Before we get into the preview of today’s update, let’s bring attention to two things. First, we have a Legislative Coffee presented by CITGO this upcoming Thursday, June 24 at 8:30 AM. We’ll be talking about outcomes of the most recent session in Springfield with five state Senators and Representatives. See at the end for more info and a link.
Second, we have talked with one of our chamber members, KODO CARE, about offering vaccines to companies that would like to set up a vaccine day or program for their employees. If you are interested in finding out more details, please contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can then get you in touch with our member provider.
Today’s update covers the estimate of less that 70% vaccinated nationwide by 4th of July, the Illinois vaccine lottery, a new covid antiviral drug, the governor signing of some voting changes, and the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare. Have a great weekend!
*Daily Coronavirus update brought to you by Silver Cross Hospital
Vaccination Effort is Likely to Fall Short of 70% of American Adults by July 4th
With less than three weeks to go until Independence Day, President Joe Biden’s latest vaccination goals are in jeopardy. The country is not on pace to hit his two main targets outlined in early May: fully vaccinating 160 million adult Americans and administering at least one shot to 70% of adults across the U.S. by July 4, according to a CNBC analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
About 65% of adults are at least partially vaccinated as of Wednesday, CDC data shows. Roughly 13.6 million would have to receive their first shot over the next 18 days to get that figure to 70%, an average of about 756,000 new vaccinations each day. The U.S., however, is averaging 336,000 newly vaccinated adults per day over the past week. If the U.S. maintains that latest seven-day average, 67% of adults will be at least partially vaccinated by that day.
When asked about the consequences of missing the 70% target at a news briefing last week, the White House’s chief medical advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said the Fourth of July would not be the end of the country’s vaccination efforts as the risk of infection and illness remains for those who haven’t gotten a shot.
“If you don’t meet the precise goal and you fall short by a few percent, that doesn’t mean you stop in your effort to get people vaccinated,” Fauci said. “We want to reach 70% of the adult population by the Fourth of July. I believe we can, I hope we will, and if we don’t we’re going to continue to keep pushing.”
Fauci emphasized that people who don’t get vaccinated, are still at risk. “If you get vaccinated, you dramatically, dramatically diminish the risk of getting infected and almost eliminate the risk of serious disease,” he said.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, also stressed the importance of vaccination in preventing the delta variant, which was first identified in India and is rapidly emerging as the dominant strain in the U.K, from taking hold in the United States.
White House Covid czar Jeff Zients told reporters Thursday that the U.S. would cross the 70% mark and “continue across the summer months to push beyond 70%,” but did not specify whether he expects the country to reach that mark by the goal deadline.
Biden’s goal of 160 million fully vaccinated adults is also on track to fall short if the pace of shots does not pick up in the next few weeks. Nearly 142 million adults have completed a vaccination program, on pace to land at around 152 million on the Fourth of July assuming the current pace of daily reported vaccinations holds steady.
When Biden first announced the two goals on May 4, the country was on pace to hit both. But the vaccination rate has fallen in the weeks since, from a seven-day average of 2.2 million shots per day across all age groups on the day of the announcement to 1.2 million per day as of June 16, according to the CDC.
Vaccine Lottery Launched in Illinois
Governor Pritzker announced Thursday the much-anticipated start of a vaccine lottery open to almost all Illinois residents who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination. Prizes will range from $100,000 to $1 million out of a total of $10 million, including scholarships.
The money is part of the state’s recently approved $42 billion budget. Starting July 8, health officials will conduct weekly drawings for prizes. Those who wish to be entered into the first drawing must have gotten one dose by July 1.
The prizes will be split up into two categories: Cash prizes for adults and scholarship money for eligible children. Three adult participants will receive $1 million, 40 adults will get $100,000, and 20 children could win a Bright Start college scholarship worth $150,000.
Since the federal government can’t provide the state with personal health information, the lottery is not open to those who got vaccinated at a federal facility such as a prison or veterans affairs office.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi O. Ezike said that, while the state doesn’t want to give up on anybody, it’s unlikely the entire population will get vaccinated for a number of reasons. “But there are many people we call the ‘Moveable Middle’ where they just need a nudge,” Ezike said at a news conference on Chicago’s South Side. “The chance to win $100,000 or a million [dollars] or a college scholarship for their child is just that nudge to get them off their seat and get the vaccine.”
Any resident who has received at least one dose at any time is automatically eligible via a state database. Lottery winners can choose not to be identified. Participants will not be limited to those who only recently got the vaccine. More details are available at allin.illinois.gov.
U.S. to Invest More Than $3 Billion in Covid-19 Antiviral Development
The Biden administration will invest more than $3 billion on developing and manufacturing antiviral pills to treat coronavirus, the Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday. “New antivirals that prevent serious Covid-19 illness and death, especially oral drugs that could be taken at home early in the course of disease, would be powerful tools for battling the pandemic and saving lives,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden and the nation’s top infectious-disease expert.
The $3.2 billion investment will be allocated from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package Mr. Biden signed into law in March. In a briefing Thursday, Dr. Fauci said the funding could accelerate clinical trials “already in progress” for some antiviral pills and potentially make some of them available by year’s end. The oral antiviral medicines would be designed to be taken at home and to treat symptoms early in the course of infection.
Dr. Fauci said coronavirus vaccines “remain the centerpiece of our arsenal” in fighting the pandemic, but noted antiviral drugs would serve as an important complement in preventing severe illness and hospitalization. Researchers are testing antivirals in pill form that could become a kind of Tamiflu for Covid-19.
Merck & Co. and its partner, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, in April said they were testing the oral antiviral drug, known as molnupiravir, in treating patients early in the course of the disease and who are at high risk of Covid-19 complications. The companies had stopped a separate trial testing the drug in hospitalized patients after it wasn’t found to be helpful. But Merck said if a study proved successful for outpatients, the company could file for an emergency-use authorization in the second half of this year.
Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla has also said an oral Covid-19 treatment the company is developing could be available for use by the end of the year. The company began an early-stage trial in March testing the oral Covid-19 drug in people.
The only antiviral authorized by the Food and Drug Administration is remdesivir from Gilead Sciences Inc., and it has been shown to provide only a modest benefit in hospitalized patients, reducing their stays by several days. The FDA has also cleared three monoclonal-antibody drugs made by Eli Lilly & Co. and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. for people with mild to moderate Covid-19. But their use has been limited, in part because they are given by intravenous infusion, which can be laborious for hospitals to administer.
As part of the plan announced Thursday, the National Institutes of Health will “evaluate, prioritize and advance” antiviral candidates to Phase 2 clinical trials, according to an HHS statement.
The funding includes more than $300 million for research and lab support, nearly $1 billion for preclinical and clinical evaluation, and nearly $700 million for development and manufacturing through the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
Governor Pritzker Signs Legislation Further Expanding Voting Protections for Illinois Residents
Governor JB Pritzker signed SB 825 into law further expanding access to the ballot box for Illinoisans by increasing access to curbside voting, establishing permanent vote by mail registries, establishing a central polling location in counties across the state, strengthening cybersecurity standards for election authorities in Illinois, and providing viable voting opportunities for justice-impacted individuals. The legislation also establishes June 28, 2022, as the new 2022 general primary election date.
SB 825 grants sheriffs outside of Cook County the ability to establish polling locations at local county jails, a practice already in place in Cook County. Individuals awaiting trial and sentencing who are residents of the community surrounding the county jail will now be permitted to vote at the jail’s polling place.
“With attacks on voting rights on the rise in states across the nation, Illinois is proud to stand up for a strong, secure, and accessible democracy,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “This legislation articulates the rights of Illinois citizens to vote by mail, allows those awaiting trial to cast their ballots, and makes a state holiday of Election Day 2022. I want to thank sponsors Senate President Don Harmon and Representative Maurice West, as well as the Women’s Legislative Caucus leadership, and county clerks across the state for their commitment to protecting the fundamental right to vote.”
The legislation builds on the administration’s previous actions to protect and expand voting rights in Illinois which include extended hours at permanent polling places, expanding the state’s vote by mail program, and making election day a state holiday.
“This keeps in place a number of voter conveniences that have proven popular,” said Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park). “It’s a great example of lawmakers listening to the diverse voices of voters and taking steps to maintain and encourage voter participation.”
“All throughout the country, we are seeing efforts by Republicans to stifle the people’s right to vote—particularly among communities of color,” said Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-Westchester). “In Illinois, we believe our democracy is only stronger when more people have access to the ballot box. That’s why we passed this elections bill to establish permanent mail-in voting and make election day a state holiday.”
“With the signing of Senate Bill 825, we are telling the nation that Illinois is all about voter empowerment, not voter suppression. Illinois is about increasing accessibility for all people to vote while preserving the integrity of the ballot box,” said State Representative Maurice West (D-Rockford). “I want to thank Speaker Welch and Senate President Harmon for teaming up with me and thank you to Governor Pritzker for empowering voters by signing this legislation.”
“COVID-19 demonstrated the interest and efficiency of voting by mail,” said Senate Majority Caucus Whip Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest). “This becomes a permanent change that will encourage more voters to participate in the election process.”
“Our democracy is at its healthiest when we have high voter participation. We are making sure that voters have the secure access they deserve,” State Representative Katie Stuart (D-Edwardsville) said. “Making sure our high school students can get registered as soon as they are eligible and recognizing the importance of voting with a state holiday on General Election Day will go a long way to create our next generation of involved citizens.”
For more information on voting in Illinois and to confirm your registration status, go to https://www.elections.il.gov/.
SB 825 is effective July 1, 2022.
Affordable Care Act Survives Supreme Court Challenge
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, preserving a landmark law that provides health insurance to 20 million people. The 7-2 ruling marks the third time the Supreme Court, despite its increasingly conservative makeup, has backed central parts of Obamacare, as the law is also known. The GOP has been trying to wipe out the measure since it was enacted in 2010 under Democratic President Barack Obama.
With health care accounting for a sixth of the U.S. economy, the stakes were massive. Advocates for patients, doctors, hospitals and insurance companies urged the court to uphold the law, warning of chaos should the measure be invalidated.
The ruling is “a big win for the American people,” President Joe Biden tweeted. “With millions of people relying on the Affordable Care Act for coverage, it remains, as ever, a BFD. And it’s here to stay.”
Opponents were trying to use a Republican-backed 2017 tax change to invalidate the law. The change eliminated the penalty for noncompliance with the so-called individual mandate to acquire insurance. That provision had been central in 2012 when the Supreme Court upheld the law as a legitimate use of Congress’ constitutional taxing power.
Writing for the court, Justice Stephen Breyer said the states and people who filed the latest suit—later backed by former President Donald Trump’s administration—lacked legal standing to go to court. Breyer said the people couldn’t show they were injured by the now-toothless mandate, as required under the Constitution.
“To find standing here to attack an unenforceable statutory provision would allow a federal court to issue what would amount to in advisory opinion without the possibility of any judicial relief,” Breyer wrote.
Breyer also rejected contentions by Texas and other suing states that they had standing. The states said the individual mandate is costing them money by causing more people to enroll in the Medicaid insurance program for the poor. “A penalty might have led some inertia-bound individuals to enroll,” Breyer wrote. “But without a penalty, what incentive could the provision provide?”
Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented, saying they would have let the suit go forward and dismantled much of the law. “No one can fail to be impressed by the lengths to which this court has been willing to go to defend the ACA against all threats,” wrote Alito, who was in dissent in both previous Obamacare cases.
In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said he agreed with Alito’s analysis of the previous cases, but agreed with the majority that the latest challengers lacked the right to sue. “Although this court has erred twice before in cases involving the Affordable Care Act, it does not err today,” Thomas wrote. Three other members of the court’s conservative wing—Chief Justice John Roberts and Trump-appointed Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett—joined Breyer in the majority.
The ruling is “historic,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California. “We thank the court in its wisdom.” The top three House Republicans, including Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, said in a joint statement that “the ruling does not change the fact that Obamacare failed to meet its promises and is hurting hard-working American families.”
The ACA expanded the Medicaid program for the poor, provided consumers with subsidies, created marketplaces to shop for insurance policies, required insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and let children stay on their parents’ policies until age 26.
A federal appeals court had declared the individual mandate unconstitutional without the tax penalty and left doubt about the rest of the law. A group of Democratic-run states led by California and the U.S. House of Representatives defended the law.
Josh Blackman, a law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston, said the court left the door open for another constitutional challenge in the future. If the federal government tries to enforce another provision of Obamacare against someone, that person could try to argue Obamacare’s individual mandate is unconstitutional and the entire law must fall, he said.
“This doesn’t resolve the validity of the ACA,” Blackman said. “It just sort of kicks it down the road.” But Jonathan Adler, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, said the only way the same argument could be raised is if the federal government tries to enforce the individual mandate. “The government will not do that,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a risk.”
Texas could try to come back and shows reams of evidence of how many people are going to enroll in its plans because of this mandate, but it’s unlikely, said Katie Keith, a health law professor at Georgetown University. “I don’t think they can do that and I think the court here would even be skeptical about that,” she said. “I think it’s a very low risk that that happens but you never say never.”
While there may not be another broad constitutional challenge ahead, litigation over Obamacare will continue. “There will not be a big omnibus challenge to the entire statute, but there will continue to be ongoing litigation about the administration and enforcement of the law, and that will go on for some time,” Adler said.
Program Notices & Reminders – Expanded Information
|Connect with the Workforce Center
The Workforce Center hosts various workshops, hiring events, and activities throughout the month. Be sure to connect with the Workforce Center and share their flyers and event announcements through your social media platforms.
Visit the Workforce Center of Will County’s web page for more information about the programs, services, and activities available for Will County businesses and residents.
Small Business Tax Credit Programs
Small Disadvantaged Business Contracting Goal News
On June 1, 2021, the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new steps to help narrow the racial wealth gap and reinvest in communities that have been left behind by failed policies. Specifically, the Administration is expanding access to two key wealth-creators – small business ownership and homeownership – in communities of color and disadvantaged communities.
Federal Contracting Webinar Series
Do you need help with federal contracting? The ChallengeHER webinar series offers education and training on the federal contracting system. Below is a list of upcoming webinars.
Finally, here is the registration information for the Legislative Coffee on Thursday, June 24 at 8:30 AM. We’ll be meeting with Senator Connor, Senator Loughran Cappel, Representative Manley, Representative Walsh Jr., and Representative Batinick. Join us to hear about a variety of topics. More info and registration here: http://jolietchamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/2021-legislative-coffee-series-june-24-with-local-elected-officials-6073
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry Staff and Board of Directors
Vice President – Government Affairs
Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry