Still on track for Phase 4 re-opening; New business coming to Dwight

Data suggests all four regions moving toward next step in re-opening

According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, all four regions of the state are still on track to move to Phase 4 in the re-opening of the state at the end of this week. Under Phase 4, “additional measures can be carefully lifted allowing for schools and child care programs to reopen with social distancing policies in place. Restaurants can open with limited capacity and following strict public health procedures, including personal protective equipment for employees. Gatherings with 50 people or fewer will be permitted.”

Click here for the full picture of what kind of changes we will see with Phase 4.

To review the current data click here and scroll down to the “North-Central” region, which includes Woodford and Livingston counties, and then just below to the “Central” region which includes Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties.

Illinois has already made a lot of progress from the depths of the shutdown back in March and April. Many child care centers are back open in some capacity. Restaurants have re-opened for outdoor service in addition to curbside and carry-out. State parks, golf courses, drive-in theaters and some other businesses have been able to re-open with social distancing guidelines. We still have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction. If this week goes well, we will be able to take another step forward this weekend.

New business coming to Dwight

Congratulations to the village of Dwight and the Dwight Economic Alliance on the news that Tractor Supply Company (TSC) has chosen Dwight as the location for one of its newest stores. TSC is a major national retailer with more than 1800 facilities in 49 states. I was very happy to learn that the company had chosen to make an investment in our area, especially with all the challenges we are currently facing due to the pandemic. It shows the true resilience of our communities.

The new store will be located in the former Shopko location and work has already begun on converting that space into the new TSC store. The company plans to have the new store open by the fall. Thanks especially go to Village President Jared Anderson, Rodney Connor, President of the Dwight Economic Alliance, and Deb Karch, the economic development director for the alliance who did so much to bring this company and its new jobs to our area.

Change to nursing home visitation guidance

Some of the most heartbreaking stories I have heard during the shutdown have involved people unable to visit loved ones in nursing homes because of concerns about spreading the coronavirus to our most vulnerable population. I was pleased to learn late last week that the Department of Public Health has worked to find a safe way to allow visits to those in long-term care facilities.

Under the new guidance, which allows outdoor visitation, a resident may have up to two visitors at a time, with everyone staying six feet apart. Each facility will be required to enforce the distancing, and will be required to set a maximum number of visitors allowed each day. The facility must schedule the visit in advance, and pre-screen visitors by phone with a CDC symptom checklist. There will also be temperature checks and screenings for the residents themselves. It is far from ideal, but in these difficult times it is a welcome change.

State budget discussion with Rep. Tom Demmer

Join me at 5 p.m. Thursday evening for a live online discussion with State Representative Tom Demmer for an update on the recently-passed Illinois state budget. How did the budget impact health care and hospitals, K-12 schools and universities, pensions?  Did we borrow?  Taxpayers, unions, business owners and employees, farmers, teachers, families won’t want to miss this.

Visit my Facebook page for more information.

Donating a pay raise to Team Blake

About a year and a half ago I told you about an exceptional young man from Alvin named Blake Kinnett, who was hit with a disease called Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD). Blake is a fighter, and so are the members of his family, and they have been a true inspiration to all of us who have gotten to know them. I was moved by the way the entire community of Alvin has rallied around the Kinnett family.

Recently the State Line Riders joined with Blake’s mother, Becky, for a fundraiser for Blake and for ALD research. It was my honor to donate my recent legislative pay increase to their efforts. I pledged not to keep the pay raise we were given, and to instead find a worthy local cause each month. Blake’s fight and the need for more research into ALD certainly qualify. My thanks to everyone who has joined in support of this young man and his family.

Progress being made on Census responses

Millions of dollars in state and federal funds to local communities are distributed every year based on Census information. If our area is undercounted because people do not respond to the Census, millions in funds that should come here will go somewhere else instead. The response rate in our area has been improving, but there are still many who have not yet answered the Census.

If you have not filled out your survey yet, go to https://my2020census.gov/ right now to do so, and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same.

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health

Illinois Conservation Foundation accepting nominations for Outdoor Hall of Fame

Illinois Commerce Commission approves COVID-19 utility relief agreements

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).