A big day with announcements from Governor Pritzker on expansion of vaccine eligibility and a bridge phase between our current phase 4 and phase 5. See below for full press release and recap of what the updated phase 4 restrictions look like, the metrics to move to the bridge phase, bridge phase restrictions, and the metrics to move to phase 5. Also, today is unemployment update day, some prep points for restaurants to be ready for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund opening, and an extension on income tax filings.
**Attached to this message is a PDF of the Bridge to Phase 5 document and here is the link – make sure you read over the changes that are effective now for Phase 4 updates. The changes are marked with asterisk. Also attached are the slides from today’s press conference.
A few reminders first –
We have a busy end of the month as far as our calendar goes. Our State of the City Address with Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk is back on the calendar for Monday, March 22 at 11 AM. Make sure to sign up here.
Please add the Women’s Empowerment Forum on Wednesday, March 24th. In honor of National Women’s History month the chamber has partnered with Lewis University and invites you to join an interactive, virtual, open forum with women educators and leaders from our community. Join us at 2:30 PM by registering here: http://jolietchamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/2021-webinar-march-24th-women-s-empowerment-forum-6018
Also, you can now register to join us for a Joliet City Council Candidate forum to take place on Thursday, March 25th. We’ll have an in-person event that will be taped and released immediately as well as a published questionnaire before the 3/25 event. This event will run from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. You can register here: http://jolietchamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/2021-member-lunch-march-25-joliet-city-council-at-large-candidates-6027
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
Governor Pritzker Announces Metrics-Based Pathway for Illinois to Fully Reopen; Expands Vaccine Eligibility to All Residents 16+ on April 12
Governor Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike today announced a metrics-based, vaccination-informed framework for Illinois to advance to Phase 5 of the state’s Restore Illinois Plan, our new normal. In recognition of an increasing national vaccine supply and the state now averaging 100,000 vaccine administrations per day, Governor Pritzker also announced that all Illinois residents age 16+ will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting April 12th, with additional announcements to come about populations who will be made eligible prior to universal eligibility.
Currently, every region of the state is in Phase 4 of the five-phase Restore Illinois mitigation plan, with Phase 5 comprising a post-pandemic normalcy as detailed here. The newly announced metrics offer Illinois a bridge between the state’s current Phase 4 restrictions and the “new normal” operations of Phase 5. This “Bridge Phase” will serve as a transition period with higher capacity limits and increased business operations, without prematurely embracing a reckless reopening before the majority of Illinoisans have been vaccinated. All regions of the state will move through the Bridge Phase and ultimately to Phase 5, together. The state’s mask mandate will continue in accordance with current CDC guidance.
“COVID-19 has not gone away, but the light we can see at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter as more people get vaccinated,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “It’s time to begin to cautiously move toward normalcy, and it’s imperative that we do so in a way that maintains all the progress we’ve made to date. With projections from the Biden Administration indicating that weekly vaccine deliveries to Illinois will surpass one million doses in April, it is fully in our power to turn the page on this dark and devastating chapter even as we race a tough clock: the new variants. I invite all Illinoisans to join me in wearing your mask and getting vaccinated when it’s your turn. Step by step, we can get out of this the same we came into it – together.”
“We want and need to move forward, but we must be measured and cautious in the approach,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Rather than flipping a switch and saying we’re now in Phase 5, we’re looking at it more like a dial – dialing back some of the capacity restrictions that helped reduce transmission, and ultimately the number of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. We don’t want to move too quickly and risk a significant reversal of our progress.”
“We are proud to have worked alongside IDPH and our industry partners to craft guidelines that will allow a safe return for some of the biggest economic drivers in our state,” said Sylvia Garcia, Acting Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). “This measured approach to reopening under Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan will help support a sustained economic recovery for our businesses and communities.”
METRICS AND GUIDELINES
As Illinois moves towards our new normal, the administration is outlining clear metrics that will allow the state to continue progressing in the battle against COVID-19 without sacrificing the gains made over the last twelve months.
The bridge to Phase 5 allows for higher capacity limits at places like museums, zoos, and spectator events as well as increased business operations. As with all mitigations the administration has implemented to combat the virus to date, the Bridge Phase is based on science and was developed by health experts.
To advance into the Bridge Phase, the entire state must reach a 70% first dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and over, maintain a 20% or lower ICU bed availability rate and hold steady on COVID-19 and COVID-like illness hospital admissions, mortality rate, and case rate over a 28-day monitoring period. To advance to Phase 5, the state must reach a 50% vaccination rate for residents age 16 and over and meet the same metrics and rates required to enter the transition phase, over an additional 28-day period.
To prevent a large increase in new COVID-19 cases, Illinois will revert back to an earlier phase if over the course of 10 days the state experiences an increasing trend in COVID-19 and COVID-like illness hospital admissions, a decrease in ICU bed availability, an increase in the mortality rate, and an increasing case rate.
In an update to current Phase 4 mitigations and the capacity limits of the bridge to Phase 5, individuals with proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test (PCR) 1-3 days prior to an event or outing do not count against capacity limits. The mitigation plan announced today also includes additional adjustments to current Phase 4 mitigations, made in coordination with business leaders and health experts, to ensure mitigations reflect the latest science and are consistent across industries.
As regulations are rolled back gradually in the weeks ahead, Illinoisans should continue practicing the public health guidelines that have kept us safe during the pandemic, including wearing face coverings and maintaining social distance.
“Today’s announcement provides what retailers across Illinois have been seeking: a clear path forward to a full re-opening that will help stem the devastation the pandemic has inflicted on the industry. This will also help bring some financial stability to state and local governments that rely on the vital revenue stream retail generates. With the expanding availability of vaccines – including those offered at hundreds of retail pharmacy locations across Illinois – we are hopeful the pathway toward a full re-opening will be a short one,” said Rob Karr, President and CEO, Illinois Retail Merchants Association.
“The plan outlined by Governor Pritzker is a step in the right direction, and we appreciate him understanding the need for a roadmap to allow hotels and convention centers to hold larger meetings and events,” said Michael Jacobson, President and CEO, Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association. “This underscores the importance of providing clarity to event planners, supports our shared goal of getting people back to work safely, and illustrates why the Governor’s announcement reflects his desire to serve as the chief marketing officer for the state.”
“While we still have a long way to go, today’s announcement is an important step towards recovery,” said Sam Toia, President and CEO, Illinois Restaurant Association. “We have urged Governor Pritzker to set a path to allow for expanded events with extensive safety measures in place, and this pragmatic approach to loosening restrictions will greatly enhance business opportunities for restaurants, event companies, conventions, and culinary tourism — all of which are critical to Illinois’ economic engine.”
COVID-19 VACCINE AVAILABILITY
Since the COVID-19 vaccine was first made available in Illinois last December, the state has administered over 4.3 million doses. Through partnerships with local health departments, pharmacies, community health centers and other care providers, the state is currently administering an average of 100,000 vaccines each day. So far, the state has administered the COVID-19 vaccine to more than 1 in 4 Illinois adults over the age of 16, including over 58% of Illinoisans ages 65 and over.
Since coming into office two months ago, the Biden Administration has taken the weekly vaccine distribution to states from 8.6 million when it came into office to over 16 million this week. Back in December, the first shipment that came into Illinois was about 109,000 doses. This week, including the federal government’s allocations for pharmacy partners, community health centers, the United Center, and the City of Chicago, more than 800,000 doses were delivered to Illinois. Based on current projections, the state expects that number to surpass one million doses a week in April.
Thanks to an increased allocation of vaccine doses from the federal government, all Illinois residents will be eligible to receive the vaccine beginning April 12th. At that date, all state-supported mass vaccination sites, local health departments, pharmacy partners – in short, every jurisdiction that receives vaccine from the State of Illinois’ allocation – will be instructed to move to widespread eligibility.
Currently, all vaccines are administered by appointment only. While vaccine eligibility is expanding on April 12th, making an appointment to receive a shot may take time. Information regarding vaccination locations as well as details on how to book an appointment to receive the vaccine can be found at the state’s COVID website, coronavirus.illinois.gov. Residents who don’t have access to or need assistance navigating online services can call the toll-free IDPH hotline at 833-621-1284 to book an appointment. The hotline is open 7 days a week from 6am to midnight with agents available in English and Spanish.
Illinoisans who are not currently eligible to receive the vaccine cannot schedule an appointment for a future date. Residents are encouraged to be patient in the days and weeks following April 12th as vaccination appointments may be limited.
To date, the FDA has authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in 16- and 17-year-olds as well as adults. The Johnson & Johnson and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are currently FDA authorized for use in those 18 and older.
First-time claims for jobless benefits showed an unexpected jump to 770,000 as the Labor Department reported Thursday. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a total of 700,000 for the week ended March 13. The total represented an increase from the previous week’s upwardly revised 725,000.
The report came amid hopes that the U.S. jobs market is showing real recovery signs from the coronavirus crisis. Continuing jobless claims, which run a week behind the headline number, were little changed at 4.12 million.
More people returning to work meant a sharp decline in the total of those receiving benefits under all programs. That number dropped by nearly 2 million to 18.2 million for the week ended Feb. 27, owing largely to a pronounced slide in those getting benefits under pandemic-related programs.
A separate report Thursday morning showed that manufacturing continues to rebound sharply. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s manufacturing outlook registered a reading of 51.8, representing the percentage point difference between firms reporting growth against those seeing a decline. It was the highest reading for the index since April 1973.
This week’s jobless claims number entails the survey week that the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to compile its nonfarm payrolls report, suggesting that March’s gains could be muted. The economy has added 545,000 jobs in 2021, and the unemployment rate has nudged down to 6.2%.
At the state level, Texas saw an unadjusted increase of 21,003 filings last week, a month after the state was battered by unseasonably harsh winter storms that saw mass power outages and other damage. Illinois also saw a substantial increase with a rise of 17,147, while Ohio dropped by 14,7000.
Despite the labor market gains, the Federal Reserve indicated Wednesday that it plans to continue its easy monetary policy well into the future. The Fed said it will hold short-term borrowing rates near zero until the economy reaches full employment that is inclusive across income, race, and gender lines.
Treasury, IRS Extend Filing and Payment Deadline / Governor Pritzker Announces Income Tax Filing Extension
The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced today that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. The IRS will be providing formal guidance in the coming days.
“This continues to be a tough time for many people, and the IRS wants to continue to do everything possible to help taxpayers navigate the unusual circumstances related to the pandemic, while also working on important tax administration responsibilities,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. “Even with the new deadline, we urge taxpayers to consider filing as soon as possible, especially those who are owed refunds. Filing electronically with direct deposit is the quickest way to get refunds, and it can help some taxpayers more quickly receive any remaining stimulus payments they may be entitled to.”
Individual taxpayers can also postpone federal income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This postponement applies to individual taxpayers, including individuals who pay self-employment tax. Penalties, interest, and additions to tax will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021. Individual taxpayers will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by May 17.
Individual taxpayers do not need to file any forms or call the IRS to qualify for this automatic federal tax filing and payment relief. Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the May 17 deadline can request a filing extension until Oct. 15 by filing Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on IRS.gov. Filing Form 4868 gives taxpayers until October 15 to file their 2020 tax return but does not grant an extension of time to pay taxes due. Taxpayers should pay their federal income tax due by May 17, 2021, to avoid interest and penalties.
The IRS urges taxpayers who are due a refund to file as soon as possible. Most tax refunds associated with e-filed returns are issued within 21 days.
This relief does not apply to estimated tax payments that are due on April 15, 2021. These payments are still due on April 15. Taxes must be paid as taxpayers earn or receive income during the year, either through withholding or estimated tax payments. In general, estimated tax payments are made quarterly to the IRS by people whose income isn’t subject to income tax withholding, including self-employment income, interest, dividends, alimony, or rental income. Most taxpayers automatically have their taxes withheld from their paychecks and submitted to the IRS by their employer.
Governor Pritzker announced today that his administration is extending the individual income tax filing and payment deadline from April 15 to May 17. The Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR) will continue to process tax refunds for those filing ahead of the deadline. The filing extension does not apply to estimated tax payments that are due on April 15, 2021. These payments are still due on April 15 and can be based on either 100% of estimated or 90% of actual liability for 2021, or 100% of actual liabilities for 2019 or 2020.
According to IDOR, 2.4 million taxpayers have already filed their individual income tax returns to date. Over 79% of the taxpayers that have already filed are expecting a refund this year. Last year, over 6.4 million income tax returns were filed, and 87% of people filed electronically.
“The fastest, most secure way to receive a refund is to file tax returns electronically and request a direct deposit into a checking or savings account,” said David Harris, Director of the Illinois Department of Revenue. “The filing extension for individual income tax takes effect automatically, so no further action is required by taxpayers to take advantage. For taxpayers awaiting a refund, utilize IDOR’s Where’s My Refund? to locate specific information about the status of any refund due.”
Free filing of Form IL-1040 is available through MyTax Illinois. Individuals may also utilize MyTax Illinois to make payments, respond to department inquiries, and check the status of their Illinois Individual Income Tax refunds using the Where’s My Refund? link. Taxpayers may also look up IL-PINs, amounts of any estimated tax payments made, and (when necessary) amounts reported on Form 1099-G with MyTax Illinois.
For the most up-to-date information, forms, schedules, and instructions for the 2020 tax year, please visit IDOR’s website at: tax.illinois.gov.
The National Restaurant Association recently held a webinar on next steps for businesses that seek to access the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). While the Fund will take several weeks to get up and running with a live application, there are several steps prospective applicants can take now to prepare. Recommended next steps for restaurants from the webinar include:
Click here to watch a recording of the webinar.
Click here for a breakdown of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), including details on eligibility, prioritization, and distribution.
Read more about the RRF, who is eligible, and what restaurants can expect moving forward from QSR.
Program Notices & Reminders
Hollywood Casino Joliet Partnering with Illinois Dept. of Public Health to Host Covid Mobile Testing Program
Hollywood Casino Joliet announced that it is partnering with the Illinois Department of Public Health (“IDPH”) to host a COVID-19 mobile testing program in the casino’s parking lot. The IDPH will set up and operate the mobile testing program at Hollywood Casino every Sunday in March and the first Sunday in April.
“We are incredibly proud to be partnering with the Illinois Department of Public Health to provide our parking lot as a COVID-19 testing site to help fight the spread of COVID-19,” said Lydia Garvey, Vice President and General Manager at Hollywood Casino Joliet. “Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our community as we all work together towards ending the pandemic.”
The IDPH’s mobile testing program in Hollywood Casino’s parking lot will take place from 8:00am to 4:00pm on March 20, March 27, and April 3. Individuals seeking COVID-19
tests will not need a photo ID nor need to be showing signs of symptoms to receive a test. The
mobile testing program accepts insurance, however an insurance card is not necessary to be
tested. For the uninsured or if insurance does not cover the cost of the test, the state of Illinois will cover the cost.
The COVID-19 mobile testing program will use anterior nares swabs to test patients, with specimens being shipped to a lab to run on a polymerase chain reaction (“PCR”) testing machine which makes it possible to detect COVID-19 with a very high degree of accuracy. Individuals tested will receive a phone call between 4-7 days from the date of their test from the number 888-297-7208. Patients who miss the call will be requested to call back in order to receive results as they cannot be left via voicemail.
Paycheck Protection Program Office Hours This Week Hosted by the SBA Illinois District Office
The SBA Illinois District Office is here to help you navigate the Paycheck Protection Program! Join them this week for office hours and get your questions about PPP answered. They will be hosting office hours daily until PPP closes on March 31. Sign up for office hours this week below!
Office hours this week
- Friday, March 19, 11:00a.m., Click here to sign up.
Browse other events hosted by the SBA Illinois District Office www.sba.gov/il.
Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Joliet Junior College
Here are our upcoming no-cost webinars:
Starting Your Business in Illinois on March 24th at 2pm
Thinking about starting a business in Illinois? This informative workshop helps entrepreneurs understand many of the steps and requirements. In this no-cost overview of Starting Your Business in Illinois, we will touch on many aspects of your business plan, including legal, accounting, banking, marketing, and sales.
Starting Your Business in Illinois Webinar (ecenterdirect.com)
Social Media – Stop Posting! Start Marketing (with Joe Sanders) on April 1 at 11am
Are you taking advantage of the opportunities and changes in Social Media? Learn the five-step process: Find the Right Audience; Create the Right Content; Promote Your Business as a Brand; Use Ample Resources; and Analyze the Results. Digital Marketing expert, podcast host and author Joe Sanders, from Relevant Elephant, will share a powerful overview of how to improve your social media strategy and WHY you need to take action.
Social Media – Stop Posting! Start Marketing! (with Joe Sanders) (ecenterdirect.com)
Video Marketing for Small Business (with Mike at Acclaim Media) on April 8 at 11am
Video production once meant bringing in a full production crew to produce a television commercial. Now, a child can produce a quality video on their phone. And that video is a very important component to your website, social media pages, product information, as well as your local advertising. Learn the benefits of video marketing and hear from Mike Poglitsch at Acclaim Media about how easy the process can be.
Video Marketing for Small Business (ecenterdirect.com)
Funding Your Business (with Nancy Kuzma) on April 14th at 2pm
Funding your business is critical for start-ups as well as companies who are looking to expand. Establishing business credit is the first step. Get a basic understanding of what banks look for to qualify for a loan from Nancy Kuzma of Old Plank Trail Community Bank/Wintrust Community Bank.
Funding Your Business Webinar (ecenterdirect.com)
Government Certification Process (with Rita Haake at COD) on April 27th at 1pm
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.
Webinar: The Certification Process (ecenterdirect.com)
Illinois Department of Transportation
The Illinois Department of Transportation is hosting free virtual workshops in February as part of its Building Blocks of Success series for firms interested in participating in the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program strengthening their skills and bidding on state projects. The workshops are open to all, but some are tailored to specific districts/regions of the state.
The workshop dates and topics are:
• March 23: Getting Paid, 10 a.m. to noon
• March 25: Required Documents, 10 a.m. to noon
• March 29: Quick Books Part 1, 10 a.m. to noon
• March 30: Quick Books Part 2, 10 a.m. to noon
• March 31: Quick Books Part 3, 10 a.m. to noon
Building Blocks of Success will be conducted through April. Workshop information, including dates and times, will be made available through Eventbrite at bit.ly/DBEworkshops. Advance registration is required. Questions can be directed to the DBE resource center at (312) 939-1100.
Finally, please consider taking a few minutes to fill out the 2021 Small Business Needs Assessment. The Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Illinois SBDC at Joliet Junior College asks for your assistance in our effort to best serve small business. Your input is extremely valuable and we thank you for your time in completing this survey.
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry