Today is the day to share the weekly jobs report. We also have information regarding an announcement by President-elect Biden tonight regarding his plan for pandemic relief. In addition to this news, see below for some vaccine updates, some bills that passed out of the lame duck session, and the potential for moving back to Tier 2 mitigations and maybe restaurant reopening’s.
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
Biden to Propose $1.9 Trillion Covid-19 Package
President-elect Joe Biden plans to call for a $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan to help Americans weather the economic shock of the pandemic and pump more money into testing and vaccine distribution, according to senior incoming Biden administration officials.
Mr. Biden in a speech Thursday evening plans to lay out priorities related to the pandemic for the early days of his administration. He will urge Congress to back a round of $1,400-per-person direct payments to most households, a $400-per-week unemployment insurance supplement through September, expanded paid leave and increases in the child tax credit. Aid for households makes up about half of the plan’s cost, with much of the rest going to vaccine distribution and state and local governments.
Mr. Biden wants Congress to act quickly to address what he sees as a national emergency, the officials said. The plan includes some ideas previously floated by congressional Democrats and Mr. Biden’s campaign that Republicans have rejected—including raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour—and it isn’t clear which pieces can become law and how soon lawmakers will act. Most legislation needs 60 votes in the Senate, which would require Republican votes since Democrats will control 50 seats.
Mr. Biden is also expected to release a second proposal focused on economic recovery that will also use jobs and infrastructure as a tool to combat climate change, the officials said.
Mr. Biden’s American Rescue Plan calls for additional stimulus checks beyond the $1,200 round approved in March and the $600 set approved in December, sending out an additional $1,400 per person to bring the amount sent to families in the past few months to the $2,000 mark he promised. He would expand eligibility to include adult dependents such as college students who were excluded from previous versions.
In a poverty-fighting move long sought by many Democrats, the child tax credit would rise from $2,000 to $3,000 for this year under his plan, with an additional $600 for children under 6 years old and new rules that would let the poorest households get the full benefit. The plan also includes money to help households with the costs of rent and childcare, plus $350 billion for state and local governments.
Mr. Biden will propose to extend the eviction and foreclosure moratorium, which currently goes until the end of this month, through the end of September.
While Mr. Biden supports $10,000 of student loan forgiveness, the current proposal doesn’t include it, an official said. Instead the focus will be on extending student loan forbearance, which allows people to temporarily pause loan payments.
The president-elect won’t offer spending-cut or tax-increase offsets for his plan and will instead rely on federal borrowing, according to a Biden official. Mr. Biden’s argument is that now isn’t the time to worry about widening budget deficits, given the emergency and low interest rates. He has said Congress should help tide households over until the pandemic eases and address an uneven recovery in which many low-income people are struggling while white-collar workers are saving more.
The budget package would include $50 billion to increase coronavirus testing, including at schools, as well as federal funds for states, a national vaccination program, disaster relief, expansion of the public-health workforce, and other efforts to support Mr. Biden’s push to deliver 100 million shots in the first 100 days of his presidency. The plan calls for providing free vaccines to people regardless of their immigration status, which could face pushback from some Republicans.
Mr. Biden, echoing his campaign rhetoric about working across the aisle, will push for a bipartisan agreement, the officials said. In a Senate that is set to be split 50-50, that would mean holding all Democrats and persuading at least 10 Republicans to join him to overcome procedural hurdles. Democrats hold a narrow majority in the House.
The number of workers filing for jobless benefits posted its biggest weekly gain since the pandemic hit last March. Applications for unemployment claims, a proxy for layoffs, rose by 181,000 to 965,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, reflecting rising layoffs amid a winter surge in coronavirus cases. The total for the week ended Jan. 9 also was the highest in nearly five months and put claims well above the roughly 800,000 a week they had averaged in recent months.
the number of people collecting unemployment benefits through regular state programs. So-called continuing claims rose to nearly 5.3 million for the week ended Jan. 2, from 5.1 million a week earlier, according to the Labor Department. That marked the first weekly increase since November. The number had declined throughout the summer and into the fall, as laid-off workers were recalled to their jobs or found employment elsewhere.
Many individuals, though, are experiencing spells of unemployment so long that they have exhausted their benefits altogether. Last week’s increase in claims was broad-based, with new applications rising in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Florida and Illinois both saw unadjusted initial claims rise by around 51,000, while Kansas reported nearly 23,000 more than the prior week.
Governor Pritzker is expected to announce tomorrow whether some of the state’s 11 regions can allow limited indoor bar and restaurant service in addition to moving back to Tier 2 mitigations. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said today that she’d like to see Chicago restaurants open “as soon as possible.”
Indoor dining has been closed in the state since the end of October, and industry operators have repeatedly called for at least some semblance of reopening.
Mayor Lightfoot also noted that restaurants and bars are more easily regulated than private spaces like hotels and underground venues, where the city has issued fines for large gatherings with unmasked attendees.
“Let’s bring it out of the shadows, let’s allow them to have some recreation, in restaurants, in bars, where we can actually work with responsible owners and managers to regulate and protect people from COVID-19,” she said. “I feel very strongly that we are very close to a point where we should be talking about opening up our bars and restaurants.”
Vaccine Distribution News
The Will County Health Department is asking the senior members of the community and their family members to be patient as the county continues its COVID-19 vaccinations. To prepare for the distribution of the vaccine, WCHD asked residents last month to take a survey.
