Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

As the United States continues to address the coronavirus pandemic, I’m focused on ensuring the federal government is doing everything it can to support the health and safety of Illinoisans.  Addressing the spread of the virus will take a whole-of-government approach and coordination with the State of Illinois as preventive measures are implemented.  We also must support working families during this difficult time and provide health care professionals and scientists with every resource they need for treatments and research into COVID-19.

- U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

 

COVID-19 VACCINES  

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has continued to evaluate the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, and has authorized the use of three COVID-19 vaccines: from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.  Medical experts, including those at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have concluded that these vaccines will help our country get out of this pandemic as quickly as possible.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has posted interim guidance on how vaccinated people can safely lift certain public health protocols, available here.

Due to the initial, limited supply of vaccines, the federal government and state governments have created a tiered vaccine prioritization schedule to determine those who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and distribution.  To learn about when you are eligible and where to access COVID-19 vaccinations, more information is available here.

Since President Biden has taken office, weekly vaccine shipments to Illinois from the federal government have been doubled, which has enabled thousands more of our neighbors across the state to get vaccinated.  The Biden Administration also has partnered with Community Health Centers, retail pharmacies, and state and local governments to get vaccines to those who have been hardest hit during the pandemic.  The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides more than $15 billion in additional funding to improve our country’s vaccination infrastructure, which will allow even more Illinoisans to get the vaccine in the coming months.

 

SUMMARY OF FEDERAL FUNDING BILLS

The American Rescue Plan provides $1.9 trillion to tackle the COVID-19 crisis and address its impact, including by providing funds for vaccinations and public health efforts, economic relief for families and small businesses, and resources for our schools and communities to recover and thrive. You can learn how the American Rescue Plan will help you here. And an additional fact sheet on the bill is available here as well.

The first bipartisan coronavirus emergency response supplemental funding bill provided $7.8 billion to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, including funding for patient monitoring, lab testing, acquisition of test kits and protective equipment, and research into vaccines and therapeutics. A fact sheet on the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act is available here.

The second bipartisan coronavirus emergency response supplemental funding bill provided $100 billion to help protect families’ economic security, food security, and health security. A fact sheet on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act is available here.

The third bipartisan coronavirus emergency response supplemental funding bill provided nearly $2.2 trillion to help working families, small businesses, and communities during the coronavirus outbreak. A fact sheet on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is available here.

  • A section-by-section of the package is available here.
  • A question and answer document is available here.

The fourth bipartisan coronavirus emergency response supplemental funding bill provided a total of $484 billion, primarily focused on helping small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.  The bill also provides funding for hospitals and health care providers and for testing capabilities. A fact sheet on the Paycheck Protection Program & Health Care Enhancement Act is available here.

 

Small Business

The COVID relief bills created several programs to help support small businesses:

  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides forgivable loans to eligible small businesses and nonprofit organizations.  A second round of PPP loans is available to eligible small businesses and nonprofits that meet certain size and revenue loss requirements. The application deadline is May 31. Detailed information on eligibility, forgiveness, and how to find a lender is available here
  • The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program includes $16.25 billion in grants to be provided to eligible live venues, theaters, and museums.  Applications will be accepted beginning April 8 26.  Information on eligibility and how to apply is available here.
  • The Restaurant Revitalization Fund includes $28.6 billion in direct relief for the restaurant industry. Applications will be accepted beginning May 3.  Information on eligibility and how to apply available here.
  • Expands and extends the Employee Retention Tax Credit through December 31, 2021, to help businesses retain and rehire workers. Additional information is available here.

 

State and Local Funding (Coronavirus Relief Fund)

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP) includes $350 billion in federal funding for state, local, territorial, and tribal governments to help respond to the pandemic. This is in addition to the $150 billion in state and local funding included in the CARES Act last year.

  • Illinois is expected to receive an estimated $13.7 billion from the ARP state and local fund including $1.9 billion for Chicago alone. Last year, Illinois received $4.9 billion in state and local funding from the CARES Act.
  • Further details on distribution of ARP funding, eligibility, and oversight are expected via Treasury Department guidance in the coming weeks. Over the next 60-90 days, localities can expect to receive half of their funding with the remaining funds distributed 12 months later. 
  • Of the nearly $14 billion expected for Illinois, an estimated $7.5 billion will go to the State and an estimated $5.9 billion will be distributed among Illinois localities.  Illinois counties will receive an estimated $2.5 billion in direct federal funding distributed by population. Larger Illinois cities (above 50,000 population) will receive an estimated $2.7 billion in direct funding distributed thru HUD’s Community Development Block Grant formula, which is uses a combination of population, poverty, and housing rates. And smaller municipalities in Illinois (below 50,000) will receive an estimated $740 million that will be distributed by the State based on population. 
  • Funds can be used by states and localities to pay for costs associated with the COVID public health emergency; for government services to the extent needed to replace revenue lost during the pandemic; for costs associated with the negative economic impacts of the pandemic including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality; for premium pay for essential workers; and to make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure. State and localities can provide funding to special district governments and nonprofits but are prohibited from using funding to pay for pensions or tax cuts. Funds must be used by December 2024.
  • In addition, the ARP included a new $10 billion grant program to help states, territories, and tribes pay for critical capital projects directly enabling work, education, health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the COVID pandemic.

CARES funding for localities is also still available. Illinois has set aside $250 million of these federal funds for Illinois localities through the Local Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency (CURE) Support Program.  Additional information on how to access Local CURE funding is available here.

The ARP also provides an additional $50 billion in disaster relief funding to support COVID-19 response, in addition to $45 billion from the CARES Act.  Through Illinois’ Major Disaster Declaration, FEMA uses this funding to provide COVID-19 assistance to local governments and certain private non-profit organizations at a 100% federal cost share.  Applicants must apply through the State.   More information can be found here.

 

Helping Working Families

The bipartisan COVID-19 relief bills include several provisions to help families deal with the impact of the outbreak:

  • Provides an additional $300 in unemployment benefits per worker, per week and extends federal unemployment programs through September 6, 2021.  Information about how to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance can be found here.
  • Provides a $10,200 tax exclusion for unemployment compensation for 2020 for households earning less than $150,000. Additional information is available here.
  • Increases the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers.
  • Makes the Child Tax Credit fully refundable and increases the maximum amount to $3,000 ($3,600 for children under age six).
  • Provides refundable payroll tax credits for paid sick and family leave through the end of September 2021, and expands eligibility to state and local governments.  Additional information is available here.  
  • Authorizes a third round of direct cash payments to most individuals and families of up to $1,400 ($2,800 for married couples),including payments for mixed-status households. Additional information can be found here.

 

 

Provider Relief Fund

The Acts created a fund at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to distribute $178 billion in direct, emergency funding to medical facilities and providers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, to account for increased expenditures and lost revenues. 

  • HHS has already allocated more than $155 billion for facilities and providers across the United States, through several distribution rounds (each based upon different methodologies and targeted on different hospitals or types of health providers).  HHS will continue to allocate the remaining funds to address ongoing challenges posed by a range of health providers.
  • Additional information is available here.

 

Support for Education

The American Rescue Plan provides needed assistance to child care providers, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education to meet the additional burdens associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.  More information will be available from ED on applying for these funds in the coming days.

  • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund ($122.7 billion nationally) provides formula grants to state educational agencies for distribution to local educational agencies.  Illinois is estimated to receive a total of $5 billion through this fund with at least $252 million to address learning loss, $50 million for summer enrichment, and $50 million for after school programs.
  • The bill provides funds to support students with disabilities through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ($3.03 billion nationally).  Illinois is estimated to receive $121 million to support students with disabilities through IDEA. 
  • The bill provides assistance for governors to provide support to non-public schools through the existing Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools Program ($2.75 billion nationally).  Illinois is estimated to receive $79 million through this fund. 
  • Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund ($39.58 billion nationally) provides formula grants to institutions of higher education—with institutions required to use at least 50 percent of their funds for emergency student aid to students.  Illinois is estimated to receive $1.26 billion in relief funds.  
  • The bill provides $39 billion nationally to support the child care sector through Child Care Stabilization Grants ($24 billion nationally) and Child Care Development Block Grants ($15 billion nationally).  Illinois is estimated to receive a total of $1.29 billion in child care relief, $798 million through Child Care Stabilization Grants and $499 million in supplemental Child Care and Development Block Grants.
  • The bill provides additional support for Head Start programs ($1 billion nationally).  Illinois is estimated to receive $39.6 million for Head Start programs in the state.

 

FEDERAL RESOURCES

CDC Resources - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

 

ILLINOIS RESOURCES

Coronavirus.illinois.gov 

Illinois COVID-19 Hotline: 1-800-889-3931

  

TRAVEL

As of March 31, 2020, the Department of State advised all U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.  

At present the Department of State is making every effort to assist U.S. citizens overseas who wish to return to the United States. If you wish to return to the United States, you should make arrangements to do so now. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens should arrange for immediate return to the United States by commercial carrier, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.

If you have a COVID-19 virus related emergency overseas, please contact the nearest  U.S. embassy or consulate or call our assistance call center:

For more information, please visit the State Department's COVID-19 Traveler Information website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html

 

SmartTraveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

Any U.S. citizens who do travel overseas should enroll in the Department of State’s SmartTraveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  Enrollment in STEP enables the American Citizen Services unit in the U.S. Embassy in each country to reach out directly to a U.S. citizen in need of assistance.  STEP also allows U.S. citizens to receive Alerts to convey information about terrorist threats, security incidents, planned demonstrations, natural disasters, etc.

Additional information for travelers: