Two major things to review today. One on the good news side and the other on the unfortunate side. First, as eluded to last week a few times, our region will be going into mitigation mode after successive days of positivity rates. See below for full information. Also, today marks the opening of the grant program through Will County for assistance. See below for application and info links.
Reports have surfaced today that there will be a press conference tomorrow at noon down at the Will County office building to announce that our region will be implementing new measures to try and reduce the positive COVID case numbers that have been spiking locally. Today’s numbers show positivity a rate of 8.3% which is the third straight day above 8%. We are now at seven straight days of positive increases.
The state plan has called for any region that goes above 8% positive rates for three consecutive days to be subject to additional mitigation efforts to prevent the spread of the virus. The Metro East region outside of St. Louis is in implementation right now with the following restrictions in place:
- Meetings, social events, and other gatherings are now limited to the lesser of 25 individuals or 25 percent of overall room capacity
- All bars, restaurants, gaming facilities, and casinos will close at 11 pm, matching the newly imposed closing times for St. Louis
- All reception halls closed
- Party buses not allowed to operate
- Reservations required for each party at restaurants and bars, and no congregating indoors or outdoors
- Indoor tables reduced to six people or less
- No dancing indoors
- Removal of bar stools at bars to help prevent congregating
- Tables should continue to be six feet apart
Will County Small Business Assistance Grant Program
Small businesses have experienced unprecedented disruptions and financial challenges due to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Will County recognizes its small businesses have struggled to pay bills, keep customers, and stay afloat while navigating through the uncertainties of this pandemic.
Will County has earmarked more than $24 million for a Small Business Assistance Grant Program to provide financial assistance to small businesses impacted by COVID-19 so they can maintain operations. Selected businesses may receive up to $15,000 in grant assistance.
Businesses that meet the eligibility criteria are encouraged to apply.
Eligibility Criteria: https://willcountyillinois.com/CARES-Act/Local-Business-Assistance/Criteria-Expenses
More Program Information: https://www.willcountyillinois.com/CARES-Act/Local-Business-Assistance
Applications will be accepted starting Monday, August 24. All applications must be received by Monday, September 28.
Please find a schedule of upcoming webinars related to The Will County Small Business Assistance Grant Program. Recordings of webinars will be posted here for viewing at your convenience.
- Friday, August 28, 2020 at 10:00 – 11:00 AM LINK TO WEBINAR (https://zoom.us/j/94278719172?pwd=bnozNzFZOWNyVmMwNUllcldWT0x1dz09)
- Monday, August 31, 2020 at 2:00 – 3:00 PM LINK TO WEBINAR (https://zoom.us/j/94189003672?pwd=Y21RTEdIaFBYY0EybmpGYWxjK1pvdz09
Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly shared the following comments regarding President Trump during a House Democratic leadership meeting Sunday: “He wants two things: the market to go up and the checks to go out in the mail with his name on the letter. He doesn’t care about food insecurity, eviction, health, the virus, of course state and local, election money, none of it. He doesn’t care about any of it, except the direct payments with his name on the letter.”
She went on to share these remarks about ongoing negotiations, “We all want the negotiations to continue, but not just what the administration wants, but what the country needs. … It has a strategic plan to crush the virus, which they have ignored. … So, again, when we go to putting money into people’s pockets, as the president wants to do with that letter, we have to do so, not in a bread and circuses way: ‘I’m going to give you this, but I’m not giving you anything else.’ This is like ancient Rome. Trump fiddles while Rome burns, while America burns, and Trump gives bread and circuses, without the bread.”
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows had this to say from the other side, “My challenge to the speaker this morning would be this. If we agree on five or six things, let’s go ahead and pass those. Why did you not do it yesterday? But let’s go ahead and pass it. I spoke to the president early this morning. He’s willing to sign that, including Postal Service reform, and making sure that the money is there to make sure that deliveries of first call mail are handled quickly, efficiently and on time.”
