hbPARK FOREST -  To assist local businesses impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19,  State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) is reminding residents of state and federal programs that may help business owners facing hardship.

“Small local businesses are the heart and soul of our communities. We must support them during these trying times,” Joyce said. “There are a variety of disaster assistance programs available to help give our local businesses the support they desperately need.”

Joyce encourages business owners to apply for up to $2 million in low-interest disaster assistance loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Interested applicants can apply directly at sba.gov/disaster.

The Illinois Department of Revenue will also defer sales tax payments for more than 24,000 small- and medium-sized bars and restaurants in Illinois. Find more information and check whether your business qualifies here.

“We need to come together at every level of government to support local businesses and communities, “Joyce said. “This pandemic is affecting everyone, and we’ll come out of it more strongly if we all work together.”

Those without access to paid sick leave or who are unable to work because of COVID-19 can call the Illinois Department of Employment Security at 1-800-244-5631 to apply for unemployment benefits. More information is available here. The department has hired additional staff and expanded business hours to handle an increased volume of calls. Callers may experience long wait times but are encouraged to stay on the call, even if they hear a busy line signal.

Joyce stated that even if his office is closed, his staff is working remotely to answer questions and address concerns from constituents. He urges residents to reach out by calling (708) 756-0882 or by visiting http://www.senatorpatrickjoyce.com/contact-me.

Category: Information

Chicago — Building on state guidance issued yesterday to promote social distancing and minimize the spread of COVID-19 in our communities, Governor JB Pritzker announced that the state of Illinois will close all schools from March 17 through March 30 and implement additional economic measures to reduce the burden on Illinois families. As of now, day care centers will remain open and will follow strict health and safety guidance.
 
“All of these choices have cascading effects for citizens and vulnerable populations when it comes to food access, safety, childcare, and social services," said Governor JB Pritzker. “We’ve seen what happens in places that didn’t move with urgency. I ask all of you not to hesitate to do the right thing for your family, your friends, and your community. One small step at a time, we will get through this together.”
 
“We have seen evidence from influenza outbreaks that community mitigation strategies, such a school closures, have an effect on decreasing the severity of the outbreak,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “By taking these actions now, we hope to slow and limit widespread transmission of this virus, which is essential to ensuring our health care system is not overwhelmed as the disease progresses through our state. School closures will help slow the progression of the virus and we are asking for everyone’s help in reducing the spread.”
 
“This is an unprecedented event in our lifetime, and we will get through this together,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “Our administrators and educators have shown extraordinary leadership during a time of very difficult decisions. Schools closing will affect each community differently, and I want our teachers, our students, and our families to know that the Illinois State Board of Education is open and is here to help.”

 
SCHOOL CLOSURES

 
Following extensive state-level analysis of coronavirus spread in various countries and the social distancing measures that were put in place, the State is taking the precautionary measure of closing all K-12 schools in the state of Illinois from March 17 through March 30. Schools with a spring break that falls outside of this window should move their spring break to within this timeframe.
 
The Pritzker administration is working to ensure critical support functions remain available to students across the state – including their access to food, child care and safe environments.
 
Gov. Pritzker has assured school administrators that the state will issue no penalties as a result of this closure. To provide support to school districts across the state, the Illinois State Board of Education will be fully staffed over the coming weekend and during the closure period to work through individualized issues and challenges in each district. An executive order to provide school districts flexibility during this period is forthcoming.
 
On Thursday, the Illinois State Board of Education was granted a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue providing meals to students in non-group settings. Students receiving free and reduce priced breakfasts and lunches will be able to receive grab-and-go meals each day, with some districts having the ability to deliver and others offering parent pick up.
 
The Department of Children and Family Services is working closely with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois Department of Public Health to ensure emergency and preparedness plans are in place to keep youth in care and staff safe. All DCFS group homes will remain open and take extra safety precautions.

 
ECONOMIC MEASURES

 
The Governor has also announced new economic measures to reduce the burden on Illinois families.
 
Gov. Pritzker and Attorney General Raoul have urged the Illinois Commerce Commission to immediately institute a moratorium on shutoffs for all utility companies across Illinois – including energy, telecommunications and water – until the state disaster proclamation has been lifted. The administration is also requesting changes to payment and collection policies to ensure Illinoisans aren’t saddled with utility debt as a result of COVID-19.
 
The Governor is contacting the leaders of Illinois’ utility companies and urging them to maintain services for all Illinoisans, regardless of their ability to pay, during this public health crisis.
 
The Pritzker administration is working directly with the eight major food banks across Illinois to expand services. The administration is reaching out to food manufacturers to ensure food banks are prioritized and can provide our vulnerable residents the food they need.
 
Earlier this week, the administration filed emergency rules granting workers who are unemployed due to COVID-19 access to unemployment benefits. The rules provide relief to people who may be restricted in the type of work they can perform due to the outbreak.

 
AVAILABILITY OF TESTING

 
The Illinois Department of Public Health is working with state labs and hospital partners to significantly increase testing capability. At this time the administration believes testing can be sufficiently increased to ensure the minimum level of surveillance testing needed to appropriately monitor the spread of the virus.
 
Gov. Pritzker is continuing to pressure the federal government for more tests to allow the state to deploy full surveillance testing.

 
HEIGHTENED VIGILANCE FOR THE GENERAL PUBLIC

 
Vulnerable populations remain a top priority as community spread continues around the state, country and globe. Elderly and immunocompromised residents should take extra caution when attending gatherings of any size and avoid exposure to large groups of people whenever possible. The state has implemented new staffing procedures and strict guidelines restricting visitors at state-operated long-term care facilities and is also working closely with private nursing home and assisted living associations on the adoption of similar guidelines.

Anyone experiencing symptoms should stay home, call their doctor and plan a safe visit for examination. The general public is encouraged to take social distancing practices, including avoiding events of more than 250 people, working from home if possible and maintaining social distance (6 feet) from anyone experiencing symptoms.
 
The Illinois Department of Public Health has a statewide COVID-19 hotline and website to answer any questions from the public or to report a suspected case: call 1-800-889-3931 or visit IDPH.illinois.gov.

SOURCE: https://www2.illinois.gov/Pages/news-item.aspx?ReleaseID=21247

Category: Information

VocationalSPRINGFIELD – In order to bring awareness to the rewarding, well-paid jobs resulting from career and technical education, the Illinois Senate adopted State Senator Patrick Joyce’s (D-Essex) resolution declaring February Career and Technical Education Month.

“Technical, vocational and trade education are an important and often overlooked part of the higher education system,” Joyce said.  “Too many people forget that many technical education degrees lead to careers that are as good as or better than jobs you can get with a bachelor’s degree.”

Senate Resolution 983 explains and praises the many benefits of career and technical education.

Read more: Joyce’s resolution acknowledges and praises technical education

Category: Information

PARK FOREST Senior Citizens– Senior citizens who have qualified for property tax exemptions in Cook County will only need to reapply one more time, State Senator Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) announced.

Public Act 101-0622 removes the requirement that recipients of the Senior Homestead Exemption in Cook County reapply for the exemption every year.

Read more: Senior tax exemptions will now renew automatically

Category: Information

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Springfield Office:
108A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
217.782.7419

District Office:
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Park Forest, IL 60466
708.756.0882