Quick hits: Illinois news in brief for Tuesday, April 7, 2020

COVID-19 continues to spread in Illinois

Public health officials on Monday announced 1,006 new cases of COVID-19 and an additional 33 deaths for a total of 12,262 cases and 307 deaths in 73 counties in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported for the first time Monday that of the 12,262 positive COVID-19 cases, 3,680 people were hospitalized. For ventilators, IDPH reports a total of 2,791, with 1,198 being used, of which 821 were for COVID-19 patients.

Pritzker signs executive order for release of vulnerable people from prisons

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is giving corrections officials the ability to let prisoners with medical vulnerabilities to be let out temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order, issued Monday, came as Stateville Prison has at least two deaths with around 100 inmates and staffers confirmed with the disease.

Two more dispensaries approved for recreational cannabis sales

While some other businesses across the state are told to remain closed to the public in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Illinois regulators have announced two more adult-use cannabis stores in Chicago have state approval to open for customers.

Medical and adult-use cannabis businesses were deemed essential under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order that lasts through the end of the month.

FEMA earmarks $115 million for Illinois

So far this month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has earmarked more than $115 million in federal support to the state of Illinois.

A White House official said the federal assistance includes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers building several alternative medical facilities and the U.S. Coast Guard helping with meals for first responders, testing locations and more.

The White House official also said the federal government has provided Illinois with hundreds of thousands of masks, gowns and gloves.

Chicago has also been getting its own supply of equipment from the federal government.

Allstate returns $600 million in premiums as driving plummets

Because of a decline in driving due to stay-at-home orders implemented across the country, Illinois-based insurance company Allstate said it’s returning more than $600 million over the next two months to its auto insurance customers.

The company announced the Allstate Shelter-In-Place Payback program on its website. Details are available online.

Illinois households to get maximum SNAP benefits for April, May

More than 450,000 Illinois households will get increased food assistance money beginning Wednesday. All others eligible will get the maximum benefit by April 20.

A recent measure passed by the U.S. Congress increased the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program during the COVID-19 pandemic from $465 to $646 for a family of four. The increased benefit will be loaded directly to Link cards.

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