Chamber Members:

Some good news today as our region has been given the green light to move from Tier 3 to Tier 1 of mitigations. This has been quite confusing as we’ve been monitoring covid patient numbers as mentioned a few days ago, but this move skipping over Tier 2 is certainly a welcome one.

Additionally, President Biden talked today about the state of the pandemic and his view for the near future. It’s Thursday as well so that means the weekly jobs report is below, along with the plan to quickly move the next round of covid relief aid through the house and a local vaccine update.

Make sure you check out the information at the end as we’re hosting along with Congressman Foster a PPP discussion on next Tuesday, the 26th at 10:00 AM with the District Director from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Don’t forget as well to sign up to tune in tomorrow for our Annual Awards & Celebration of Success.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

Region 7 Moves Back to Tier 1
An official notice was sent out today announcing that our region (7) covering Will and Kankakee counties has now moved back to Tier 1 mitigations under Phase 4 of Restore Illinois. This move allows restaurants and bars to allow indoor patrons with the lessor of 25 individuals or 25% of capacity and meetings follow the same guidelines. Other notable openings and/or less restrictions are on recreation activities, casinos, fitness centers, hotels, theaters, and more. View the full release here:

Attached to this email is the updated information on Tier 1 Mitigation Restrictions. The region will need to see test positivity rate of less than or equal to 6.5% for three consecutive
days (7-day average) and meet hospital availability standards in order to move back to the less restrictive Phase 4 with no mitigations.

President Biden Releases Covid Plan with a Warning
President Biden unveiled a national strategy to combat the coronavirus while issuing a sobering warning: The pandemic is likely to claim another 100,000 lives over roughly the next month and will worsen before it improves. “We’ll move Heaven and Earth to get more people vaccinated for free,” Biden said Thursday at the White House. He also warned: “The brutal truth is it’s going to take months before we can get the majority of Americans vaccinated.”

Biden announced a series of executive actions aimed at overhauling the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak, which has already claimed more than 400,000 lives in the U.S. He repeated his warning that the crisis will worsen before it improves, and that the U.S. will experience a “dark winter.”

He encouraged Americans to be vigilant about wearing masks, saying the simple precaution could save 50,000 lives through April. “The fact is, it’s the single best thing we can do—more important than the vaccines,” he said.

The distribution of coronavirus vaccines in the U.S. has been plagued by delays, and Biden officials have criticized the Trump administration for the lags, saying there was no federal plan in place to ensure shots were administered. “What we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined,” Jeff Zients, Biden’s Covid-19 task force coordinator, said Wednesday.

The executive actions include stabilizing the supply chain for critical medical supplies and boosting the government’s ability to provide rapid and equitable vaccine distribution. Biden said one order would provide schools and childcare centers with “clear guidance and resources,” to reopen, though didn’t offer further detail. International travelers arriving in the U.S. will soon be required to show a negative test before departure, and to quarantine on arrival, though specifics of that program aren’t clear.

The Biden administration acknowledges it needs Congress to authorize additional spending to make a breakthrough. “This is a wartime undertaking,” Biden said. “I know these bold practical steps will not come cheaply, but failing to do so will cost us so much more dearly.”

Pelosi Plans for House to Move Immediately on Covid Relief
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that House Democrats will move immediately on a massive coronavirus relief package, setting the stage for an early showdown in the newly flipped Senate over the chief legislative priority of the nascent Biden administration.

House Democrats have rearranged their schedule over the next two weeks, scrapping votes next week to allow the relevant committees to consider the various provisions of their emerging COVID-19 relief package. Pelosi suggested that package could hit the House floor as early as the week of Feb. 1.

“We’re getting ready for a COVID relief package. We’ll be working on that as we go,” she told reporters in the Capitol. “We’ll be doing our … committee work all next week so that we are completely ready to go to the floor when we come back.”

House Democrats, who had approved a $3.4 trillion package last year that was ignored by Senate Republicans, are quickly jumping on board, forecasting easy passage in the lower chamber whenever it does hit the floor. But another enormous coronavirus bill faces a tough road in the Senate, where Republicans are already signaling their opposition to Biden’s proposal. “I suspect the whole package is a non-starter,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said Thursday. He quickly added that there are elements of the proposal that Republicans can support, encouraging Democrats to come to the table on a smaller compromise.

Jobs Report
About 900,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits last week as the labor market struggles to recover this winter. The number of jobless claims last week was down slightly from the week ended Jan. 9, when applications jumped by more than 100,000 to 926,000. The Labor Department said the increase for the Jan. 9 week—initially estimated as the largest weekly increase since March—was smaller than previously thought.

The government said 5.1 million Americans are continuing to receive state jobless benefits, down from 5.2 million in the previous week. That suggests that while some of the unemployed are finding jobs, others are likely using up their state benefits and transitioning to separate extended-benefit programs.

More than 10 million people are receiving aid from those extended programs, which now offer up to 50 weeks of benefits, or from a new program that provides benefits to contractors and the self-employed. All told, nearly 16 million people were on unemployment in the week that ended Jan. 2, the latest period for which data is available.

Illinois Vaccine Updates
Several Chicago-area health systems expect, within days, to begin inviting patients ages 65 and older to make appointments to get COVID-19 vaccines, and Walgreens is already allowing some seniors and essential workers to schedule shots.

The notifications will come as Illinois prepares to move Monday to the next phase of vaccinations, which will include people ages 65 and older and front-line essential workers, such as those who work in grocery stores, schools, and public transportation.

Governor Pritzker has said people who are part of the next phase will be able to receive vaccines at hospitals, retail pharmacies, state-run sites, sites led by the National Guard, urgent care clinics and through large employers.

There are about 3.2 million people eligible to receive shots in Illinois as part of this next phase. The first phase, which started more than a month ago, included only health care workers and long-term care facility residents.

Even though the start of the next phase is less than a week away, information about how to actually get the vaccines has been scarce, leaving many frustrated. But some Illinois hospitals and health systems are starting to share their plans, which are dependent on receiving enough vaccine doses.

Walgreens is allowing some Illinois seniors and essential workers to sign up online for appointments, with shots to be given once Illinois starts the next phase, said spokesman Phil Caruso. The appointments are available only at some Walgreens locations and supply is limited but expected to increase eventually, Caruso said. Appointments this week are only available to health care workers.

Will County Health Department spokesman Steve Brandy said in a recent interview that although vaccinations for 1b could start Monday in some counties that is likely to be in smaller counties, but Will County still does not have a date for when 1B vaccinations may start. “We’re a few weeks away from 1B,” Brandy said. “But once it hits, we want to be ready.”

Brandy said the county still is collecting surveys to prioritize who is eligible for the vaccine. “You can’t just have walk-in clinics,” Brandy said. “People are going to be contacted when there’s something available for you, and it’s your turn.”

Among the issues to be sorted out, he noted, is which teachers get vaccinated first. Those teaching at schools with in-person learning would get the vaccine ahead of those with remote classes “for obvious reasons,” Brandy said.

Local Lawmakers Included on Speaker Welch Leadership Team
In his first major action since becoming leader of the Illinois House, Speaker Chris Welch today is announcing the leadership team that with him will run the chamber, and he’s pulling a couple of big surprises.

In one, Welch is keeping on as his chief legislative lieutenant the man who was top floor operative for former Speaker Mike Madigan. That would be Greg Harris, a North Side Democrat, who will hold the same title he did under Madigan: majority leader.

Joining Harris on the leadership team are such well-known House members as Reps. Jehan Gordon-Booth of Peoria, Robyn Gabel of Evanston, and Jay Hoffman from the Metro East area downstate. Under Majority Leader Harris will be Deputy Majority Leaders Gordon-Booth (who also will serve as speaker pro tem), and Chicagoan Mary Flowers, who will get the title dean of the Democratic caucus.

There will be seven assistant majority leaders, one more than now: Gable and Hoffman; Chicagoans Jaime Andrade, Marcus Evans, and Delia Ramirez; Elizabeth Hernandez of Cicero and Natalie Manley of Joliet.

Also, although they won’t have the title “leader,” Welch tapped six other lawmakers to serve as caucus whips for smaller groups of Democrats. They will be Chicagoan Will Guzzardi, who will be whip for progressives, Chicagoan Kam Buckner for Black members and another Chicago lawmaker for Asians, Theresa Mah. Joliet’s Larry Walsh Jr. will be in charge of corralling downstate votes, Villa Park’s Deb Conroy women and Chicagoan Aaron Ortiz Latinos.

Updated PPP Loan Applications
The process to receive a first or second draw PPP loan is now open to all and at all financial institutions. Contact your bank, credit union, or check out our list of members that you can reach out to:

First draw app:

Second draw app:

Program Notices & Reminders
SBA Page Links for Direction and Questions on PPP

1st draw info:

2nd draw info:

SBDC at JJC Update
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?
    Your options:
    • 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, here is the information for both the Annual Awards & Celebration event tomorrow and the newly added PPP discussion next Tuesday the 26th.

Annual Awards & Celebration
Friday, January 22, 2021
12:00 p.m. – Virtual Banquet
$20.00 per person
Reservations required.  Please RSVP here:

PPP & EIDL Information for Businesses
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) First and Second Draw, PPP Forgiveness and EIDL Information for Businesses

Please join the Joliet Chamber along with Bo Steiner, District Director Office of Field Operations for U.S. Small Business Administration and Congressman Bill Foster for a virtual conference about PPP & EIDL updates for businesses.

Points to be addressed:

  • Forgivable Loan for those that adhere to expense rules – 2x average monthly payroll
  • Expanded allowable expenses
  • Easy one page forgiveness form for loans under $150,000
  • Ability to deduct expenses paid with PPP funds
  • Funds are not taxable as income
  • Restaurants and hotels can qualify for 3x average monthly payroll
  • Opportunity for second draw for those who received PPP funds in 2020
  • EIDL/Advance update

Tuesday, January 26, 2021
10:00 a.m. – GoToMeeting Webinar Session
Please check your registration confirmation email for webinar log-in information.
$10.00 per person
Registration is required to attend webinar:

Stay well,

Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors

Mike Paone
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry
815.727.5371 main
815.727.5373 direct