Governor’s Office Daily COVID-19 Q & A
March 20, 2020
Q: Have there been conversations with Union Pacific, BNSF Railway and other railway companies that they will continue to provide supply networks for the state even if there is a national quarantine?
A: The federal government has exempted the BNSF Railway Company, Union Pacific Railroad, Norfolk Southern Railway, CSX Transportation, and the Canadian National Railway. They are all considered essential in the conveyance of chlorine for safe drinking supply, food, and household goods, fuel, and energy.
Q: May a retailer return beer to a licensed distributor?
A: Yes. Beer may be returned for any reason authorized by the Illinois Liquor Control Act (235 ILCS 5/6-5.5) OR for any reason if the beer was purchased and delivered to the retailer on or before March 23, 2020 and subject to the acceptance and legal conditions of the return required by the distributor.
Q: Can “On-Premises Only Retailers” sell alcoholic liquor off the retailer’s premises? EX: brew pubs, distilling pubs, brewers, class 1 brewers, class 2 brewers, class 1 craft distillers, and class 2 craft distillers.
A: The Local liquor control commission can determine whether to authorize an “On-Premises Only Retailer” to sell alcoholic liquor for consumption off-premises. Retailers may continue to provide “to go” or delivery services until the termination of a health emergency by State officials.
Q: Do I have to renew the license to purchase and sell alcoholic liquor?
A: Licenses that expire March 31, 2020, April 30, 2020, and May 31, 2020, have been extended to July 31, 2020. Licensees are encouraged to renew their licenses as soon as they can through their MyTax Illinois Account.
Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC)/Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ)
Q: There have been complaints that the Shawnee Correctional Center continues to run lines and groups that are over the 50-person limit. They are also providing no sanitation in classrooms or groups before or after these meetings. Why is DOC not abiding by the CDC recommendations?
A: All lines at the Shawnee Correctional Center are under the 50-person limit. Groups are meeting with 10 or less, and classrooms are being cleaned and sanitized before and after. Additionally, we are passing out cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer. IDOC is abiding by CDC recommendations as well as IDOC’s Pandemic Flu Plan, which follows CDC recommendations.
Q: Have there been changes in segregation or quarantining when an inmate exhibits symptoms in IDOC?
A: Inmates who are showing signs of coronavirus are being separated and quarantined for further review.
Q: Are correctional officers from Shawnee Correctional Facility receiving guidance on COVID-19 and adhering to the less than 10 persons minimum, etc.?
A: Shawnee is in compliance with IDOC’s Pandemic Flu Plan. No offender in Shawnee has shown symptoms of COVID-19 at this time.
Q: What measures are in place to protect the children and staff at DJJ?
A: In collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), county juvenile detention centers, and other public safety agencies, we are remaining informed on best practices and taking measures to promote the health and safety of our staff and youth.
Here are some of the steps we have taken to help reduce the risk of infection at DJJ.
• Screening: We privately screen everyone entering the facilities through a single point of entry using criteria recommended by the CDC and Department of Public Health, including temperature readings using infrared thermometers. You can find the screening protocol here.
• Sanitation: Everyone entering the facility is directed to wash or sanitize their hand prior to entry and upon exit. Sanitizer and tissue are widely available, and common touch areas are disinfected during each shift. Additionally, the overall cleaning schedule was moved to an every-shift cleaning schedule.
• Staffing: We have created a staffing model that promotes youth safety and reduces risk to vulnerable staff members, while still allowing youth to receive the education and services they need for a productive day. Our model keeps us operationally sound and allows for adjustments if the needs of our facilities change. At present, staffing levels are not significantly impacting the operations of our facilities, and youth are continuing to receive educational and rehabilitative programming. DJJ is committed to maintaining programming and services to every extent possible throughout the during of COVID-19 containment and mitigation measures.
• Meetings: All face to face meetings are now being conducted via phone, WebEx, or conference call, and all community writs are discontinued through March 31, 2020. Effective March 18, Aftercare and administrative staff are working remotely. Effective March 19, remote work status is in place for IYC staff, where applicable.
• Visitation: Effective March 20, all visitation to the facilities is postponed through April 3. We will work to provide additional calls and video visits for youth and families during this time while sanitizing phones and equipment after each use.
• Monitoring: Lastly, we are monitoring youth and staff closely for symptoms or signs of respiratory illness and have a process in place if anyone presents symptoms of COVID-19 or reports exposure.
Q: What actions are taken to address the high volume of calls at IDES claims services line?
A: IDES hired additional staff and expanded their business hours to vulture the extremely high volume of calls. The caller is advised to stay on the call, regardless of a busy line sound. When the call gets through, there will be an average wait of 20-30 minutes before they speak to a specialist.
Q: The biggest issue at the moment is that sole proprietors and partnerships do not have access to the same kind of help that incorporated businesses do. They are ineligible for unemployment and possibly too small to qualify for an SBA loan. What options are available?
A: The federal government is working on a relief package that could possibly contain a Disaster Unemployment Insurance (DUA) program. This would be a program that could assist individuals such as sole proprietors and independent contractors that are not covered under the state’s unemployment insurance program.
Q: Is it possible for Governor Pritzker to enact Tele-Health Services in Illinois to include Medicaid service reimbursement to protect our first responders who are so vulnerable in taking care of those who need them most?
A: Under the Governor’s Executive order 2020-09, comprehensive plans are required to cover telehealth services if the service would be covered for a face-to-face visit. First responder’s insurance coverage will also include any telehealth services if their insurance meets the criteria outlined in the Executive Order.
Q: Many insurance policies include a “viral/bacterial clause” which negates or reduces their coverage in a situation like the one that we are in. Can something be done about this?
A: Since every insurance policy is different, consumers/businesses should submit a complaint on our website if they are having issues with coverage so our team can investigate on their behalf. An online complaint can be filed here: https://mc.insurance.illinois.gov/messagecenter.nsf
• Carla Davis from the Department of Insurance legislative office will need privacy releases from the consumers/businesses to keep your office informed on the results of our review. She can be reached at Carla.Davis@illinois.gov.
Q: Where can business owners verify if their business is exempted from the Executive Order -10?
A: The Department of Commerce and Economic Development will be answering questions regarding SBA loans and providing guidance for whether a business is deemed essential under EO-10. Please direct questions to 1-800-252-2923 or CEO.email@example.com.
Q: Local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and AARP sites are suspending their services. Where can I file my taxes?
A: Please call ahead to confirm your site’s hours and availability. You can also view an updated VITA/AARP location search here. Illinois taxpayers can always file their returns for free at mytax.illinois.gov. Qualified taxpayers may be eligible to participate in the IRS’ Free File program for federal returns.
Q: Will, the Department of Revenue, be expediting tax refunds? Some people have been waiting for longer than 6 weeks to receive their refunds.
A: Regarding taxpayers who “have been waiting longer than 6 weeks”, it’s possible their return was flagged for follow up. It’s hard to know without having specific taxpayer information. Legislators can call the Department’s Legislative Office at 217-785-5918, and we will be happy to review those accounts.
Like other agencies and businesses, the Department has had to make workforce changes in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, we continue to process individual income tax returns and continue to send approved refunds to the Comptroller’s Office twice a week.
Q: Will there be leniency and an internal policy shift to revenue tax collectors, since it is difficult to tap into bank accounts of businesses when their revenue is so short?
A: The Department appreciates the concern being raised and will take it under advisement. As of now, the Department has not made any adjustments to its enforcement of delinquent taxes.
Q: Can we put a soft lock-down order in the city and collars for those 65+?
A: Executive Order 2020-10 prohibits any gathering of more than ten people, with limited exceptions and provides additional guidance to support the senior population.
Q: What stores offer early hours to seniors?
A: Gov. Pritzker announced that a growing coalition of grocery stores statewide will set aside one or more hours of operation for older residents to shop, before stores open to the general public. Among the grocers with new hours for elderly shoppers are Whole Foods and Shop & Save in the Chicagoland area and Hy-Vee and Valli Produce throughout Illinois. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association has additional information on their website regarding guidance and can be found here https://irma.org/covid-19/
Q: Is there guidance from the state on the cancellation of elective surgeries? There are surgical centers that have employees that are concerned for patient safety.
A: The Surgeon General has encouraged hospitals to halt selective surgeries and focus on patients in critical care and emergency situations. The Illinois Department of Public Health has recommended cancelling all elective surgeries and procedures. More information can be found on DPH’s website: http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/coronavirus/health-care-providers/elective-procedures-guidance
Q: Has a decision been made on testing from ISBE and/or the Governor’s office?
A: The U.S. Department of Education has communicated that it will make waivers available for assessments and accountability. ISBE will work in partnership with stakeholders to determine the next steps for Illinois. This closure will not impact the school year 2019-20 summative designations.