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Local and National Resources

My staff is continuing to fulfill their official responsibilities throughout this time. If you need help with a federal agency, you can click here to open a case with my staff.

Housing

It is crucial that people continue to remain at home to stem the spread of the virus. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is in the process of contacting grantees and housing stakeholders to ensure Americans have access to stable housing during this time. HUD has also announced that it will be suspending all foreclosures and evictions through the end of April and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has suspended all court-ordered evictions.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Department of Housing and Urban Development foreclosure and eviction freeze was set to end on May 17, 2020, but each of these agencies announced that they are extending their suspensions of foreclosures and evictions through the end of June, at least.

Public Housing Agencies, grantees, and other stakeholders can click here to find more information on HUD resources and guidance.

Immigration

Effective March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is suspending in-person services at its field offices, asylum offices, and Application Support Centers to help slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). USCIS plans to begin reopening our offices on or after June 4, unless the public closures are extended further. USCIS staff are continuing to perform duties that do not involve face-to-face contact with the public. However, USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations.

Please call the Contact Center for assistance with emergency services. USCIS field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location of the interview. 

When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule ASC appointments due to office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center once field offices are open to the public again. Please check to see if your field office has been reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center. 

LGBTQ

There are resources available for LGBTQ+ Illinoisans who need assistance during this time. 

Click here for a list of resources.

Meals

Congress has provided more than a billion dollars for additional nutrition assistance for children, seniors, and low-income Americans. This includes waivers to allow those who typically receive meal assistance through schools or other means that have been disrupted due to the coronavirus to continue to qualify for meal assistance.

Beginning Monday, April 13, more than 270 schools that have been high demand distribution sites for families will be open to provide free meals, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CPS is providing meals through the rest of the school year. For the full list of meal sites open during coronavirus school closures, families can visit www.cps.edu/mealsites  or call 773-553-KIDS (5437).

Click here for more info on waivers and nutritional programs.

Medicare Recipients

  • Medicare is providing a special enrollment opportunity for people who missed their chance to enroll in a Medicare health or drug plan due to COVID-19.
  • Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs.
  • Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you're diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.
  • At this time, there's no vaccine for COVID-19. However, if one becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).
  • If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. Medicare allows these plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests. Many plans offer additional telehealth benefits beyond the ones described below. Check with your plan about your coverage and costs.
  • Scammers may use the coronavirus national emergency to take advantage of people while they’re distracted. As always, guard your Medicare card like a credit card, check Medicare claims summary forms for errors, and if someone calls asking for your Medicare Number, hang up!
  • Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services to respond to the current Public Health Emergency.

Click here for the latest information, including expanded telehealth services.

Small Businesses

The State of Illinois has received its statewide Economic Injury Declaration which means small businesses in all 102 Illinois counties may be eligible for low-interest working capital loans, Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) up to $2M per business and loan advances of up to $10,000 that do not have to be repaid. If you are a small business owner who needs help applying for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, you can contact a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) who can assist with the application process. To apply for loans apply directly through SBA on their website.

The Paycheck Protection Program provides low-interest loans that help businesses cover payroll during the immediate crisis and can be forgiven up to 100% if the funds are used for eligible payroll costs and workers are maintained or hired back. Business can apply for these loans through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program.

Note: The programs have, at times, temporarily been halted due to lack of funding or overcommitment of funds.

Businesses can click here to access additional information and apply for SBA Disaster Loans online here.

Click here for eligibility requirements as determined by SBA.

Social Security Recipients

Social Security offices are currently closed. While the offices are closed, the Social Security Administration has expanded online services, including applying for retirement, disability, Medicare benefits, checking applications and appeals, printing benefit verification cards, and more.

On May 14, the Social Security Administration updated their guide for economic impact payments for social security and SSI recipients. You can use the guide to quickly and easily determine whether you need to take any action to receive your economic impact payment, or a payment for your qualifying child.

The Inspector-General of Social Security, Gail S. Ennis, is warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19-related office closures. Please know that you will continue to receive your monthly benefit amount while these offices are closed.

Click here to access the Social Security Administration's online self-service options.

Stimulus Payments

On March 27, Congress passed a historic $2.2 trillion economic stimulus and relief package aimed at continuing our coronavirus public health response and stabilizing our economy.  This included $1,200 in direct assistance payments to most Americans, $2,400 for married couples and an additional $500 for each child. Tax filers with adjusted gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns will receive the full payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced by $5 for each $100 above the $75,000/$150,000 thresholds.

Across the country, most stimulus payments have already been directly deposited into people’s bank accounts. The payment information from your 2018 or 2019 tax returns is used to distribute this stimulus payment to you. If you received your tax refund electronically in those years, you will receive this payment electronically to your most recent bank account on file. These paper checks were issued in late April and early May—starting with individuals with the lowest incomes—at a rate of about 5 million checks per week. This process could take up to 20 weeks.

The IRS has posted two tools on its website for individuals to utilize. People who are not traditionally required to file a tax return should use the “Enter My Payment Info” tool. If you have not received your check, the IRS has created a portal to help you check on the status of your payment and enter bank information for faster electronic payment.

Individuals who want to check the status of their payment should use the “Get My Payment” tool.

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have begun distributing economic impact payments (EIP) via direct deposit and checks and will continue to do so over the coming weeks.

Click here to visit the IRS website for more information on these payments.

Students and Parents

Chicago Public Schools have suspended in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year. Remote learning continues through Thursday, June 18.

On Friday, March 20, President Trump announced that federal student loan borrowers could suspend their payments without penalty for up to 60 days and that standardized test requirements would not be enforced for elementary and high school students amid the coronavirus pandemic. Please contact your borrower for more information on payment suspension.

Under the CARES Act, federal student loan borrowers do not have to make payments for a period for six months. Additionally, federal student loan interest rates are set at 0% during that time. The expanded six-month payment relief is automatic, and it runs from March 13 through Sept. 30, 2020. If you think your loans qualify for the six-month forbearance but you’re not yet receiving it, contact your servicer directly. Keep in mind that wait times on customer service lines could be longer than usual.

Click here for updates from the Illinois State Board of Education.

Click here for resources from Chicago Public Schools.

Tax Filing

On March 21, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) updated its guidance and announced that the federal income tax filing deadline is extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020. Payments on federal taxes can also be deferred until July 15, 2020, regardless of the amount owed or the type of filler. If you are expecting a refund, you can still file today and receive your refund as usual.

The Illinois income tax filing and payment deadline have also been extended until July 15, 2020

Click here for information on the Illinois Department of Revenue’s announcement.

In addition, the IRS announced that all payments have been suspended between April 1 and July 15, 2020, with all automated lien and levy action suspended, and most lien and levy actions are suspended. Finally, the IRS is not currently sending new cases to private debt collection and are not taking any adverse action related to EIC and Wage Verification Audits.

Testing Locations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outline two kinds of tests that are available for COVID-19. A viral test can tell you if you have a current infection. An antibody test can tell you if you had a previous infection. While tests are becoming more widely available, the CDC states that some people do not need to be tested. Most people will have mild illness and can recover at home without medical care and may not need to be tested. Follow this guide for who should be tested in Illinois.

You can click here to find a testing site near you.

CVS Pharmacy has also opened new testing sites across the state.

If you test positive for COVID-19 by a viral test, know what protective steps to take if you are sick or caring for someone.  If you test negative for COVID-19 by a viral test, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing.

Transportation

Congress and the Department of Transportation are working to provide financial assistance to agencies and authorities that need it most. DOT has activated a number of existing emergency relief programs, including at the Federal Transit Administration, and future relief packages from Congress will include changes to eligibility for existing programs to expand qualifications.

CTA continues to function for essential personnel during the coronavirus stay at home order. To help ensure the men and women of CTA can continue to keep our city moving, please limit your travel on our bus and rail system to essential trips only (e.g. medical appointments, trips to the pharmacy or to essential work locations, etc.). If a trip is not essential, please do not take it. CTA has implemented a number of new measures to promote social distancing and avoid potential crowding. Bus riders are now being directed to board and exit vehicles from the rear doors to promote social distancing among passengers and CTA bus operators. Bus operators now also have the authority to temporarily run as “drop-off only” and bypass certain bus stops if their bus is becoming crowded. Operators will use the guideline of 15 or more passengers on a standard 40-foot bus, 22 or more passengers on a 60-foot articulated bus.

Click here for updates on vehicle cleaning, tips for riders, service changes and more.

Travelers

On March 19, 2020, the Department of State issued a travel advisory advising all U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. 

On Friday, March 20, the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recommended that all American citizens traveling abroad return to the United States as soon as possible or prepare to shelter at home in their current country.

The Department of State is encouraging Americans currently traveling abroad to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program in case there are any travel restrictions put in place by another government. Enrolling in STEP ensures that if restrictions are put in place by another government, the Department of State can notify you and make a determination if it is possible to evacuate American citizens. If you are currently abroad visiting an impacted country, you should educate yourself about the guidelines for preventing the spread of coronavirus and follow all local health guidance, have a plan to depart that does not rely on U.S. government assistance​, monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information, and prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations.

The Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs has created a call center for citizens traveling abroad staffed 24/7: 888-407-4747

You can click here to review the State Department's Traveler’s Checklist.

Click here for the latest information from the Department of State.

Click here for the latest information from the Federal Aviation Administration.

U.S. Postal Service

The Postal Service delivers much-needed medications and Social Security checks and is the leading delivery service for online purchases. They are considered an essential service and will not be impacted by any local or state-wide shelter-in-place orders or other social distancing restrictions. The CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Surgeon General have indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.  The WHO says specifically that the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods that have traveled and been exposed to different conditions and temperatures is low.

USPS is accepting applications for mail processing assistants. To apply, click here.

Mail service alerts and updates are provided on USPS.com® to inform the public and the mailing industry when service is suspended or embargoed at Post Office™ facilities for any reason, including natural disasters such as floods or fires and quarantines. Information is updated frequently and updates are made in real-time. To view postal facility service alerts and updates, go to the USPS Service Alerts page on USPS.com® at https://about.usps.com/newsroom/service-alerts/.

Click here to read the USPS statement on COVID-19.

Veterans

For veterans experiencing COVID-19 symptoms—such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath: Before visiting local VA medical facilities, community providers, urgent care centers, or emergency departments in your community, call your VA medical facility or call MyVA311 (844-698-2311, press #3 to be connected). Veterans can also send secure messages to their health care providers via MyhealtheVet, VA’s online patient portal. VA clinicians will evaluate veterans’ symptoms and direct them to the most appropriate providers for further evaluation and treatment.

Click here for the latest VA information.

For the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.
For the latest information from the Chicago Department of Public Health, please visit Chicago.gov/coronavirus.

Last updated May 22, 2020