Coronavirus Blog 3/30/20: State Farm Pledges $1 Million For Relief Fund | WGLT

Coronavirus Blog 3/30/20: State Farm Pledges $1 Million For Relief Fund

Mar 30, 2020

The coronavirus story is developing quickly in Illinois. Here are updates from WGLT's newsroom and our partners at Illinois Public Radio, NPR, and The Associated Press.

You can also see (or add to) our list of cancellations, closures, and rescheduled events. Find all of our coverage at WGLT.org/Coronavirus.

HUD RECOVERY MONEY FOR BLOOMINGTON AND NORMAL
5:43 p.m. Monday, March 30

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is giving Bloomington and Normal more than $575,000 in coronavirus disaster recovery money. HUD is giving Bloomington $329,144 and Normal $246,067 in Community Development Block Grant money, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, a Taylorville Republican who represents part of Bloomington-Normal.

The money is part of the CARES Act, the pandemic relief effort passed by Congress and signed by the president last week.

"This federal funding will allow our local communities to respond to the specific needs they have," said Davis. "I've heard from mayors and county board chairs about the need for federal funding to deal with a wide-range of impacts the coronavirus pandemic is having on our shared constituencies."

HUD provides flexible grants to help cities, counties, and states recover from presidentially declared disasters, especially in low-income areas when Congress appropriates extra money. This money can be used for seed money to start the recovery process in areas that might not have the resources to recover on their own.

– Charlie Schlenker | WGLT

STATE FARM SUPPORTS COVID-19 RESPONSE FUND

4:40 p.m. Monday, March 30

State Farm is one of several Illinois companies making a large contribution to the state's new COVID-19 Response Fund.

State Farm has made a $1 million pledge to the fund, which was established last week. It will raise money for nonprofits across the state serving individuals, families and communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We look forward to collaborating with others involved, and will continue to find ways to help people recover from the unexpected, in line with our company’s mission," said State Farm spokesperson Gina Morss-Fischer. "Beyond the $1 million pledge to the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, State Farm also engaged employees to help us decide how to distribute another $1 million for other nonprofit COVID relief. Additionally, we donated hundreds of masks and other supplies to local hospitals."

Politico also reported similar $1 million contributions from other Illinois firms, including the Caterpillar Foundation.

— Ryan Denham and Charlie Schlenker | WGLT

NATIONAL GUARD UNIT FROM NORMAL TO DEPLOY
3:20 p.m. Monday, March 20

About 15 soldiers from a Normal-based Illinois National Guard unit have been activated to support coronavirus response efforts.

The soldiers are from the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, headquartered at Heartland Community College in Normal.

They will assist county Emergency Management Operations Centers (EMOCs) in Christian, Madison, St. Clair, Cumberland, Clinton, Washington and Jackson counties, gathering information and reporting that data to the Medical Operations Center in the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield.

— Ryan Denham | WGLT

FOOD GAP HELP PROGRAM BEGINS
4:35 p.m. Monday, March 30

The United Way of McLean County and other entities have started a $50,000 food access assistance program. Other partners are the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, local grocers, restaurants, farmers, schools, and other nonprofits.

They will find and distribute nonperishable food.

“The aim is to stabilize food access for families impacted by COVID-19 while also providing income to local businesses and farms so they can keep paying their employees,” said United Way of McLean County CEO David Taylor. “These same employees are often the ones who are one crisis away from poverty themselves. Keeping the money circulating in McLean County while also feeding families in need is a win-win.”

Taylor said a $5 donation will provide a nutritious meal, $20 will feed a family of four.

United Way and their partners said they will evaluate how to expand the COVID-19 Community Care Fund’s resource base. Anyone can donate directly.

– Charlie Schlenker | WGLT

UNIT 5, DISTRICT 87 RETURN FROM SPRING BREAK
2:35 p.m. Monday, March 30

Unit 5 and District 87 students, parents, and teachers will shift into a new phase of remote learning this week that could be in place until the end of the school year.

Starting Tuesday until whenever they reopen, schools will do “remote learning days” as outlined late last week by the State Board of Education. The days will be counted as school days and won’t need to be made up at the end of the year. Students will be asked to do actual work, but schools have been encouraged to adopt more lenient grading practices. The focus should be on learning, not compliance.

“This is a process. It’s a journey for us. But no student should be punished during this timeframe,” said Unit 5 Superintendent Mark Daniel. “It’s all about continuing to connect with them. Yes, it’s about academics. But it’s also about the social-emotional welfare of our kids and our families.”

Read the full story.

— Ryan Denham | WGLT

PUBLIC BROADCASTERS OFFER MORE EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS FOR KIDS
1:35 p.m. Monday, March 30

Public television in central Illinois is tweaking its daytime lineup to offer education programs tailored to kids.

WILL-TV in Urbana is also offering free games, apps, videos, and articles for parents supporting at-home learning at will.illinois.edu/athomelearning.

– Charlie Schlenker | WGLT

STATE OFFERS GUIDANCE TO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS
1:35 p.m. Monday, March 30

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation said Monday several actions will help protect residents during the pandemic. The department encouraged banks and credit unions to consider taking the following actions:

  • Offering payment accommodations (such as allowing borrowers to defer payments at no cost or extending the payment due dates)
  • Providing new loans on favorable terms to businesses and consumers
  • Waiving certain fees (such as those for ATM usage, overdrafting, and late payments on credits cards and other loans)
  • Increasing ATM daily cash withdrawal limits
  • Easing restrictions on cashing out-of-state and non-customer checks
  • Increasing credit card limits for creditworthy borrowers
  • Alerting customers to the heightened risk of scams and price gouging during the COVID-19 disruptions
  • Reminding customers to contact their financial institutions before entering into unsolicited financial assistance programs
  • Ensuring that consumers and small businesses don’t experience a disruption of service if financial institutions close their offices

The department also provided guidance to installment lenders, payday lenders, title loan lenders, sales finance lenders including auto loans, currency exchanges, student loan servicers, mortgage servicers, and collection agencies concerning their lending, servicing, and collection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

– Charlie Schlenker | WGLT

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.