Thirty Illinois counties reach a warning level for coronavirus
Over the weekend Illinois surpassed 8000 coronavirus deaths. There have been well over 200,000 cases confirmed in the state. Over the course of the summer we saw case numbers decline and then start to rise again. Businesses and other public places have been able to re-open with safety precautions, but as the numbers have gone back up we have been hearing warnings from public health. Now the spread of the disease has reached a point where 30 of Illinois' 102 counties have been placed at a warning level.
None of the five counties in our district are among those warned, though neighboring Grundy County is one of them. The warning is issued if an increase is detected in two or more of the risk indicators that measure coronavirus numbers for each county. The Department of Public Health (IDPH) has cited as common factors for increases, "large gatherings, long-term care facilities and other congregate settings, travel to neighboring states, bars, and spread among members of the same household."
Please remember to keep your social distance, avoid crowded places, wash your hands, wear a face mask and stay home if you are not feeling well.
To read the full warning from IDPH, including the list of risk metrics, click here.
Changes to sports betting procedures
Last year Illinois legalized sports betting by enacting the Illinois Sports Wagering Act. One part of the new law required anyone wishing to place a bet in Illinois on a sporting event to go to a physical location, like one of the state's riverboat casinos, and register in person. The requirement was meant to guard against identity theft and also to help facilities which employ Illinois workers, as opposed to large nationwide electronic gaming outfits which are not required to employ Illinoisans.
But recent events have caused changes to be made to Illinois' regulations. The in-person registration requirement was lifted in August. In part this was due to the coronavirus pandemic which made it difficult for many Illinoisans to get to one of these physical locations to register. But the change also came about because some of the state's riverboat casinos actually began setting up their own electronic sports-betting platforms or worked out affiliation arrangements with established companies like DraftKings and FanDuel. These new rules will likely open the door to full online sports betting within Illinois facilitated by nationwide operations with established brand names.
Pandemic causes decline in gas tax revenue, might delay some road construction projects
With so many Illinoisans staying home during the pandemic, gas tax revenue to the state has fallen over the last few months. Overall, motor fuel tax revenues were down by $82 million between March and June as compared with last year. These revenues the primary source of funding for the many road construction and improvement projects going on around the state.
Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman told a Senate committee that the reduced revenue will likely lead to some planned projects being delayed until next year. Projects scheduled for Fiscal Year 2021, which began on July 1 of this year, could be pushed back until after July 1 of next year. The Secretary did not have a list of projects, but said the Department would continue to prioritize safety-related projects.
Donating this month's pay raise
Last year after legislators were given a pay raise I pledged to you that I would not keep mine, that I would donate it to a local entity serving the residents of the 106th district. Recently, as the first day of a very unique school year approached, I donated my raise to the Christ Lutheran High School in Buckley. Principal Sandra Spitz has a great group of school leaders and team members who do a great job for their students. Best wishes to everyone as they start this school year.
More news from around the state
The latest update from the Department of Public Health includes one death in Vermilion County
Illinois National Guard troops deploy to California to help with wildfire response
No action from Pritzker's COVID-19 price gouging pursuit
For additional helpful resources, click here.
For continually updated news from state agencies, visit: coronavirus.illinois.gov or my website at repbennett.com and click on COVID-19 Info. Persons with coronavirus questions or concerns should call the statewide toll-free coronavirus hotline at 1-800-889-3931. You can also submit questions via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My district offices remain closed to in-person visits, but are still accessible by phone at (815) 432-0106 (Watseka) and (815) 844-9179 (Pontiac).