5 million COVID tests conducted; Driver license deadline extended

Illinois has conducted five million COVID-19 tests

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced last week that it had passed the 5 million mark in the number of COVID-19 tests conducted in the state. Last week the department was reporting conducting more than 40,000 tests per day, and even hit a total of 69,000 tests on Friday. This is great progress from the early days of the pandemic when testing numbers were much smaller.

The state has an increasing number of test sites which are able to conduct rapid-response tests. This is helping to get more accurate numbers quickly and to advise those who are sick to take actions to protect their loved ones and those around them. Also this summer the University of Illinois developed testing technology which has helped to make our state a nationwide leader in testing.

Driver license renewal deadline extended until February

Illinois drivers will have more time to renew their driver licenses, as the Secretary of State has announced an extension to February 1, 2021, for all renewals. The deadline had previously been extended to November 1, 2020. The extension is meant to help keep people from needing to make in-person visits to Driver Services Facilities during the pandemic. License plate stickers still need to be renewed by November 1, but those renewals can be done online at cyberdriveillinois.com.

Persons over the age of 75 do not need to renew their licenses until their birthday in 2021.

Lions Club candy day

I was honored to take some time to help out with the Gibson City Lions Club candy day last week. Thanks to all those who stopped by to assist the visually and hearing impaired as well as other local projects. It was a great day to be working outside helping out a great cause!

Get your flu shot!

The Department of Public Health is strongly advising Illinoisans to get their 2020-2021 flu shot as early as possible this year. Influenza shares many symptoms with COVID-19 and the possible combination of the two creates the chance for severe health consequences. IDPH recommends that all Illinoisans over the age of 6 get a flu shot before the beginning of each flu season, which starts in October.

Many doctors’ offices and pharmacies give out flu shots, but in addition IDPH recommends visiting https://vaccinefinder.org/ to find a vaccine location near you.

Ratings agency warns Illinois could be headed for junk bond status

Illinois has long had a low bond rating due to our poor fiscal and budget policies, but a new warning from a major rating agency threatens to take us to a new low. S&P Global Ratings has given Illinois bonds a BBB- rating, which is the lowest investment-grade rating possible. If they were to lower our rating again it would push us into “junk bond” status, meaning that Illinois is considered to be a borrower with a serious risk of default. It would make our debt unsuitable for many investment purposes, including pension funds.

S&P cites Illinois; structural budget deficit, which includes more than $130 billion in pension obligations and a $7 billion unpaid bill backlog. Movement of population out of the state in search of better job opportunities was also a factor cited by the ratings agency. S&P went on to warn investors about Illinois’ ability to re-pay loans taken out through the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility which was created by Congress this spring in response to the pandemic to help public-sector borrowers which have trouble getting credit from the private sector. These loans are supposed to be paid back within three years, but S&P raised doubts about whether Illinois will be able to do so because of state government’s poor fiscal policies.

More news from around the state

The latest update from the Department of Public Health

Some nearby counties among the 17 now at coronavirus warning status

Hoopeston High School hosting mobile COVID testing site

Will area restaurants be left out in the cold?

Woodford County EMA updates county on busy few months

Illinois fall trout season opens October 17

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).