- 32 Illinois Counties at ‘High’ Alert Level for COVID: “Thirty-two Illinois counties are now under a “high community level ” for COVID, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, marking a significant jump from last week as some Chicago-area counties return to the highest alert level. The number of counties at the “high ” level marks an increase from last week’s 19 as some Chicago-area counties that had dropped down to medium last week returned to the heightened level. Cook, Lake, DuPage and McHenry counties in the Chicago area all remain under the high category, where they have been for several weeks. ” From NBC Chicago.
Pritzker signs legislation to expand access to HIV, AIDS-related care; improve mental health care access
Late last week, Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law a suite of bills which would remove barriers to those wishing to re-enter the mental health care field; create tax breaks for businesses which hire people recovering substance abuse; and expand access to HIV and AIDS care.
- Senate Bill 3617, a mental health care omnibus, aims to address the mental health care workforce shortage by temporarily allowing licensees out of practice for less than five years to reactivate their license with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
- The bill also seeks to expand behavioral health training, allowing the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health to award grants or contracts to enhance training and supervision of behavioral health providers-in-training seeking licensure in specified fields.
- Finally, the bill creates a program to provide tax incentives to qualified employers who employ eligible individuals in recovery from a substance use disorder or mental illness. IDHS will work with the Illinois Department of Revenue to verify tax credit certificates issued to employers.
Pritzker also signed two bills to expand access to HIV and AIDS care.
- House Bill 4430 allows pharmacists to dispense both pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis drugs (PrEP and PEP) without a prior referral from a doctor. The CDC currently estimates that less than 20% of those eligible for or possibly benefitting from PrEP take the medication.
- Finally, House Bill 5549 provides that the African American HIV/AIDS Response Fund creates and maintains at least one Black-led Center of Excellence HIV Biomedical Resource Hub for every $3,000,000 of available funding. According to the CDC, 46% of people living with HIV/AIDS in Illinois are Black or African American, a disproportionally high rate. However, only 8% of PrEP prescriptions written nationally each year are for Black or African American individuals.
Around the State
- Jim Ryan, former Illinois attorney general who made 2 unsuccessful bids for governor, dies at 76: “A stoic politician whose life was beset by personal tragedies, Ryan rose from DuPage County state ’s attorney to serve two terms as Illinois attorney general, but was twice defeated bids for governor, ” by the Chicago Tribune.
- Sun-Times/WBEZ Poll: Ken Griffin, Michael Flynn not swaying many GOP voters: “About two-thirds of likely Republican voters said they ’re not sure who they ’ll vote for in the U.S. Senate, attorney general and secretary of state races. Candidates backed by billionaire Ken Griffin were trailing, and the endorsement of former national security adviser Michael Flynn did little to help a U.S, Senate candidate, ” by the Chicago Sun-Times.
- If Roe v. Wade is overturned, it could offer surprising benefit to Illinois: More corporate offices: “Officials already lure corporations by touting their strong support for voting rights, racial justice and protections for LGBTQ individuals, but losing the constitutional right to abortion should further strengthen their hand with businesses from red states likely to outlaw the procedure, ” by the Chicago Tribune.
Lightfoot announces expansion of narcotics arrest diversion program
Late last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot ’s administration announced the expansion of eligibility for the Narcotics Arrest Diversion Program. The initiative – which diverts individuals who are arrested for the possession of controlled substances into substance use treatment in lieu of felony charge – will now expand to individuals who have not been arrested in Chicago for a violent crime within the past ten years and were in possession of two grams or less of any controlled substance.
Additional narcotics also now qualify for this diversion initiative, including fentanyl, morphine, ketamine, and methamphetamine.
The original program criteria for participants were limited to those arrested in possession of one gram or less of only heroin or cocaine and who had no prior violent arrest history. The full program policy can be found on the Chicago Police Department ’s website.
More from City Hall
- Tribune Investigation: Chicago planted trees at a higher rate in wealthier, whiter neighborhoods over the past decade: “The city ’s half million street trees, those often found on the strip of grass between roadways and sidewalks, make up a part of the overall canopy coverage, along with trees in parks and yards. How the city manages these trees can directly affect residents ’ quality of life, ” by the Chicago Tribune.
- City failed to enforce a 20-year-old law requiring contractors to disclose links to slavery: Ald. Stephanie Coleman (16th Ward), the chair of the Subcommittee on Reparations, has been unable to obtain two decades of those reports. Coleman said she had hoped to use that information to guide the next steps of the subcommittee. “In order to know where we are going, we most definitely have to recognize the past, ” she said, via WTTW.
- Indiana is about to make it easier to carry a firearm in public. That worries law enforcement there and in Chicago, by WBEZ.
Beltway Briefing: Is there a way to unite America?
On Wednesday, the Democratic-controlled House passed a broad set of gun-control measures, largely along party lines. The bill, called the Protecting Our Kids Act and intended to reduce gun violence, would raise the age for purchasing semiautomatic rifles and shotguns to 21 from 18. On Thursday, after nearly a year of investigation and more than 1,000 interviews, the House Jan. 6, 2021 committee held its first prime-time public hearing on the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the events leading up to it. Meanwhile, U.S. consumer inflation hit 8.6% in May – its highest level in more than four decades, as surging energy and food costs pushed prices higher, with little indication of when the upward trend could ease.
Public Strategies ’ Howard Schweitzer, Mark Alderman, Patrick Martin, and Towner French discuss the proposed legislation and key takeaways from the hearing, and ponder how the burden of inflation on the Biden Administration, along with the President ’s falling approval ratings and Americans ’ pessimism about the economy and the nation ’s political system, may spell trouble for Democrats in the midterm elections later this fall.