Will County to Face Heightened COVID-19 Mitigations on Friday
As you probably know, Will and Kankakee Counties will be moved back into a state of heightened COVID-19 mitigations beginning Friday, October 23 because of three day COVID-19 positivity rates higher than 8% throughout Region 7. Heightened mitigations will also be implemented in DuPage and Kane Counties (Region 8) on Friday, and in the counties that comprise Region 5 in southern Illinois on Thursday. Region 1, which includes 9 counties in the northwestern part of the state, is already experiencing these heightened restrictions. Click here to see the state region map for COVID-19 mitigations.
Specifically, Region 7 experienced three-day positivity rates of 8.2%, 8.3%, and 8.6% during the last week. Mitigations will remain in place until the positivity rate is brought down to 6.5% or lower for three consecutive days. If, after 14 days of these heightened restrictions the positivity rate for Region 7 is still above 8%, a new level of even more restrictive rules will be put in place. We all need to do everything we can to bring these numbers back down. Please wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, use hand sanitizer frequently, and avoid large gatherings.
Upon learning of the new mitigations for our region, I released this statement:
“COVID-19 is a dangerous virus and everyone needs to do what they can to help slow the spread. This new wave of infections was predicted, and now we must regroup and determine our best path forward. I am renewing my call for the Governor to reconvene the legislature so we can work together on an updated response. Going forward, we need to base decisions on a full set of facts, and not just a few data points. We need a full understanding of exactly where these outbreaks are occurring.
“I fear restaurants and bars will not survive with cold weather upon us and no ability to seat guests inside. When we gain a full understanding of where this virus is spreading and why, then we can optimize our response to provide appropriate health protections, while also acknowledging the fragility of the current economy. We have to find the balance between protecting Illinoisans and protecting our state’s economy.”
I believe strongly that these decisions need to be based on a full set a data specific to each region. Are the majority of cases coming from senior living facilities? From schools? From correctional facilities? From home parties? When we have this information, a targeted response can be developed that maximizes efforts to preserve public health, while minimizing the impact on the economy. I participated on a conference call this week with leaders from the Governor’s Office and the Illinois Department of Public Health, and I asked to see the specific data that pinpoints where the cases are occurring. As we continue to work our way through the coronavirus response, I will keep pushing for more detailed data and increasingly targeted responses.
Priority Consideration Given to Restaurants/Bars Facing COVID-19 Mitigations
The heightened mitigations that take effect Friday will present a significant hardship for many small business owners. These businesses will receive priority consideration for the latest round of Business Interruption Grants (BIG). Restaurants, bars, and other businesses that rely on large groups of patrons can now apply for $220 million in BIG funds. These are grants, not loans, so this money does not have to be paid back.
The grants are awarded through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and are part of a total package of $540 million in grants for small businesses, $270 million of which has been earmarked for childcare providers and is funded by the Federal CARES Act.
Businesses eligible for the program must have experienced extreme hardship, demonstrated by experiencing eligible costs or losses in excess of the grant amount since March. With this week’s announcement that restaurants and bars in DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will Counties will be closed for indoor seating, and public gatherings (including weddings, funerals, group celebrations, etc.) will be limited to 25% capacity or 25 people (whichever is lower), these grants are a critical lifeline for struggling businesses. I would encourage all businesses that will experience decreased business due to these new mitigations to apply for a grant as soon as possible. For more information or to apply for a BIG grant, visit: https://dceocovid19resources.com/for-businesses/aid-to-small-businesses/.
Expanded Early Voting Now Underway in Illinois
For the last 3 ½ weeks, early voting has been limited to county clerks’ offices, but this week additional early voting locations are opening throughout each county. For those living in the 97th House District, there are several locations offering early voting between now and November 2. Times differ between locations, so please check dates and times for the location that is most convenient for you. Of course, you are always welcome to vote in person on Election Day, vote absentee, or vote using a vote by mail ballot. Visit the following sites for voting information and a list of early voting locations: