COVID-19 Update from Rep. Grant Wehrli

With COVID-19 information changing by the hour, I wanted to provide another update, and remind everyone of the web page I have added to my web site with comprehensive information from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Click here to be directed to that site. The information is updated regularly.

Please Maintain Normal Shopping Patterns; Do Not Hoard Supplies

You have undoubtedly experienced the shortage of grocery and personal care items at grocery stores. These shortages are NOT due to a disruption in the supply chain. The supply chain remains strong. To that end, there is plenty of food and household supplies if everyone practices common sense and returns to normal shopping patterns. As an example, if you shop on Thursday for the following week, then shop on Thursday and get what you need for the following week. Not for the next three weeks. There is ZERO need for hoarding. Hoarding is creating a problem that doesn’t need to exist. Even in countries that have imposed in-home quarantines, people have been allowed free access to necessities. Simply practice good hygiene and social-distancing when you shop – things we should be doing under any circumstance.

Take Advantage of Carry-Out or Delivery Restaurant Service

While restaurants and bars are closed for dine-in service for the time being, consumers can still obtain food from restaurants via drive-thru, curb-side, delivery or take-out/carry-out. I would encourage you to utilize these take-out options to help restaurants and those employed by restaurants during this difficult time.

Assisting with Illinois’ Economic Injury Declaration

Small business owners and those who operate non-profits throughout Illinois are being asked to submit information relative to their specific impact from COVID-19. Submitted information will assist the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in evaluating Illinois’ request for an economic injury disaster declaration, which would unlock loans for affected businesses and non-profits. Small businesses and non-profits that have suffered or expect to suffer economic injury as a result of COVID-19 are encouraged to submit their information to Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Information obtained from the form will only be used to assist in requesting an economic injury disaster declaration from SBA and identifying greatest areas of need. Instructions for filling out the form are found at the top of the submission page. Click here to access the form.

Filing for Unemployment Due to COVID-19

I am hearing from constituents who are unsure how they should go about seeking unemployment benefits if they lose their income as a result of measures put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus. The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) is the agency that handles unemployment issues, and they have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and answers about employment issues associated with COVID-19. Click here to read that FAQ.

Information for Metra Commuters and Riders

For now, Metra is running on a normal train schedule, but the schedule may change if necessary. Click here to read a press release issued by Metra on March 17.

Information for Students Attending Public Universities and Community Colleges in Illinois

College campuses are taking significant steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus. If you have a student attending one of Illinois’ public or private universities or a community college, information regarding the status of face-to-face learning, athletics, etc. is being shared by email. For the public universities, information changes daily, but you can click here to read information current as of March 17. Information also current as of March 17 from the Illinois Community College Board can be found here.

Executive Powers during Times of Crisis

Lastly, my office is receiving a great deal of email and phone traffic from constituents who question how the Governor has the authority to take these significant steps during the coronavirus pandemic. The simple answer is that our state statutes provide the Governor with broad powers when a State of Emergency is issued.

On March 9, 2020 the Governor issued a proclamation pursuant to Section 7 of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act (20 ILCS 3305/7) declaring all counties in the State of Illinois to be a disaster area. Specifically, the Governor declared the disaster to be a public health emergency which is defined, in relevant part, to be an occurrence or imminent threat of an illness or health condition. With the disaster proclamation, Section 7 of the Emergency Management Agency Act granted the Governor broad emergency powers.

Through Section 7, the Governor has the power to suspend statues prescribing procedures for the conducting of State business, or orders, rules and regulations of any State agency. It is through these powers that the Governor has had the authority to close schools, restaurants, bars and public hunting and fishing lands, and to limit large gatherings of people. These actions are taken through Executive Orders. Click here and navigate to the 2020 orders to see a list of Governor Pritzker’s Executive Orders relative to COVID-19.

Illinois is not alone in measures taken to control the spread of the virus. Several other states have taken similar steps. As a reminder, my staff and I are working remotely, but office phones and email are checked regularly during business hours. Those contacting my office will still receive prompt attention. You may reach my office by phone at (630) 696-4160 or by email at wehrli@ilhousegop.org.