Illinois Insights: An Update from Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies (5/6)

May 6, 2022

Public Health

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health today reported 30,633 new cases of COVID-19. According to the CDC, 14 counties in Illinois are now rated at the Medium Community Level, including nine counties in the northeast part of the state and five in the central part. At the Medium Community Level, people at risk of severe health outcomes are advised to take additional precautions to protect themselves from the virus, including masking up in indoor spaces.
  • Officials recommend masks indoors, on public transit as COVID cases keep climbing: Cook County reported 259 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, a metric that puts the region in a medium-risk category. From Crain’s Chicago Business.
  • An urgent response was lacking during the outbreak at LaSalle Veterans home, a state audit finds: “Sluggishness, poor compliance with existing rules and little help from state public health officials crippled the response, according to the audit,” by The Associated Press.


Illinois sees sixth bond ratings boost in less than a year following back-to-back upgrades from Fitch, S&P

Illinois saw two-notch bond ratings upgrades from S&P and Fitch Ratings this week – meaning the state has now received a total of six upgrades in less than a year.

Fitch Ratings lifted Illinois’ general obligation bond rating two notches to BBB+ on Thursday; today, S&P matched Fitch, assigning Illinois a BBB+ rating.

“The upgrade to ‘BBB+’ reflects fundamental improvements in Illinois’ fiscal resilience including full unwinding of pandemic-era and certain pre-pandemic non-recurring fiscal measures, meaningful contributions to reserves and sustained evidence of more normal fiscal decision-making,” the Fitch Ratings release stated, noting a steady reduction in accounts payable and retirement of many of the state’s lingering debts.

Between 2015 and 2017, the State of Illinois suffered eight credit rating downgrades and sat at the top of many analysts’ lists of the worst managed states in the nation. At its worst, Illinois’ bill backlog hit nearly $17 billion.

Around the State


Lightfoot administration selects Bally’s for the city’s first casino

Mayor Lori Lightfoot this week announced her administration has selected Bally’s Corporation to be the city’s casino operator.

If approved by Chicago City Council and the Illinois Gaming Board, Bally’s will build a $1.74 billion entertainment complex featuring a 3,400-slot casino, a 500-room hotel, six restaurants, three bars, and a 3,000-seat theater.

Bally’s predicts it could open a temporary site at the Medinah Temple in Chicago’s River North neighborhood by the second quarter of 2023 and a permanent one in the first quarter of 2026.

A city-sponsored report estimates Chicago will see $200 million in annual revenue from the casino once fully operational. Much of that funding is earmarked for the city’s underfunded police and fire pensions.

Bally’s beat out two other finalists: one from Hard Rock to build a casino just west of Soldier Field, and another from Rivers, which would have built a casino in the South Loop.

More From City Hall


Cozen Currents: Why Biden (and Trump) aren’t going anywhere

  • Conventional wisdom is saying that President Biden won’t run for re-election, but don’t count him out yet. Biden is likely to be on the ballot come 2024 — and he is likely to face former President Trump for a second time.
  • The 2022 primary season is ramping up this month, beginning with elections in Ohio today. While neither President Biden nor former President Trump will be on the ballot, the two will cast a long shadow on the races.
  • If House Republicans regain their majority, current House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is poised to take the Speakership, though this power will come with constraints from the far-right elements of his party.

Read the full update here.


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