“Once an individual completes this survey and the county has their information, it is important to note that you may not hear back from the county for several weeks, or perhaps a couple of months,” the health department said in a release Tuesday.
Most seniors will be taken care of in Phase 1B, and it is not known when that phase will begin in Will County. The county is currently in Phase 1A, in which hospital staff and other medical services and staff around the county; such as physicians, pharmacists, optometrists, speech therapists, EMS (Emergency Medical Services) workers, dentists and hygienists, and school nurses are being vaccinated.
While over 60,000 residents have responded to the survey, with around 4,000 more individuals using it daily, there was an item in the news early this month that caused some concern, WCHD said. On Jan. 5, Governor Pritzker announced that Phase 1B in the state will include individuals over age 65, taking Illinois a step ahead of numerous other states keeping Phase 1B at over 75.
However, WCHD is asking the senior community and their families to exercise patience after the survey is completed. “Once there is a vaccination clinic that a resident qualifies for, they will be contacted with a chance to schedule the first of two required vaccination doses. It is important to emphasize that a resident will not be contacted the next day after survey completion, nor the next week, and perhaps not for a month or more, depending upon their situation,” the survey said.
The survey is not a scheduling device, and scheduling will follow later when residents are contacted. “Will County is a very large community, both in terms of population and geographic area,” said WCHD Executive Director Sue Olenek. “We also have four hospitals, a large number of outpatient medical clinics and doctors’ offices, three federally qualified health centers, numerous long-term care, assisted living, and senior residential care sights, as well as other medical personnel such as dentists, nurses, physical therapists, etc. We have a very robust medical community, which is great for our residents.”
But what that also means that it will be several weeks, probably close to two months, “before we move into Phase 1B,” she said. “Additionally, every county has different resources with which they are able to respond, so comparing where Will County is compared to other counties just doesn’t work,” Olenek said.
Less than 1 percent of the county’s population has been fully vaccinated as of Wednesday, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
City of Chicago health officials along with Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday more details in the COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan for Chicago. As Phase 1A continues with healthcare workers taking priority, vaccinations to 1B — which includes essential workers and people over 65 — are getting close to opening up. The city says the biggest problem its facing is not receiving enough vaccines.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday it will have six mass vaccination sites up and running by next week. All the locations are at city colleges of Chicago, including Richard J Daley College. But for the time being, those sites will only be available to people in 1A.
SB 1199 had its consideration postponed after being debated extensively on the House floor and failed to reach 60 votes. Earlier, this bill had passed out of the House Revenue Committee on a partisan roll call vote. The bill would allow the State of Illinois to decouple from a provision in the CARES Act that allows sole proprietors, shareholders of Subchapter S corporations and partners of partnerships to carryback net operating losses to income years and obtain refund in taxes. The Chamber is opposed to this legislation and any further attempt to reemerge in the new session as it would remove a much-needed source of cashflow for struggling businesses.
SB 54 passed out of the House by a vote of 105-7. This bill concerns the delivery of alcohol from distributors to consumers. Stating that nothing within the Liquor Control Act of 1934, except for provisions concerning prohibited sales, shall restrict or interfere with a retailer’s delivery of alcohol. Acceptable methods of delivery, such as the use of third-party contractors, are specifically outlined. Also, this bill limits home rule powers to regulate alcohol delivery for municipalities with less than one million residents.
SB 1480 passed out of the House by a vote of 70-43. This bill states that it is a civil rights violation for any employer to use a conviction record as a basis to refuse to hire, to segregate, or to act with respect to recruitment, hiring, promotion, conditions of employment, and further requirements concerning conviction records provided there is not a direct connection to the job duties.
SB1608 passed both the House and Senate late last night by a vote of 70-39-1 and 32-15 respectively. This bill specifies further requirements in the awarding of State contracts under the act concerning diversity and underrepresented groups. It also amends the Illinois Procurement Code. This would allow for the cancellation of contracts for not meeting “aspirational goals”.
SB 3066 passed out of the House by a vote of 77-33-1. This bill concerns residential evictions during the COVID-19 emergency period and recovery period.
Updated PPP Loan Applications
First draw app: https://www.sba.gov/document/sba-form-2483-paycheck-protection-program-borrower-application-form?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
Program Notices & Reminders
SBA Page Links for Direction and Questions on PPP
SBDC at JJC Update
Advanced Business Data Research (with Shorewood Library) January 21st at 6pm
- Already familiar with Reference Solutions (formerly Reference USA)? Learn how to utilize this data even more! In this session, learn higher level search techniques, how to use the additional functionality (like the mapping, summary, and chart options), and how to combine searches within modules to get a more in-depth level of data.
Government Certification Process (with Rita Haake at COD) January 28th at 9am
- Certifications: Interpreting the alphabet to pursue profits! Which small business certification is the best one for you?
• Federal: 8(a), EDWOSB, HUBZone, SDB, SDVOSB, WOSB, VOSB
• State: DBE, FBE, FMBE, MBE, PBE, VBE
• Local: DBE, MBE, WBE, VBE
You will learn the details of the application process, documentation requirements, certification options, and how to market and leverage certifications for the growth of your business.
Finally, look for more information to be announced soon for the first virtual programming in the new year and don’t forget about the Annual Awards taking place next Friday, January 22. You can sign up at www.jolietchamber.com to see the big announcements.
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry