Chamber Members:

Today’s update covers the unfortunate information concerning the announcement to pause one of the three approved coronavirus vaccines. In addition, we have a new study about the U.K. variant, a new study about Illinois business’ ability to bounce back, and word from the Governor, Senate President, and Speaker of the House on what they hope to accomplish the remainder of this legislative session.

*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital

FDA & CDC Call for Pause of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine / IDPH Halts
A decision by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to pause administration of a coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson is raising concerns among public health experts that it will impede vaccine acceptance across the country.

In a statement Tuesday morning, top scientists at the FDA and CDC cited six cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, developed in women between the ages of 18 and 48 years old between six and 13 days after they received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The CDC will convene its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday to review the facts of the cases, and FDA will conduct its own review. But in the meantime, the two agencies recommended hitting the brakes on the shot “out of an abundance of caution.”

The decision is the second major setback for coronavirus vaccines that use an adenovirus structure to teach a body’s immune system to recognize and combat the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. It follows pauses of another adenovirus-based vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in the European Union and many of its member states. The European Union’s top drug regulator said last week it was looking into potential clots in four people who had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, clots similar to those in a few dozen people who received the AstraZeneca shot.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one of three approved for emergency use in the United States, along with others from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech. Those two vaccines use a different technology, known as messenger RNA, and no serious side effects have been described in the tens of millions of Americans who have received those shots. States that had planned to inoculate people using the Johnson & Johnson shot scrambled Tuesday to make alternate plans.

In accordance with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine out of an abundance of caution.  The CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine.

IDPH has notified all Illinois COVID-19 providers throughout the state to discontinue use of the J&J vaccine at this time. In order to keep appointments, IDPH is strongly advising providers to use Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

Moderna and Pfizer make up the vast majority of doses on hand in the State of Illinois. This week, the state’s allocation of J&J was 17,000 doses. For the week of April 18, 2021, the expected allocation for the State is 483,720 total doses. Of that total allocation, 5,800 doses were expected to be J&J. Per the federal health authorities, people who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider. Patients with other clinical questions should contact their health care provider.

The six adverse cases occurred among more than 6.8 million people who have received the vaccine in the United States so far — a rate of just 0.0000009 adverse cases per 100 doses administered. The tiny rate of adverse reactions is still a sign that the Johnson & Johnson product is safe and effective across a broad swath of the general public, though experts said the caution and concern was warranted.

“I believe the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is exceedingly safe. These are very rare events,” Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, said Tuesday on Good Morning America. “But we don’t know if they’re linked to the vaccine and we don’t know if there are other cases we’ve missed. So it’s the right thing.”

Tuesday’s decision is the second major setback for Johnson & Johnson, which had been one of the first companies in the world to begin developing a coronavirus vaccine in March of last year. Last month, a subcontractor manufacturing the vaccine acknowledged it had spoiled 15 million doses on a production line in Baltimore.

Public health experts have been worried about the number of Americans who have expressed skepticism over the vaccines developed in the year since the coronavirus began spreading across the world. That hesitancy has declined in recent months as millions of Americans have received shots with no serious adverse reactions.

A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in late March showed 37 percent of Americans said they would not get a vaccine, would get one only if required or would wait and see before deciding whether to get a vaccine. That figure was down from 51 percent in January and 44 percent in March.

Meanwhile, the White House says the recent setback shouldn’t affect the vaccine pace too much. “This announcement will not have a significant impact on our vaccination plan: Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than 5 percent of the recorded shots in arms in the United States to date,” said White House COVID response coordinator Jeff Zients.

As far as existing appointments, Zients said the administration is confident all will be accommodated.  “We are working now with our state and federal partners to get anyone scheduled for a J&J vaccine quickly rescheduled for a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.” Read the full White House statement:

What this means for daily vaccination numbers? “This is more than enough supply to continue the current pace of vaccinations of 3 million shots per day, and meet the President’s goal of 200 million shots by his 100th day in office—and continue on to reach every adult who wants to be vaccinated,” Zients said.

U.K. Coronavirus Strain Does Not Lead to More Severe Illness and Death, Study Finds
People infected with the U.K. variant of the coronavirus didn’t experience more severe symptoms and weren’t more likely to die from this particular strain, according to a new study of hospitalized patients published Monday. The strain, called the B.1.1.7 variant, remains more contagious than original strains of the virus however, according to the study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

The U.K. strain is believed to have first emerged in England in September 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is now the most common strain in the U.S. Researchers for The Lancet study collected samples from patients at the University College London Hospital and the North Middlesex University Hospital between Nov. 9 to Dec 20, 2020. The samples were collected just prior to a surge in hospitalizations in England and Ireland due to the rapid spread of this particular strain of the coronavirus.

