As our state deals with the COVID-19 outbreak, I want you and your family to know that my office will remain open remotely and will continue to offer assistance and answer questions.
I am including the latest information about a variety of topics and will be sending out more frequent newsletters and updating social media with accurate and up-to-date information as it becomes available.
Our communities will continue to be stretched in the coming weeks, but we are a connected, thoughtful, and resourceful district and I am confident in the way we will (figuratively!) come together to rise to the challenge that the moment demands.
I encourage you to continue to follow recommendations from health care professionals, regularly wash your hands, (virtually) check-in with neighbors and loved ones, and stay safe!
Stay in Touch with Our Office
Phone – please leave a voicemail, we are checking messages regularly:
Grocery alert: For those shopping at grocery stores, please know that Illinois’ food supply is secure and robust, and the Governor has issued orders to substantially increase food delivery capability. Please don’t hoard. Doing so creates shortages that impact vulnerable members of our community. Purchase only enough food for a week and make that your weekly routine. When shopping in-person, consumers should maintain social distancing and exercise common-sense hygiene (e.g. wash hands, wipe down goods when taken home, use a sanitation wipe on grocery cart/basket).
Special shopping hours for seniors: Many stores in the district are now offering special shopping hours just for senior citizens. This is a great way to ensure our seniors can get the goods they need, while greatly reducing the risk of transmission. Click here to learn which stores offer these special shopping hours or to add your business to the list. It is being updated frequently.
The City of Evanston, Evanston/Skokie School District 65, and ETHS District 202 have announced an updated meal distribution schedule to assist youth affected by school closures. Free, cold breakfasts and lunches will be served to youth ages 1 to 18 years old at locations throughout the city. For locations and information click here.
The eight major food banks in Illinois are working to expand services. Food manufacturers are working to ensure food banks are prioritized and can provide our vulnerable residents the food they need.
Support for local restaurants: With in-person dining restricted, now is the time to support local small businesses with your patronage. Please try to tip a little extra if you are able! Here are lists of some local businesses offering delivery, carry-out, and online ordering. The lists are constantly being updated:
Unemployment Insurance: If you are without access to paid sick leave or unable to work because of COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment insurance. Call the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) at 1-800-244-5631 or visit https://www2.illinois.gov/ides. Please note the 7-day waiting period for applications has been waived. FAQ for COVID-19 and Unemployment Benefits.
Assistance for Restaurant, Bar, and Delivery Workers: Many local restaurants have established Workers Assistance funds to help employees during this time. Please consider contributing at your favorite local establishment. Additionally, a number of national organizations are providing financial assistance to individuals connected with the service industry. To donate or apply for relief please see the links below.
Utility Relief: Gov. Pritzker and Attorney General Raoul have urged the Illinois Commerce Commission to immediately institute a moratorium on shutoffs for all utility companies across Illinois – including energy, telecommunications and water – until the state disaster proclamation has been lifted. The administration is also requesting changes to payment and collection policies to ensure Illinoisans aren’t saddled with utility debt as a result of COVID-19. Several have announced plans to maintain services and waive late payment fees.
Medicaid Waiver: The administration is in the process of filing a federal waiver to expand Medicaid coverage, beginning work on the waiver application as soon as the federal government declared a national emergency and activated the Stafford Act. If the federal waiver is approved, the state will be able to expand Medicaid services through the addition of new medical providers, increased access across the state and ramped up services to many of the state’s most vulnerable populations.
Business Owners and Non-Profit Operators
Sales Tax Deferral for Bars and Restaurants: To help alleviate some of the unprecedented challenges facing bars and restaurants due to COVID-19, 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.
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.
Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program: Two days after submitting documentation demonstrating the impact of COVID-19 on more than 3,000 businesses across the state, the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved the state’s eligibility for disaster assistance loans for small businesses facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Eligible businesses can apply for up to $2 million in low-interest loans at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov. You can read the SBA’s one pager on the program here and the governor’s press release from his announcement here.
The SBA has a broad array of resources available for small business support. Call or email the Illinois District Office or go to sba.gov/il for more information. Local staff stand ready to assist.
I will continue to update you about business assistance as more information becomes available. To be added to our in-district small businesses list, please reply to this email with the name of your business and your name, address, email, and phone number. Other programs under consideration for loans, etc. require the Federal government. We are watching carefully as Congress prepares to act to roll out any new assistance they authorize.
With most public buildings closed and gatherings restricted, our communities’ homeless population is in need more than ever. The most immediate and effective way to help at this time is to donate what you can to Connections for the Homeless here.
I am working with other local leaders to advocate for immediate state and federal funding for necessary services for our homeless neighbors.
Illinois Department of Corrections
The Illinois Department of Corrections has set up a hotline in order to provide information and answer questions about their response to COVID-19. You can contact them via phone at 217-558-2200 x7700 from 8:30am – 4:30pm Monday – Friday or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During this time when prison visits are suspended, the John Howard Association is working to advocate for the health and safety of those behind prison walls. We encourage you to contact them using their online contact form or to leave them a voicemail message at 312-291-9183 x208 to report what you are hearing from loved ones in Illinois’ prisons.
Scam Alert: If you or someone you know becomes aware of price gauging due to COVID-19 report it to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office. You can find the form here.
Drivers License Expiration Extension: The Secretary of State’s Office is closing all Drivers Services facilities statewide through March 31. Expiration dates for driver’s licenses, identification (ID) cards, vehicle registrations and other transactions and document filings will be extended by 30 days through an emergency rule.
Red Cross: The Red Cross is seeking individuals to give blood during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information about giving blood during the COVID-19 pandemic click here. To find a blood donation site please go here and enter your zip code.