Illinois needs blood donations; loan requested for unemployment aid

An urgent need for blood donations

The state of Illinois is facing “a critical shortage of blood” according to a recent statement from the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers. With many elective surgeries resuming, as well as the daily need for blood transfusions due to emergencies and other procedures, demand for blood has grown, while donations have fallen off sharply due to the pandemic. According to the blood centers, around 60% of blood donations are made at blood drives or other donation events, most of which have been cancelled due to the pandemic.

Illinois’ blood donation centers are asking for donors to get in touch with them to donate blood. They are reminding Illinoisans that their facilities are carefully cleaned and sanitized, and social distancing is always observed. Potential donors will be tested for coronavirus. To find an Illinois blood center near you, click here, or visit the American Red Cross blood donation site here.

Illinois unemployment insurance program to borrow from federal government

The state of Illinois has applied for permission to borrow $6.4 billion for the unemployment insurance program, which is facing insolvency. The federal government has announced its willingness to loan the Department of Employment Security that much money under Title XII of the Social Security Act. The loan would allow Illinois to continue paying unemployment benefits, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) aid to those who are eligible. Illinois is one of eleven states that had received authorization as of last week to borrow money from Uncle Sam for unemployment insurance programs.

Local superintendents working to safely re-open our schools

Last week the Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Public Health released guidelines for safely re-opening schools this fall. We all want to see students able to get back to their educations, and we all want to see them kept as safe as possible. The responsibility for putting this plan into place is falling to our local school superintendents and their teams of administrators, teachers and support personnel.

After the guidelines were released, I reached out to each of the superintendents in the 106th district to find out their thoughts and concerns. Many of them brought up similar concerns: finding enough physical space for social distancing, wearing masks, the added costs of enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, determining how to manage congregate settings like lunchrooms and playgrounds, conducting sports or physical education activities, and having enough staff to handle the additional supervision of students.

Many districts are working with parents and others in the community to utilize these summer months to put together a workable plan for meeting this unprecedented challenge. I stand ready to help them in any way I can and I hope all the parents and families in our area will do all they can to make this work and get our kids safely back into school. We all have a role to play.

How much do we owe?

As of the time of this writing, the State of Illinois owes $5,420,494,457 in unpaid bills to state vendors. One year ago, the backlog stood at $6.1 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.

Have a very happy and safe 4th of July!

I hope everyone will have the chance to celebrate our country’s 244th birthday this weekend. With so many local parades and fireworks shows being cancelled it won’t be quite the same. But nevertheless, we still have a great deal to celebrate as we enjoy the freedoms and liberties that come with living in the greatest country in the world. Please be safe, whether you are traveling, enjoying fireworks, grilling or just attending a socially-distanced celebration of some kind. My best wishes to you and your family for a very happy 4th of July!

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health

Illinois hospitalizations tick upward as COVID positivity rate remains low

State Board of Education issues guidance on appropriate use of face shields

Tougher penalties for distracted driving now in effect

Help available for farmers who have suffered losses due to the coronavirus outbreak

Attorney General Kwame Raoul: Take it from me, COVID-19 is serious

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).