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

 

SUMMARY OF FEDERAL FUNDING BILLS

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 CARES Act created several programs to help support small businesses:

  • The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides forgivable loans of up to $10 million.  The deadline to apply for a PPP loan is August 8, 2020.  More information on how to apply is available here.  Locate a lender in your area that can process your PPP application here.
  • A fully-refundable payroll tax credit for employers covering up to 50% of employee wages and certain health benefits paid to employees. Additional information is available here.
  • Businesses with fewer than 500 employees who are required to provide emergency paid sick leave or emergency paid family leave are eligible for a refundable tax credit to cover the cost of providing paid sick and family leave wages to their employees.  More information can be found here.  

For additional information on eligibility, loan terms, and forgiveness, a Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act is available here.

A section-by-section summary of the small business provisions in the CARES Act is available here.

 

State and Local Grant Funding (Coronavirus Relief Fund)

The CARES Act includes $150 billion in direct federal grant funding to states, local governments, and tribes to help fund expenditures incurred in responding to the coronavirus outbreak as well as to offset the cost of other essential government services not budgeted for in the wake of the economic downturn.  The funds apply to expenditures incurred between March 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

The U.S. Treasury must allocate these funds to states within 30 days with funding distributed among the states based on population and 45 percent of each state’s funds set aside for units of local government that serve populations of at least 500,000. 

  • That means that the City of Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, and Will County will be able to apply for this federal funding directly from the Treasury. 
  • All other municipalities will be able to access this funding through the state.

Additional information for state and local governments is available here

The CARES Act provided an additional $45 billion in disaster relief funding to support COVID-19 response.  Illinois’ Major Disaster Declaration enables local governments and certain private non-profit organizations to apply for Public Assistance for eligible response activities through FEMA.  Applicants must apply through the State.   More information can be found here.

 

Helping Working Families

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

  • Provides an additional $600 in benefits per worker, per week through July 31, 2020, and expands unemployment benefits to workers who normally do not qualify.  Information about how to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance can be found here.
  • Provides emergency paid sick leave (up to 80 hours) for employees who are quarantined, are caring for a loved one, or need to take care of a child whose school has closed or whose child care provider is unavailable due to coronavirus.  Additional information is available here.

  • Provides emergency paid family leave (up to 10 weeks) to care for a child whose school has closed or whose child care provider is unavailable due to coronavirus.  Additional information is available here.

  • Authorizes direct cash payments to most individuals and families of at least $1,200 ($2,400 for married couples).   Additional information is available here.  You can check your payment status here.

 

Hospital & Health Providers Funding

The CARES Act and the Payment Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act included several provisions to provide relief and support for the heroic efforts of our nation’s frontline health care workers.

 

Provider Relief Fund.  The Acts created a fund at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to distribute $175 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 about $115 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.

 

Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program.  This expanded program provides up-front, lump sum Medicare payments to medical facilities and providers for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has distributed more than $100 billion to facilities and providers across the United States, including more than $4 billion to Illinois.
  • Medical facilities and providers may request up to 125 percent of their Medicare payment amounts for a six-month period, which must be repaid, including by crediting future Medicare claims.  The program has paused additional advanced payments as CMS assesses the ongoing impact. 
  • Additional information is available here.

 

Education Stablization Fund

The CARES Act includes $30.8 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) to assist elementary and secondary as well as higher education meet the additional burdens associated with coronavirus.  More information will be available from ED on applying for these funds in the coming days.  The funds will be allocated among the three components.

  • Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund ($3 billion nationally).  Funding will be awarded to local educational agencies deemed to be most significantly impacted by coronavirus at the discretion of the State. 
  • Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund ($13.5 billion nationally).  Provides formula grants to state educational agencies for distribution to local educational agencies.  The Illinois State Board of Education has provided information about this funding here and preliminary estimates by district here
  • Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund ($14.25 billion nationally).  Provides formula grants to institutions of higher education.    

 

Federal Student Loan Relief

The CARES Act suspends federal Direct student loan monthly payments—interest free—for six months until September 30, 2020. More information and FAQs can be found here

 

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

 

EDUCATION

All public schools in Illinois have suspended in-person instruction through April 30.  More information from the Illinois State Board of Education can be found here

All Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will be open at 9:00 am and 1:00 pm to offer free meals for CPS students.  Families can pick up meals outside of the CPS school nearest to them – they DO NOT need to pick up meals at their school of attendance. Families can find their nearest CPS school here. Select charter school locations will also offer meals; a link to those locations can be found hereFamilies across Illinois needing information (also available in Spanish) about where to receive meals for their children while schools are closed can find it here.

Information on how to talk to your child about COVID-19 or helping them cope can be found here.

 

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:

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