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Video gaming suspension also extended to April 30

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* Press release…

To prevent the further spread of the unprecedented COVID-19 virus, the Illinois Gaming Board has extended the suspension of all video gaming operations at all licensed establishments of any kind and all casino gambling operations in Illinois until at least April 30, 2020. The health and safety of patrons, gaming industry employees, Gaming Board staff, and all others in Illinois is the Gaming Board’s top priority.

The Gaming Board is monitoring developments regarding COVID-19 and will continue to make decisions based on science, public health guidance, and applicable law and rules. We will also continue to update licensees and other stakeholders as new information becomes available.

- Posted by Rich Miller   4 Comments      


Dialysis Is Life Support, Which Is Why Treating Kidney Failure Is A Full-Time Job

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

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- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Ethics/lobbying commission misses deadline

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* Press release…

State Senator Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) and State Senator John Curran (R-Downers Grove), the Senate Republican Caucus’s representatives on the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform, have released the following statement about the commission’s missed deadline to report to the General Assembly.

“When we began the critical work of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform, no one could have anticipated the challenges we would face due to COVID-19. As a result of these unprecedented circumstances, and due to our inability to meet in person, we will not meet the March 31 deadline for submitting our draft report.

“Illinois residents should know that this delay in no way negates the critical work our commission was doing, nor does it mean our need for ethics reform has fallen on the wayside. Rather, we look forward to the time when we can all meet again and fulfill our goal of submitting recommendations to bring real ethics reform to Illinois. ”

…Adding… Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line actually had the scoop this morning and I somehow missed it

The commission has not met since March 5, even though it planned to meet once more before the deadline set for Tuesday.

Commission co-chair House Majority Leader Greg Harris (D-Chicago) told The Daily Line on Monday staff from all four legislative caucuses had begun drafting a report.

“Clearly, we’re not going to be able to finish by the 31st,” Harris said of the original March 31 deadline for the report. “We’re looking at different options at how we’re going to conclude our work. Given the fact that the legislature can’t meet or convene hearings to submit a public document, we’re just trying to figure out among the caucuses and stakeholders how exactly we’re going to do that.”

The commission discussed changing the laws covering everything from lobbyist registration to the power — or lack thereof — of the legislative inspector general.

…Adding… Press release…

Rep. Greg Harris and Sen. Elgie Sims – co-chairs of the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform – released the following statement Tuesday regarding ongoing efforts to enact meaningful ethics reform in Illinois:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated that we all put the health and safety of our state and our communities first. The Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform remains committed to our task of developing recommendations for meaningful reforms to the way lobbyists and elected officials conduct themselves. We have completed our meetings, heard from stakeholders and are working through the proposals that have been put before us. However, due to the ongoing crisis, more time will be necessary to complete our work. We still hold the goal of completing our work and contemplating any potential legislation during the spring legislative session as long as the health and safety of those involved are not put at risk. We look forward to working with our Republican colleagues and others on the joint commission to complete our work and begin restoring trust in government.

“We all want to thank the doctors, nurses and first responders who are working tirelessly to fight this deadly virus, and all those putting their lives in danger to ensure our loved ones stay safe and healthy.”

A report from the joint commission was initially due by the end of March, but that deadline was established before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

…Adding… Leader Durkin…

Since its inception, the Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reform has conducted six public hearings, took testimony from 38 witnesses and has received extensive feedback from stakeholders. Its work was nearly complete with the only task remaining of issuing a final report.

Our caucus does not concur with an open-ended completion date for a report. Reps. Wehrli and Windhorst requested reasonable date extensions for its completion knowing the unprecedented circumstances we are all facing, but those requests were denied.

Without a scheduled end date, this Commission will likely meet the same fate of the many failed task forces that have come before it.

We should not forget why this Commission was created and the critical need for ethics reforms in Illinois. The House Republican Caucus views ethics reform as essential and should be taken up, alongside the operating budget, as soon as we are back to work in Springfield.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      


Stay at home order extended

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* Press release…

Gov. Pritzker Announces Extension of Stay at Home Order, Suspension of On-Site Learning in Schools Through April

Chicago – Building on the state’s efforts to flatten the curve of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois and following careful consultation with experts in Illinois and across the nation, Governor JB Pritzker announced that he will sign a 30-day extension of the state’s disaster proclamation on April 1. The disaster proclamation provides the governor the authority to sign additional executive orders, extending the Stay at Home order and suspending on-site learning in K-12 schools through the month of April.

“I have let the science guide our decisions and I’ve relied upon the top medical experts, scientists, public health researchers, epidemiologists, mathematicians and modelers, from the greatest institutions in the world whose guidance on infection rates and potential mortalities and protective measures is second to none,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Illinois has one of the strongest public health systems in the nation – but even so, we aren’t immune to this virus’ ability to push our existing capacity beyond its limit. We need to maintain our course and keep working to flatten the curve.”

“This may not be the measure that we like, but it is the measure we all need to combat the deadly and growing COVID-19 crisis,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “The City of Chicago fully supports Governor Pritzker’s bold and necessary extension of the Stay at Home Order, and stands ready to partner with the State and our health officials as we navigate the challenges that lie ahead in safeguarding our residents. We will get through this crisis together and I want to thank all those who have been doing their part.”

EXTENSION OF STAY AT HOME ORDER

On March 20, the Governor announced a Stay at Home order after consulting with medical experts, scientists, public health researchers, epidemiologists, mathematicians and modelers to understand the progression of COVID-19 and the measures needed to flatten the curve.

The extension of the Stay at Home order will continue to permit a range of essential activities that will allow Illinoisans to meet their necessities while maintaining social distance from others. Grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and other businesses providing services deemed essential will not close.

Staying at home and social distancing are the paramount strategies for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. Every Illinoisan plays a role in ensuring our health care system remains fully operational to treat patients in need of urgent care.

As of March 30, preliminary reports from hospitals statewide show that 41 percent of our adult ICU beds are “empty”, which means they are staffed and ready for immediate patient use, a two-percentage point decrease in a week. As far as ventilators, 68% are available statewide across Illinois, a four-percentage point drop in a week.

Statewide, about 35 percent of our total ICU beds are occupied by COVID patients and about 24 percent of our total ventilators are occupied by COVID patients. The state remains within its capacity, and is working every day to increase its capacity to prepare for an anticipated surge in hospitalizations related to COVID-19 in the coming weeks.

Those experiencing symptoms should call a health care provider who will help arrange medical treatment without putting others at risk of exposure. The Illinois Department of Public Health has a statewide COVID-19 hotline and website to answer any questions from the public or to report a suspected case: call 1-800-889-3931 or visit IDPH.illinois.gov.

SUSPENSION OF ON-SITE LEARNING

On March 13, the Governor announced a temporary statewide closure of all K-12 schools to minimize spread of COVID-19 across communities. Child care providers who have been licensed to operate to provide care to the children of essential workers will remain open.

Schools will transition from Act of God Days to Remote Learning Days, with days counting toward the school year. Each school district will create and implement a Remote Learning Day Plan to ensure all students, including students with disabilities and English Learners, receive instructional materials and can communicate with their teachers.

To prepare, the Illinois School Board of Education (ISBE) assembled an advisory group of more than 60 educators to make recommendations about instruction and grading during remote learning.

Schools can use up to five Remote Learning Planning Days at any time to prepare and refine their approaches to remote learning. Schools will design plans to minimize instructional loss and to provide opportunities for students’ academic, linguistic, and social-emotional growth.

Remote learning will look different for every district and every school. School districts will create plans based on their local resources and needs. Most districts will use a mix of digital and non-digital methods of engaging students in learning.

As a part of their recommendations, the advisory group recommended that grades be used only to increase students’ academic standing with a recommendation that any grades that schools give during this time be used as an opportunity for feedback and not an instrument for compliance.

ISBE will continue to work in partnership with school districts to address any questions and to provide guidance to educators and administrators to protect and support Illinois students.

Illinois schools have worked diligently to meet the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic with generosity, creativity, and a resolute focus on caring for students and communities. Schools across Illinois have shown remarkable agility in providing learning opportunities and meals throughout this crisis and will continue to work to address students’ needs.

“As we all come together to stay at home and out of harm’s way, we must never forget the selfless service of Illinoisans on the frontlines of this pandemic: our health care workers, first responders, grocery workers, child care providers, letter carriers, tradesmen and women, and so many more. They are going to work to serve and protect us, putting themselves and their families at great personal risk, because they have a job to do. Their sacrifices are real and meaningful, and we should all take time to think about them and thank them for keeping up the fight. We will all get through this together,” said Tim Drea, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO.

“I stand with the governor, in full partnership with his team, as we – the local elected officials from across our state – fully cooperate to administer the various compliance and enforcement components of your executive orders,” said Brad Cole, Executive Director of the Illinois Municipal League. “The faster we seriously comply with the executive orders, the faster we will be able to slow and stop the spread of this virus, and the faster we will then be able to turn-on the economic engines of Illinois communities, from small to large.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      


937 new cases, 26 new deaths

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 937 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 26 additional deaths.

    - Cook County: 2 male 50s, 1 male 60s, 2 female 60s, 5 males 70s, 2 females 70s, 3 male 80s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 90s
    - DuPage County: 2 females 70s
    - Kane County: 1 male 80s
    - Lake County: 1 female 60s
    - McLean County: 1 male 70s
    - Morgan County: 1 male 80s
    - St. Clair County: 1 female 30s
    - Will County: 1 male 80s, 1 female 80

Ford and Ogle counties are now reporting cases. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 5,994 cases, including 99 deaths, in 54 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to 99 years.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      


Pritzker talks ICU and ventilator availability - Extends stay at home order to April 30 - Thumbs down on piecemeal approach - Talks prisons - Warns hospitals must accept prisoners - Speaks to students - Lightfoot: “I fully support” governor’s actions - IL survey: 48 percent have recovered - AFL-CIO wants OHSA action - Asked about when it will end - Nurses claim disposal thermometer shortage - No power to allow rent control - Supports more mail-in ballots, but needs GA to reconvene - Says businesses want to work out differences with workers - Not enough unemployment money, but feds are providing $ - Wants nursing and medical students licensed

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* These numbers come from two graphics on display at the governor’s press conference

* ICU beds: 1,525 in use and another 1,053 are still available. Of those 1,525 ICU beds in use, 889 are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

* Ventilators: 785 in use and another 1,675 are still available.
Of those 785 ventilators in use, 589 are being used by COVID-19 patients.

* On to extending the stay at home order…

With each step, we have been forced to take by this pandemic has made things more challenging for our residents. The cascading consequences of these steps weigh on me, every minute of every day.

But as I’ve said since the beginning. My priority through each and every one of these decisions has been, and continues to be saving as many people’s lives as possible.

That’s the one goal that I will put above all others, every time, most critically I have let the science guide our decisions. I’ve relied upon the top medical experts scientists, public health researchers epidemiologists mathematicians and modelers from the greatest institutions in the world, like the University of Illinois Northwestern University, University of Chicago, SIU, and others whose guidance on infection rates and potential mortalities and protective measures is frankly second to none.

It is based upon that advice that tomorrow I will be signing an executive order to extend Illinois disaster proclamation our stay at home order and our suspension of on site learning at schools, through the end of the month of April.

If we can end these orders earlier, I’ll be the first one to tell you when we can start to make strides toward normalcy again. But that time is not today.

* Bed and ventilator availability…

As of March 30th, our preliminary reports from hospitals statewide show just 41% of our adult ICU beds are empty staffed and ready for immediate patient use - a two percentage point decrease from the moment in time numbers that I ran you through last week. And 68% of our ventilators are available statewide - a 4% point drop in a week.

That doesn’t mean that every hospital has that availability, but collectively, that’s what we have across the state. […]

From all the modeling that we’ve seen our greatest risk of hitting capacity isn’t right now, but weeks from now. The virus is spreading, it is growing. So are its risks. We must not let up now.

Again, pardon the typos.

* On the pressure to regionalize the response in order to concentrate efforts where the cases are now…

I’ll remind everyone that these interventions don’t work if they’re piecemeal across the state. It was only a few weeks back when we had just a handful of cases, all in one county. That’s up to 5994 across 54 counties. And we know that there are even more people out there who have contracted COVID 19 and already recovered without realizing it, or recovered at home and never qualified for a test. That’s true in all 50 states. And that’s the price that we will continue to pay for the lack of early robust national testing. So we have to stick to the knowledge that we have no community is immune.

* Prisons…

Fortunately DOC is at its smallest population since 1995, and it currently has 36,944 individuals. That’s 1069 fewer prisoners than on February 1 of this year.

* After detailing his actions to date, Pritzker had a warning for hospitals…

I want to say to the local hospitals that are near the prison facilities, we will do all that we can to ensure that any patients receive the best care that we can provide. And we will work with local departments of public health to get you all the equipment and support that we can.

But hospitals that refuse to take on residents of the Department of Corrections will be called out by name, and those that refuse to operate in accordance to their oath can and will be compelled to do so by law.

We are asking everyone during this extraordinarily difficult time to do their part to keep residents, all residents of Illinois safe.

* He also had a message for prison reformers…

We inherited a prison system that has suffered from overcrowding after decades of tough on crime policies, focusing on punishment, without attention to rehabilitation. Democrats and Republicans agree on this and have worked together over the last number of years to make real changes. And while we have prioritized support services for the men and women in our care. We’re still operating in facilities that were not built to support these kinds of efforts.

When we get through this immediate crisis, we all need to have a real conversation about criminal justice reform and the status and conditions of our state prisons. But I’ll be frank with you. We still don’t know exactly when this immediate crisis will pass. And I know this continues to be an extraordinarily difficult time for families across our state, especially for our workers. I have directed my governor’s office staff and agency directors to do everything and anything in our power to help our residents who are hurting.

* He then reached out to students…

Lastly, I want to talk about what this extension means for our students. Well, first and foremost, I want to recognize the creativity of our Illinois State Board of Education and the superintendence in the school districts all across our state for their remarkably able and agile efforts that they’ve demonstrated providing learning opportunities, meals connection and stability throughout this crisis.

Under this extended order schools will transition from Act of God days to remote learning days. All of these days count toward the school year, and absolutely no days need to be made up. […]

Students are going through a situation over which they have no control. Our first response must be empathy.

I want to end with a message for our students who I know, never envisioned a pandemic derailing their spring semester. Believe me as a parent of two teenagers, you’re not the only one.

I won’t try and tell you the texting and calling each other is the same as hanging out in the hallways, or in the lunchroom. And I won’t try and tell you that zoom prom is the same as a real problem. I won’t try and tell you not to be sad about the last goals and plans that you may have had for March and April. It’s okay to be sad. And if you do feel sad or frustrated or angry. Whatever you feel, please let yourself feel that way. Don’t beat yourself up over being human.

And if you’re experiencing overwhelming anxiety or you have a friend who is. And you need someone to talk to. There are resources available to you by phone and online […]

But I also want to say something else. Once you’re ready, take a look around. Take in the incredibly unique moment that you’re living in. Yes it’s scary. And it’s uncertain, and it’s difficult. But if you’re looking for a lesson in the fundamental goodness of people and of your community, it’s right there in front of you. Take a look at the districts across the state that have taken it upon themselves to support our health care workers like Tinley Park High School’s science department, delivering goggles to advocate Health’s Christ Medical Center, or Decatur public schools donating over 200 iPads to promote contactless communication at area hospitals. Maybe those are your teachers and administrators or maybe your school is one of the many that have made donations, even if it’s not, I bet people in your school are finding a way to help be one of those people

* Mayor Lori Lightfoot…

As we just heard from the governor, this virus is lethal and growing. That is why I fully support the governor’s bold and necessary extension of the stay at home order. And this may not be what residents want, but it is what we need. And the city of Chicago stands ready to continue to partner with the state in any way possible as we navigate the challenges that lie ahead.

Just as we heard, to pretend this crisis and is anything less than dangerous, that would not only be irresponsible, but it would be deadly.

* IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike…

As you know, those who are moderately ill may need medical care. And although those individuals may not require an ICU bed, they may not require intubation and a ventilator. They will still need doctors and nurses and the medical professionals who tend to them, will still need the personal protective equipment to care for those who are moderately ill. We want to make sure that we have enough resources for those who are the sickest. In order to reduce the overall number of people who are exposed and infected with COVID 19.

We see that there’s some hospitals that are reaching capacity of the number of ICU and ventilators, and we want to make sure that everyone who needs an ICU bed everyone who needs a ventilator will get the care they need. And that’s why it’s so important that we flatten the curve. The concern is that our medical resources will be stretched to their limits. And so that’s why staying at home will help us have the healthcare capacity we need. […]

Early data does show that the vast majority of people we think up to 80% will not need any severe critical care.

* Recovered data…

IDPH recently sent a survey to COVID 19 cases and asked about their recovery. It was sent to people who tested positive for at least seven days after their positive test results. Of those that responded, 48% indicated that they had recovered. And as we get more responses we hope to show you that with more time, even more have fully recovered.

* Stay home…

The CDC just recently put out new guidance in the last 24 hours, saying that we should be concerned about people transmitting the virus, even 24, or 48 hours before symptoms [are evident].

So that’s even further evidence that we need to stay home. You can’t eyeball someone and think, you know, if they’re sick or not. Let’s continue to do what we’ve been telling ourselves to do, washing our hands, staying home, covering our cough cleaning frequently touch surfaces. Let’s do it all for ourselves, for our family, and for our community.

* Tim Drea, Illinois AFL-CIO President…

While social distancing is critical, these frontline workers are in desperate need of PPE and access to testing immediately. We joined with Governor Pritzker, Senator Durbin, Senator Duckworth and the Illinois congressional delegation to urge the president to utilize the defense production act to mobilize all of industry to produce the safety items workers desperately need to protect themselves and their families. We further call upon OSHA to issue an emergency temporary standard to protect all workers at potential risk of occupational exposure to infectious diseases, including COVID 19.

On behalf of the nearly 1 million workers of organized labor throughout Illinois. The Illinois AFL CIO will continue to advocate for the health and safety of each and every worker currently engaged in the fight to defeat this virus. All of us depend on all of us depend on them staying healthy and safe, to keep up the fight.

* On to questions for the governor. Why not just say schools will be closed to the end of the year so they can prepare?…

Because we don’t know that this need for a stay at home order will go beyond May 1. And that’s why we haven’t extended the order beyond that. I mean we’re trying to follow the best science. You heard the CDC and the President of the United States suggesting that April 30th was the extension date that they put forward, that, you know, we had been thinking that if we needed to extend and it was looking like we would that we would go to the end of April and so that’s the date we chose.

* Another reporter followed up with when the stay at home order will end…

First of all, we have to see the peak her. We haven’t seen the peak and there’s no perfect model that you can look at. Whether it’s the University of Washington model or for any other, and we’ve got great institutions here in Illinois that have done a lot of modeling, based upon the science and the medical doctors and their estimations. But the truth is that we don’t know when we’re going to peak, we don’t know when we’re going to come off that peak. And so I think we’re looking everybody’s taking their best educated, look at what date seems appropriate and this is the best educated, you know date that they’ve come up with between the experts and those of us who know something about how to manage city and state matters.

* The Illinois Nurses Association says there is a critical shortage of disposable thermometer probes, so they are being told to save them so they can be sanitized with bleach and heat and reused. Have we heard about this, if there is a shortage and what should health care workers do?…

Director Ezike: This pandemic is global and so supplies are scarce throughout the country. If people have items that have that can be reused with certain sanitation mechanisms, we have some guidance that we’ve given for certain equipment on our website in terms of, you know, PPE. And there also are definitely instructions for medical equipment so those should be followed things should be and disinfected with approved approved products, and we definitely want to be able to stretch out our supplies. But we also know that everybody is working hard to obtain additional supplies so that we can have what we need to do the best job we can for all the people that were taken care of, because of course we support our nurses completely.

* Governor, groups have called on you to overturn the ban on rent control is this something that you have the power to do and if not, what is the state doing to aid residents who have lost jobs and will have difficulty paying rent next month and what advice do you have for people in those situations?…

There’s currently in state law a moratorium on rent control so that’s not something that under an executive order that I can overturn. However, as many of you know, we’ve issued Executive orders to ban evictions across the state, to make sure that people are not having their utilities turned off so we have a moratorium on shut offs of any utility that you may be utilizing, and we’ve provided other supports for, you know, for working families and really everybody across the state, to make sure that they’re taken care of and, you know, we’re. We obviously I said yesterday, something very important for people to recognize which is your healthcare workers who are coming home, and anybody who’s experiencing a landlord who’s hassling them about the fact that they may be exposed because their health care worker and interfering with their right to rent in a building needs to come forward because we will go after those landlords,

* Are you considering designating specific nursing homes my understanding is that other states like Massachusetts, Connecticut and others are doing this and then Illinois nursing homes are concerned about mixing COVID residents with non COVID residents…

So the challenge, just to be clear about that is that often there are nursing home residents who can’t be moved, and indeed the best advice by doctors has been, don’t move patients, if you can quarantine them in place. And so we’re trying hard within the nursing homes that exist today to have covered patients in one area of a nursing home many times their wings floors and so on in a nursing home, and we’re trying to separate the, those who are kovat positive those who may have been exposed to somebody with COVID 19, and those who don’t have it. And we’re frankly, those are the divisions that we’re trying to keep around the state and everywhere we can.

* Will you move to expand mail-in ballots or make that the norm for future elections?…

Well I’ve been an advocate for mail-in ballots for a long time. But I do think that we’re going to have to look at it for the general election.

The idea that we may have to move to a significant amount or maybe all mail-in ballots, or at least giving people the opportunity to do that. And so we’re going to look at that, but that is something that the legislature needs to do. And so, you know, we have to find a way to get the legislature together. That’s going to be a decision that gets made by the legislators, along with our public health professionals to determine how you get 177, General Assembly members in the, you know, similar area and vote on things, let alone, you know how they’ll manage through committees.

* Grocery store workers and delivery services you deemed essential have gone on strike. Amazon fired one worker who organized a strike. Do you support their movement and is it appropriate to strike during a pandemic?…

Well I’ve been a lifelong supporter of labor unions. I believe it’s a fundamental right to collectively bargain.

My view is that we are in a very difficult moment there’s no doubt about it. And the conditions you know you heard Mr. Drea talk about the conditions that people are working under and you know making sure that there are standards that are set in these very unusual times. Look, I support workers, and I also have talked to many many businesses, they want to work this out. The workers, the unions and the businesses are talking. And I certainly have tried to wherever I could to create a bridge for them. So I hope and believe that these things will get worked out.

* With a tenfold increase in unemployment claims, does Illinois have enough unemployment savings to pay out all of the applicants. As of 1/20/20, the state has 1.4 billion in unemployment funds…

The answer is no, but fortunately the federal government in the latest stimulus package provided a significant amount of funding for unemployment. We are also allowed in a state to, you know, dip below the reserves that exist. If we need to borrow from the federal government but the federal government has done a great job of providing funding, I believe we’re going to need more, I mean I think I said this at a press conference with Senator Durbin was here.

We’re going to have to see another relief package because not only is there an unemployment problem, which, you know, hopefully it will be only four months or so long but there’s also a challenge to all of our city budgets and state budgets and it goes beyond what was provided in the federal stimulus that was passed just recently

* Do you support the idea of temporary licenses for nursing students to get more help and hospitals? Ohio just approved a similar plan to get thousands of students into hospital…

Yes indeed, we’ve been spending quite a lot of time I’ve got a terrific legal team working together with our IDFPR professionals to look at giving temporary licenses to people who are mostly trained, who are nearly graduated. We have nursing students who are a month away or two months away from graduation, they’re capable of being healthcare professionals, even now we need them in the healthcare field. Same thing with medical students and others.

-30-

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Everyone has their own priorities

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* Local rent control ordinances are banned by state statute here

This Act may be cited as the Rent Control Preemption Act.

(50 ILCS 825/5)
Sec. 5. Rent control prohibited.

    (a) A unit of local government, as defined in Section 1 of Article VII of the Illinois Constitution, shall not enact, maintain, or enforce an ordinance or resolution that would have the effect of controlling the amount of rent charged for leasing private residential or commercial property.

* So, no matter what this group claims, an Illinois governor cannot unilaterally overturn a state statute…


People need to stop cynically using this very real crisis to advance their legislative priorities. Rent control is a legislative matter. Take it up with the General Assembly.

And stop misinforming the public! Don’t be covidiots.

- Posted by Rich Miller   31 Comments      


A quick look ahead to November

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* Daily Herald

The general election ballot is set, but there’s much still to be known in the race to represent the 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republican primary winner Jeanne Ives will challenge Democratic incumbent Sean Casten in the November contest to claim the House seat representing an area from Hinsdale and Naperville through Elgin to just beyond Long Grove.

But the spread of the coronavirus is keeping people in their homes, making early campaigning an unusual challenge. And changes in economic and social behavior caused by the virus mean typically safe bets about elections are off, political scientists say.

“Forecasts of the 2020 election are harder than ever given the unpredictable fallout from the pandemic,” said Brian Gaines, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Department of Political Science and at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. “With ordinary life on hold for who knows how long, it is hard to guess whether turnout will be nothing like usual, e.g. the usually reliable elderly staying home, and whether incumbents will be enjoying an approval rally or a backlash of frustration that normal life isn’t back.”

It’s far too soon to be speculating about fall turnout. We are literally in uncharted modern waters and we have no idea what the future will bring. As for canvasses, not that many general election candidates are out in full force in March and April anyway. Fundraising is an issue, however.

* The 1918 influenza pandemic dissipated over the summer, but then came back with a vengeance in the fall

The election took place during the Spanish flu pandemic. Campaigning was disrupted around the country. In Nebraska, for instance, authorities lifted a ban on public gatherings in early November 1918 and permitted politicians to campaign five days prior to polls opening. The turnout was 40%, which was unusually low for a midterm election (turnout was at 52% and 50% in the 1910 and 1914 midterm elections). The low turnout was possibly due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.

* The virus slammed our collective consciousness shortly before the primary, so some folks didn’t take advantage of the mail-in ballot option. But the numbers in Chicago were pretty high

Despite fears that the coronavirus would keep Chicagoans from voting, mail-in ballots trickling in are inching the city’s primary turnout to nearly 35%.

That’s down sharply from the 53.52% city turnout in the 2016 presidential primary and the 52.70% in 2008, but above or comparable to the city’s showing in the remaining three presidential primaries this century — including 2012 when only 24.46% of voters cast ballots. […]

On Monday, the city’s turnout rose by nearly three percentage points, going from 32.62% a few days after the primary to nearly 35% as the city counted additional vote-by-mail ballots that were postmarked in time. […]

Of the city’s 117,119 mail-in ballot applications, 91,706 ballots have been returned as of Monday morning, according to city records. Of that number, 8,437 were rejected for reasons like not being postmarked on or before March 17.

A big problem with mail-in ballots is that some election officials nitpick them to death. Maybe the signatures don’t exactly match, or some little bit of info is wrong or left off.

Also, remember how the city’s elections board screamed about “extremely” low turnout on primary day? That obviously wasn’t the case. That board either needs a total revamp or should be folded into Cook County’s system.

…Adding… With a hat tip to a commenter, the city’s turnout is now up to 37.18 percent.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


Clean, Affordable Energy—Now More Than Ever

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

In the middle of a crisis and financial uncertainty, the last thing anybody needs is a higher utility bill.

The Citizens Utility Board is here to help through its free, virtual service that analyzes your utility bills from the comfort of your home. CUB can check your bill to see if you’re getting overcharged by an alternative supplier, give you energy efficiency tips, and educate you about other potential ways to save. CUB has shown customers how to cut their bills by hundreds of dollars a year.

Email a copy of your most recent electric, natural gas, or telecom bill to CUB: ubc@citizensutilityboard.org. (“Attn: Virtual Utility Bill Clinic” in the subject line.)

CUB’s mission is to bring clean, affordable energy to Illinois consumers—that’s why we support the Clean Energy Jobs Act and that’s why we offer free services like the Virtual Utility Bill Clinic at a time of need like this.

If you have a question about your utility service, please call 1-800-669-5556 to talk to a CUB expert 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or visit citizensutilityboard.org.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Credit Unions Throughout Illinois Offer Assistance Through New Loan Products

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

During the COVID-19 national health crisis, credit unions are banding together to help consumers weather the storm. Credit unions are increasing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by adjusting lobby hours, or shifting to a drive-thru only service with special appointment accommodations as necessary. Additionally, many credit unions are taking steps to offer new loan products to bridge the gap for consumers during these challenging financial times.

Keeping members financial wellness in mind, several credit unions are offering payroll advances, 0% personal loans, or deferred payments. The following is a small sampling of credit unions offering new loan products designed specifically to help members during this crisis:

    · Alliant Credit Union
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    · First Financial Credit Union
    · Heartland Credit Union
    · Northern Illinois Federal Credit Union
    · Ottawa Hiway Credit Union
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Members of Illinois credit unions should consult with the credit union directly to learn about all of the products and services designed to help members during these uncertain times. Rest assured that even in these trying times, your credit union remains a trusted partner in ensuring your financial well-being. To ensure the security of your funds, all state and federally chartered credit unions maintain deposit insurance covering at least $250,000 per depositor, per account category - even in uncertain economic times. Visit ASmarterChoice.org for more information on the credit union difference and to find a credit union near you.

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*** UPDATED x1 - Pritzker admin calls reports “irresponsible” *** 3 Chicago TV stations reporting that Pritzker will extend stay at home order

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* I’ve been able to confirm this ABC7 report

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker is expected to announce Tuesday that the state’s stay -at-home order will be extended beyond April 7, sources tell ABC7.

The order went into effect on March 20. It is not known for how long Governor Pritzker will extent the order.

It’s not like this was unexpected. No way was he going to allow that order to expire without renewing it. The only question was when he would do it.

* NBC5

Illinois’ stay-at-home order will likely be extended until April 30, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell NBC 5.

The announcement is set to be made during Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s daily coronavirus press briefing at 2:30 p.m. (Watch it live here).

The news comes one week before the initial order was set to end and just days after the state saw its biggest rise in cases of the coronavirus pandemic so far.

* CBS2

With the confirmed number of coronavirus cases in Illinois continuing to climb by the hundreds each day, Gov. JB Pritzker will extend his statewide “stay at home” order through the end of April, sources tell CBS 2.

Pritzker’s “stay at home” order has been in effect since the evening of March 21, requiring everyone in Illinois to stay indoors, except for essential trips to get groceries, medical supplies, to see a doctor, or for brief exercise outdoors. Those who do exercise outside have been told to stay six feet away from others, and avoid groups of 10 or more people. The order does not prohibit essential workers from going to their jobs.

The governor’s order originally was set to continue through April 7. Sources tell CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov the governor will announce he’s extending that order through the end of April during his daily COVID-19 briefing Tuesday afternoon.

*** UPDATE *** From Jordan Abudayyeh…

The Governor will update the public at 2:30pm, as he has done everyday because he values transparency and direct communication with the people of this state. Trying to get a scoop by reporting information from sources in a piecemeal fashion is irresponsible at a time when the public deserves to get the full picture from their leaders directly.

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      


The crisis is creating unity for now

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* House Republican Leader Jim Durkin and Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady have both been supportive of Gov. Pritzker’s stay at home order. The Daily Herald reached out to suburban Republican legislators to see what they thought

A majority of Republicans who responded to the Daily Herald said it’s better to err on the safe side.

“Based on the aggressive nature of this dangerous virus, and how rapidly it appears to be spreading, the governor’s order, which I do support, was warranted,” state Sen. Don DeWitte of St. Charles said. DeWitte added he wants the July 1 increase in the minimum wage postponed because he thinks it’s hard on businesses. […]

“[Rosemont] is supporting the efforts to keep as many folks at home” as possible, [Mayor and Republican state Rep. Brad Stephens] said.

State Sen. Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove said, “First and foremost, this pandemic is uncharted territory. The extraordinary actions being taken are saving countless lives.”

And, state Rep. Dan Ugaste of Geneva said, “right now, I don’t believe is the time for people in the legislature to be second-guessing what the governor’s done.” Rather lawmakers should support the action and “help the people of Illinois as best as we possibly can through this difficult time.”

Of course, some of the usual suspects are being usual suspects. Go read the rest.

Still, the big takeaway here is that Republicans like Rep. Allen Skillicorn are clearly in the minority.

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


Lotta holes in that backstop, bub

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* Ben Orner at Capitol News Illinois

As state leaders try to gather as much personal protective equipment (PPE) as possible to distribute to health care workers treating COVID-19 patients, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the federal government sent Illinois 300,000 of the wrong type of mask.

In his daily press briefing about the novel coronavirus disease outbreak Monday in Chicago, Pritzker said the state’s third shipment of relief supplies from the feds arrived Sunday, but likely includes 300,000 surgical masks instead of the N95 respirator masks Illinois requested.

“While we do not have a final count on this yet, I can say with certainty that what they sent were not the N95 masks that were promised, but instead were surgical masks, which is not what we asked for,” Pritzker said.

Made of thin fabric and held loosely onto the face, surgical masks do not provide as much protection against COVID-19 as N95 masks, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Surgical masks create a loose barrier for the mouth and nose against coughs and sneezes, while tight-fitting N95 masks are able to “filter small particles from the air and prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the user inhales.”

Pretty big difference between a surgical mask and an N95 mask…

* Baltimore TV

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan asked for the federal governments help coordination efforts to combat coronavirus — by supplying more tests to states, coordinating access to supplies and more in a op-ed he co-wrote in The Washington Post Monday.

The Republican governor co-wrote the piece with Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. […]

They also said FEMA needs to do a better job coordinating the distribution of supplies.

“Right now, there is no single authority tracking where every spare ventilator is or where there are shortages,” they wrote. “The lack of any centralized coordination is creating a counterproductive competition between states and the federal government to secure limited supplies, driving up prices and exacerbating existing shortages.”

Centurion, an auction company based in Franklin Park, just concluded an auction this morning of dozens of ventilators to the highest bidders. FEMA should’ve seized those ventilators.

* If the feds want to act as a backstop, then they need to actually, you know, adequately backstop the states

As the virus spreads across the U.S. and new hot spots emerge in states such as Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan and Texas, senior administration aides have privately argued the coronavirus response is a test of local politicians’ leadership and resourcefulness — with the White House acting as a backstop for the front-line state-by-state efforts.

The strategy is built on the idea that state leaders have the greatest familiarity with residents, hospitals and public health departments, as President Donald Trump and his allies argue. But it has a political subtext: The approach could give the White House an opportunity to extract Trump from future criticism as the virus spreads throughout the nation and threatens to kill hundreds of thousands of Americans. It also could backfire among Americans who prefer to see a firm national response to a disease that does not respect state borders.

“That is a Darwinian approach to federalism; that is states’ rights taken to a deadly extreme,” said Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor who served for eight years on the Homeland Security Task Force of the National Governors Association. “The better read of federalism is that the states and federal government work together when the U.S. is attacked, whether it is by imperial Japan or a pandemic.”

Caterpillar just shut down a plant near Peoria. A proper use of the Defense Procurement Act could prevent that sort of thing from happening (not specifically with that plant, necessarily) and get our supply system in order.

- Posted by Rich Miller   23 Comments      


A few little somethings to lighten your day

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* If you haven’t watched this yet, please do so now…


* Another good meme…


* This is happening all over and it’s heartening, but I do hope these distilleries can survive

Witness Distillery, a craft whiskey distillery in Vandalia scheduled to open in the fall, is now making hand sanitizer.

The distillery is following a recipe from the World Health Organization. Ethyl alcohol is combined with hydrogen peroxide and glycerine to complete the mix.

The company isn’t selling the hand sanitizer, but rather is distributing it to the local law enforcement agencies, Fayette County Hospital and local ambulance service and health professionals.

* Yep

The governor said one thing was clear from recent stories of communities coming together to have sewing clubs making masks or people seeking to donate their federal stimulus check to the state’s efforts, Illinoisans are stepping up.

“It’s within each and every one of us to tap into that spirit and hold on to it,” Pritzker said. “Each and every one of us has the generosity and tenacity to see ourselves through this moment. Let’s allow it to carry us through these times together and some time, someday soon, through to the other side.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Medical director at hospital near Stateville: “This is a disaster”

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* Herald-News

An inmate at Stateville Correctional Center has died from coronavirus, and the total number of cases in Will County doubled over the weekend.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported Monday that one inmate at Stateville has died and 100 others at the prison have been hospitalized or isolated because they show symptoms.

The Stateville cases are not included in the coronavirus counts in Will County, where two more people died and the total number of cases reached 224.

Stateville is located in Crest Hill, but the coronavirus cases and deaths that occur there are reported separately from the Will County numbers, said Steve Brandy, spokesman for the Will County Health Department.

* ABC 7’s I-Team reached out to the person in charge at the closest hospital, Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet and his outlook is quite grim

The hospital’s medical director, Dr. John Walsh, said they have been “overwhelmed” by inmates suffering from the effects of coronavirus.

“This is a disaster,” he said. “What I most fear, is that without some resolution, the number of patents coming in from Stateville will be excessive.” […]

There are nine prisoners currently on ventilators in the intensive care unit at Saint Joseph, with the other prisoners and patients in need of care. Dr. Walsh said the hospital is “maxed out on staff.” […]

Walsh said his concern is that there are at least 100 prisoners still inside Stateville who have fevers. […]

According to Walsh, Saint Joseph Hospital has only a few more ventilators available. He fears that the prison death toll could be in excess of 100.

* On to the Tribune

To date, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has offered little in the way of specifics on what review process is in place, and IDOC has confirmed a mere six inmates have been released early so far, slowed partly by a rule that released inmates have secure housing. The first death of an inmate was announced Monday, a man who was being housed at Stateville Correctional Center. […]

IDOC, meanwhile, has continued to say little about any specific planned process or an anticipated number of releases, though advocates said they have heard some 100 prisoners could be on a pathway to leaving state custody.

The Tribune on Friday first reported the release of six women housed on a special wing of the Decatur Correctional Center that houses inmates who have given birth while in custody.

Your thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** This is not good

Data was derived from this site.

* Related…

* Elderly inmates are at high risk for coronavirus. Why are there so many of them in Illinois’s prisons?

* ‘Jails Are Petri Dishes’: Inmates Freed as the Virus Spreads Behind Bars

* More Than 100 Cook County Jail Detainees Test Positive For Coronavirus

* One of the largest single-site jails in the US grapples with 134 coronavirus cases

- Posted by Rich Miller   32 Comments      


Tribune gonna Tribune

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* Tribune editorial

Too bad Illinois was not so farsighted. Its Budget Stabilization Fund has only $58,655. That’s enough to cover the state government’s normal expenses for about 30 seconds. Indiana’s is enough to cover more than a month.

This is not a new problem for Illinois. For years, it had nothing in reserve. One of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s deputy governors, Dan Hynes, spent years as comptroller trying to convince lawmakers to set aside reserves with the goal of holding at least $1.2 billion by 2006. It didn’t happen. Even when the economy was booming, lawmakers spent through it.

By 2014, the fund had $276 million. But since then, it’s been depleted. With the rainy — or rather torrential — day now arriving, the state has almost no emergency savings to tap.

Gee. I wonder what happened at the end of 2014 that would’ve “depleted” the rainy day fund?

I dunno, could it be the automatic partial rollback of the 2011 income tax increase the Tribune so bitterly opposed?

Could it have been the election of a new governor with Tribune backing who then refused to cut a deal on new state revenues until he was given anti-union concessions (also with Tribune backing)?

Could it have been a two-year impasse with no budget that the Tribune wholeheartedly supported, which drove up our unpaid bill backlog to $16.67 billion?

Could it have been the billion dollars the state had to pay in interest to its creditors because of that mountainous bill backlog?

* Yes, Illinois has some serious structural budgetary issues. Pensions, for one. But the state has been repeatedly ordered to fulfill its pension promises, so the only way to do that is with budgetary management and additional revenues. The Tribune has always refused to support additional revenues and, if it has seriously engaged on the topic of budget management, I do not recall it.

- Posted by Rich Miller   66 Comments      


Open thread

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* Please keep it Illinois-centric, polite and coronavirus-free. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Tuesday, Mar 31, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      


Pritzker says 500 hospital beds this week at McCormick Place - Feds sent surgical masks instead of N95 masks - Ezike explains state prison strategy - Why no “recovered” data? Abbott can only produce 50K rapid tests per day- Drop in new cases today does not indicate anything - Not focused on costs except for gouging

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* From the governor’s press conference was held today with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot

The mayor and I would like to give you a further update on the work that we’re doing to stand up our alternate care facility at McCormick Place. Our Illinois National Guard and the US Army Corps of Engineers are on pace to have the first phase of this facility completed this week, and the entire facility up and running over subsequent weeks on Saturday we received our first shipment of 500 beds and the Illinois Central management services and the US Army Corps of Engineers began the initial build.

We’re aiming to have these first 500 beds up this week, followed by the next 500 by next week. The next 1200 and 50 by the week of April 20 and the final 750 acute care beds by the end of the month bringing us to a total of 3000 beds,at McCormick Place.

Based on best practices around the world about how to manage positive cases and contain this virus, McCormick will be dedicated to mostly to non acute COVID 19 patients, people whose condition could benefit from the care of medical professionals, but who are not likely to need a formal ICU.

Of course, as I’ve said before, this is an evolving situation. And if our experts determined down the line that McCormick Place should be dedicated to a different set of criteria, we will shift our mission to follow the medical experts best advice. I want to be clear that McCormick Place is dedicated to supporting our existing hospital system, not replacing our existing hospital system today in Chicago, there are hospitals that have a lot of COVID 19 patients. But there are also hospitals that are underutilized in our COVID response. The first place we are directing our patients is to existing hospital beds, maximizing our underutilized hospitals first. If we never have to go beyond our existing facilities we will all be extremely happy.

But since we can’t guarantee that and in fact, we don’t have the data yet to suggest otherwise we’re actively building out capacity.

In addition to McCormick Place in Chicago, the state alongside the Army Corps has formally launched work on two additional alternate care facilities, the former advocate Sherman hospital campus in Elgin, and the metro South Health Center in Blue Island. We’re aiming to temporarily reopen both of these locations to ensure that we have the capacity that we need. Over the next several months. And I just want to say the work that the Illinois National Guard and the US Army Corps of Engineers have already done what they’re capable of doing is truly phenomenal. I mean incredible stuff. On behalf of a grateful state. Thank you to all of our guardsmen and to our Army Corps of Engineers. And I also want to especially thank Mayor Lightfoot and the entire city team for their partnership in this unprecedented project.

Please pardon all typos.

* PPE situation…

As I discussed last time, we received a fraction of what we asked for [from the federal government]. Our second request to the federal government was larger than our first, but again we received the same small order back from them. […]

Our third federal shipment arrived yesterday. Our team at IEMA is sorting through this delivery now and we’ll make sure that those resources are delivered where they’re needed as soon as possible.

I will say this federal shipments still pales in comparison to our requests and appears to be even smaller than our previous two shipments from the federal government. My team is sorting through the shipment of 300,095 masks the White House personally told me would be sent to our state. And while we do not have a final count on this yet, I can say with certainty that what they sent were not the N95 masks that were promised, but instead were surgical masks, which is not what we asked for.

* IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike…

The truth is, the number of cases will continue to increase, unfortunately as well, the deaths. The cases that I report do not capture all of the people in Illinois with COVID 19. Many of you know that you may have been ill, but didn’t have a test to confirm it. We know that we’re not testing everyone. But I am reporting that there are 461, new cases, and unfortunately eight additional deaths. That brings our total in Illinois to 5057 cases.

* Dr. Ezike on the Stateville cases, which include one death…

There are 12 men who were incarcerated at Statesville who are now hospitalized. Several requiring ICU and ventilator support. There are 77 additional individuals who have symptoms who are being isolated within the facility. We also know of 11 staff who have symptoms and are being appropriately isolated.

Congregate settings, such as Stateville or any other Correctional Center pose unique challenges and stopping the spread of disease, and protecting the health of individuals who live and work there. […]

Ideally, all cases should be isolated individually and close contact should be quarantined individually. I know our partners at the department of corrections are working innovatively to try to create the best situations for these for these facilities. But some correctional facilities and detention centers do not have enough individual cells. And so, we’re considering isolating multiple laboratory confirmed COVID 19 together cases together as a group, or quarantine in close context of a particular case together as a group. Additionally incarcerated individuals may have medical conditions that further increase the risk of disease from the COVID 19.

We do know that Statesville has an older population of incarcerated individuals. So they are at greater risk of experiencing severe illness. Our focus right now is ensuring that these incarcerated individuals receive the appropriate medical care that they deserve and need public health officials are working with the medical staff and physicians who work in the correctional facilities on isolation and quarantine guidance, as well as healthcare triage. Incarcerated individuals who show symptoms are being tested for COVID 19, the Illinois Department of Corrections is taking a number of steps to control the spread of COVID 19 and correctional centers staff who work with the individuals in isolation and quarantine, as well as in the health center are wearing protective equipment. […]

Other congregate type settings are also experiencing clusters of cases, of course. Nursing homes, which we have talked about numerous times, assisted livings and other long term care facilities across the state, including those in Evanston, Joliet, Taylorville and Belleville have all seen some clusters of cases.

* On to questions for the governor. Will he be extending the stay at home order and what about the schools…

We’ve evaluated that every day as you know and I think you saw that the president of the united states extended his recommendations for social distancing and other measures through April 30. So we’re taking that into account as well and as I think the mayor has said in the past and I certainly have said that we’re looking at the models trying to figure out what does this look like going forward and how to best keep people safe and healthy.

* Why isn’t the state talking about COVID-19 recovery numbers like other states?…

Those are difficult numbers actually to obtain. Think about yourself. If you got the flu and you maybe saw your doctor and then you went home and you were at home and you were recovered. You don’t call your doctor at the end of your recovery and say I am recovered now.

And so collecting that information from people who go home, have COVID 19, you know once they’re done, is somewhat more difficult than you might imagine having said that we are working with the county health officials all across the state to get that data. It’s a little easier in slightly more urban environments to obtain that data a little harder in more rural environments, but we are working on collecting recovered. […]

We do know there are quite a number of people who have had it who’ve recovered. We also know … all the experts are coming to the conclusion that people who had it and recovered may have are likely to have developed antibodies that make them somewhat immune to COVID 19 going forward and we think that’s a positive sign.

