IEDA State Update – August 21, 2020

On Sunday, Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced new mitigation efforts for the Metro East region downstate that went into effect Tuesday. This particular region has seen three consecutive days of a test positivity rate of 8 percent or higher, which calls for the implementation of tighter restrictions. These restrictions are similar but less strict than the restrictions Illinois saw in the earlier days of the virus: closing of bars, restaurants, and casinos by 11 p.m., ban on party buses, and a reduction of gathering sizes to the lesser of 25 people or 25 percent of room capacity. If rates do not decrease after 14 days, tighter mitigation will occur. “If the data shows we need to go backward in our reopening, I won’t hesitate to tighten restrictions to protect our collective health,” Pritzker said in the news release. Through tightening restrictions in the Metro East areas, Pritzker and IDPH hope to decrease the ever-increasing cases in the region.

Earlier this week, Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health won a ruling against three Illinois school districts who claim they do not need to enforce the wearing of masks for in-person learning. In July, Pritzker filed a lawsuit to prevent the spread of coronavirus in school by ensuring that students wear face masks to school if classes were to be resume in person. Last month, Families of Faith Christian Academy in Channahon wrote letters in opposition to this lawsuit, citing the Illinois Supreme Court Rule in 1922 that states that the government cannot make rules “which merely have a tendency to prevent” the spread of infectious diseases. Others noted that, because there are technically no consequences for those who do not wear masks, these rules should be considered recommendations for school districts. Last week, the Hutsonville school board voted 4-3 to comply with the state health guidelines released in June that set instructions for the safe congregation in schools from kindergarten through college in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

As of the end of Wednesday, August 19, 2,295 cases of COVID-19 were reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health as well as 25 additional deaths within that day. This brings Illinois’ total coronavirus cases to 211,889 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, and 7,806 deaths. Testing has also been at an all-time high in the state. Within the past 24-hours, coronavirus testing laboratories have reported over 50,000 test subjects processed, the most tests processed in a single day since the beginning of the pandemic.

The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign has recently developed a salvia-based COVID-19 test and is now using it to expand testing on campus as students begin to return for the fall semester. Gov. JB Pritzker announced on Wednesday during a press conference that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization of this test to be used state-wide. This new test is a “real game-changer” as it provides faster and more efficient results than current tests. Additionally, these tests are more affordable: the university has brought costs per test down to approximately $10 a test. “If ongoing research continues to yield positive results, this has potentially game-changing implications,” Pritzker told reporters during the press conference.

Important Upcoming Dates  Statewide

  • November 3, 2020 – Election Day
  • November 17-19, 2020 – First week of Veto Session
  • December 1-3, 2020 – Second week of Veto Session
  • December 15, 2020 – Final Day for Local Government to Submit Reimbursement Requests to DCEO

In the News

Pritzker Says State Closely Monitoring 2 Regions for ‘Troubling Trends' — NBC Chicago, August 19, 2020
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that most of Illinois' 11 regions are seeing increases in positivity rates, but two in particular are reporting "troubling trends" as the state continues to see a rise in coronavirus metrics. Already, the state's Region 4, the Metro East region, is under stricter mitigation requirements implemented by the state after the area rose above an 8 percent positivity rate for three days in a row. As of Tuesday, the region had a positivity rate of 9.4 percent and Pritzker warned additional restrictions like the full closure of indoor dining and drinking could soon be put in place. In addition to Region 4, Pritzker said Regions 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, and 11 have also seen an increase in their seven-day rolling average positivity rate. Only three regions - Regions 1, 5, and 6 - have seen slight decreases.

Legal Move Delays ComEd's First Installment of $200 Million Corruption Fine — Illinois News Room, August 19, 2020
Commonwealth Edison got a temporary reprieve from its due date to pay the first installment of a $200 million fine in a federal corruption case Monday. The delay came after a Chicago lawyer argued ComEd — which is supposed to pay the fine to the U.S. treasury — should instead pay back electricity-delivery customers who were victims of the power company’s long-running Springfield bribery scheme. Executives with the massive public utility had agreed to pay half of the fine within a month of announcing a deal with prosecutors on July 17, court records show.

But lawyer Joseph Stewart argued “that restitution is due to non-federal victims of ComEd’s bribery scheme” before any money goes to the U.S. government. Under what’s known as a “deferred prosecution agreement” with prosecutors in Chicago, ComEd agreed to pay the fine to end a federal investigation into what the company admits was an eight-year effort to buy influence in the Illinois Capitol. In the agreement, the benefits of the scheme for ComEd were said to exceed $150 million.

State Rep Will Sue Chicago Police For ‘Unjust Treatment’ After Gun Charge Dropped — Block Club Chicago, August 19, 2020
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office dropped a gun charge against state Rep. Curtis Tarver II (D-25th) after police alleged he was carrying a gun with an invalid concealed carry license during a November traffic stop. Now, Tarver plans to sue the Chicago Police Department, saying his constitutional rights were violated during his arrest and detainment.

Tarver, who is an attorney, told Block Club officers at the Grand Crossing (3rd) District Police Station, where he was detained for several hours after his arrest, denied him a phone call, tried to coerce him into “taking the charge” and drove his car to the station themselves rather than calling a tow truck, among other claims.

U of I COVID test gets emergency FDA approval — Crain’s Chicago Business, August 19, 2020
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted emergency use authorization of the saliva-based COVID-19 test developed and now in use at the University of Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced today during a press conference updating the latest developments in the state's pandemic response. “Expanding our breakthrough, saliva-based testing will be a real game-changer, providing fast and efficient results that will protect lives and livelihoods,” U of I System President Tim Killeen said today. The test was developed in a matter of a few months by researchers in Urbana-Champaign as a way to quickly test roughly 60,000 returning faculty, staff and students twice a week, U of I Chancellor Robert J. Jones said today. On Monday, the U of I tested 10,000 people at the school, representing 1.3 percent of all tests in the nation that day, Jones said. 

Time to prevent the next Madigan—even while he's still here – Crain’s Chicago Business, August 18, 2020
Anyone eagerly awaiting news that federal prosecutors finally have the goods on Michael Madigan should realize that getting rid of the Illinois House Speaker wouldn't be enough to wash the stain of corruption from our state. Sure, the feds would strike a strong blow against corruption if their investigation of the Commonwealth Edison bribery scheme leads to a conviction of the state's most powerful politician. There's little doubt that he's "Public Official A" depicted in ComEd's deferred prosecution agreement as the ultimate beneficiary of favors handed out by the utility as it pursued favorable legislation. Madigan denies wrongdoing and hasn't been charged.

Madigan proving the very real elephant in the virtual room for Illinois Democrats during the convention – Chicago Sun-Times, August 18, 2020
Although an all-virtual Democratic National Convention has led to a few awkward moments as party leaders adapt to a new web-based format, there weren’t any technical glitches behind an uncomfortable pause Tuesday afternoon as top Illinois Democrats were asked a pointed question about embattled Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. The Southwest Side powerhouse has become the elephant in the virtual conference room as questions swirl around his connection to a federal bribery case leveled against ComEd. But in the absence of an in-person convention, the longtime speaker — and members of the Illinois Democratic Party he chairs — haven’t had to worry about scrums of reporters chasing them down with questions about calls for Madigan to resign.

Progressive income tax debate focuses on women ahead of November vote – The Center Square, August 18, 2020
Voters will decide the fate of Illinois' proposed progressive income tax amendment in November, but groups continue to debate the impact the proposal will have on residents. Changing Illinois’ flat income tax to a structure with higher rates for higher earners will either be good for women and minorities or it will diminish their access to jobs, according to groups on opposing sides of the tax issue. Supporters of the progressive tax said Tuesday that the proposal to change the state’s flat income tax to a structure with higher rates for higher earners would help women and minorities.