Scientists sequenced samples from 341 patients and found 58 percent were positive for the B.1.1.7 variant. The other 42 percent were infected with a different strain, according to the study. Researchers compared the severity of symptoms between the two groups and found those with the B.1.1.7 strain were not particularly worse off than those with other virus variants.

Patients who tested positive for the B.1.1.7 variant also reportedly had higher “viral loads,” or greater amounts of the virus in their bodies.

Governor and Leaders of Senate and House Express Agenda for Remainder of Session
“We must repair the damage COVID has done to our state’s finances and get Illinois back on track toward fiscal responsibility,” write J.B. Pritzker, Don Harmon, and Emanuel “Chris” Welch in a joint op-ed.

One of the most important responsibilities of the Illinois General Assembly and the governor is to manage the state’s finances—to provide the services our residents need while balancing the state budget responsibly. After we worked together to achieve a balanced budget in 2019, our state, like all the others, was hit last year by an unprecedented global pandemic that has threatened the health and safety of Illinoisans and strained our state coffers. COVID-19 temporarily interrupted the progress we were making to undo the damage left behind by Gov. Bruce Rauner, who saddled state residents with massive additional deficit spending and caused the state to suffer eight credit rating downgrades in just four years.

Despite the pandemic and also because of it, we worked together last year to use federal CARES Act dollars to help Illinois families in ways that would also have generational impact, like providing childcare support that has become a national model. We created the largest housing assistance program in the nation, so that families suffering financial ruin from COVID wouldn’t lose their homes and landlords would be reimbursed for lost rental income. We also devoted nearly $300 million in small business relief to over 9,000 businesses across 98 counties to keep workers employed and small businesses like restaurants and bars operating.

This work has made a difference for many Illinoisans, but faced with a continuing global pandemic, we knew that more needed to be done. That’s why we were proud to support federal efforts to help every state in the country build back better. Last month U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth and the Democrats in Congress passed President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, providing Illinoisans with extended unemployment benefits and help for housing, childcare, and health care. It also provides the state of Illinois with $7.5 billion in one-time support to help put the pandemic behind us.

As the governor and the General Assembly work together to provide COVID relief to all Illinoisans, we also must repair the damage COVID has done to our state’s finances and get Illinois back on track toward fiscal responsibility.

First, we believe it’s important to pay the remaining $2.5 billion of COVID-related Federal Reserve short term debt, and the unpaid bills and borrowing incurred over the last year that allowed us to protect working families from devastating cuts to our public schools, health care and human services, keeping the lights on in the darkest days of the pandemic. In Illinois, we’re all too familiar with how debt and accrued interest can cripple a state budget. Paying off these bills immediately will avoid interest charges and put us in a stronger fiscal position for the future.

Second, at the heart of our agenda are the working families and everyday Illinoisans who have too often in the past been left out and left behind. That’s why the ARP funds must also be dedicated to spurring job creation and igniting economic growth. Putting people to work and growing our state’s economy means accelerating our infrastructure plans for rebuilding Illinois, supporting small businesses—our greatest job creators—and making sure our educational and health care institutions thrive.

Over the last year, fiscal discipline and a science-based pandemic response has meant that our state economy and fiscal situation are stronger than expected. In fact, over the last month, investors and credit rating agencies have taken a more positive view of Illinois’ fiscal future. That’s an important signal to workers and job creators that Illinois is on a good path toward a firm fiscal foundation.

We need to stay the course by managing our state and federal funds responsibly and we are committed to doing so.

Report Says Illinois Small Business in Surprisingly Good Shape for Covid Recovery
Illinois usually comes out near the bottom of multi-state surveys on business conditions, with concerns over taxes, pensions and related matters rising to the fore. But a report out today suggests that the state is extremely well positioned to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic in a critical area: small business.

According to a study by WalletHub, a personal finance web site, small businesses in Illinois are the sixth-best positioned of the 50 states to bounce back from COVID-19 as pandemic-related restrictions are lifted. The study specifically examines where small business has “the greatest potential” for a vigorous recovery, using 13 metrics based on Census data, unemployment claims and other government statistics.

Though Illinois ranks no better than mediocre on things such as business conditions and financial support, the factor that counted most is the share of small companies and workers employed in industries highly affected by COVID. In other words, Illinois has a lot of firms in the “right” industries for a recovery now, such as educational services, arts and entertainment, and other services.

The new report comes after another study by a different group showed that better than a third of the state’s small companies closed during the pandemic and have not yet reopened, slightly worse than the national average.

Program Notices & Reminders – Expanded Information
Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Joliet Junior College
Here are our upcoming no-cost webinars:
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 (

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?
Your options:
• Federal: 8(a), EDWOSB, HUBZone, SDB, SDVOSB, WOSB, VOSB
• 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 (

Small Business Administration Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program
The Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) Grant program was established by The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Venues Act, signed into law on December 27, 2020.   The SBA has announced that they will begin to accept applications under this program on April 8, 2021.  The application portal will open in a tiered approach.  Please check the SBA website (link below) for more information. 

Eligible applicants may qualify for SVO Grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.  Eligible entities include:
o    Live venue operators or promoters
o    Theatrical producers
o    Live performing arts organization operators
o    Relevant museum operators, zoos and aquariums who meet specific criteria
o    Motion picture theater operators
o    Talent representatives, and
o    Each business entity owned by an eligible entity that also meets the eligibility requirements

This program is not yet open for applications. SBA has issued more guidance on this program in the past week.  Applicants can apply for PPP prior to applying to the SVOG program.  If they do receive a PPP loan after 12/27/20, they will have the SVOG reduced by the PPP loan amount.  To follow updates on this program, please click here to go to the SBA’s website.  Applicants must also have a valid registration to apply for this program.  Here’s a link to a video on how to apply: Entity Registration Training – YouTube .

Small Business Administration Program: Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL)
This week SBA announced that for loans approved starting the week of April 6, 2021, the maximum loan amount will be increased to $500,000.  For loans approved prior to the week of April 6, 2021, please click here for information from SBA on loan increases.

The SBA is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses and non-profit organizations that are suffering substantial economic injury as a result of COVID-19.  These loans may be used to pay debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact, and that are not already covered by a Paycheck Protection Program loan. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits. The first payment is deferred for one year.  Applicants must be physically located in the U.S. or designated territory and suffered working capital losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, not due to a downturn in the economy or other reasons.  Eligible applicants include the following:

  •  Cooperatives with 500 or fewer employees
  •  Agricultural enterprises with 500 or fewer employees

•     Most private nonprofits
•     Faith-based organizations
•     Sole proprietorships and independent contractors

The deadline to apply for this program has been extended to December 31, 2021.  The SBA has also extended deferment periods for all disaster loans including EIDL until 2022.  All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2020, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 24-months from the date of the note.  All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2021, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 18-months from the date of the note.  For more information and the application, please click here to go to the SBA’s website.

Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity
Team RED will be hosting numerous program webinars over the next few weeks.  Please join us and learn about these programs.  While different team members from around the state are hosting the webinars, they are open to anyone to attend.  You can view the full list of upcoming events on our website here.

Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA)
Date and time: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 10:00 am
Please join the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Regional Economic Development for a webinar to learn more about the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) Pre-Award Process.  The Department uses an accountability program to take a customer-centered approach to grants management and monitoring.  The agency, which administers and oversees nearly 10,000 grants each fiscal year, manages various economic, community and workforce development programs, services, and initiatives.  The Department of Commerce partners with businesses, local governments, nonprofit organizations, workers, and families to enhance the state’s economy.
Register Here:

Advantage Illinois Loan Program for Small Businesses
Date and time: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 6:00 PM
Please join the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Regional Economic Development for a webinar to learn more about the Advantage Illinois Loan Program.
This program enhances capital for Illinois businesses, which is a top priority. By working with the state’s banking community and venture capitalists, DCEO will help entrepreneurs and small
businesses start-up, expand, and create new jobs at a faster rate.
Register Here:

Advantage Illinois: How local community banks can partner with the State of Illinois to help small business
Date and time: Tuesday, April 27, 2021 10:00 am
Enhancing access to capital for Illinois businesses is a top priority. The Brookings Institution has noted that more than 95% of new jobs are derived from business expansion or start up activity. Small businesses are the backbone of the Illinois economy, and the Advantage Illinois program is here to assist. In this webinar you will learn how the state’s banking community can help entrepreneurs and small businesses start up, expand, and create new jobs at a faster rate by partnering with the State of Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity through this participation loan program. Guest speakers include John D. Hill and Mark Schultz, Advantage Illinois Team for the Office of Business Development. Local community banks are encouraged to attend!
Register Here:

Team RED Office hours
DCEO’s Regional Economic Development Team is hosting weekly office hours on the days and times listed below.  These sessions are designed as open times that the Team is available.  The Team will provide you with the latest updates and answer any questions you may have on state or federal programs.  Feel free to drop in for any assistance you need.  If these times do not work for you, please reach out to your regional Team RED representative.  We’re always here to help.

Mondays from 3pm – 4pm
Meeting link:

Wednesdays from 1pm – 2pm
Meeting link:

Thursdays from 3pm – 4pm
Meeting link:

Fridays from 10am – 11am
Meeting link:

Finally, congratulations to all of those elected or re-elected to various governing boards throughout the region. There are still a couple of close races that will be determined this week after final ballots are counted at the Clerk’s office.

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