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.
Follow the guidelines below to keep yourself and others healthy. Remember that when you wear a mask it protects the people around you. And when others wear a mask it protects you. Be a good neighbor. Wear a mask.
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.
The Cook County Department of Public Health will be distributing vaccines in suburban Cook County. To learn more about the county’s distribution plan, visit here.
Chicago’s Department of Public Health will be distributing the vaccine for those living in the city of Chicago. To learn more about the City’s plan, visit here.
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.
- 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.
Federal Stimulus Package
On December 27th, the President signed the second stimulus package of 2020. Here is what you can expect.
- Single individuals making less than $75,000 will receive $600, as well as any dependent children they have aged 16 or younger.
- Households filing jointly and making less than $150,000 will receive $12,000.
- An additional $300 per week in additional federal unemployment benefits until March.
- Extends the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) for small business. This program provides forgivable loans as a way to help cover worker wages so businesses won’t have to lay off employees. The legislation targets aid for businesses especially hard hit by closures, including nonprofits, restaurants and live venues.
- Extends the federal eviction moratorium through Jan. 31, 2021.
- It will also help guard against evictions by providing $25 billion to state and local governments to help qualified renter households pay for rent and utilities.
As these programs are established and executed, our office will work to connect individuals and businesses with these resources. Please contacts us with any questions.
- UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Illinois has seen an unprecedented number of unemployment claims during this challenging time. Since March, the administration has paid out nearly $19 billion in unemployment insurance benefits to nearly 3 million claimants. Read about the Administration’s Efforts to Expand Access and Eligibility for Unemployment Insurance. Individuals unemployed through no fault of their own can apply for unemployment insurance and determine eligibility for benefits. Governor Pritzker and Illinois legislature waived the 7-day waiting period for residents, meaning eligible individuals who experience unemployment at no fault of their own can receive benefits without waiting out the week-long lag during this challenging time. The Governor is working with the federal delegation and congressional leadership to allow the state to increase the length of benefits as this crisis continues to provide significant fiscal challenges for Illinois families. Visit “Frequently Asked Questions – IDES” to learn more. The Illinois Department of Employment Services (IDES) is also seeing high rates of fraudulent claims during this crisis. If you have been a victim of unemployment insurance fraud, or if you are an employer and have received a fraudulent Notice of Claim for one of your employees, please visit the IDES fraud page and follow the steps outlined to report.
For Small Business and Not-for-Profit:
- Click here for all federal loan programs.
- This page will be updated as new state, city and county programs are established in 2021.
- Click here for Cook County Resources, including housing options.
- Click here for the State’s Cash Grant program.
Utilities and Housing
- FREE/LOW COST INTERNET: Various broadband providers and mobile carriers are offering free or low-cost access in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance has information on providers and programs offering free or low-cost broadband. Please visit the DCEO website for more information.
- Eviction Moratorium — there is a federal and state moratorium on evictions for those unable to pay rent.
- Utility Shut Offs Suspended — your utility provider is not allowed to shut off your heat in the winter. If you have lost heat due to non-payment, pleased reach out to our office. The state is also working on a statewide ban for all utility shut offs this winter.
- 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.
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.
|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|