Statewide coronavirus statistics; Seeking a dicamba extension

Chicago area continues to lead state in coronavirus cases

It is not surprising to report that the majority of coronavirus cases in Illinois have been located in the Chicago area, since that is where the majority of our state’s population resides. But what exactly are the numbers?

This graphic from the New York Times shows the distribution of coronavirus cases by county in Illinois. The larger the circle, the larger the number of cases. As of yesterday morning, there were 129,837 positive coronavirus tests confirmed, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Of these, 115,461, or 88.9% were in the six northeastern Illinois counties of the Chicago area. The remaining 14,376 cases were spread between the state’s 96 other counties.

In the five counties that make up the 106th district, there have been 260 confirmed coronavirus cases since March, amounting to 0.2% of the statewide total.

Legislators call for extension of dicamba deadline for local farmers, Ag department approves

A federal court in California ruled last week that use of products which include the herbicide dicamba would now be illegal. Illinois soybean farmers have used dicamba products for more than 50 years to ensure their crop obtains a high yield. It is one of the more useful tools in controlling weeds, but it does have some drawbacks. The suddenness of this ruling is yet another blow to agriculture, which remains Illinois’ leading industry. Extending the deadline for the end of dicamba use would help our farmers to adjust.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an order which permitted farmers with existing stocks of dicamba to continue their use. The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) had previously announced that use of the product would be allowed in Illinois until June 20. I have partnered with a group of more than 20 state legislators to ask IDOA to extend its deadline. We contend that Illinois should extend its deadline because less than two weeks does not provide ample time for farmers to use this product to protect their crops. This year has been difficult for farmers and for our nation’s food supply in general. We need to take action to prevent the risk of farmers harvesting fewer crops this fall.

On Wednesday I was pleased to learn that IDOA had extended the deadline by five days, so long as EPA guidelines are followed. Read more from the EPA here, and the IDOA here.

Illinois Conservation Foundation works to preserve Illinois’ natural heritage

In cooperation with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Illinois Conservation Foundation works to “preserve and enhance our natural and cultural heritage by fostering and supporting ecological, educational, and outdoor recreational programs for the benefit of all people now and for generations to come.” I have been proud to serve on the board of the ICF for a few years now and have had the chance to see the good work they do throughout Illinois.

The Foundation maintains programs for everything from outdoor safety to state park maintenance to grants for field trips to state historic sites. The ICF also sponsors conservation training for teachers and an annual scholarship program for Illinois students interested in preserving our outdoor environment. Locally they work with schools like Roanoke-Benson Junior High and Eureka Middle School on safety training programs. Find out more at ilconservation.org.

Lifeline program helps with phone and internet costs

Telephone providers in Illinois offer a federally-funded program to help low-income residents with the costs of phone and internet access. With so many of us working from home now, this kind of access is more important than ever. For more information about the program, including who is eligible and how to apply, click here.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $4,773,871,968 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $6.6 billion. This figure represents the amount of bills submitted to the office of the Comptroller and still awaiting payment. It does not include debts that can only be estimated, such as our unfunded pension liability which is subject to a wide range of factors and has been estimated to be more than $137 billion.

More news from around the state

Latest coronavirus update from the Department of Public Health

Illinois pools prepare to re-open with restrictions in Phase 3

Diners staying six feet apart at re-opened restaurants

Grant program provides emergency relief to Illinois child care providers

Illinois State releases plans for fall semester

Western Illinois University to resume in-person classes fall 2020

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 dph.sick@illinois.gov.

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).