Thinking of Quitting Smoking During COVID-19? Tobacco Quit Line Wants To Help

Thinking of Quitting Smoking During COVID-19? Tobacco Quit Line Wants To Help

April 6, 2020 – The American Lung Association is suggesting now could be the perfect time to quit smoking.

Mark Courtney, manager of the Illinois Tobacco Quitline, said the nature of the COVID-19 virus makes lung health extremely important.

“Anybody that’s changed their furnace filter and seen the gunk on it sees how well our lungs clean that [stuff] out,” Courtney said. “We’re breathing the same air that’s going through the furnace filter, but we’re able to take care of it because of this amazing mechanism. Anytime you’re exposed to things like tobacco smoke or vaping, it can cause irritation and interrupt that very important process of keeping our lungs cleaned out.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokers that are diagnosed with the coronavirus are susceptible to a more serious infection. And no matter how long you’ve been smoking, Courtney said it’s not too late to act.

“Even people that have moderate to severe lung disease, they benefit from quitting,” Courtney said. “Somebody who’s not been diagnosed with the lung disease, it can take a while for the lungs to recover, but they will recover.”

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found people who smoke were 2.4 times more likely to have the most serious symptoms associated with the coronavirus.

“Even if you’re not sure that this is going to be something you want to do long-term, the benefits short-term are there and then you can decide later on,” Courtney said. “It may take several months to get completely fixed. But it all starts with day one without a cigarette.”

Courtney said circumstances might make this a tough fight, but help is available.

“A lot of people, when they have idle time, that’s when they reach for a cigarette,” Courtney said. “And now we’re all confined to our home. Some of us have a lot of idle time.”

For information, call the Illinois Tobacco Quitline at 866-QUIT-YES or go to

“We’re definitely telling people to use one of our resources,” Courtney said. “Use our online Freedom from Smoking program. You’ve got a lot of time. Why not just call us and find out what we have to offer and find out if we can help?”

Kroger to Limit Customer Capacity

Kroger to Limit Customer Capacity

April 6, 2020 – Kroger has announced they will be limiting customer capacity in stores to further encourage physical distancing.

Beginning April 7, the retailer will begin to limit the number of customers to 50% of the international building code’s calculated capacity to allow for proper physical distancing in every store.

“Kroger’s introduction of customer capacity limits is one more way we are doing our part to flatten the curve while operating as an essential business, providing our customers with access to fresh, affordable food and products,” said Mary Ellen Adcock, Kroger’s senior vice president of operations. “During this national pandemic, we are committed to adopting preventive measures to help protect the safety and health of our associates, customers and communities.”

As an illustration, the standard building capacity for a grocery store is 1 person per 60 square feet. Under Kroger’s new reduced capacity limits, the number will be 1 person per 120 square feet. Kroger will begin to monitor the number of customers per square foot in its stores using its industry-leading QueVision technology, which already provides a count of the customers entering and exiting stores.

Kroger’s new customer capacity limits joins similar measures currently being used by Walmart and Sams Club locally.

SNAP Recipients Will Begin Receiving Maximum Benefit Amounts This Week

SNAP Recipients Will Begin Receiving Maximum Benefit Amounts This Week

April 6, 2020 –  The Illinois Department of Human Services announced today that more than 450,000 Illinois households will receive additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits beginning this Wednesday, April 8th. All who are eligible for the additional benefits should receive them by April 20th. The additional funds are intended to help Illinoisans obtain food and support for their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The maximum SNAP benefit amounts will be implemented for April and May.

“No Illinoisan should ever have to worry about where their next meal is coming from, especially during an ongoing public health emergency,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Expanding the amount of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits people receive will help families stay safe and healthy in the coming months.”

Increased benefits will be automatically loaded onto SNAP recipients’ Link cards, and there is no need for anyone to re-apply, visit an office, or call. All new applications authorized in April will also receive the maximum allotment for their household size.

“We’re exploring every avenue we can to provide extra support for Illinoisans. IDHS has applied for several waivers to make it easier for people looking for food assistance,” said IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou. “Less documentation is required, in-person requirements are waived, and now we’ll be able to increase the amounts loaded into Link cards by a significant amount for many families.”

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act gives states the option to provide SNAP households with the maximum SNAP allotment, which is based on household size. SNAP households which are not currently receiving the maximum allotment will receive additional SNAP benefits which bring their allotment amount to the maximum. Households already receiving the maximum benefit will not receive additional benefits.

Maximum amounts per household size are as follows:

Number in SNAP household

Maximum benefit

















Each additional person

Add $146


Illinois SNAP recipients receive their benefits at different times each month, so increased SNAP benefits will be loaded on different dates for SNAP recipients.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides food assistance to low-income people and families living in the United States. It is a federal aid program administered by the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Distribution of benefits occurs at the state level.

Illinois Announces 1006 New Cases of COVID-19. 33 Additional Deaths

Illinois Announces 1006 New Cases of COVID-19. 33 Additional Deaths

April 6, 2020 – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 1,006 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 33 additional deaths.

– Cook County: 1 male 30s, 2 males 40s, 1 female 50s, 2 males 50s, 5 females 60s, 1 male 60s, 5 females 70s, 2 males 70s, 1 female 80s, 2 males 80s
– DeKalb County: 1 male 50s
– Lake County: 2 males 80s
– Will County: 1 male 40s, 1 male 50s, 2 males 70s, 2 females 80s, 2 males 80s

Jefferson and Wabash counties are now reporting cases.  Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 12,262 cases, including 307 deaths, in 73 counties in Illinois.  The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years.

UPDATE: 10 Cases Confirmed in Macon County: April 6th

UPDATE: 10 Cases Confirmed in Macon County: April 6th

April 6, 2020 – The Macon County Crisis Communications Team has released it’s daily update on the status of COVID-19. The team is comprised of City and County leaders as well as representatives from DMH and HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital, the Macon County Health Department, Crossing Healthcare, SIUE Family Medicine, Heritage Behavioral Health and IEMA.

Read the full statement below for Monday, April 6, 2020:

The Joint Crisis Communication Team (CCT) is announcing, in addition to the eight previously confirmed COVID-19 cases, that two more Macon County residents have tested positive for COVID19. The first patient is a female in her 30s who is in isolation in her home. The second patient is a female in her 50s who is in isolation at Decatur Memorial Hospital. At the time of this press release, the CCT is reporting that*:

• there are ten confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Macon County;

• seventy-four tests have been completed in Macon County, with eight positive test results, fiftyeight negative test results and eight test results pending; and

• twenty-five Macon County residents have been tested outside of Macon County, with two positive test results and twenty-three negative test results.

*Note: There is also a possibility that a provider has submitted and/or will submit a test to a private lab and the MCHD may not be notified, therefore unable to track that submission. If a private lab test is confirmed positive, the MCHD would be notified at that time. Upon notification of these positive cases, the MCHD immediately started contact tracing following Illinois Department of Public Health protocol and guidance. Contacts have been/will be notified and provided with appropriate direction.

We now know that COVID-19 is in our community. Because testing is not widely available to the general public, it is imperative that community members, whether feeling ill or well, implement social distancing best practices to limit the spread and contraction of COVID-19. This means staying home and away from as many people as possible as often as possible.

If you experience symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath, do not present at a hospital emergency room or doctor’s office immediately unless it is a true emergency. Please first call your primary care physician. If you do not have a primary care physician in place at this time, you may call DMH Medical Group at (217) 876-2856, Crossing Healthcare at (217) 877-9117 or SIU at (217) 872-3800. HSHS Medical Group Family Medicine Forsyth is operating a regional respiratory hub. Their hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please call your primary care provider if you have any questions. Memorial Health System is operating a respiratory screening clinic at its DMH Express Care East location to screen people for the COVID-19 virus. The clinic at 4455 U.S. Route 36 East will operate seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. People coming to the respiratory clinic should call (217) 876-1200 before they arrive. Patients and visitors to healthcare facilities should be prepared to be screened before entering.

Please Do Not Litter

With the increased use of gloves and masks to protect against the spread and contraction of COVID19, there has been an increased amount of litter in the community. Please do not discard used gloves and masks on the ground. Safely dispose of them in a trash receptacle. We want to protect our environment as well as our own health!

Daily PSA: Preventing the Spread of COVID-19 in Homes

Household members and caregivers in a non-healthcare setting may have close contact with a person who is symptomatic, who has laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, or a Person Under Investigation (PUI). Close contacts should monitor their own health and call their healthcare provider right away if they develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath). Close contacts should also follow the recommendations below and visit for more information.

