Illinois Government Responses to Covid-19 Updated 5/22/2020
Today’s update discusses:
- Illinois House of Representatives’ vote-by-mail plan
- Impact of COVID-19 on the Illinois agriculture industry
- Chicago’s reopening plan
- Increased mental health services for Chicago residents
- The Illinois House of Representatives yesterday voted 72-43 for an enhanced vote-by-mail plan for the November 2020 general election. The House plan will allow those who fear exposure to COVID-19 the ability to vote by mail. Additionally, some polling places are privately owned, and owners have expressed reluctance to allow use of the buildings for voting. Therefore, the House plan proposes to make Election Day a holiday so that schools and other state-owned buildings can be used as polling places. Some Representatives oppose the plan due to the increased opportunity for voter fraud.
- Much of the discussion of the economic impact of coronavirus has focused on restaurants, bars, services, and manufacturing. But agriculture, which is a major part of Illinois’ economy, also has experienced significant adverse economic effects due to the pandemic. One example is euthanizing livestock. With meatpacking plants closed or working with dramatically reduced staff to protect workers from the spread of COVID-19, farmers have been unable to sell livestock for processing. They cannot afford to keep feeding and housing livestock that has become too large to sell for meat processing. Chad Leman, an Illinois farmer and board member of the Illinois Pork Producers Association, estimates industry-wide in America between five to ten million hogs will be euthanized. Then, farmers face the difficulties and expense of carcass disposal. Although President Trump’s Executive Order keeping meat and poultry processing facilities open during the pandemic could help, along with CDC and OSHA safety guidelines, farmers have already sustained major losses.
- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced today that Chicago will move into Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan in early June. She expressed optimism that so long as safety measures could be put in place, the city may also see reopenings of camps, religious services, gyms, and museums. With only a general timeline for reopening in place, Lightfoot plans to release more information next week regarding specific details and regulations. Certain restrictions will still be in place, though, including limiting group gatherings to fewer than 10 people and encouraging face coverings and social distancing.
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced plans to increase funding in Chicago for mental health services as the pandemic continues in the city. The Chicago Department of Public Health will be working with mental health organizations on a plan to give residents with serious illnesses access to support services. In addition, the funding will also support a telemedicine platform, which will allow residents to access digital services.