Pritzker wins injunction against 3 Illinois schools not complying with mask mandate – My State Line, August 18, 2020
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health have won an injunction against three school districts who said they did not need to mandate face masks for in-person learning this year. Pritzker filed a preemptive lawsuit in July to ensure school children wear face coverings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. A lawyer representing Hutsonville Community Unit School District No. 1 in southeastern Illinois, Parkview Christian Academy in Yorkville and Families of Faith Christian Academy in Channahon wrote letters in the last month to the state board explaining that the Illinois Supreme Court ruled in a 1922 case that government cannot make rules “which merely have a tendency to prevent” the spread of infectious diseases, particularly if “arbitrary and unreasonable.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says St. Louis and southwest Illinois must respond as one to COVID — BND, August 17, 2020
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker pleaded with metro-east residents and Missourians alike to adhere to the same coronavirus guidance during a visit to East St. Louis on Monday. “Your community is facing concerning trends in positivity rates that we aren’t seeing in most of the other areas of Illinois,” Pritzker said. “It is in the best interest of all St. Louis and metro-east residents, Illinoisans and Missourians alike, to take action now to bring down the positivity rate, and we’re working together across the border to make sure that happens,” Pritzker said state health officials are working with leaders in Missouri to act as a region in responding to a resurgence in coronavirus cases.

Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan says he won't quit in wake of ComEd scandal — Crain’s Chicago Business, August 18, 2020
As Illinois Democrats join with their national party in hopes to formally nominate their candidate to reclaim the White House, the party’s state leader here has a message he knows you’ll want to hear: He’s staying around. Yes, in a new statement, Mike Madigan, the speaker of the Illinois House and chairman of the Democratic Party, discounts those pesky federal investigators and concludes, “I have no plans to resign.” As chairman at the time of the Democratic National Convention, Madigan is leading a party that normally would be holding big delegation meetings every day, meetings that he’d have to attend and which would give reporters a chance to question him about a rising number of calls from within his own party that he hang it up after being implicated but not charged in the Commonwealth Edison bribery scandal.

Illinois delegation says the partnership of organized labor is a reminder of their values — The Daily Line, August 18, 2020
As a prelude to the opening of the Democratic National Convention Monday, the Illinois delegation Democrats hosted a full slate of national labor organizations via Zoom to present a sharp contrast between their agenda and that of President Donald Trump. “I wouldn’t be a United States Senator without organized labor, period … I thought everyone was in a union family. I learned later in my life how wrong I was,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. Durbin and others, including Lonnie Stephenson, international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), acknowledged the dwindling power of labor, particularly in Midwest states due to surges in Republican leadership at statehouses.

For Illinois delegates, a ‘totally bizarre’ Democratic convention from the couch – Chicago Tribune, August 17, 2020
For Chicago City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee promised to be the experience of a lifetime — a chance to witness history, network with fellow Democrats from across the country, and rub in some bragging rights. The first-time delegate supported Joe Biden during the party’s historically large and diverse primary while her husband, West Side Ald. Jason Ervin, filed as a delegate to represent former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who dropped out of the race before Illinois voted.

Former Gov. James Thompson, a giant of Illinois politics, dead at 84 –  Chicago Sun-Times, August 15, 2020
Back when there was such a thing as a liberal Republican politician, James Thompson was the GOP’s rising star. “Big Jim” — he stood 6 feet 6 inches — was Illinois’ longest-serving governor. The native Chicagoan was elected four times and served 14 years. Though the most popular governor of the past half-century, talk of his running as a Republican candidate for president in the late 1970s was scuttled in part by his strong convictions, beliefs that he refused to abandon merely to achieve his lifelong dream. “I still believe that a reasonable pro-choice position is not only right but is a majority view of my party,” he once said. “But it’s not the majority view of the people who control my party.”

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