It looks like the first heavy snowfall is upon us! As we start the week off, one year ago today the CDC announced a test for COVID-19 just one day after Wuhan had gone into lockdown. Today also begins the official start of the Illinois 1B vaccination plan and we have more on that below. Impeachment papers were officially presented to the Senate, so there is a recap below of the process timeline. Also, check out information on the week of executive actions, sports allowances, and property tax payment schedules.
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
Starting today, Illinoisans who work in grocery stores, manufacturing plants and schools will be among those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, presenting an opportunity — and challenge — for employers eager to see their workforces inoculated.
Some large companies, such as Amazon and Aldi, are preparing to offer vaccinations at their workplaces, while others have announced incentives or extra paid time off for employees to get the shots. But rolling out workplace vaccination programs has proved complicated, and many of the efforts are in very early stages. Employers say they have received limited information from local government about what to do and it’s uncertain when enough vaccines will be available.
Phase 1b of the state’s vaccine distribution plan includes 1.9 million people over 65 as well as 1.3 million front-line essential workers who are at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, such as police and fire personnel, teachers, postal service employees, grocery store clerks, manufacturing workers and people who work in food and agriculture.
This next phase of inoculations is expected to be more challenging, in many ways, than the first. It is a much larger group than the first phase, which covered about 850,000 front-line health care workers plus residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
And in the first phase, many employees could be vaccinated where they worked, they had IDs that were instantly recognizable to those giving the shots, and their employers could easily contact them when it was their turn. It may not be as easy to contact and schedule all the essential workers in phase 1b, and many of those providing vaccines, such as hospital systems, are unsure of the best ways to verify a person’s employment.
Vaccine supply will be the biggest bottleneck in the short term. States are expected to run out of doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine within days. States have had to cancel thousands of vaccine appointments. Adding to the crunch is that hospitals have a limited supply of syringes that can extract the most doses from a single vial — up to seven doses are in one Pfizer vial and 11 doses in a Moderna vial.
President Biden released his national strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic, which will include using the Defense Production Act (DPA) and other powers to speed up the manufacturing of testing and vaccine supplies and other items needed to fight COVID-19. Invoking the DPA is a key part of the Biden administration’s national strategy for defeating the coronavirus, though officials did not say when it would be used.
Biden administration officials signaled they would be more aggressive than the previous administration in invoking the DPA, which allows the federal government to force companies to increase production of critical supplies during national emergencies.
“Where we can produce more, we will. Where we need to use the Defense Production Act to help more be made, we’ll do that too,” said Tim Manning, Biden’s COVID-19 supply coordinator, in a call with reporters. Manning said his team has identified 12 immediate supply shortfalls, including for N95 masks, isolation gowns, gloves and swabs needed for tests. The administration will also use the DPA to accelerate production of syringes, raw materials used in vaccines and other items needed to quickly get shots in arms, officials said.
States, counties, and cities say they are running out of coronavirus vaccines, leading to canceled or postponed appointments for thousands of people even as the country tries to ramp up the pace of vaccinations. Health officials are desperate for clarity from the federal government on vaccine shipments, saying they need accurate numbers for planning weeks in advance. Instead, the figures have been coming in only a week at a time and have not been consistent.
The Biden administration has pledged to work with states to improve communication but for now is scrambling to figure out just how much vaccine is available.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Sunday that the federal government does not know how much coronavirus vaccine the nation has, a complication that adds to the already herculean task before the Biden administration.
“I can’t tell you how much vaccine we have, and if I can’t tell it to you then I can’t tell it to the governors and I can’t tell it to the state health officials,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told “Fox News Sunday.”
“If they don’t know how much vaccine they’re getting not just this week but next week and the week after they can’t plan. They can’t figure out how many sites to roll out, they can’t figure out how many vaccinators that they need, and they can’t figure out how many appointments to make for the public,” Walensky said.
President Biden plans to sign an executive order on Monday aimed at strengthening “Buy American” rules with the goal of increasing the federal government’s procurement of American-made goods. The order would set in motion several changes to the implementation of the laws requiring federal government agencies to procure materials and products domestically.
According to administration officials, the order Biden plans to sign Monday would create a new senior role at the White House Office of Management and Budget to oversee the implementation of the new rules. It would create a central review of waivers for Buy American requirements with the aim of reducing the number of unnecessary waivers, which allow agencies to purchase goods overseas. It would also call for a website where waiver requests can be publicly viewed.
The order also aims to increase domestic content requirements and close current loopholes. And it would direct federal agencies to use the manufacturing extension partnership, a network of small and medium-sized businesses across 50 states and Puerto Rico, to ensure that agencies are connecting with new domestic suppliers.
Officials said that the order would ensure that the federal government increasingly purchases American-made products and manufactured goods and thereby bolsters domestic manufacturing, though they did not identify particularly targets for domestic purchases that they want the federal government to hit.
The executive order is in keeping with the “Buy American” plan described by Biden on the campaign trail before he was elected president. Biden called for a $400 billion investment in “Buy American” procurements during his first term.
Here is what is planned for the remainder of the week:
Tuesday: ‘Equity’ day
Tuesday will see Biden sign a broad range of executive orders related to racial equity. The president is likely to establish a policing commission and reinstate Obama-era rules on the transfer of military-style equipment to local law enforcement. He is also expected to sign an executive order directing the Department of Justice to improve prison conditions and begin to eliminate the use of private prisons.
Other executive actions lined up for Tuesday include a memorandum directing agencies to strengthen engagement with Native American tribes, a memo ordering the Department of Housing and Urban Development to promote equality in housing, and an order disavowing discrimination against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
The latter issue came to the forefront early in the coronavirus pandemic, when Asian Americans said they were harassed because the virus originated in China. Some of the executive actions Biden is likely to take Tuesday are still being finalized and could include additional measures around immigration and reversing a ban on transgender troops serving in the military.
A memo previewing Biden’s expected actions for his first weeks in office also included tentative actions on voting rights and sentencing actions at the Department of Justice.
Wednesday: ‘Climate’ day
Biden will announce Wednesday plans for a U.S.-hosted leadership summit to take place on Earth Day as one of multiple actions aimed at addressing the climate crisis.
A memo outlining looming orders also signals Biden will sign an executive order that initiates a series of regulatory actions to “combat climate change domestically and elevates climate change as a national security priority,” though it does not offer additional specifics.
The omnibus order will also reestablish the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, as well as a memorandum urging agencies to make decisions based on available science and evidence.
Biden on his first day in office recommitted the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement and signed an executive order revoking a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline and halting oil and gas leasing at a wildlife refuge in Alaska.
Thursday: ‘Health Care’ day
Biden on Thursday will take the highly anticipated action among pro-choice advocates of rescinding the so-called Mexico City policy, which bans the use of U.S. funding for foreign organizations that provide or promote abortions.
The policy, described as a “global gag rule” by reproductive health advocates, was first instated by then-President Reagan, and has been repeatedly rescinded by Democratic presidents and reinstated by Republican presidents in the years since.
Biden will also order a review of the Trump administration’s controversial changes to the Title X family planning program, which required family planning providers participating in the program to stop providing or promoting abortions to remain eligible for funding.
The president is also slated to sign an executive order aimed at strengthening Medicaid and initiating an open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act.
Friday: ‘Immigration’ day
Biden will build on some of the immigration-related actions he took on his first day in office with a few additional executive orders to be signed on Friday. The president, according to the memo obtained by The Hill, is likely to sign an order related to regional migration and border processing that will rescind Trump administration policies around the asylum system and direct the creation of strategies to address root causes of migration from Central America.
Biden will also sign an order establishing a task force to reunify migrant families separated during the Trump administration. Biden himself faced criticism during the Democratic primaries for the Obama administration’s deportation policies, but the Trump administration implemented an official zero tolerance policy that led to the separation of thousands of migrant families.
The president will also sign an order directing an immediate review of the public charge rule “and other actions to remove barriers and restore trust in the legal immigration system, including improving the naturalization process.”
A fourth order, establishing principles to guide the implementation of the Refugee Admission Program, is tentatively on the schedule for Friday but could be scrapped or changed, according to the memo.
IHSA and IESA Sports Announcements
In an unexpected announcement Friday, Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said all sports can now be played in the three regions of the state that have had their COVID-19 restrictions eased to Phase 4 mitigations. Other regions could reach that level, during which conference and intra-region youth sports will be allowed, in the coming days.
All high school sports – including the higher-risk football, basketball and wresting – may now be played in three regions of Illinois as the state continues to loosen restrictions amid the pandemic. All regions of the state had moved out of Tier 3 mitigations as of Friday as the COVID-19 health metrics continue to show improvement statewide.
*Attached is the update from Friday 1/22 with full breakdown of allowances in Tiers/Phases based on risks.
The Illinois Elementary School Association will discuss the feasibility of holding postseason tournaments for its remaining sports at its board of directors meeting on Jan. 29. But one thing the IESA likely won’t change is the schedule it released in November, and that will impact the length of its winter sports schedule by at least a couple of weeks, according to a press release the organization sent out on Friday.
According to the IESA’s revision in the fall, boys basketball was set to begin on Jan. 4 with first games held on Jan. 16. If no changes are made, seventh grade teams could begin postseason play on Saturday, Feb. 20. Eighth grade boys basketball teams could begin their postseason as early as Saturday, Feb. 27.
Meanwhile, girls volleyball was set to start practices on Jan. 11 with contests on Jan. 23. The seventh-grade regional tournament begins March 6 while the eighth-grade postseason is slated for March 12. Girls basketball, wrestling and boys and girls track and field won’t be impacted. The earliest any of those sports begin contests is track on March 15.
Impeachment Trial Timeline
The Senate will start President Trump’s second impeachment trial during the week of Feb. 8, Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) announced on Friday rather than immediately as was mentioned as a possibility.
“Both the House managers and the defense will have a period of time to draft their legal briefs just as they did in previous trials. … Once the briefs are drafted, the presentation by the parties will commence the week of Feb. 8,” Schumer said from the Senate floor. Schumer’s announcement comes after he disclosed earlier Friday that the House article of impeachment will be delivered to the Senate on Monday.
Under the agreement between Schumer and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), the article will be read at 7 p.m. on Monday. Senators will be sworn in Tuesday and a summons will be issued to Trump. Trump’s response to the article and House’s pre-trial brief will be due by Feb. 2, and Trump’s pre-trial brief will be due six days later.
The earliest the trial could start is Feb. 9 when the House’s pre-trial rebuttal is also due.
Will County Board & Treasurer Announce Property Tax Payment Schedule
The Will County Board approved a delay of due dates for property taxes in the hopes of helping out residents during economically difficult times. The board took similar action last year as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down large parts of the economy and many lost jobs.
Property taxpayers will be able to split up their payments over four installments. Typically, payments are due in two installments and a taxpayer is penalized if they pay late.
Will County Treasurer Tim Brophy suggested the board establish June 3, Aug. 3, Sept. 3, and Nov. 3 as the due dates for 2021. Brophy said he wanted the board to make the change early this year because his office needs to send out about 275,000 different bills in the county. The county also couldn’t take action to lower the bill amounts because the county is merely the collector of money for dozens of other taxing bodies.
He said even with the economic downturn, his office received more than 98% of the money due by the first installment last year, which he called “remarkable.” This year, Brophy expects more taxpayers to take advantage of the delayed deadlines, which means taxing bodies in Will County will receive their money on a somewhat different timeline than previous years.
The early start this year could also benefit the county, which saw a few hundred delinquent notices not be mailed to taxpayers in time late last year. Brophy said he hopes that issue was just a “fluke” with the U.S. Postal Service.
Program Notices & Reminders
SBA Page Links for Direction and Questions on PPP
1st draw info: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program/first-draw-ppp-loans
First draw app: https://www.sba.gov/document/sba-form-2483-paycheck-protection-program-borrower-application-form?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
2nd draw info: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program/second-draw-ppp-loans
Second draw app: https://www.sba.gov/document/sba-form-2483-sd-ppp-second-draw-borrower-application-form?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
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?
• 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 our first Legislative Coffee session in 2021 presented by CITGO this Friday afternoon at 1 pm.
Government Affairs Coffee Series with Senators Cappel & Connor
Join the Joliet Chamber and its Legislative Committee for an introduction to newly elected Illinois State Senator Meg Loughran Cappel and State Senator John Connor. We will hear about their backgrounds, views on the recent lame duck session, and thoughts moving forward about issues in the new session & the restore Illinois phases / tiers.
Friday, January 29th, 2021
GoToMeeting Webinar Session
Please check your registration confirmation email for webinar log-in information.
No fee to participate; however, registration is required to attend.
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry