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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
    · Credit Union 1
    · First Financial Credit Union
    · Heartland Credit Union
    · Northern Illinois Federal Credit Union
    · Ottawa Hiway Credit Union
    · Rockford Bell Credit Union

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.

- Posted by Advertising Department   Comments Off      


*** 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      


PREVIOUS POSTS »
* Pritzker thanks Abbott Labs - "Our rate of rise is looking less and less exponential" - Praises local groups for pitching in - Shoutout to #SpritzersWithPritzker - Dr. Ezike: "If you think you don't have a case in your zip code that's probably not actually the case" - Pritzker defends pending minimum wage hike - Still no date for IDES fix - Could come back in the fall - More testing in African-American areas - Curve not bending down yet - Will be posting PPE contracts online - Following Gov. Baker's lead on contact tracing - Dr. Ezike outlines DHS DD center readiness - Addresses federal halt to funding drive-through testing - "I think everybody needs to think seriously about canceling large summer events" - Plans to pursue workshare program
* 1,344 new cases, 66 additional deaths
* Ted E. Leverenz
* COVID-19 roundup
* Worst case scenario: "Illinois could lose more than $28 billion between calendar years 2020 and 2023"
* Today's heroes: Tony and Lisa Yuscius
* Question of the day
* The testing situation
* Still no word on when gig workers can access Illinois unemployment insurance
* *** UPDATED x1 *** National stockpile runs dry as feds stop supporting drive-through sites
* 6.6 million new jobless claims
* Open thread
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* *** UPDATED x1 - 50 at Shapiro, 29 at Ludeman *** Several Murray Developmental Center residents, 1 staff test positive
* Yesterday's stories

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