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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Rep. Davis Addresses COVID-19 Jobless Help, Police Reform

boxes of face shields being carried
Eric Stock
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, right, and Gordy Hulten, with the Illinois Manufacturers Association, helped deliver face shields Tuesday to McLean County Nursing Home staff.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis said he's not ready to support an extension of COVID-19 jobless benefits as businesses reopen. The current benefits expire at the end of July.
The Taylorville Republican said he wants to see where the economy and the pandemic are in a month.

“The last thing we want to do is incentivize people to remain on unemployment benefits when they can go back to the job they had before since the economy is reopening again,” Davis said.

Congress previously approved unemployment benefits of $600 per week through the CARES Act.

All states have started to reopen, but nearly two dozen states are seeing a rise in infection rates. Illinois is set to move to Phase 4 of its five-stage reopening plan on Friday. That will enable schools, child care centers and bars and restaurants to reopen. It also will allow gatherings of up to 50 people.

The national unemployment rate is still more than 13%.

Police reforms

Davis also said House Democrats should bargain with the GOP on police reforms rather than push through what he called a partisan bill.

“When you look at both of these bills, probably about 80% of what each of them have, we agree on,” Davis said. “Why can’t we just pass a bill out of the Senate, pass a bill out of the House, come together and work out our differences?”

Davis is co-sponsoring the Justice Act, a companion measure to the bill Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina drafted. Scott is the only black Republican in the Senate.

The bill would enhance de-escalation training and require more transparency for use-of-force and no-knock warrants. It also would enable police to access an officer’s prior disciplinary records from previous jobs.

Senate Democrats have called that measure "woefully inadequate."

Davis represents parts of Bloomington-Normal and 14 central and southern Illinois counties.

Face shields

Davis came to Normal on Tuesday to help deliver 200 face shields that John Deere and the United Auto Workers helped produce at the company’s plant in Moline.

“The McLean County Nursing Home is a prime example where they are not only going to utilize these products, they need these products,” Davis said.

Gordy Hulten, vice president of external affairs for the Illinois Manufacturers Association, said John Deere has donated more than 24,000 face shields to health care workers and first responders and is one of several dozen manufacturers in the state that has shifted production during the pandemic.

“When the severe shortages of PPE (personal protective equipment) were revealed at the beginning of this pandemic, manufacturers like John Deere stepped up, retooled their lines and were able to produce–in this case--face shields, but also face masks or ventilators in sufficient quantities that now the PPE shortage seems to have abated somewhat,” Hulten said.

McLean County Administrator Camille Rodriguez said the county also will see if the county jail needs some of them.

“We are working 24-7 as all the other long-term care facilities and detention facilities are during COVID, and this is very helpful to us,” said Rodriguez, adding all residents and staff have been tested for COVID-19.

All tests came back negative.

We’re living in unprecedented times when information changes by the minute. WGLT will continue to be here for you, keeping you up-to-date with the live, local and trusted news you need. Help ensure WGLT can continue with its in-depth and comprehensive COVID-19 coverage as the situation evolves by making a contribution.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.
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