* Is Illinois behind in testing? And why aren’t all hospital patients being tested?…

Every state is behind, every state is behind in testing. There are not enough tests and you could ask any governor that’s being honest with you, will tell you. Just look at the numbers of tests that have been done even in the large states, it’s minimal compared to the number of people we know already have COVID 19, or have had it, and never knew it. And so this is an enormous problem. I’ve complained about this from the beginning. […]

There is a protocol for testing, again, because there’s a limited number of tests we can’t test everybody all the time. I am very very excited about the development of this rapid app an Abbott test that’s coming out. This is a test that will take no more than 15 minutes to determine a few minutes to determine if it’s positive … The problem is that Abbott can only produce about 50,000 of these a day.

* Is the drop off in new cases today compared to yesterday an indication that we are flattening the curve in Illinois?…

No. … You really have to look at a trend, not a single day. And so we’ll look at tomorrow’s numbers and the next day and the next day. But part of the reason that the numbers fluctuate is because we get reports from commercial laboratories in a different fashion than we get the reports from our state laboratories or from hospitals in the state. So when a test gets sent off to quest or to labcorp or another commercial facility as, as was indicated it could take four to seven days. Well that report is different than the one that came 24 hours.

* What is the cost to the state of its response to the corona virus outbreak so far and what is the estimated cost to be in the months ahead?…

We’re certainly keeping track of that, but I just want to emphasize to everybody that, and I don’t have a total number to report today, but I want to emphasize to everybody that my number one concern right now is making sure that we get the testing that we need to make sure that we have the hospital beds that are necessary, making sure that people get the treatment that they can get from hospitals and doctors that we have the personnel that we need to treat people.

And honestly, you know that the cost is a consideration. We don’t want to get gouged in any of those things. But I am focused on delivering the health care that is necessary to keep as many people safe and healthy and alive as I can.

-30-

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


461 new cases, 8 new deaths - 12 Stateville prisoners hospitalized

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* Press release…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 461 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois. Seven new deaths are also being reported, including the death of an incarcerated man from Stateville Correctional Center.

    Cook County: male 50s, male 60s, female 60s, female 70s
    DuPage County: male 60s
    Kendal County: female 60s
    Will County: male 50s, male 60s

Additionally, 12 men who were incarcerated at Stateville are now hospitalized, including several requiring ventilators. There are 77 more incarcerated individuals with symptoms who are isolated at the facility. Eleven staff are also being isolated.

The Illinois Department of Corrections is taking a number of steps to control the spread of COVID-19 in its correctional centers. Staff who work with individuals in isolation and quarantine, as well as in the health center, are wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) and all staff are wearing some PPE. Staff are also having their temperature checked daily as they enter the facility.

Correctional centers with a confirmed case are placed on lockdown, which means there is no movement around the facility except for medical care. Incarcerated individuals who show symptoms are being tested.

Clark, Crawford, Marion, Randolph, and Saline counties are now reporting cases. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 5,057 cases, including 73 deaths, in 52 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to 99 years.

It appears a death may have been reported at the last moment. Director Ezike just said the total is 8.

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      


A few somethings to lighten the day

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* Greg Hinz

That $2.2 trillion federal stimulus bill does a lot more for small business than many people realize, at least for the first eight weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. But almost certainly more will be needed for that group and a host of others, including cash-strapped state and local governments.

That’s the word from U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Schaumburg, who has focused on small-business issues in his time in D.C. and had some influence on the final stimulus package.

Krishnamoorthi said the bill specifically carves out $377 billion available to almost any small business—defined as a company with fewer than 500 employees, plus sole proprietorships and self-employed individuals. All are entitled to loans equal to two and a half times their costs over an eight-week period. Costs include rent, health insurance and, most important, payroll for workers, including tips.

Those loans will become grants if the business continues to pay its costs, he said. With payroll the biggest cost for most firms, operators will have a big incentive to keep their workers on, converting the loan into a grant, Krishnamoorthi said.

He has more details, so click here.

* IHC Construction Companies


IHC is working an accelerated schedule to complete the Chicago Veteran's Home in the event the space is needed as an…

Posted by IHC Construction Companies LLC on Monday, March 30, 2020

The company also recently donated N-95 masks to a local pediatrics practice earlier this month.

* Tribune

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has seen the internet memes that depict her enforcing the state’s stay-at-home order and clearing citizens from the public way. […]

The images, some of which are collected on the “Where’s Lightfoot?” Instagram page, show the city’s mayor blocking the Lakefront Trail and popping up in unexpected places as part of the anti-coronavirus campaign. […]

“I think this is a really difficult time. People are afraid. The stress levels are high. In any difficult time, I think we’ve got to have a sense of balance. Humor is a big part of it. I’ve actually enjoyed them,” Lightfoot said at an unrelated news conference. “We’ve acted out a few in my household at night, which I’ll keep to myself. But I think what it shows is the creativity of people in the city and in the region that despite these dire circumstances, and this virus is deadly serious, that we can also see a lighter side of life.”

She added: “I love them.”

My personal fave…


- Posted by Rich Miller   8 Comments      


Slow down, please

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* A single source who has been battling with the mayor for months is relied upon for a big splashy “scoop”

CPS students unlikely to return to schools this year, alderman says after mayoral briefing

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday outlined a plan for “remote learning” — including the distribution of lap-top computers to needy students — leaving one aldermen to conclude that Chicago Public Schools students have attended their last day of in-person classes this academic year.

“They’re doing remote learning for the rest of the year. … We have no expectation of them going back,” Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) told the Sun-Times after a conference call with the mayor.

Pressed on whether Lightfoot said students would not return to school buildings for the rest of the year, Lopez said, “I don’t know if that was the exact words. But, that’s the implication— that the rest of the school year will be remote learning. I don’t know why they’d have to go back if they’re all learning at home.”

I checked with three Chicago aldermen after that story came out and they all said Ray Lopez jumped the gun. No determination has yet been made, they said. The mayor was just laying out the CPS remote-learning plan.

That doesn’t mean the story will be wrong in the coming days. I have no idea. But I do know that it’s not right today.

* The mayor was asked about the piece at her news conference today…


- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


Please, don’t be a Covidiot

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* Mick Dumke wrote about the Chicago Housing Authority for ProPublica Illinois

But other information from the CHA was contradictory and confusing. On March 10, a resident service coordinator distributed memos to tenants at the Lincoln Perry apartments announcing that, as a coronavirus precaution, the building’s lunch service would only provide take-out boxed meals. To minimize person-to-person contact, residents were asked to exit the dining room once they picked up their food.

However, the memo added, “The dining room will reopen @1:30 pm daily for socialization, ie, all scheduled events, parties, activities, health seminars, etc.”

*facepalm*

* Sigh

A West Loop yoga studio has been issued a violation notice after the city disagreed with its contention that it was a place of “health and wellness” and therefore could remain open as an essential business under the state’s safe-at-home order.

The action on Friday came after several people complained online and to their alderman about Bikram Yoga West Loop studio at 611 W. Adams St., concerned that the close quarters and the nature of its hot yoga classes would further spread the coronavirus.

* Oh for crying out loud…


1) That’s a public park and it’s now closed;

2) The government has the right to prohibit activity that presents a potential harm to the populace, particularly during a pandemic;

3) Stop whining on Twitter and go do something proactive and positive for a change.

* Facebook ad…


Get off Facebook.

* Again, get off Facebook

An article on a holistic health blog that has been circulating Facebook tells people to go outside to prevent catching the new coronavirus because sunlight kills it. […]

Only levels of concentration of UV light much higher than what is found in sunlight can kill viruses, the experts note, and the levels that are able to kill viruses can cause irritation to human skin and should be avoided.

Going outside is definitely good for you (as long as you keep a distance from others), but it won’t cure a virus. Some people were just not raised very well.

- Posted by Rich Miller   33 Comments      


How will county parties hold legally mandated conventions on April 15th?

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* 10 ILCS 5/7-9

On the 29th day next succeeding the primary at which committeepersons are elected, the county central committee of each political party shall meet within the county and proceed to organize by electing from its own number a chair and either from its own number, or otherwise, such other officers as such committee may deem necessary or expedient. Such meeting of the county central committee shall be known as the county convention.

That statute, in other words, requires individual county party conventions on April 15. The governor’s stay at home order is set to expire on April 7, but he’ll undoubtedly extend it that day, when he’s legally able to renew his state disaster declaration. So, how are the parties gonna get that done?

I reached out to both major parties for a response.

* Dan Kovats at the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association…

We’re doing the best we can given the current circumstances. We have provided some guidance to the County Chairs regarding the upcoming County Convention. We are encouraging the Chairs to adhere to the statute while also adhering to the Governor’s stay at home order. We are strongly encouraging only electing the County Chair & Party Treasurer to comply with the statute.

Some of the options we shared include:

    1. Proxy voting or Voting by Mail
    2. Virtual Meeting (conference call or video conference)

Ultimately it will come down to each County Parties bylaws and at the discretion of the County Chair.

Kovats said some county parties do require in-person conventions “and we have asked them to consider suspending that portion of their bylaws.”

But how do they do that if they can’t meet in person?…

That’s the difficult spot we’re in and why we tried to provide options for the Chairs.

…Adding… The full guidance sent to Democratic chairs is here.

