working families.
- $5 billion is provided for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to enable nearly 1,240 states, counties, and cities to rapidly respond to COVID-19 and the economic and housing impacts caused by it, including the expansion of community health facilities, child care centers, food banks, and senior services.
- $300 million is secured for Native American Programs, which includes $200 million for the Indian Housing Block Grant program and $100 million for imminent threats to health and safety as a result of COVID-19.
- It will provide $450 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which supplies food banks. $350 million would go towards additional food, and $100 million would go towards distribution. It also provides $200 million for food assistance for Puerto Rico and other US territories, and $100 million for food distribution on American Indian reservations.
- The deadline to obtain a REAL ID, needed for passengers to board planes, has been extended until at least September 2021.
- $400 million in election assistance for the states to help prepare for the 2020 election cycle
- Allows the USPS to borrow up to $10 billion immediately
- You can click here to see more FAQ about the stimulus package.
Ways to Help:
- Donate blood, if you are feeling healthy. Illinois is experiencing a severe blood shortage. Those interested in donating blood can find information through the Red Cross or can make an appointment through Vitalant (formerly LifeSource).
- Donate personal protection equipment like masks, gloves and gowns. Visit here to see how.
- Reach out to hospitals directly to see how you can help. Swedish Hospital created this page to highlight what they need from their community.
- Donate to food pantries.
- Donate to the United Way Illinois fund. The money will be disbursed to nonprofit organizations across the state serving individuals, families and communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Help small businesses by ordering take out, and purchasing gift cards for later use.
- Write thank you cards to your local hospitals and medical centers to thank nurses and doctors for their work.
- If you are a health care worker who is retired or no longer working, consider coming back to work for the time being. Register here.
- Visit here for even more volunteer opportunities.
- Block Club Chicago also put together this great list of local organizations needing donations.
Ways to pass time during quarantine:
- Create a new flag for Cook County!
|Metropolitan Museum of Art||Art|
|Van Gough Museum||Art|
|Uffizi Gallery, Florence||Art|
|Various Virtual Tours||Links to other sites|
|Great Wall of China||Travel|