• Make sure you understand and can help the patient follow their healthcare provider’s instructions for medications and care. You should help the patient with basic needs in the house and provide support for getting groceries, prescriptions, and other personal needs.

• Help monitor the patient’s symptoms. If the patient is getting sicker, call his/her/their healthcare provider and make sure to tell them if the patient has laboratory-confirmed COVID-19.

• Household members should stay in another room and/or be separated from the patient as much as possible. Household members should use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if available.

• Prohibit visitors who do not have an essential need to be in the home.

• Perform hand hygiene frequently. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

• Avoid sharing household items with the patients. You should not share dishes, drinking glasses or cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items.

• Clean all high-touch surfaces such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables every day.

LISTEN: First Christian Church Tele-Prayer Event

LISTEN: First Christian Church Tele-Prayer Event

April 4, 2020 – First Christian Chuch hosted a tele-prayer event to pray for healthcare workers as well as families affected by COVID-19.

The prayer event includes representatives from DMH, HSHS St. Mary’s, Crossing Healthcare and more.

Listen to the Prayer event now, hosted by Pastor Wayne Kent and Pastor BJ Leonard!

More Details on Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business

More Details on Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business

April 3, 2020 – The Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County is helping to better clarify information regarding the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses.

The EDC advises to check with your bank or credit union for information regarding your business’s eligibility.

The U.S. Small Business Administration issued its Interim Final Rule for the Paycheck Protection Program. The final program documents:

Program Overview:

  • The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.
  • You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.
    • Use this tool to find a nearby lender eligible to issue a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply.
  • This program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organizations, or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by coronavirus/COVID-19. Small businesses in the hospitality and food industry with more than one location could also be eligible if their individual locations employ less than 500 workers.
  • No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.


Q: Is the PPP “first-come, first-served?”

A: Yes. SBA encourages you to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap.

Q: What is the interest rate on a PPP loan?

A: The interest rate will be 1.00%.  (This has changed from the original 0.5%.)

Q: What will be the maturity date on a PPP loan?

A: The maturity is two years.

Q: When will I have to begin paying principal and interest on my PPP loan?

A: You will not have to make any payments for six months following the date of disbursement of the loan. However, interest will continue to accrue on PPP loans during this six-month deferment.

Q: Can my PPP loan be forgiven in whole or in part?

A: Yes. The amount of loan forgiveness can be up to the full principal amount of the loan and any accrued interest. That is, the borrower will not be responsible for any loan payment if the borrower uses all of the loan proceeds for forgivable purposes described in the rule and employee and compensation levels are maintained. The actual amount of loan forgiveness will depend, in part, on the total amount of payroll costs, payments of interest on mortgage obligations incurred before February 15, 2020, rent payments on leases dated before February 15, 2020, and utility payments under service agreements dated before February 15, 2020, over the eight-week period following the date of the loan. However, not more than 25 percent of the loan forgiveness amount may be attributable to non-payroll costs.

Q: What forms do I need and how do I submit an application?

A: The applicant must submit SBA Form 2483 (Paycheck Protection Program Application Form) and payroll documentation.

Q: Can I apply for more than one PPP loan?

A: No. The SBA, in consultation with the Secretary, determined that no eligible borrower may receive more than one PPP loan. This means that if you apply for a PPP loan you should consider applying for the maximum amount.

Q: How do I calculate the maximum amount I can borrow?

A: The following methodology will be most useful for many applicants.

  • Step 1: Aggregate payroll costs from the last twelve months for employees whose principal place of residence is the United States.
  • Step 2: Subtract any compensation paid to an employee in excess of an annual salary of $100,000 and/or any amounts paid to an independent contractor or sole proprietor in excess of $100,000 per year.
  • Step 3: Calculate average monthly payroll costs (divide the amount from Step 2 by 12).
  • Step 4: Multiply the average monthly payroll costs from Step 3 by 2.5.
  • Step 5: Add the outstanding amount of an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) made between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020, less the amount of any “advance” under an EIDL COVID-19 loan (because it does not have to be repaid).
  • Additional notes:
    • Page 3 of the final application for borrowers says:
      • For purposes of calculating “Average Monthly Payroll,” most Applicants will use the average monthly payroll for 2019, excluding costs over $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. For seasonal businesses, the Applicant may elect to instead use average monthly payroll for the time period between February 15, 2019 and June 30, 2019, excluding costs over $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. For new businesses, average monthly payroll may be calculated using the time period from January 1, 2020 to February 29, 2020, excluding costs over $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee.
    • Page 21 of final rule says this for lenders:
      • Confirm receipt of information demonstrating that a borrower had employees for whom the borrower paid salaries and payroll taxes on or around February 15, 2020;
      • Confirm the dollar amount of average monthly payroll costs for the preceding calendar year by reviewing the payroll documentation submitted with the borrower’s application.

