Amid a global pandemic that has grown to include 6,980 cases in Illinois and 141 deaths, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is calling on Illinois residents to think about the future on National Census Day.
“We are in the biggest battle of our lifetimes against COVID-19, but it’s important to look beyond this fight today and to take a moment to think about our future,” Pritzker said Wednesday afternoon. “It is incredibly important that every Illinois resident, from newborn babies to great-grandparents, is counted in the census. The census is far more than just a survey, it will determine how much of your tax dollars we get back from the federal government and help decide how much power Illinois will have in terms of congressional representation and electoral college votes for the next decade.”
Each year, the state receives $34 billion in federal funding for things like education, child care, workforce training and health care, Pritzker said. “But if we fail to count everyone in Illinois it could result in the state losing $195 million per year for each 1% we undercount ourselves.”
Acknowledging the fears and anxiety people have about COVID-19, Pritzker said this invisible enemy also “illustrates how connected we all are and how important it is we keep the structural foundation of our society well funded and well fought for.”
The best thing people can do to help the state in the long run is to continue to stay home “and take 10 minutes to fill out your census,” Pritzker said, adding there is no citizenship question on that form. “It has never been easier to respond on your own to the census, all without having to meet a census taker in person.”
Also on Wednesday, Pritzker, along with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, announced the creation of the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund to provide financial assistance to artists, artisans and cultural organizations impacted by COVID-19.
“I’m here today to represent tens of thousands of artists – brilliant, talented and passionate individuals across Illinois who have been separated from their livelihood as well. Exhibitions and performances for my friends and colleagues and for myself have been canceled,” said Chicago artist Amanda Williams. “And I’m seeing firsthand how artists are hurting from this crisis.”
In a statewide survey assessing the financial impact of coronavirus-related closures, 320 respondents estimated their organizations will lose more than $84 million in revenue due to the cancellation of events until the end of April, according to Arts Alliance Illinois, which conducted the survey. Those closures impact 24,124 individual events or performances; 3,563 full-time jobs; 13,144 part-time and contract jobs; and nearly 2.5 million audience members or participants, according to officials.
“We will not stop making, creating, inspiring, challenging, bearing witness and bringing hope. In fact, that’s all that we know to do in these moments. We’re here not just to ask for your support but to also be part of the solution in this moment of crisis,” Williams said. “Even now, we’re still creating and connecting – albeit virtually – and we’re sheltering in place. And we need the arts now more than ever.”
To date, public and private sources have committed more than $4 million to the statewide initiative, according to a press release announcing the fund. The initiative is a partnership between the city of Chicago, state of Illinois and the broader philanthropic community, and fundraising activities will be co-chaired by first lady MK Pritzker and first lady Amy Eshleman.
Individual artists and artisans – including stage and production members, and part-time cultural workers – can apply for one-time grants of $1,500. The grants will be awarded through a lottery system and distributed quickly, according a press release.
Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations of all sizes can apply for grants of $6,000-$30,000 based on their demonstrated financial need, according to a press release.
Coronavirus Prevention Tips and Resources
Officials advise taking preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus, including:
—Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
—Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
—Sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then disposing of the tissue
—Limiting contact with people regardless of how you feel
—Staying home when you are sick
Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:
—New onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath
—Congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs
—Sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue
If you think you have COVID-19:
Call you doctor before showing up at their office. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the operator that you think you have COVID-19. If possible, wear a mask before medical help arrives or presenting at a doctor’s office. More advice for those who think they have COVID-19.
—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
—Illinois’ COVID-19 website
—Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website
—IDPH COVID-19 hotline: 800-889-3931
—IPDH COVID-19 email link
—City of Chicago COVID-19 website
—City of Chicago COVID-19 hotline: 312-746-4835
—City of Chicago COVID-19 email link