* The ILGOP’s general counsel sent a memo to county chairs days ago. Excerpt

Other than the requirement that conventions be held on a particular date, the Election Code only directs that a county convention elect a county chairman, select delegates to the state convention and shall be held “within the county.” There is no statutory requirement that a convention must be conducted in any particular manner. In other words, for county organizations without bylaws that might direct otherwise, a convention could possibly be conducted by a conference call (so long as all participants are within the county), or by use of absentee ballots or other methods to elect a chairman and to conduct business. As for the requirement that state convention delegates are chosen at the county convention, that task may be delegated (as has traditionally been the case) to county chairmen if necessary. Of course, all notice requirements must be adhered to, as always.

For counties with bylaws that dictate how their conventions are to be run, those bylaws will control, and county organizations should abide by them.

I asked the same follow-up question to the ILGOP’s Joe Hackler about counties with in-person meeting requirements. His response…

There may be a few that explicitly require personal presence for participation. However, each of these counties conventions would conceivably have a rules committee that could possibly help offer some relief.

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      


IDHS closes 61 Family Community Resource Centers

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

Press release…

Today, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is announcing that, starting tomorrow, Monday, March 30, 14 Family Community Resource Centers (FCRC) will remain open with reduced staff to balance the need to provide essential services while meeting Center for Disease Control (CDC) social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus situation. FCRCs are the public facing benefits offices that bring nutrition and medical supports to individuals and families across the state. […]

IDHS’s ultimate goal is to have as few FCRC offices open as possible, while still ensuring that all customers are able to receive their life-sustaining benefits. For those offices that remain open, IDHS will continue to take steps to ensure social distancing, customer and employee safety. […]

The 14 of the 75 public facing FCRCs remaining open will have a reduced workforce of 30%- 50% of staff. Staff who are not working at the public-facing offices will continue working remotely to process important benefits, and over 80 in-person local office caseworkers will become statewide ABE (Access to Benefits Electronically) call center agents in addition to the nearly 100 call center agents that are already in place.

The department developed these changes in partnership with AFSCME Council 31, other bargaining units, and advocacy organizations across the state.

There’s more, so click here.

In addition, AFSCME 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch told me through a spokesperson…

(W)e are continuing to urge DHS to close all its offices as soon as it can be assured that clients have access to needed services via phone and/or web. In the meantime, we are urging the department to rotate which offices remain open.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


“Used to daydream in that small town”

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* Tribune

In Buckley, a church has volunteered its gymnasium as a makeshift hospital. In Rushville, police officers have stopped accompanying paramedics unless a call is a matter of life or death. And in Watseka, dozens of residents have put hearts in their windows to create a “social distancing scavenger hunt” for local children.

Such are the ways small-town Illinois is facing the threat of COVID-19, even though its impact outside the Chicago area remains limited. More than 90% of the state’s confirmed cases and deaths have come from the city and collar counties, though doctors note that access to testing downstate is still increasing after a slow start. Even as the virus is being detected in an ever-growing list of rural communities, caseloads are relatively small.

* Yeah, well, things are starting to heat up in Taylorville

Officials on Sunday reported an increase of 11 cases of COVID-19 in Christian County, all linked to the Rolling Meadows Senior Apartments in Tayvlorille.

This brings the total number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease to 13 in Christian County. Of the two previously reported cases, officials had said Saturday that one was in the apartments and that other residents would be tested.

“The apartment complex has been placed on quarantine as a protective measure,” the Christian-Montgomery County Emergency Management Agency said in a statement Sunday. “No visitors will be allowed until further notice. The residents are being monitored daily by public health.”

Officials had said Thursday that both previously reported cases in Christian County were linked to services held March 15 at Crossroads Apostolic Ministries in Taylorville. The congregation has fewer than 50 members.

* Remember a couple of weeks ago when DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Public Health Director David Remmert advised area residents to “Live your life like you normally would”? Well, things change…

“In the overwhelming majority, people have very little symptoms or none at all. That’s why everybody needs to practice those precautionary measures. People who are asymptomatic can go out and spread it,” [Remmert] said. […]

“We believe it’s here. A lot of people probably have it but won’t be tested because they are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms.”

* Related…

* ADDED: First Positive COVID-19 Case in Ford County Confirmed

* More seek assistance at Shumway food pantry: “I know we helped 720 people today,” Kight said. “I’m not sure if it’s because more people are out of work or because other food pantries aren’t open. … “We would normally have at least 40 volunteers working in the building,” Kight said. “Due to the coronavirus, we had to cut it down to 10 working inside.”

* First COVID-19 case in Fayette County prompts disaster proclamation

* COVID-19 cases confirmed in Saline, Randolph counties

* Kankakee hospitals prepare for the possibility of COVID-19 influx: In Watseka, Iroquois Memorial Hospital is setting up a tent as part of its emergency preparedness.

* Caterpillar laying off KK workers because of economic and COVID-19 concerns: “While our operations have been classified as essential activity, the COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact on global economic conditions. We are taking a variety of actions at our global facilities to reduce production due to weaker customer demand, potential supply constraints and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions. These actions include indefinite layoffs at our East Peoria building KK location.”

* Session is canceled, but lawmakers are still working: Manar estimates the number of calls fielded by him and his staff “is more than tenfold” from its normal volume. “Much of what I’m doing responding to constituent concerns is just getting them accurate and timely information,” Manar said.

[Headline explained here.]

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      


Question of the day

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* Scott Reeder

Illinois has weak price-gouging laws. In fact, only fuel is covered by the state’s price-gouging statute, Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, said.

Karr added that price increases often are made by wholesalers supplying retailers. But retailers often are blamed by customers for the price jump.

An executive order filed this month by Gov. JB Pritzker further expanded enforcement of price gouging to include medical and sanitary items used in the fight against the coronavirus, said Tori Joseph, a spokeswoman for the attorney general. She added the attorney general also can use his civil powers to fine retailers he believes have unfairly increased the prices of other items.

For now, his office is calling retailers who customers have complained about unfairly raising prices, and asking them to cut prices.

* The Question: Should Illinois broaden its price-gouging laws? Make sure to explain your answer, please. Thanks.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** And the news just repeats itself, like some forgotten dream, that we’ve both seen

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* Wordslinger last May, not long before he died, about John Prine

I once came across my daughter singing “…and the news just repeats itself, like some forgotten dream, that we’ve both seen.”

She was five.

Great writing leaves a mark, early, it seems.

The dude should have his named carved on the state library, with the other greats.

Same with Ebert, who first told the masses about the “singing mailman” in 1970.

Keep scrolling way down the link to get to the original Sun-Times review.

https://www.rogerebert.com/balder-and-dash/john-prine-american-legend

* Those lyrics were from this song

* You’ve probably already heard about Prine

John Prine, the postman from Maywood and Army mechanic who became one of the most revered American songwriters of the past half century, is in critical condition “after a sudden onset of COVID-19 symptoms,” his official Twitter feed reported Sunday afternoon.

The news was greeted with an outpouring of well wishes from fans and from fellow musicians, including Seth Meyers, Jason Isbell and the band Dawes.

Prine, who rose to prominence through the Chicago folk music scene in the 1960s and ’70s, “was hospitalized on Thursday. He was intubated Saturday evening, and continues to receive care, but his situation is critical,” said the note “From the Prine family” on the @JohnPrineMusic Twitter feed.

Intubation is a stage of treatment that can precede going on a ventilator. The coronavirus sweeping the globe attacks people through their lungs to the point where the most ill need mechanical breathing help, and the virus is most dangerous to those with underlying medical conditions.

I think Wordslinger was right about carving the names of Prine and Ebert on the Illinois State Library. And when this is all over and people get a chance to breathe again, I’m going to urge Secretary of State Jesse White to consider it.

I had hoped to set up a meet and greet this spring for my readers and Wordslinger’s family, but that’s obviously impossible now. I still think about him every day and wish he was here to provide us with his perspectives. It’s like marching into a war without a leg.

…Adding… Text message from House GOP Leader Jim Durkin…

John Prine was a postman in Westchester when I was young. He would fill in for our regular postman on occasion. Johnny was a big hit with us because he let us push the mail cart down the street with him. He had a heavy beard and was always good to us kids.

*** UPDATE *** John Prine’s spouse…


- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      


National Guard drive-through testing limited to 250 per day

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* The Tribune’s Stacy St. Clair checked out a National Guard drive-through testing facility in Chicago

With all the various safety procedures and verification points, the process took about five minutes once cars enter the bay. The swab portion lasted as little as 35 seconds between the time Tanton offered her reassuring introduction and the drivers restarted their cars to exit. […]

The results take up to seven days to come back, Illinois National Guard spokesman Maj. A.J. Ruggieri said.

The troops averaged more than 60 tests an hour last Thursday, with the lines moving faster each day. Guard members stop as soon as they use 250 kits, the maximum number of the swabs permitted by the federal government, according to state officials.

On Saturday, the Guard also helped open a testing site in Bloomington in central Illinois. Testing there also tops out at 250 kits each day.

* Pritzker addressed both the 250 per day limit and the week-long lag for test results yesterday

(D)ue to the federal government requiring federal personnel representation at our two state drive-throughs, we remain tied to a 250 test cap at each of these locations. We know there’s greater need at our longer running Harwood Heights site. We’ve been hitting 250 tests by just the early afternoon, and having to turn people away. We’d like to be able to test more than 400 people a day at these sites and think that we can. We have the capacity to do so. So we’re pushing the federal government to change their requirements and allow us to test more than 250 people were turning people away that we just shouldn’t have to. And we asked the federal government to remove their restriction.

We’re also pressuring the federal government on the return timelines of these tests. The private labs contracted by the federal government are taking four to seven days, sometimes even up to 10 days to turn around results. That is far too long. We’re doing it much faster in the state of Illinois, with the capacity that we have.

* Speaking of tests...

Five days ago, three state labs, four commercial facilities and 15 hospital labs processed 2,000 tests per day. The governor said that capacity is up to 4,000 daily with a goal of hitting 10,000 daily in the next 10 days.

“That marker is significant because it’s the number of tests per day that the scientists and experts tell us that we need to get a truly holistic understanding of the virus in each of our 102 counties,” Pritzker said. “…This 10,000-a-day marker will give us the data to run a more mathematically significant model that offers us improved insight into how well our interventions are working.” […]

“Ultimately, my goal is to reach a large enough testing capacity where we’re able to test everyone who needs a test on a regular basis,” Pritzker said. “… Every day we aren’t hitting 10,000 tests or more is another day that we’re not able to get answers that help us get past this current crisis.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


Don’t be like Italy

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* Gov. Pritzker said the other day that he was trying to learn from mistakes made by Italy and others to avoid repeating them in Illinois. Dylan Scott at Vox takes a look at what Italy did wrong

Italy’s political leaders did not act preemptively despite evidence suggesting such delayed increases in cases were possible. State-of-emergency declarations were shrugged off by the public and political leaders. In one ominous episode, a group of politicians engaged in deliberate handshakes even after the Covid-19 risks were known — and one of them was diagnosed with the infection a week later. […]

Italy started small with its coronavirus containment and only expanded it as the scale of the problem revealed itself. The country started with a targeted strategy: certain areas with a lot of infections were designated as “red zones.” Within the red zones, there were progressive lockdowns depending on the severity of the outbreak in the area. The restrictions were only broadened to the whole country when these measures did not stop the virus’s spread.

In fact, these limited lockdowns might have made it worse. Because the coronavirus transmits so silently, the “facts on the ground” (number of cases, deaths, etc.) didn’t actually capture the full scale of the problem. Once partial lockdowns went into effect, people fled to less restricted parts of the country — and they may have unwittingly taken the virus with them, according to the Harvard researchers: […]

Italy’s experience indicates that truncated social distancing periods and a mishmash of social distancing policies across different interlocked areas will ultimately only prolong and deepen the problem. Luckily, the country’s provinces that took a more proactive approach may have something to teach their neighbors — and the US.

Click here to read what some places in Italy did right.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      


A tale of two legislators

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

This is a story about two very different state legislators, representing very different districts with the same strong belief in hope during a time of anguish.

Some legislators are known for their lawmaking abilities and some are known for their constituent services. Rep. Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City) falls more into the latter category.

The always-cheerful Bennett can attend as many as 10 or 12 events on a weekend day. His district is huge, stretching from just south of Streator all the way east and south to right above Danville. His constant travels caught up to him last year when he was in a bad one-car accident and broke several ribs. But his pace soon returned to “normal.”
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All the events have one thing in common: They’re put on by groups to raise money for worthy causes. “They’re good people, trying hard,” Bennett said, adding that he tries not to eat at every event he attends.

I reached out to Bennett to see if he was experiencing any withdrawal symptoms. He said he was keeping plenty busy. He put up a lot of yard signs throughout the district even though he didn’t have a primary opponent and has been taking them down since the election ended.

While he was doing that, he also visited restaurants throughout his sprawling district that have remained open for carry-out and delivery, and has been highlighting their offerings on social media to help them stay afloat.

He’s on numerous conference calls every day. He had been putting out a weekly newsletter, but it’s now daily. Bennett, like most legislators, is also fielding urgent calls from constituents.

Bennett has two district offices and they’ve been open from 7:30 or 8 in the morning “until well past supper” during the crisis, he said.

”I get my batteries charged by listening to people talk about what’s going on in their lives,” he said. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some good jobs. But this is … good.”

Meanwhile, one of the most frustrating parts of this pandemic is the insane uncertainty about almost everything.

The state legislative session is just one of a multitude of events that have been upended by the crisis. We simply have no precedent to rely on here. And Senate President Don Harmon made an interesting point when I asked him if he was keeping in contact with House Speaker Michael Madigan.

”I try to stay in touch with him,” said Harmon, who was sworn into the chamber’s presidency just a couple of months ago. Madigan has been running his chamber for decades and was first elected to the House when Harmon was not yet four years old.

”It’s strange that the first big crisis is something neither he nor I have experienced. I thought everything I’d go through, the speaker would have already been through.”

Harmon, who’s known as a policy wonk, said he’s doing some work in his home at the dining room table or at a desk in the family room. The Democratic leader all but closed his district office, which is less than a mile away from his Oak Park house, so he spends a lot of time there.

I asked the rookie president what the lowest point of the past few weeks has been for him.

”I think the starkest point was the realization that I was being asked to make decisions that would literally affect people’s health in such a material way. That was a sobering moment.”

Asked what has inspired him the most, Harmon said it would have to be “the willingness of everyone to put aside the usual points of bickering.”

”In some odd way,” he continued, “I think [Senate Republican Leader] Bill Brady and I are going to have a much more productive relationship in the long term because it was forged in this odd time, when we had a responsibility greater than to our caucus or to our party, but to the state and to the country and to the world.

”And I’ve seen that with Democrats and Republicans. I’ve seen that among the factions in the Democratic caucus. Almost universally people are very willing to put aside whatever petty grievances they may have had before and ask all the right questions. What can we be doing together to help our state and our neighbors through this?”

Harmon also praised the governor for acting capably and for being “very attentive to the needs of the legislature and the caucuses. So, I’m hoping all of these relationships will be stronger because of this, once we return to normal times.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Everyone has their own priorities

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* The Daily Herald’s Sunday editorial

A primary argument of Gov. J.B. Pritzker and legislative supporters of a graduated income tax is that we can trust them. We can trust them to use additional money it would generate to shore up the state’s finances. We can trust them not to use it to come up with new ways to spend money. We can trust them not to use the new system to regularly increase income taxes.

By May 3, we will have a good idea of just how seriously we should regard their word.

May 3 is the deadline for the General Assembly to pass legislation allowing a referendum on creation of a nonpartisan commission to draw legislative boundaries, replacing the highly politicized process now in place. If they miss that deadline, the state will not have a chance to address the issue until the next U.S. Census in 10 years. […]

Support for change from the public and within the legislature is clearly strong. Only three people stand in the way of action. Democratic Speaker Mike Madigan decides what legislation gets voted on in the House. Democratic Senate President Don Harmon has that role in the Senate. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who has repeatedly claimed to support a new redistricting process, has the prestige and influence of his office to move legislative leaders of his own party.

Not one word in the entire editorial about the international pandemic and how that might impact the deadline.

*** UPDATE *** Some of the sponsors are attempting to dampen expectations

The General Assembly has a May 3 deadline to vote on the Fair Maps Amendment, which would ask voters in a November referendum to approve a state constitutional amendment that would put redistricting in the hands of an independent commission.

State Rep. Terra Costa Howard, a Glen Ellyn Democrat and co-sponsor of the bipartisan bill, said momentum had been building, but priorities have shifted.

“This is my No. 1 priority, but I also have to focus on protecting people’s lives, making sure there is food supply, that businesses can keep running,” she said. “That is the highest priority that we as legislators have right now.”

Co-sponsor state Sen. John Curran, a Republican from Downers Grove, agreed.

“I am very hopeful that we will be back and be able to put this matter before the voters. It is very important,” he said. “And if we are back and able to do that, we will also have known that we turned the corner on this pandemic and flattened the curve.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      


Clean, Affordable Energy—Now More Than Ever

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

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The Citizens Utility Board is here to help through its free, virtual service that analyzes your utility bills from the comfort of your home. CUB can check your bill to see if you’re getting overcharged by an alternative supplier, give you energy efficiency tips, and educate you about other potential ways to save. CUB has shown customers how to cut their bills by hundreds of dollars a year.

Email a copy of your most recent electric, natural gas, or telecom bill to CUB: ubc@citizensutilityboard.org. (“Attn: Virtual Utility Bill Clinic” in the subject line.)

CUB’s mission is to bring clean, affordable energy to Illinois consumers—that’s why we support the Clean Energy Jobs Act and that’s why we offer free services like the Virtual Utility Bill Clinic at a time of need like this.

If you have a question about your utility service, please call 1-800-669-5556 to talk to a CUB expert 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, or visit citizensutilityboard.org.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


Wellness check!

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* Are you and yours doing OK?

- Posted by Rich Miller   47 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today’s edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Monday, Mar 30, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      


PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Londrigan criticized for supporting program that reduces hospital funding
* 614 new cases, 6 additional deaths, 2.6 percent positivity rate
* This ain't as easy as it sounds
* Anti graduated income tax amendment group launches tomorrow
* Question of the day
* Duckworth obscures her message
* The ramp's consequences
* Deputy House Majority Leader Turner steps down
* Cornell University study: Online classes would result in more infections, hospitalizations
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Chicago couldn't come close to meeting its own metric on traveler restrictions
* Pritzker wins one, loses one
* After dealing with COVID-19, AG Raoul turns to police licensing
* House Dems grumbling about IDES and the governor
* Open thread
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today's edition
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Pritzker contributes $51.5 million to his "Fair Tax" campaign account
* *** UPDATED x1 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: This just in...
* Yesterday's stories

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