Q: What qualifies as “payroll costs?”

A: Payroll costs consist of compensation to employees (whose principal place of residence is the United States) in the form of salary, wages, commissions, or similar compensation; cash tips or the equivalent (based on employer records of past tips or, in the absence of such records, a reasonable, good-faith employer estimate of such tips); payment for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave; allowance for separation or dismissal; payment for the provision of employee benefits consisting of group health care coverage, including insurance premiums, and retirement; payment of state and local taxes assessed on compensation of employees; and for an independent contractor or sole proprietor, wage, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment or similar compensation.

Q: Is there anything that is expressly excluded from the definition of payroll costs?

A: Yes. The Act expressly excludes the following:

  • Any compensation of an employee whose principal place of residence is outside of the United States;
  • The compensation of an individual employee in excess of an annual salary of $100,000, prorated as necessary;
  • Federal employment taxes imposed or withheld between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020, including the employee’s and employer’s share of FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) and Railroad Retirement Act taxes, and income taxes required to be withheld from employees; and
  • Qualified sick and family leave wages for which a credit is allowed under sections 7001 and 7003 of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Public Law 116–127).

Q: Do independent contractors count as employees for purposes of PPP loan calculations?

A: No, independent contractors have the ability to apply for a PPP loan on their own so they do not count for purposes of a borrower’s PPP loan calculation.

Q: How can PPP loans be used?

A: At least 75 percent of the PPP loan proceeds shall be used for payroll costs. The total proceeds of a PPP loan are to be used for:

  • payroll costs;
  • costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave, and insurance premiums;
  • mortgage interest payments (but not mortgage prepayments or principal payments);
  • rent payments;
  • utility payments;
  • interest payments on any other debt obligations that were incurred before February 15, 2020; and/or
  • refinancing an SBA EIDL loan made between January 31, 2020 and April 3, 2020:
    • If an EIDL loan received between January 1, 2020 and April 3, 2020 was used for payroll costs, your PPP loan must be used to refinance your EIDL loan (and the amount of the PPP loan is increased by the outstanding EIDL, subject to the $10mm cap)
    • If you received an SBA EIDL loan from January 31, 2020 through April 3, 2020, you can apply for a PPP loan. If your EIDL loan was not used for payroll costs, it does not affect your eligibility for a PPP loan. If your EIDL loan was used for payroll costs, your PPP loan must be used to refinance your EIDL loan. Proceeds from any advance up to $10,000 on the EIDL loan will be deducted from the loan forgiveness amount on the PPP loan.
    • If an EIDL was received prior to January 31, 2020, borrowers cannot apply for a PPP loan

With information rapidly changing, we are committed to providing accurate training, information sharing, and guidance on the different financial assistance options available to small business in Illinois. The webinar listed below, led by SBDC Director Don Elmore, will provide details about the financial options available, including eligibility requirements, what documents are necessary to apply, program terms, and more. The webinar will be approximately 30-45 minutes of presentation time followed by Q&A. Participants will be able to ask questions in the chat box, which will be moderated by a member of our team.

Webinar dates and times this week:

Friday, April 3, 2020: 4 – 5 PM (click here for more details and to register)

RSVP: Free to attend – registration is required to secure a spot. RSVP through the links above or call 217-378-8535, or email Jordan Landeck at Webinar instructions will be emailed to you.

The webinar will give you a complete a baseline of the most up-to-date information surrounding the current loan and grant opportunities. The webinars are updated daily because the information is changing that rapidly.

Continue to check the EDC’s COVID-19 Resources page for new information and business resources as they become available, and please do not hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns.

RCC Offers Online Mental Health Services for Students

RCC Offers Online Mental Health Services for Students

April 3, 2020 – Richland Community College is now offering online mental health services for all students.

Richland has partnered with META, a teletherapy platform for mental wellness, to provide students with confidential and easy access to mental wellness providers.

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Richland Community College moved all classes online for the remainder of the spring semester. Richland students can download the free META mobile app and connect to a network of licensed counselors, therapists, and clinical social workers for private counseling sessions via chat, video, or voice calls.

“We were providing face-to-face instruction to over 2,000 students who now need support more than ever,” said Dr. Cristobal “Cris” Valdez, President of Richland Community College. “This is an adjustment for everyone, and META is the best way for us to support the mental wellness of our students to help them cope with what’s happening. The META platform provides students the freedom to choose a therapist who’s a good fit, and the ability to reach them quickly and easily.”

“META’s network of providers are experienced working with college students and are putting in extra time to support our users during the pandemic,” said Balaji “Raj” Rajan, CEO of META. “Richland students can see which providers are currently online, browse provider video introductions, and even ask for free consultations. The freedom to choose your own counselor means a better chance of finding a compatible match. META providers are available during nights and weekends to better fit the student’s schedule and users can utilize medical insurance or pay out-of-pocket if they choose.”

Unlike conference calling solutions such as Zoom, META does not share user activity data with third-party advertisers. The app also includes student engagement content such as videos and articles on mental wellness.

City Says Lake Decatur is Still Open

City Says Lake Decatur is Still Open

April 3, 2020 – The city of Decatur says Lake Decatur remains open for recreation use during the COVID-19 situation as boaters and fishermen can easily maintain proper social distancing.

This includes all boat ramps, public and private docks.  Boaters, fishermen and others are reminded to stay at least 6 feet apart from other people and not congregate in groups of more than 10 persons.

Boating is free of charge until the COVID-19 situation has subsided.  At that time the City will mail this year’s boat and dock bills to previous customers and begin enforcing boat and dock permit fees and related requirements.

The Nelson Park boat ramps are open.  City owned boat ramps at N. Country Club Road and E. Lost Bridge Road will be open later this month as the water level of Lake Decatur is increased to the full summer level around May 1 each year.

Regarding the possibility that COVID-19 may enter Lake Decatur, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have determined that COVID-19 is not a threat to the nation’s drinking water supply.  The City uses two highly effective disinfection products (chlorine dioxide and chlorine) at the South Water Treatment Plant to inactivate pathogens such as COVID-19.

2020 Decatur Celebration Cancelled

2020 Decatur Celebration Cancelled

April 3, 2020 – The Decatur Celebration has announced that the 2020 Decatur Celebration is cancelled.

Release from The Decatur Celebration:

Based on developments over the last week, including updates from local, state and national government, we are officially announcing that the 2020 Decatur Celebration is cancelled.

This decision was difficult, but we are confident that it is the right thing for our community. We have been monitoring the situation for several weeks to make the most informed decision to protect everyone involved. We have reached out to long-time sponsors and trusted advisors to see if there were any other options and after much discussion, agreed this is the right decision for everyone’s health and safety.

The Decatur Celebration is a much-loved and highly anticipated time of year for the residents of Decatur and surrounding communities. Public health and safety are top priorities for our organization. We are very disappointed that we will not have a 2020 Decatur Celebration, but we are confident that this is the right decision to make.

The financial ripple effect of COVID-19 is real. Many organizations – not for profit and profit – will be struggling in the months to come. The Decatur Celebration is a not for profit, but we also provide funding to many other not-for profits. Annually, approximately $100,000 goes to local non-profits because of their efforts during the Decatur Celebration. This year will be especially difficult for those groups who have grown to rely on the Decatur Celebration to help fund their show choir competitions, uniform purchases, sporting events, etc. We recognize this hardship for them and encourage our community to rally around these groups to ensure their survival.

The Decatur Celebration board and staff appreciate the Decatur community, volunteers, sponsors and partners for their ongoing support and commitment. This time of social distancing will be used to reexamine the scope of our legacy event and focus efforts on organizing fundraising events for this fall. The Decatur Celebration board and staff would also like to express our deepest gratitude to our government officials and those health professionals serving on the frontlines who are helping our city, state and nation get through this rapidly evolving crisis. Your work is appreciated.

We applaud our office rock stars Cheryl and Lori for their hard work and flexibility during these uncertain times. To our producer and director, Jarrod, we thank you for your innovation and tenacity you bring to the organization. Today, with Jarrod’s help, we begin planning for the 35th Decatur Celebration that will be held on August 6-8, 2021. Exciting events are lined up for later this year and we invite you to join us.

For more information on the festival and other scheduled events, continue to visit for updates.