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Blog Post | COVID-19

U.S. PIRG Supports Automated Contact Tracing Because More Than Anything Else, America Needs Good Information Before It Can Safely Lift Stay-At-Home Rules | Ed Mierzwinski

Public health experts have made it abundantly clear that to safely lift stay-at-home rules we must have four key things we don’t yet have. We need fast, accurate and widely available testing. We need a better plan for isolating and supporting people who have COVID-19. We need sufficient hospital capacity, including medical and protective equipment, to treat all patients safely. And we need more contact tracing. This blog explains U.S. PIRG's support for automated warning and contact tracing, subject to appropriate privacy and civil liberties protections, which can provide critical information quickly about who has potentially been exposed.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG | COVID-19

Statement supporting public health-driven "Restore Illinois"

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday released “Restore Illinois,” his administration’s plan to safely ease state restrictions on business, education, and recreation implemented in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The plan sets out five phases of reopening, with criteria for moving from one phase to the next, and the ability to move back if conditions worsen.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Chicago City Council passes resolution calling on state to rein in troubled Peoples Gas pipe replacement program

The Chicago City Council today passed a resolution calling on Gov. J.B.  Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly to reform the troubled Peoples Gas pipe replacement program. The program has been beset by management missteps, cost overruns, and an inability to reduce pipeline failure rates. The program is increasingly unaffordable for many Chicago residents: in 2019, Chicagoans fell $60 million behind on their heating bills and Peoples Gas sent out more than 300,000 disconnection notices. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Putting Consumers First

U.S. PIRG Education Fund, the Student Borrower Protection Center and Consumer Action have released a report recommending that  CFPB should use the full extent of its authority to take immediate action to strengthen its consumer complaint tool, hold companies accountable for providing complete and timely responses to consumers, and leverage consumer complaints related to the pandemic to support oversight and regulatory action to protect consumers.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Americans need stronger consumer protections during COVID-19 crisis

U.S. PIRG Education Fund has released a report with the Student Borrower Protection Center and Consumer Action. The report makes recommendations to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to upgrade its consumer complaint tool, including the public consumer complaint database, so COVID19-related complaints can be handled more quickly and tracked better.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Illinois announces agreement with lenders to suspend student loan payments

A newly announced agreement will protect the finances of millions of Americans who owe money on student loans. 

Last month’s CARES Act put all federally held student loans into forbearance through September, ended collections and other actions against defaulted borrowers, and stopped the accrual of interest. However, these benefits were not extended to borrowers whose loans are held by private lenders. To protect those former students, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), along with counterparts from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington worked with private lenders.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Statement: SBA data breach puts business owners at risk of ID theft and other fraud

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Tuesday that the personal information of nearly 8,000 business owners applying for federal disaster loans had been exposed. The breach affects applicants to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), and may have included names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, citizenship statuses and insurance information.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Consumer complaints of COVID-19 fraud surpass 15,000

Scammers and other bad actors are trying to take advantage of Americans’ heightened fears around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and fraud complaints are soaring. Consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the virus surpassed 15,000 Thursday.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Here’s how to address bill payment challenges during COVID-19

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has left many Americans wondering how they’re going to pay their monthly bills. U.S. PIRG Education Fund new advice on how to negotiate with banks, utilities delaying payments, waiving of overdraft fees and other ways to stay financially secure.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Solid Waste

The State of Recycling in Illinois

Recycling rates in Illinois reveal one of the most wasteful states in the nation, headlined by Chicago’s dismal 9 percent residential recycling rate (see table below). Even Naperville, which boasts the highest rate among the most populous Illinois cities at 30 percent, falls below the national average of 34.7 percent. Due to a lack of mandated reporting in certain jurisdictions, the state’s overall recycling rate is unclear. However, given low rates in cities with available data, evidence from other states suggests that Illinois’s statewide rate is much lower than the national average.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Safe Energy

A Citizen's Guide to Reducing Energy Waste

The future is here—but we’re living in the past.

Clean energy from the sun and wind can provide for our energy needs without the global consequences of pollution, yet we’re still producing and consuming virtually all of our energy in ways that do lasting damage to our environment, our health and our climate. To make matters worse, much of the dirty energy we produce goes to waste.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 4

America’s infrastructure is in rough shape. Many of our roads, bridges and transit systems are aging and in need of repair.

Yet, year after year, state and local governments propose billions of dollars’ worth of new and expanded highways that often do little to reduce congestion or address real transportation challenges, while diverting scarce funding from infrastructure repairs and 21st century transportation priorities. 

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Electric Busses

Buses play a key role in in our nation’s transportation system, carrying millions of children daily to and from school and moving millions of Americans each day around our cities.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Electric Buses: Clean Transportation for Healthier Neighborhoods and Cleaner Air

Buses play a key role in in our nation’s transportation system, carrying millions of children daily to and from school and moving millions of Americans each day around our cities. Buses reduce the number of individual cars on our roads, make our communities more livable and sustainable, and provide transportation options for people of all ages and abilities. Yet, the majority of America’s buses remain dirty – burning fossil fuels like diesel that put the health of our children and communities at risk and contribute to global warming.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Analysis Finds Pervasive Lead Contamination in Schools | Abe Scarr

 

In reviewing test results from 155 schools in suburban Cook County, we found 78% of schools contained at least one fixture with lead contamination levels of 2 parts per billion (ppb) or higher.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

ID Theft & Privacy Checklists | Mike Litt

Today, we're releasing our revamped Identity Theft and Online Privacy resources.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Protecting Consumer Privacy in the Courts | Abe Scarr

 

Along with other consumer and privacy advocacy organizations, we filed an amicus brief defending Illinois' unique-in-the-nation biometric privacy law.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Day 1 of Automatic Voter Registration in Illinois | Hannah Kim

Today, Illinois took its first step forward in implementing automatic voter registration statewide. A fully-electronic process for “Opt-In” automatic voter registration is now available at all Illinois Driver Services facilities. This means registering to vote through Drivers Services is easier and more accurate than ever. This does NOT mean that you’re automatically registered to vote when you engage in Driver Services (e..g, renew your license, register vehicle, etc.).

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

The most efficient policeman | Abe Scarr

This morning, Illinois PIRG Education Fund and Glidepath Development, a renewable energy and energy storage developer, filed a complaint in Cook County Circuit Court against the Illinois Commerce Commission. The complaint alleges that the Commission has violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act in its management of the Next Grid study.

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Report | Illinois PIRG

COVID Exit Strategy, a nonpartisan group of public health and crisis experts, has been tracking the progress states have made towards meeting the CDC recommended benchmarks states should reach before reopening their economies. On Monday, June 29th, only three states were meeting these metrics, earning a “Green” rating – down from six a week earlier. Currently, Illinois is meeting half of the benchmarks, and is rated “Red” by COVID Exit Strategy due to a 2-week trend of rising case numbers, a metric the group gives particular weight.

News Release | Illinois PIRG

With America as a whole continuing to struggle in containing the COVID-19 virus,  Illinois PIRG and Open Safe Illinois released a new fact sheet today calling on Illinois to maintain all current restrictions related to COVID-19, and consider additional measures to improve containment. 

News Release | Illinois PIRG

A new coalition of health, labor, aging and public interest organizations launched “Open Safe Illinois” on Thursday to amplify the voices of Illinois residents, the majority of whom support public health-driven decision making by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and local leaders.

Blog Post

Public health experts are starting to draw actionable lessons about the nature of how COVID-19 spreads. In addition to maintaining best practices –physical distancing, mask wearing and hand washing – it’s best to avoid extended, crowded indoor gatherings.

News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund

All four health regions established by Gov. JB Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan entered Phase 3, “Recovery,” on Friday, while Chicago, which has more stringent standards set by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, is on track to do so next week. According to data compiled by ProPublica, Illinois is the first state to meet all five of the metrics the White House suggested should be required for a safe reopening.

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Illinois PIRG Education Fund is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to getting things done.