* Peoria Journal Star…
It’s likely further COVID-19 mitigations will be imposed in the next few weeks as metrics continue to trend in the wrong direction, but health officials on Thursday were still trying to determine what exactly that will mean.
Will restaurants be shut down? Will organized sports be halted?
“We are waiting for IDPH to get some more clarification on that,” said Monica Hendrickson, administrator for the Peoria City/County Health Department. “There is a likelihood that mitigations will come in. Will it look like what we saw in the fall? Not necessarily. We have to recognize that we are living in a different environment where vaccine availability does exist.”
Local mitigations will be based on the metrics, which are very different from when Illinois’ COVID-19 plan was created, said Hendrickson.
“When the mitigation plans were first put forward in the fall, we were in a landscape where vaccines did not exist. Now it looks considerably different, and we are also looking at a different population that is being impacted,” she said.
Peoria is in Region 2. Its latest available average test positivity rate was 7.6 percent. Counties within the region…
Grundy: 6.7% (with the latest one-day positivity rate of 17.3 percent)
Henderson: 0.7% (hardly anyone tested)
Livingston: 3.4% (with a recent one-day positivity rate of 13.6 percent)
Putnam: 4.1% (very few tests)
Rock Island: 5.1% (two days in past week at 9 or above)
Stark: 17.6% (very few tests)
Tazewell: 10.9% (eight days this month in double digits)
Peoria residents facing financial hardships from COVID-19 are receiving a helping hand from the local government to help them pay their electric, gas, and water bills.
The city council Tuesday night agreed to shift Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars to set up a utility assistance program.
The city is making almost $302,000 available. The maximum grant is $5,000 per household for up to six months of utility assistance.
Eligible applicants must prove they’ve been negatively impacted by the pandemic, and their bills must be overdue.
* But the Washington Post published a story this week about federal aid not reaching people in Peoria…
Today, the federal government is in the midst of one of the biggest expansions of the social safety net in U.S. history, committing $5 trillion over the last year to keeping American families afloat. President Biden predicted the flood of aid could cut child poverty in half.
And yet for all its successes, the trillions in aid have often failed to reach the poorest Americans in places like the south end of Peoria. Because many in Shawna’s neighborhood have jobs that paid them in cash and because they didn’t report their income to the government, they were unable to qualify for unemployment insurance. Because they moved frequently, failed to file taxes or owed fines for back child support or past criminal activity, they often didn’t receive their full stimulus checks.
As the pandemic dragged on month after month, hundreds struggled simply to keep the lights on. Last fall, 5.4 percent of all residences in Shawna’s 61605 Zip code — about 300 houses — were cut off for failing to pay their power bill. Another 250 houses in a neighboring Zip code — or about 4 percent of all residences — also lost power.
The disconnections, which were reported to the state government by private utilities, should have been a flashing red light that the social safety net was missing Peoria’s poorest.
And yet the cutoffs throughout Peoria’s south end went largely unnoticed. Local charities with money to help with power bills reported no surge in requests for assistance. City officials speculated that the disconnection statistics must be wrong. “They don’t seem real,” said Ross Black, Peoria’s community development director. “We get calls any time someone loses power. … Our phones would have been ringing off the hook.”