Pritzker calls on lawmakers to return to Springfield
Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday called for state lawmakers to return to Springfield to address a growing list of needs to respond to COVID-19.
“The Legislature must convene so that we can begin to put our financial and economic house back in order, even as we battle this terrible virus,” Pritzker said during his Tuesday press conference. “The General Assembly needs to pass a comprehensive plan to support families, small businesses and small towns.”
Lawmakers have not been in session since March 5.
Among the items Pritzker hopes lawmakers will take up include rent assistance, mortgage forbearance, grants and loans for small businesses, as well as tax credits for those small businesses and industries not covered by the federal stimulus package. He also called for a law to distribute funds to smaller communities to support the needs of first responders and fill revenue losses caused by the pandemic.
After May 31, any vote will require a three-fifths majority for the law to go into effect within the next year.
Democratic lawmakers announced Wednesday morning they plan to meet in Springfield next week.
State officials reported 144 more COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 3,601. An additional 4,014 COVID-19 cases were reported, bringing the state’s total to 83,021 cases in 98 counties.
The increase in cases was a result of leftover reports from the weekend and a single-day high of 29,266 completed tests.
A total of 471,691 tests have been completed.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Tuesday the total number of reported deaths is likely underreported, as those who died from certain symptoms that were not thought to be related to COVID-19 at the time of their passing were not tested for the virus.
She also said the department tries to remove any deaths from the total count “clearly” not caused by the virus, such as if a COVID-positive person dies in a vehicle accident.
“Those who do test positive for COVID-19 and die with illnesses or complications caused by the illness are definitely COVID deaths and those continue to be counted in our count,” she said. “We will continue to work to quickly and responsibly and accurately represent what we are, in fact, seeing here in Illinois.”
The state has also launched a $25 million grant program Tuesday to assist local governments for capital projects this summer. Projects that are “shovel-ready” or those that can begin construction within 90 days of receiving funding will be given priority, as well as those in underserved areas.
Pritzker also told reporters Tuesday he would consider withholding federal aid from communities that disobey the state’s stay-at-home order. It comes as a growing number of downstate communities have announced plans to allow certain businesses to reopen in the coming weeks.
“The state already provides a lot of support for cities and counties,” he said. “And so I would just suggest that there are a number of enforcement mechanisms that are available to us… I have asked people to do the right thing and I want to point out that the vast majority of people in Illinois have been doing the right thing and I’m so very proud of that.”
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