Today, Governor JB Pritzker‘s briefing focused on the state’s work to provide unemployment benefits to unemployed workers. During the 5-week period encompassing this pandemic, the Illinois Department of Employment Security received 513,000 initial unemployment claims. This is the largest in history and a 400% increase in same first 5-week period of the 2008 Great Recession. IDES has processed and paid 270,000 claims totaling $200 million in new benefits. Additionally, the Administration brought back retired staff members, overhauled the web-based application, and alphabetized the filing schedule to spread out filing of claims.
In a surprise move, this morning the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission voted to authorize an emergency rule creating a rebuttable presumption that an employee who comes down with COVID-19 is presumed to have caught the virus at work and it casually related to work. This makes it extremely difficult for employers to defend against claims. Further, the process may have violated the Open Meetings Act and made a change by rule that can only be changed by statute.
During his daily briefing the following question and answer ensued (emphasis mine):
Q- Being that it’s been stated that COVID-19 is no one’s fault, how do you balance the extra cost employers and even taxpayers that pay for first responders could bear with this emergency rule from the workers comp commission?
A-Well, what I can tell you is that in the middle of an emergency, the only way they have to operate is to protect people as best you can, their health and safety. And to the extent that it’s required that someone has to pick up the tab for that, but sometimes that will fall on the people who are most able to pick up the tab.
You may view the emergency rule here. IRMA and a number other employer groups released this statement.
SOCIAL DISTANCING EDUCATION CAMPAIGN
This morning, IRMA launched a statewide radio consumer education campaign on tips for shopping safely. The tips include to wear a cloth face covering, stay at least 6-feet away from nearest person, bring no more than one or two members of the family to the store, and, when possible, avoid using cash. As Governor Pritzker has noted several times, businesses are doing all they can and they need consumers to do their part. The press release announcing the educational effort can be found here . You can listen to the ads here.
ILLINOIS COVID-19 IMPACT UPDATE
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, MD, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health announced 1,173 new cases in Illinois, including 74 additional deaths. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 22,025 cases, to date, including 794 deaths, in 87 of Illinois’ 102 counties. Additional information can be found here. COVID-19 stats by zip code will be available here.