Illinois Government Responses to Covid-19 Updated 6/11/2020
Today’s update discusses:
- Governor’s refusal to move state into Phase 4 early
- Uncertainty about reopening schools
- Cash assistance for Chicago residents
- Shortfalls in Chicago’s economy
- Cancellation of many Chicago events
- Illinois Senate Republicans asked Governor Pritzker this week to consider moving the state into Phase 4 on June 12, rather than wait until the end of the month as originally planned. Their letter to the governor stated, “Illinois remains one of the most restrictive states in the nation,” and expressed concern for some sectors of the economy. However, Governor Pritzker is not budging. In his briefing on June 10, the Governor reminded everyone that “the reason that we have phases is because as you reopen and move into a new phase … you're gonna get more cases” and “the idea here is to make sure that we don't overwhelm the hospital system as we reopen.” While some may disagree with the Governor’s reopening method, he has expressed that his long-term goal is to avoid another spike in cases in the fall.
- Governor Pritzker announced this week that he is still uncertain when schools will reopen this fall. Illinois continues to monitor the number of COVID-19 cases and other metrics to inform the decision on whether and when to reopen schools. Pritzker made clear in his announcement that any decision he makes will be “based upon the data and the science and the recommendations that come.”
- On Wednesday, Chicago’s Mayor announced a new cash assistance program for some of the city’s residents. Mayor Lightfoot, along with The Resurrection Project, announced a $5 million project aimed at providing $1,000 in assistance to select households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic but not eligible for stimulus checks under the CARES Act. Eligible Chicagoans include undocumented immigrants, families with mixed immigration status, college students living in poverty, and individuals recently released from prison. The goal of this project is to provide ongoing assistance, and anyone can donate to the Chicago Resiliency Fund for future payments. Those who will receive assistance can expect a check later this month.
- Mayor Lightfoot announced on Tuesday that Chicago has a budget shortfall of at least $700 million. The first step in filling the funding gap has been to achieve about $100 million through refinancing. The city will also delay some projects and evaluate hiring priorities. While it would be a last resort, Mayor Lightfoot also noted that property tax hikes and staff layoffs are also on the table. Although it is unclear what the future of the state’s economy will be, officials will continue to monitor the shortfalls while working to find ways in which they can close that gap.
- Another impact on Chicago’s economy will come with the cancellation of many special summer events. The city announced this week that major events like Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago, the Air and Water Show, and the Chicago Jazz Festival have all been cancelled in an effort to prevent large crowds from gathering and spreading COVID-19. (For example, Lollapalooza typically draws a crowd of around 100,000.) However, organizers have announced alternative events that are safer for customers (e.g., Taste of Chicago is working on a “to-go” event, while Lollapalooza will be offering a virtual event.