Executive Orders Update
Just two weeks after President Trump approved executive actions aimed at bypassing stalled stimulus negotiations with Congress, only one state has said it is paying new jobless benefits, few evictions have been paused, and leading employers have made clear that workers will not benefit from the president’s new payroll tax deferral.
Weekend Postal Service Action
The House on Saturday passed legislation that would prevent the U.S. Postal Service from making any changes to its operations that could slow delivery of mailed-in ballots for this fall’s elections.
The bill passed largely along party lines, 257-150, with 26 Republicans bucking party leaders to support it. The proposal would prevent the Postal Service from making any operational changes that would result in reduced service such as removing mail-sorting machines, restricting overtime pay or handling election mail as anything other than first-class for prioritized delivery until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
It would also provide $25 billion for Postal Service operations, which is an amount originally recommended by the agency’s board of governors. House Democrats also included the funding in the $3.4 trillion coronavirus relief package that they passed in May.
Next Virtual Conference
Here are the details about an extremely informational session that will serve as our next Virtual Conference on Friday, August 28 at 11 AM. “Making the Most of your Membership Profile”
Please join the Joliet Chamber for a free, interactive virtual conference to best utilize your membership listing on the Chamber website including:
- How to Make Your Directory Page Pop by updating company information, adding images and video, and displaying staff.
- Promote Your Business by adding Hot Deals, Member to Member Deals, Job Postings, and Events.
- Connect with Other Members – share your stories via the Community Feed.
In preparation for the webinar, please make sure you know your Joliet Chamber Membership log-in information. If you have not yet set-up a log-in and password, please contact the Chamber office by calling (815) 727-5371 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please use the link below to register:
Finally, here is a story recap about testing that scientists down at U of I in Champaign developed that seems really fascinating and promising –
Scientists at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign may have the answer to helping cure Covid-19, and a tiger is involved. Back in March, the university’s top brass enlisted scientists from across the campus to develop a quick and scalable test that would allow the campus to open up to students. The testing “needed to be fast and frequent,” Martin Burke, the lead scientist of “The Shield Program” project, shared with authors. “If we are going to test everyone twice per week, the current nasal-swab test wasn’t going to work.” He called it a classic situation of necessity driving innovation.
Fellow U. of I. scientist Paul Hergenrother launched “a Manhattan Project-style effort” over the next six weeks. “Early on, we realized that it was possible and then we just kept making it better and better and were cognizant of the need to test at least 10,000-plus a day,” said Hergenrother. “Regarding that eureka moment, it’s a process.”
By June, the scientists realized they had found the right test. “It was clear the test could be very sensitive and very effective. And then we wanted to figure out if we could scale it and actually start executing it as a part of our efforts to open campus as safely as possible,” Burke said.
How the test works: A person dribbles saliva into a tube, which is capped and then put in a hot bath, which kills the virus— keeping workers safe. The heating breaks open the virus and releases the genetic material that allows scientists to do the test directly. That heating step is the key to the test being scalable.
Next, the scientists needed a lab to conduct the tests en masse. They turned to the College of Veterinary Medicine, which had done tests on the tiger from the Bronx Zoo that was diagnosed with Covid back in February. The veterinary lab was transformed into a human Covid-19 testing facility.
Throughout July, the scientists frequently tested faculty, students and staff on campus and watched positivity rates drop from 1.5 percent down to 0.2 percent or less. “And that’s when I knew we had something,” Burke said. Quickly identifying Covid-19 cases prompts people to isolate before others are infected, which in turn leads to drops in positivity rates.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Sen. Dick Durbin started working behind the scenes to make the discovery as accessible as possible. The test is now operating under a Food and Drug and Administration emergency use authorization and the hope now is it might control the spread of the virus.
On Friday, as an example, the scientists ran more than 10,000 tests — more than 1.5 percent of all the tests run in the entire country. Some 50 universities have already contacted U. of I. to set up similar labs. Because equipment is easily available from different vendors, any supply chain bottleneck is avoided, Hergenrother said. “It just requires organization.”
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry