COVID-19

  • Bertino-Tarrant highlights extended unemployment benefits, rental assistance

    jbt 03032020CM0467rPLAINFIELD — To help families searching for relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) is highlighting additional unemployment benefits and rental assistance for families who are still struggling.

    “The public health crisis has led to severe financial losses for thousands of Illinois families, at no fault of their own,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “These programs will help Illinoisans begin to bounce back from their hardships by ensuring they don’t have to worry about how they will be able to keep a roof over their heads.” 

    The Illinois Housing Development Authority is offering support through the Emergency Rental Assistance program for renters who are at risk of homelessness when the moratorium on evictions expires later this month. 

    To be eligible for the program, applicants must have fallen behind on their rent since March 1 and must be able to demonstrate income losses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. 

    Applications open Aug. 10 at 9 a.m. and will be available at ERA.IHDA.org. The application period will close no later than Aug. 21. However, it may close earlier if IHDA receives an overwhelming number of applications, so renters are encouraged to apply as early as possible. Successful applicants will be notified within 2-3 weeks of submitting their forms. 

    While applications are only available online, community partners are available to help people who cannot complete an application over the internet. A list of these partners will soon be available in the Resources section of the program’s website and at (888) 252-1119.

    An Emergency Mortgage Assistance program will launch later this month to assist homeowners who are struggling financially.

    Additionally, the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced Thursday that 20 weeks of state extended benefits are available to people who exhaust the allotted 26 weeks of regular state unemployment and the additional 13 weeks of federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits. 

    People with questions or those who need assistance with unemployment benefits should visit IDES.Illinois.gov.

  • Bennett supports new law protecting front-line workers

    maskedworker1 080720CHAMPAIGN – A measure co-sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) that increases public employee benefits, protects retail workers and expands collective bargaining rights was signed into law Friday.

    “Front-line workers have put their own wellbeing on the line to provide essential services during this crisis,” Bennett said. “This new law ensures workers are properly protected as we continue to battle COVID-19.”

    Certain state employees, including firefighters, law enforcement and paramedics, would be eligible for an additional 60 days of paid disability leave if their injury recovery has been hindered by difficulties accessing treatment due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

    To recognize the essential role retail workers have taken on during this public health emergency, battery of a retail worker would be enhanced to aggravated battery if the worker was performing duties like relaying directions for health care or safety. The enhancement would also set in if the act is committed during a declared disaster or state of emergency due to a public health emergency, and for an additional six months after the declaration. 

    “Workers do not deserve harassment for enforcing state-issued safety guidelines,” Bennett said. “Expanding legal protections for workers is the right thing to do.”

     

    Senate Bill 471 is effective immediately.

  • Castro pleased with expansion of worker protections during pandemic

    castro 01292020CM0084ELGIN – A measure supported by State Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin) meant to expand protections for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday.

    “Essential workers literally kept our world up and running during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, so the very least we can do is expand their protections to ensure they stay safe for the duration of this crisis and for any similar future crises,” Castro said. “They perform necessary jobs, often with little thanks, so it’s about time we give back to them.”

    The package, Senate Bill 471, was passed by the General Assembly in May and contained three provisions:

    • Expanded disability protections for firefighters, paramedics, law enforcement officers and other public workers who contract COVID-19 during the line of duty;
    • Enhanced criminal penalties to protect retail workers who are performing duties such as relaying information or enforcing safety guidelines during a state of emergency; and
    • Expanded collective bargaining rights for workers at horse racetracks with 10 or more employees.

    The law is effective immediately.

     

  • Lightford protects workers under new law

    lightford 080720

  • Joyce urges residents in need of support to explore new mental health program options

    joyce 031020PARK FOREST— With pandemic-related stress weighing heavily on many Illinoisans, State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Park Forest) is encouraging residents to explore to the Illinois Department of Human Services’ new mental health programs.

    “The additional stressors people are facing caused by the pandemic can be difficult to navigate with the uncertainty around us,” Joyce said. “Pandemic or not, we need to focus on people’s mental health, and these new programs will ensure there are resources available for those in need.”

    IDHS introduced three new programs Monday to help Illinoisans struggling with mental health, developed in coordination with community mental health centers and nontraditional service providers across the state.

    The first new program, the Living Room Program, is designed specifically for those in need of a crisis respite program to divert crises and break the cycle of psychiatric hospitalization. It provides a safe, inviting, home-like atmosphere where people can calmly process a crisis event while learning how to avoid a future crisis.

    The Transitional Living Centers Program is a housing resource for people with mental illnesses who are in need of a place to stay while they work to find permanent housing.

    Additionally, the Transitional Community Care and Support Programs offer assistance to current patients of state-operated psychiatric hospitals who are preparing to be discharged. It will include funding for non-traditional supports, such as cell phones, food, clothing, transportation and other resources that are necessary for individuals to succeed as they transition back into communities.

    Individuals seeking help from the Living Room Program may be referred by first responders or medical professionals. Participants of the other two programs will be referred by IDHS and other providers. Anyone who thinks they may benefit from these programs should talk to their mental health provider.

    For more information and to find additional mental health resources, click here.

  • Holmes calls for justice for unemployment scam victims

    holmes chair2 022520AURORA – Nationwide, scammers are targeting those receiving unemployment benefits at this difficult economic time exacerbated by to the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Assistant Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) warns area residents who haven't applied for unemployment benefits but receive a debit card claiming to provide benefits that they could be the target of a scam.

    “It’s shocking in the midst of these crises to learn scammers are targeting vulnerable residents and their unemployment benefits,” Holmes said. “To bring scammers to justice, IDES is aggressively pursuing fraudsters filing false claims.”

    Recently, individuals began receiving KeyBank debit cards and unemployment letters in the mail, without having applied for benefits. IDES warns that people who received these erroneous mailings may be targets of fraud.

    IDES launched an investigation into what appears to be a nationwide fraud scheme targeting applicants to the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. IDES said ambiguous federal guidelines—developed hastily to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic—leave PUA claimants open to attack. IDES maintains this scheme is not connected to the PUA program access issue experienced in May.

    An IDES team is working directly with individuals whose identities are being used or have possibly been stolen. The department is also working with local and federal law enforcement authorities to pursue and prosecute those committing fraud.

    “If you have received a debit card in the mail without applying for benefits, you should not activate them,” Holmes said. “IDES urges you to call them immediately at 1-800-814-0513 to report identity theft. 

    Online, you can use the IDES Contact Form. On the drop down, select the option, “UI Fraud/Identity Theft". Complete the required fields and DO NOT include social security numbers or other personal identifiable information in the comment section. Be sure to include an email address so that you will receive an autoreply providing important information and steps you can take while you wait to hear back from them. 

    Victims of fraud should also check their credit reports for possible suspicious activity, post a fraud alert and visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website for helpful tips on recognizing and reporting identity theft.

  • Stadelman highlights new mental health programs

    stadelman 030920ROCKFORD— State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) is highlighting the Illinois Department of Human Services’ new mental health programs to help people who need additional resources for crisis support, housing and community care during their times of need.

    “As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, now more than ever, it’s important to provide people with help they need,” Stadelman said. “These new and innovative programs will help people get the help they need.”

    IDHS announced three new mental health programs Monday to provide additional support for Illinoisans. The agency worked with community mental health centers and non-traditional service providers to develop capacity and to deliver clinical services and non-traditional supports.

    A new program called the Living Room Program is designed specifically for people in need of a crisis relief program to break the cycle of psychiatric hospitalization. It provides a safe and welcoming atmosphere where individuals can process an event while learning how to avoid a future crisis.

    The Transitional Living Centers Program is a housing resource for people who have mental illnesses and who are in need of an immediate place to stay while they work to find permanent housing.

    Additionally, the Transitional Community Care and Support Programs are for people who are currently in IDHS State Operated Psychiatric Hospitals and preparing to be discharged. It will include funding for non-traditional supports, such as cell phones, food, clothing, transportation, and other resources that are necessary for individuals to succeed as they transition back into communities.

    Individuals seeking help from the Living Room Program may seek help directly or be referred by first responders or medical professionals. Participants of the other two programs will be referred by IDHS and other providers.

    For more information and to find additional mental health resources, click here.

  • Belt supports new IDHS mental health programs

    belt 030520EAST ST. LOUIS – State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville) applauds the Illinois Department of Human Services for creating three new mental health programs for Illinoisans in need of help during a challenging time. 

    “The COVID-19 virus has not only hurt people’s physical health — it has also diminished the mental health of many,” Belt said. “Providing residents with mental health resources will support them during the overwhelming stress of the pandemic.” 

    The Illinois Department of Human Services announced the new mental health programs Monday to provide additional support for Illinoisans. The agency worked with community mental health centers and non-traditional service providers to develop capacity and to deliver clinical services and non-traditional supports. 

    The first new program — pegged as the Living Room Program — is designed specifically for those in need of a crisis respite program to divert crises and break the cycle of psychiatric hospitalization. It provides a safe, inviting, home-like atmosphere where people can calmly process a crisis event while learning how to avoid a future crisis. 

    The Transitional Living Centers Program is a housing resource for people who have mental illnesses and who are in need of an immediate place to stay while they work to find permanent housing. 

    Additionally, the Transitional Community Care and Support Programs are for people who are currently in IDHS State Operated Psychiatric Hospitals and preparing to be discharged. It will include funding for non-traditional supports, such as cell phones, food, clothing, transportation, and other resources that are necessary for individuals to succeed as they transition back into communities. 

    Individuals seeking help from the Living Room Program may seek help directly or be referred by first responders or medical professionals. Participants of the other two programs will be referred by IDHS and other providers.

    For more information and to find additional mental health resources, click here.

  • Villivalam asks those who are able to join COVID-19 contact tracing initiative

    contact tracing 080420CHICAGO – In light of the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases around the country, State Senator Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago) is asking anyone who is able to consider applying to become a contact tracer for the Chicago or Cook County Health Department.  

    “Illinoisans have been and need to continue to do a decent job of limiting the spread of the virus by wearing a mask, socially distancing, and washing their hands for 20 seconds,” Villivalam said. “However, while we are doing relatively well compared to other states in the country, we can’t afford to relax our efforts. If you are able, please consider becoming a contact tracer to help us stop any new major outbreaks in our communities.” 

    The Chicago Department of Public Health has received a $56 million grant to create the COVID Contact Tracing Corp and COVID Resource Coordination Hub, while the Cook County Department of Public Health has received almost $41 million in COVID-19 relief funding from the Illinois Department of Public Health via the FEMA Disaster Relief Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. 

    Contact tracing is the multi-step process of identifying, assessing, and managing people who have come into contact with a positive case of COVID-19 and connecting them to resources to help them during quarantine. The CDPH is looking to expand and diversify its workforce up to 600 people and the CCDPH is looking to expand its workforce to 400 people. Bilingual and multilingual speakers are needed to help with outreach to all of Chicago’s diverse communities. Contact tracers in Chicago will earn $20 per hour, with supervisors able to earn $24 per hour. 

    Individuals interested in applying to become a contact tracer can find the IDPH Contact Tracing Program interest form on IDPH’s website. More general information is available on the City of Chicago’s website and the CCDPH website

  • Bennett urges residents to wear face masks

    bennett masks 080420CHAMPAIGN - State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is reminding residents to wear face coverings to help slow the spread of coronavirus. 

    “You can keep yourself and others around you safe and healthy by wearing a face mask,” Bennett said. “In the grocery store and other places where social distancing may be difficult, wearing a mask can add an extra layer of protection.”

    According to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), everyone over the age of 2 who can medically tolerate a face covering must wear one in a public place when unable to maintain a safe distance from others. 

    Masks should cover your nose and mouth, fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face, be secured with ties or ear loops, and include multiple layers of fabric.

    “No one is immune to this virus,” Bennett said. “Please continue to follow the health and safety guidelines put in place by the public health experts to reduce the spread of COVID-19.” 

    For more guidance on use of masks, Bennett encourages residents to visit the IDPH website at dph.illinois.gov

  • Villivalam believes mass transit districts must take proper safety precautions

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  • Bennett encourages child care providers to apply for grants

    childcare mask 073020CHAMPAIGN – To ensure parents returning to work can trust their children are in good hands, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is urging child care providers to apply for Child Care Restoration Grants to help their businesses cope with pandemic-related losses. 

    “Working parents need child care to do their jobs,” Bennett said. “While child care providers are dealing with the consequences of this crisis, this grant will help them safely reopen after months of financial distress.” 

  • Cullerton: We must support local child care providers

    childcare mask 2 052920VILLA PARK — To support the reopening of local child care providers after months of financial distress, State Senator Tom Cullerton (D-Villa Park) is urging providers to apply for Child Care Restoration Grants.

    “I know residents like to send their children to facilities that are clean and adhering to safety guidelines during this pandemic,” Cullerton said. “As workers head back to work they should have the assurance that their children are safe and happy. This grant will allow child care services to reopen while giving them the support to keep children safe.”

    The Illinois Department of Human Services is distributing $270 million in available funding to assist child care providers across the state with reopening in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Licensed child care providers that meet the eligibility criteria may apply for Child Care Restoration Grants. 

    “Child care facilities serve as an essential support to help parents and caregivers enter and stay in the workforce,” Cullerton said. “It is our duty to ensure local child care providers will be able to weather the economic hardship of this pandemic so residents can safely go back to work as the state’s economy gets back on track.”

    To be eligible for the grant, child care providers must: 

    • Have a current license from the Department of Children and Family Services to care for children,
    • Be open and caring for children at the time of application,
    • Be able to demonstrate a “business interruption” from their pre-COVID capacity, and
    • Submit a complete application with all required documents.

    Applications are open from now until Aug. 14. To learn more and apply, child care providers should visit www.inccrra.org/

  • Van Pelt sponsors mobile testing on the West Side

    pvp covid test 073020CHICAGO – Earlier this week, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) hosted mobile COVID-19 testing for over a hundred adults on the city’s West Side in a collaboration with Howard Brown Health, West Garfield Community Park Stakeholders, and Fathers Who Care.

    “The older adults in my community are still struggling,” Van Pelt said. “The pandemic is still out there, and they still didn’t have access to necessary resources to stay alive. We wanted to do whatever we could to address that, hoping to provide some relief.”

  • Murphy urges residents to donate at upcoming blood drive

    blood donor mask 072320DES PLAINES – Hospitals have experienced a dire shortage of blood donations during the COVID-19 crisis, inspiring State Senator Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) to host a community blood drive Wednesday, July 29, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Prairie Lakes Community Center, located at 515 E. Thacker St. in Des Plaines.

    “At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many blood drives were cancelled, causing a shortage that put many patients at risk,” said Murphy. “Now that we have the necessary safety protocols in place, I encourage healthy people to make an appointment to donate.”

  • Morrison announces job creation for underserved youth

    park worker 072120DEERFIELD — State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) is highlighting the Illinois Department of Human Services’ COVID-19 Summer Youth Employment Program, which created 100 summer jobs for Lake County teens.

    “So many teens rely on summer work — especially those who live in low-income households,” Morrison said. “The current pandemic made finding jobs more difficult. However, thanks to the program, dozens of teens will be able to earn money while learning skills they can put to use both now and for years to come.”

    Lake County-based Employee Connections was one of 30 youth employment providers to receive $500,000 to employ 100 youth between June and August. The program will provide a total of $9.3 million to support dozens of projects across counties hardest hit by the pandemic, which in turn will employ thousands of teens.

    Many people — both teens and adults — have struggled to find work during the COVID-19 health crisis. The program will curb those struggles by putting Lake County teens to work while helping complete projects in the community.

    “The program will allow teens to kick start their careers by learning the skills they need to succeed in the future,” Morrison said. “This is a great opportunity for young adults to receive career training that will shape them into community leaders for years to come.”

  • Northside legislators host virtual town hall on clean energy in light of COVID-19

    feigenholtz 021920Over 170 people participated, expressing enthusiasm for the Clean Energy Jobs Act

    CHICAGO – Today, Illinois State Senator Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and State Reps. Ann Williams (D-Chicago) and Yoni Pizer (D-Chicago) hosted a virtual town hall about clean energy issues in the time of a pandemic. They were joined by over 170 people and issue experts from partner organizations Citizens Utility Board (CUB) and the Illinois Environmental Council.

    Constituents expressed concern over the state’s continued use of fossil fuels, increased air pollution and an exacerbated climate crisis as the novel coronavirus continues to spread in communities across the United States. Participants also expressed overwhelming enthusiasm for the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA, House Bill 3624/Senate Bill 2132), the only comprehensive climate initiative focused on equitable job creation before the Illinois General Assembly.

  • Stadelman announces additional funding for Rockford youth employment program

    rockford park dist 071620ROCKFORD – State Senator Steve Stadelman (D-Rockford) was joined by Governor J.B. Pritzker today to announce the expansion of the Illinois Department of Human Services’ COVID-19 Summer Youth Employment Program, creating additional employment opportunities for underserved youth in the Rockford area.

    “This is an extremely important program. It gives these kids the opportunity to connect with each other and learn new working experience to prepare them for future careers,” Stadelman said. “This program can help level the playing field. It focuses on low-income kids in the community, giving them an opportunity they may have not otherwise had.”

  • Ellman encouraging small businesses to take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program

    ellman 112119 mrNAPERVILLE – The federal government has extended the application deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) is encouraging local business owners to apply for the PPP and other forgivable loans through the Small Business Administration.

    “Businesses of all sizes, in particular small local businesses, are facing unprecedented financial hardships,” Ellman said. “Many business owners are worried about what’s to come and if it will affect their ability to provide for their families. The Paycheck Protection Program helps give owners the ability to reestablish a level of stability.”

    To help provide financial support to businesses, the Federal Treasury Department and the U.S. Small Business Administration extended the application period for the Paycheck Protection Program. Businesses can get up to $10 million in relief funding through the first come, first served program. Under the extended deadline, businesses must apply by Aug. 8.

    The financial lifeline helps employers keep people on the payroll and pay overhead expenses. If used as intended, the loans don’t have to be repaid.

    More than 27,000 Illinois businesses have already taken advantage of the loans – saving an estimated 1.36 million jobs – according to the Small Business Administration.

    PPP loans have an interest rate of 1% and can be fully forgiven if they are used for payroll costs, rent, utilities or interest on mortgages.

    To find participating lenders, business owners and managers can visit the Small Business Administration’s website, found here.

  • Lightford encourages school districts to apply for COVID-19 relief education grants

    student laptop 071620CHICAGO – The Illinois State Board of Education received $569 million through the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, and Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) is encouraging districts to apply.

    In total, $512 million allocated by ISBE will go directly to Illinois school districts. The funds will support their local response to the COVID-19 pandemic while also preparing schools for unique challenges of the upcoming school year.

    “Children in disproportionate communities have been at an unfair disadvantage during the pandemic,” Lightford said, “Being unable to continue your education without the adequate tools should not be a punishment. Schools should take advantage of these grants to make sure children are staying ahead.”

    The remaining ESSER funds will be divided into seven categories and will allocate $33.3 million for laptops and tablets, $7.1 million for internet connectivity, $6.5 million for virtual coaching in support of an estimated 4,000 new teachers entering the teacher profession in the fall, $6.5 million for professional development, $2.8 million for state administration and $685,000 for entities unable to receive funds due to ineligibility for the federal Title I program.

    More than $80 million of the combined GEER and ESSER funds will be used to close the digital divide for K-12 students. A total of $20.5 million will fund training for K-12 educators and families.

    ISBE will be hosting an ESSER webinar on July 23. Click here to register. The application for the GEER and ESSER grant opens on August 14. Click here to apply.