Resident & Community Information
Due to the mounting information regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), we have created this page to serve as a resource for community members with questions and concerns related with the outbreak. These are links to resources and agencies that can provide you with the best up-to-date information. We will keep this page current with new information and links as they become available.
Situations are changing rapidly. Check this page often, call ahead or check online before planning visits for any services or locations you plan to visit.
CONTACT of Northern Illinois, a United Way of Northwest Illinois partner agency, has become our central access point for people in need in Stephenson County. 815-233-4357
** Today’s New Links **
Gov. Pritzker Extends Stay at Home through April
Stephenson County Health Department
3-13-20 News Release
3-17-20 News Release
3-18-20 News Release
Stephenson County Disaster Declaration
Stephenson Co Health Dept for guidance for employees returning to work
Stephenson County – Offices Closed to Public Release
Stephenson County Health Dept. confirms first COVID-19 case
Stephenson County/FHN Announce First Hospitalized COVID-19 Case
Supporting Local Businesses
During this time of uncertainty and concern, many people are choosing to minimize their contact with others to help keep themselves safe and to minimize the possible spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, these actions often directly impact the small and local businesses, especially retailers and restaurants, that are so important to our local economy.
We wanted to make some suggestions for how to support these businesses over this time of caution:
- Many local restaurants offer home delivery or carryout option. Check out our page of pick-up and delivery dining options!
- Many retailers have products and specials posted on their websites or on their social media. Consider making some purchases online or over the phone with local retailers. Many local retailers will gladly hold your purchases until the pandemic passes. Find a list of great local online shopping options listed on this page!
- Consider purchasing gift cards to your favorite stores and restaurants. The cash flow will help the local business through this lean time, and you will get a treat at the same time!
- If you have contracts with a local business for things like catering or repair work that you don’t want for the scheduled time, talk with your provider about postponing the delivery date vs. cancelling the contract. The promise of future income can help that small business a great deal!
- If you have to go out to the store for something, smaller stores have fewer people in them.
- Make donations to local charities and not-for-profits. These local organizations often provide needed support during trying times.
- Take time to review your favorite retailers and local establishments on social media and Google.
If you have other ideas on good ways to support local businesses during these times, please share them with us and we will add them to this list. Thank you!
Informational Updates & Local Resources
For information on Unemployment & Paid Leave, please visit our Business page
Local Restaurants offering Delivery & Carry-out options
Highland Community College
School District Information (Regional Office of Education)
School District Information (Illinois State Board of Education)
Local News – WTVO, WIFR, WREX
Freeport Public Library Continues Closure Offering online access to audio and ebooks!
Freeport Park District – Cancellations press release
Pretzel City Transit/Senior Resource Center
IDHS Closes offices per safety guidelines
Household chemicals to fight virus
Notice from President Trump
For information on Small Business resources, click here.
ADDITIONAL ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE
NEW GROCERY STORE HOURS FOR OLDER RESIDENTS
After convening the largest grocers and food manufacturers in the state with the help of Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Gov. Pritzker announced today that a growing coalition of grocery stores statewide will set aside one or more hours of operation for older residents to shop, before stores open to the general public.
Among the grocers with new hours for elderly shoppers are Whole Foods and Shop & Save in the Chicagoland area and Hy-Vee and Valli Produce throughout Illinois.
EXPANDING HEALTH CARE SERVICES
Gov. Pritzker announced today that his administration is implementing several measures to remove regulatory barriers for health providers and increase opportunity for patients as Illinoisans are urged to stay home as much as possible during this time.
Through emergency rules and an executive order, the Pritzker administration has significantly relaxed rules around telemedicine for both Medicaid and private insurers, allowing more providers to get reimbursed for these services that allow patients more flexibility and safety. For plans regulated by the Department of Insurance, the executive order calls for providers to be reimbursed at the same rate at which they are reimbursed for in-person visits and prohibits private health insurers from imposing any cost-sharing for in-network providers. For Medicaid, the emergency rules also require providers to be reimbursed at the same rate at which they are reimbursed for in-person visits.
The Department of Healthcare and Family Services has filed an 1135 waiver with the federal government to remove administrative barriers for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Pritzker administration is seeking to increase access to telehealth and the number of health care providers that can screen patients, allow 90-day prescription supplies without prior authorization and early refills, as well as several other items that will increase flexibility and provide additional resources.
The Department of Human Services has also filed a federal waiver to ease eligibility requirements for food assistance programs like SNAP and WIC, which cover 1.8 million Illinoisans and 174,000 pregnant women and parents of young children respectively.
ESSENTIAL SERVICES WILL REMAIN
As rumors continue to swirl, Gov. Pritzker assures Illinoisans that essential services will always remain open, including but not limited to grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations. As new information becomes available, the Pritzker administration will continue to communicate with the public and media in a timely and transparent manner.
- UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE: Individuals without access to paid sick leave or unable to work due to COVID-19 can apply for unemployment insurance under the administration’s expansion. The governor’s executive order waives the 7-day waiting period for residents to apply for unemployment benefits, meaning anyone who qualifies can file and become immediately eligible instead of experiencing a week-long lag during this challenging time. Gov. Pritzker is working with the federal delegation and congressional leadership to push the Trump administration to allow the state to increase the length of benefits beyond 26 weeks as this crisis continues to provide significant fiscal challenges for Illinois families.
- UTILITY RELIEF: Gov. Pritzker and Attorney General Raoul have urged the Illinois Commerce Commission to immediately institute a moratorium on shutoffs for all utility companies across Illinois – including energy, telecommunications and water – until the state disaster proclamation has been lifted. The administration is also requesting changes to payment and collection policies to ensure Illinoisans aren’t saddled with utility debt as a result of COVID-19. Several have announced plans to maintain services and waive late payment fees.
- FOOD ACCESS: The Pritzker administration is working directly with the eight major food banks across Illinois to expand services. The administration is reaching out to food manufacturers to ensure food banks are prioritized and can provide our vulnerable residents the food they need. ISBE obtained a waiver from the federal government to continue distributing meals to all children who qualify for free and reduced lunch. The Governor is also encouraging schools to expand their meal distribution program to all children under 18 or to any student enrolled in an Illinois school, regardless of their age.
- MEDICAID WAIVER: The administration is in the process of filing a federal waiver to expand Medicaid coverage, beginning work on the waiver application as soon as the federal government declared a national emergency and activated the Stafford Act. If the federal waiver is approved, the state will be able to expand Medicaid services through the addition of new medical providers, increased access across the state and ramped up services to many of the state’s most vulnerable populations.
ILLINOISANS: STAY HOME
Social distancing is the paramount strategy for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. The Governor continues to make tough calls to keep Illinoisans safe, including mandating that events of 50 people or more be canceled, suspending dine-in operations of bars and restaurants and temporarily closing public and private K-12 schools. Public health officials continue to urge Illinoisans to stay home as much as possible.
Those experiencing symptoms should call a health care provider who will help arrange medical treatment without putting others at risk of exposure.
The Illinois Department of Public Health has a statewide COVID-19 hotline and website to answer any questions from the public or to report a suspected case: call 1-800-889-3931 or visit IDPH.illinois.gov.