Stateville inmate among eight more dead
State update includes guidance on financial issues
Last updated 3/31/2020 at 8:02pm
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 461 new cases of COVID-19 and eight new deaths in the state Monday as an outbreak worsened at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill.
IDPH said one of the deceased was an inmate at Stateville, and 12 other inmates from the facility are now hospitalized with several requiring ventilators. IDPH said 77 others imprisoned at the facility have symptoms and are in isolation, and 11 prison staff members are isolated as well.
“The Illinois Department of Corrections is taking a number of steps to control the spread of COVID-19 in its correctional centers,” according to a news release. “Staff who work with individuals in isolation and quarantine, as well as in the health center, are wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) and all staff are wearing some PPE. Staff are also having their temperature checked daily as they enter the facility.”
IDPH said correctional centers with a confirmed case are placed on lockdown, meaning the only movement in the facility is for medical care, and incarcerated individuals who show symptoms are being tested.
The eight deaths reported Monday were all in people over 50 years of age, with five in their 60s and one in their 70s across four counties.
Clark, Crawford, Marion, Randolph and Saline counties are now reporting cases, meaning the disease has been confirmed in 52 counties in the state, although medical experts have repeatedly warned that the spread is much wider than has been tested.
IDPH is reporting a total of 5,057 cases in Illinois, including 73 deaths, according to the news release. Those affected range from an infant to 99 years of age.
At a news conference Monday in Chicago, Gov. JB Pritzker announced plans to temporarily convert part of the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago into an alternative care facility for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms who don’t require intensive care.
The move is an effort to free up hospital beds for patients with severe COVID-19 cases as officials expect a surge in hospitalizations in the coming weeks based on data and trends seen in other large cities, according to the governor’s office.
“Based on science, data and the guidance of health experts, our approach to fighting this virus is two-pronged: suppress the spread and increase hospital capacity to meet the need,” Pritzker said. “A critical component of increasing our capacity is identifying and building out additional facilities across the state to support our existing hospitals and health care system. In partnership with the city of Chicago and the U.S. Army Corps, we are planning to increase capacity so we’re prepared to treat patients and save lives.”
The McCormick Place project is supported by $15 million in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Guidelines issued for lenders, borrowers
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued guidance for lenders and borrowers Monday regarding debt collection during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evictions are suspended for homes and rental units in Illinois per an executive order by Pritzker, and IDFPR is urging all mortgage servicers to defer payments for 90 days for those suffering hardship as a result of the pandemic.
The department also highlighted a recent executive order suspending repossession of vehicles during the duration of a disaster declaration for COVID-19.
The Illinois Attorney General’s office is fielding complaints about unfair business practices at https://ccformsubmission.ilattorneygeneral.net/, while more information on banking complaints can be found at IDFPR’s website at https://www.idfpr.com/admin/banks/DoBcomplaints.asp.
For questions or complaints about licensed consumer lenders, Illinoisans can visit http://www.idfpr.com/DFI/DFIComplaintForm.asp.
Mortgage and rent
Foreclosure sales and evictions have been suspended for single family and multifamily home loans financed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the department noted some may be eligible for forbearance or reduction of mortgage payments for up to 12 months.
Evictions and foreclosures are also suspended for 60 days on Federal Housing Authority single-family home loans and reverse mortgages for seniors.
Per IDFPR, affected homeowners or renters should contact their landlord and mortgage servicer immediately to learn about mortgage relief programs. Certified housing counselors through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development can be found at https:///www.HUD.gov.
The department also urges renters to contact legal assistance agencies, and they urged visiting https://www.carpls.org/client-services/ for free legal advice.
Veterans with questions about mortgage options can call the St. Paul VA Regional Office at (877) 827-3702; the Illinois Attorney General’s Mortgage Helpline is available at (866) 544-7151; and IDFPR can be called at (888) 473-4858.
Interest rates on federal student loans held by the U.S. Department of Education have been reduced to 0 percent until Sept. 30, and repayment on those loans is suspended until the same date. Involuntary collection on federal student loans, including wage garnishments and offsets, will be suspended until that date as well. Credit reporting will take place as if the borrower were making timely payments.
Borrowers can find out if a loan is a federal student loan by visiting the Department of Education’s National Student Loan Data System at https://studentaid.gov/ or by calling (800) 433-3243 or (800) 730-8913 (TTD).
Borrowers are urged to contact their student loan servicer as quickly as possible if they are having trouble making payments. Those having trouble with their student loan servicers are encouraged to call the IDPFR Division of Banking at (217) 785-2900 or the Attorney General’s Student Loan Helpline at (800) 455-2456.
Banks and credit union guidance
In its guidance for banks and credit unions, IDFPR “strongly urges” the entities “respond to borrowers affected by the current economic environment, such as small businesses, hourly workers, and independent contractors,” according to a news release.
IDFPR is encouraging all banks and credit unions to offer payment deferment at no cost while eliminating fees such as late payment, ATM usage and overdraft charges, and increasing daily ATM withdrawal and credit card limits.
The department also guides banks and credits unions to provide new loans on favorable term, ease restrictions on check cashing, alert customers to the heightened risk of scams, remind customers to contact their financial institutions before entering into unsolicited financial assistance programs and ensure that consumers don’t experience service disruptions should the institutions close their offices.
If a lender closes its doors for health reasons, they must provide notice to IDFPR and provide reasonable ways to ensure borrowers can make payments to avoid delinquency, per the release.
IDFPR noted that debt collection is not listed as essential business under Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, although debt collectors may continue to operate remotely.
The department is encouraging debt collectors and debt buyers to work with consumers to accommodate hardships, including by suspending collection activity for at least 60 days.
—by Jerry Nowicki