May 22, 2020
MWFPA is closely monitoring changing news about COVID-19 and has created a resource page to assist food manufacturers and supply chain partners.

Click here to access MWFPA's COVID-19 Resource Page.
The MWFPA COVID-19 Update is underwritten by Alliant Energy

Governor Pritzker withdrew his emergency rules creating a Class A misdemeanor for businesses that are operating in violation of his Executive Order.  While this is a victory for business community, the Governor announced that he will pursue codifying penalties for businesses operating against the Governor's Executive order through the legislative process.

At the direction of the Governor's Office, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) promulgated the emergency rule on Friday without notice or public hearing and had it officially published by the Secretary of State’s Office on Monday. The rule was in response to many local units of government voting or announcing that businesses may reopen or indicated that they will not shut down non-essential businesses that are currently operating against the Governor's Executive Order.
The Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) was scheduled to discuss the rule today; however, the Governor and IDPH withdrew the rule moments before JCAR was scheduled to meet and likely vote to suspend the rule. With this decision, the emergency rules are immediately repealed and no longer in effect.

While this is a victory for business community, it is anticipated that legislators may file legislation that would reintroduce penalties for businesses operating against the Governor's Executive Order. If legislation is filed, it could be even more restrictive than the Governor's emergency rules.

Source: Illinois Manufacturers Association


Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, released recommendations  to help address shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), cloth face coverings, disinfectants, and sanitation supplies in the food and agriculture industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
COVID-19 has caused a shortages in PPE, cloth face coverings, disinfectants, and sanitation supplies, which has resulted in food production stakeholders having difficulty acquiring proper materials to keep their employees safe. In order to help these food production stakeholders, with input from the Food and Agriculture Sector Coordinating Council , FDA and USDA developed the following recommendations so that their is no disruption in their supply chain due to lack of materials:
Prioritization Recommendations :

As PPE, cloth face coverings, disinfectants, and sanitation supplies become available, it is highly encouraged that available supplies be distributed with first priority to the following industries:
  • Hospitals, healthcare, long-term care, retirement homes, hospice, and other healthcare-providing establishments and the emergency responder community.
  • The Food and Agriculture Sector (as well as the other Critical Infrastructure Sectors), including food manufacturers/producers, suppliers of agricultural inputs and facilities that store, process and/or market agricultural products, grocery stores, food retail, food service, and food storage and distribution.
  • Food and Agriculture Sector entities should follow guidance provided in the Federal Emergency Management Agency fact sheet, entitled Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Addressing PPE Needs in Non-Healthcare Setting, when considering their PPE requirements. All efforts should be made to identify alternatives to medical-grade PPE (such as N95 respirators), disinfectants, and/or sanitation supplies critically needed by the Healthcare and Public Health and Emergency Services sectors. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) information may be helpful when assessing appropriate PPE. 


Sector entities can apply the following considerations when attempting to source supplies:
  • Continue working with normal and alternate private-sector suppliers to obtain PPE, cloth face coverings, disinfectants, and sanitation supplies. It may be necessary to identify multiple options for suppliers and prioritize near-term versus long-term needs.
  • If suppliers are unable to provide for your needs, and the PPE and/or cloth face coverings are urgently required, submit a request for assistance to your state emergency management agencies. If the state is unable to address the PPE and/or cloth face covering shortfall, the state should submit a request for support to their FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center.
Any requests to state or federal agencies for urgent resupply of PPE for essential critical infrastructure workers should accurately describe:
  • Specific types, quantities (include 30-, 60- and 90-day demand), and locations where PPE is needed.
  • Estimated time until the shortage impacts operations based on PPE burn rate; and
  • Consequence of the shortage on the supply of food, agricultural commodities or agricultural inputs, and anticipated duration of its impact.
To further support these requests, you may also describe how the request helps you to:
  • Comply with worker safety and health laws, regulations or guidance (including those issued by OSHA).
  • Abide by Federal, State, and Local requirements or recommendations to ensure food safety or evolving consumer/employee confidence guidance for COVID-19.
When ordering PPE, cloth face coverings, disinfectants, and/or sanitation supplies, Sector entities can:
  • Identify themselves as members of one of the critical infrastructure sectors, specifically the Food and Agriculture Sector.
  • Include a copy of this document, which reflects both the scarcity of, and need for, PPE, cloth face coverings, disinfectants and/or sanitation supplies within the Food and Agriculture Sector.

Consult the websites provided below:
For More Information:

Source: Michael Best Strategies


Over the past ten days, the Governor’s Office and the four legislative caucuses have engaged in “agreed bill” processes to try and reach agreement on complicated issues involving unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation during the coronavirus pandemic. 
The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (lead on workers’ compensation) and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (lead on unemployment insurance) were named to represent the business community in these discussions and were the only two business groups in the room. Special thanks go to Bill Lowry from the firm of Nyhan, Bambrick, Kinzie & Lowry who served as our counsel in the negotiation. Additionally, we consulted with business and insurance partners throughout the process. The Illinois AFL-CIO was engaged in both discussions while the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association participated in workers’ compensation exclusively.
Workers’ Compensation
Nearly one month ago, the IMA and IRMA filed a lawsuit and blocked Governor Pritzker’s emergency rules that would have created a rebuttable presumption that the workplace was the cause of COVID-19 infections. It was estimated that these rules would have cost employers nearly $4.4 billion, more than doubling the cost of the system. Those roles made it nearly impossible for an employer to defend their business.
After intense negotiations that lasted all weekend and into this week, business and labor reached an accord. While it allows all essential employees to receive a rebuttable presumption, it makes it far easier for employers to rebut those claims using an ordinary level of rebuttal. This means that an employer simply has to show “some evidence” that the employee could have contracted the virus elsewhere or that the employer engaged in best practices. The agreement includes the following provisions:
  1. All essential workers can receive the rebuttable presumption. Labor’s original proposal would have allowed all workers (not just essential workers) to get benefits.
  2. Employers can use the lowest standard (ordinary presumption) to rebut the rebuttable presumption. An employer simply has to show that they were following CDC or IDPH guidance and practices. Labor’s proposal sought to impose a “clear and convincing” standard that was included in the Governor’s rules.
  3. The employer’s experience modification will not change due to COVID.
  4. A home or residence is not the workplace.
  5. The presumption ends of December 31, 2020. Labor originally sought no end date.
  6. Employers receive a TTD offset for employees that were on paid leave or extended FMLA.
  7. The employee has to have been exposed and contracted the virus. Simple exposure does not qualify. Labor’s proposal, and the Governor’s rules, did not even require an employee to show that they had contracted the virus.
  8. Before June 15, an employee has to have a positive diagnosis or medical test; on or after June 16, a positive test is required. Again, the Governor’s rules and labor’s proposal did not require a positive diagnosis or test to get benefits.
There were three competing proposals on this table with this comparison chart showing all of the provisions and where the final negotiation landed. Please click here for a copy of the draft legislation and click here for a copy of the legislative intent that will be read into the record.
While this is not a perfect agreement, it will make it far easier for businesses to defend claims and will be a very significant reduction in costs from the Governor’s emergency rules that were stopped in court. It was a difficult negotiation because lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were reticent to vote against benefits for nurses, doctors, firefighters, police officers, and other workers during this public health crisis.
Unemployment Insurance
The Illinois Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund which totaled nearly $2.5 billion at the start of the year has been drained with record layoffs. Early projections indicate that the Trust Fund could be in debt by $8 to $14 billion over the next three years. In order to receive billions of dollars in federal money, Illinois had to take two specific steps including (1) waiving the one-week waiting period, and (2) making the layoffs a non-chargeable event for the employer. The agreement reached today includes:
  1. Employers will not be charged for layoffs between March 15, 2020, and December 31, 2020. These costs will be socialized in the system.
  2. Illinois will receive $2.1 billion in matching federal dollars to pay for the extended benefits (seven weeks) that kick in when the state’s unemployment rate reaches a certain level.
  3. Illinois will receive $20 million in federal money to pay for administrative costs at the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
  4. Non-instructional educational employees (custodians, bus drivers, etc) that work for school districts (not private companies) will receive unemployment insurance benefits if they are not paid over a 12-month period of time. These are employees who typically take second jobs in the summer and may not be able to find short-term employment this summer. The federal government will fund half of the cost equating to $210 million.
  5. Illinois will engage in another unemployment insurance agreed bill process in coming years. Typically, both sides agree to a series of tax hikes and benefit cuts that force both sides to the negotiating table. These “speed bumps” are set at $500 million for both sides in this agreement. Since the 1980s, these “speed bumps” have never become law because both sides reach agreement.
  6. Business and labor agreed to cooperate on efforts to obtain additional federal assistance to help resolve the coming Trust Fund deficit. Illinois’ previous record deficit was $3 billion so the coming debt could significantly surpass that total.
  7. Eliminated a $50 million “chit” that employers owed to labor from the last agreed bill process because of the significant savings that employers received when the misconduct rules were amended to make it easier to deny benefits for workers who were terminated for misconduct.
OSHA Reporting
OSHA announced today that employer will not have to record positive cased of COVID-19 for recordkeeping purposes. This is a complete reversal of the ruling made several weeks ago by the Agency and requires employees to determine where an employee contracted the virus. The reporting is required if the employer determines that the workplace is where the virus was contracted. The IMA is disappointed in this policy reversal that creates confusion among changing guidelines. A copy of the new revised guidance can be found here .

Source: Illinois Manufacturers Association

Agricultural processing plants of all kinds are facing issues caused by the pandemic, leading to disruptions in supply chains for many agricultural industries.
Source: WisBusiness News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has always warned that "it may be possible" to become infected with coronavirus by touching contaminated surfaces or objects. It just "does not spread easily" in that manner, the agency says, nor by animal-to-human contact or vice versa.
Source: U.S.A. Today

EPA updated its pesticide registration to include food-contact surface sanitizer products, expanding flexibility to manufacturers of food-contact surface sanitizer products containing isopropyl alcohol.  
Source: U.S. EPA


This week, Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable issued a notice to insurers to help clarify language relating to testing for COVID-19 that was passed in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Corona Virus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).

  • Testing for COVID-19 must be covered by private health insurance, including cost-sharing like co-pays for office, urgent care, and emergency department visits under the FFCRA and CARES.
  • Individuals with private insurance who have been tested for COVID-19 and subsequently received a bill to cover associated costs like the office visit or handling costs should speak to their insurer about having those services covered without cost-sharing. Wisconsinites can also file a complaint with OCI online complaint here or by calling 1-800-236-8517.
  • Any office visit during which a provider determines a COVID-19 test is needed and orders a test must also be covered by most insurers without cost-sharing.
  • Enacted in March 2020, the FFCRA and CARES Act together require many private insurance plans to cover COVID-19 testing and related services, including office visits (both in-person and telehealth), urgent care visits, and emergency department visits that are related to diagnostic testing for COVID-19. Both acts also collectively require those insurers to provide these services at no cost to those they insure. The CARES Act specifically expanded the range of COVID-19 diagnostic services that must be covered and requires any COVID-19 vaccine to be covered at no cost to consumers.
  • Federal requirements regarding testing include most health insurers. Specifically, these federal requirements apply to plans that are fully insured or self-funded plans, non-federal, governmental plans, and church plans. Individual and group health insurance plans offered through and outside of the federal Marketplace as well as grandfathered and transitional health plans must also meet these requirements.
  • More information can be found in the complete notice to insurers here. Insurers with questions about the FFRA and Cares Act are encouraged to consult this Frequently Asked Questions resource from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or the federal guidance issued by CMS and the Departments of Labor and the Treasury.

Source: Wisconsin Office of the Commission of Insurance


Alliant Energy is providing safe and reliable service for customers during the ongoing health pandemic - so no one has to worry if their lights will work, or their gas will flow. During this uncertain time, Alliant Energy continues to be a dependable partner, flexible to meet customers’ concerns and committed to helping communities in need.

The company has contributed $2 million to the Hometown Care Energy Fund to assist income-eligible customers with paying their bill. To date, Alliant Energy and its foundation have combined to donate over $340,000 to organizations helping with emergency relief, including Feeding America Food Banks and United Way. The company is also donating and distributing supplies, like personal protective equipment, to medical facilities.

Alliant Energy’s COVID-19 webpage includes resources available to customers and the latest updates from the company, as the pandemic continues.  

Midwest Food Products Association | Ph: (608) 255-9946 | Fax: (608) 255-9838