- Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2022 11:02 AM
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year. I enjoyed a relaxing time my family this winter, but it’s time to get back to work on my legislative agenda.
We have a shortened session calendar this year, but that won’t stop us from pursuing countless new legislative measures to improve the livelihood of Illinois families. I’m excited to continue prioritizing our veterans, increasing access to broadband and protecting first responders.
Read on for more information about COVID-19 updates, donating blood, assistance application deadlines and more.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns this new year at 773-869-9050 or SenatorTonyMunoz.com/contactus.
All the best,
State Senator | 1st District
New quarantine guidance
The Illinois Department of Public Health adopted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to reduce the number of days for isolation and quarantine for the general public. People who test positive for COVID-19 can decrease their isolation time from 10 days to 5 days if they do not have symptoms, but they must continue to mask for 5 days after isolation ends.
Getting tested for COVID-19 and isolating if you’re positive is a proven method to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If you think you’ve been exposed or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, find a testing site near you today. Community-based testing sites and U of I SHIELD saliva test sites are open to all regardless of symptoms and appointments are not required — find your local testing site here.
Chicago vaccination requirements
As of Jan. 3, the City of Chicago is requiring patrons of certain indoor spaces to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This decision is driven in part by the omicron variant and is in line with requirements already in place in other big cities, including New York City and Los Angeles. Proof of vaccination will be required for indoor dining, indoor fitness, indoor entertainment and recreation venues where food or beverages are served. If you received your COVID-19 vaccine in Illinois and can’t find your vaccine card, go to idphportal.illinois.gov to access your vaccination records through IDPH’s “Vax Verify” portal. It’s not too late to get vaccinated and boosted to protect yourself and your community.
Raise your sleeve for National Blood Donor Month
January is National Blood Donor Month, a time to celebrate the lifesaving impact of blood and platelet donors. Only 37% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, but less than 10% do annually. Meanwhile, about one in seven people entering a hospital need blood. Kick off the year by making a lifesaving donation. Find a blood drive near you here.
Avoid fees on unemployment benefits
As of Dec. 27, 2021, the Illinois Department of Employment Security stopped sending payments on KeyBank debit cards. IDES is strongly encouraging claimants to switch to direct deposit to receive payments without fees. Find more information on the changes from debit cards to paper checks here. Visit IDES’ website if you need help with banking options for direct deposit.
$42 million in water assistance available
The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity recently announced the new $42 million Low-Income Household Water Assistance Plan, under the Help Illinois Families initiative, to help low-income families unable to pay water and sewer bills avoid shutoffs. Apply for assistance by visiting DCEO’s website or contacting the real-time assistance hotline service at 1-833-711-0374.
Driver's license expiration extension
The expiration dates for driver’s licenses and identification cards have been extended an additional three months, moving the date from Jan. 1, 2022, to March 31, 2022. This extension does not apply to commercial driver’s licenses and CDL learner’s permits. This final extension on the expiration dates comes in response to the ongoing push to address increased customer volume caused by the pandemic in Driver Services facilities.
Upcoming grant opportunities
Federal funding will help get Americans back to work
The EDA’s American Rescue Plan Good Jobs Challenge aims to get Americans back to work by building and strengthening systems and partnerships that bring together employers who have hiring needs with other key entities to train workers with in-demand skills that lead to good-paying jobs. Apply here by Jan. 26, 2022 for grants ranging from $1 million to $25 million.
Grants available for community projects
The Federal Economic Development Administration’s Economic Adjustment Assistance program will help hundreds of communities across the nation plan, build, innovate and put people back to work through construction or non-construction projects designed to meet local needs. $500 million is available to fund an estimated 300 projects that cost between $500,000 and $5 million each. There is a rolling deadline with a suggested submission date of March 31, 2022. Webinars and more information can be found here.