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GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – Stay at Home Order announced

Published: Friday, March 20, 2020 03:01 PM

Gov. Pritzker today announced that he has issued an order to all Illinoisans to stay at home beginning tomorrow (3/21/20) at 5 p.m. until April 7.

IDPH Dir. Ngozi Ezike said the current number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to 585 cases in 25 counties. Another woman, from Cook County, has died of the virus.

Pritzker stressed that for many Illinoisans who have already taken the step to remain at home and practice social distancing, this will change little. Of note:

  • Groceries, pharmacies, gas stations, laundromats, and other businesses deemed essential are to remain open.
  • He specifically said restaurants that are already providing curb-side or delivery will also remain open.
  • The order does not ban residents from leaving their homes for activities such as walking the dog or going for a hike.

He was asked about consequences/enforcement and said this order basically boils down to calling on people to use their best judgement. An arrest for reckless conduct would be a “last resort.”

“We anticipate people will follow this order,” Pritzker said, adding that “we’re asking people to do what they know they ought to.”

Acknowledging the hardship this could mean for everyone, Pritzker said, nonetheless, that "All non-essential businesses must stop operating. If you can work from home and are not doing so, now is the time when you must."

Pritzker announced that municipal leaders have been directed to issue orders halting all evictions during this period. Brad Cole of the Illinois Municipal League offered his support for these measures at the press conference. He said efforts to help the homeless are also moving forward.

Emily Landon, an epidemiologist with the University of Chicago, offered comments clarifying the dire situation Illinois will face if we do not take measures to prevent wide transmission of the disease.

"All of us in the field of infectious diseases are united in our efforts and agree with this course of action," she said. "We all acknowledge this is the only way forward. There is no vaccine or readily available anti-viral. All we have to slow the spread is distance. If we let every single patient with this infection infect three more people ... there won't be a hospital bed for when my mother can't breathe or when yours is coughing too much."

GOVERNOR'S DAILY BRIEFING – Delayed tax collections for bars and restaurants

Published: Thursday, March 19, 2020 06:03 PM

The number of positive cases is now reported at 422 across 22 counties.

Three deaths were announced today: A Will County person in their 50s; a Cook County person in their 80s and a Floridian who was visiting family in Sangamon County.

Both Gov. Pritzker and IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said cases and fatalities are unfortunately expected to increase.

On the economic side, the governor announced a delay in upcoming state and local sales tax payments for small and medium sized bars.

From the governor’s news release:

Gov. Pritzker has directed the Department of Revenue to defer sales tax payments for more than 24,000 small- and medium-sized bars and restaurants — accounting for nearly 80% of all such entities statewide.
 
Under the directive, eating and drinking establishments that incurred less than $75,000 in sales tax liabilities last year will not be charged penalties or interest on payments due in March, April or May made late. The Department of Revenue estimates this will give relief to nearly 80% of bars and restaurants in Illinois.
 
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. For more information, please view IDOR's informational bulletin available at tax.illinois.gov.

Of note, Rob Karr from the Illinois Retail Merchants Association joined the governor for today’s press briefing to support existing efforts.

Additionally, Gov. Pritzker today announced the state is taking steps to ramp up its COVID-19 testing capacity in the coming days, and that he will sign a new Executive Order relaxing regulatory barriers on delivering and being reimbursed for tele-health services​ throughout the state in an effort to ensure senior citizens, in particular, can receive as much health care as they can without having to come into medical establishments. He also announced a number of other measures to mitigate COVID-19-related hardships:

  • The Illinois Dept. on Aging has suspended group services for seniors in favor of increased one-on-one services.
  • The U.S. Small Business Association has approved the state's eligibility for disaster assistance loans for small businesses.
  • Grocery stores are offering seniors-only hours at the governor's request. Seniors can call their local grocery store to find out when those are.

The National Guard was activated earlier this week and is being utilized to set up mobile test/sample collection sites, assist health care facilities and help plan for possible expansion of hospital beds by re-opening shuttered hospitals or creating field hospitals.

The governor addressed prevalent rumors saying:

  • Interstates, bridges and highways remain open.
  • Fundamental services/businesses remain open and will “never” be shut down.

He was asked about a possible statewide shelter-in-place order or extending the school closure (Indiana announced schools will remain closed through May 1) and the governor said he is looking at all things every day, but there are no announcements regarding those today.

COVID-19 Links

Illinois.gov

Illinois Department of Public Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Illinois Department of Employment Security - Unemployment Benefits

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