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home : news : state news free May 30, 2020

And now: 28 days until Phase Four
CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday announced an end to his 10-week-old stay-at-home order, declaring that every region of the state has met conditions necessary to allow more social interaction amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
Friday, May 29, 2020

Governor lifts ban on worship services
SPRINGFIELD — People in Illinois will be allowed to attend worship services starting this weekend without fear of prosecution as the state enters Phase 3 of Gov. JB Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” reopening plan.
Friday, May 29, 2020

State files emergency rules for long-term care facilities
CHICAGO — The state health department filed emergency rules Thursday mandating long-term care facilities to develop testing plans to better protect residents and ensure they are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic appropriately.
Friday, May 29, 2020

Another effort to free professor accused of murder
CHICAGO (AP) — Lawyers for a former Northwestern University professor charged in the murder of his boyfriend argued Thursday he should be released on $1.5 million bail before trial.
Friday, May 29, 2020

Legislators can't agree on whether they've given themselves a raise or not
SPRINGFIELD – The complexities of Illinois’ legislator pay laws were on display again this week as the state’s comptroller insisted in a video message that there will be no raises for lawmakers this year.
Friday, May 29, 2020

Pritzker lifts ban on worship services starting Friday
SPRINGFIELD — People in Illinois will be allowed to attend worship services starting this weekend without fear of prosecution as the state enters Phase 3 of Gov. JB Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” reopening plan.
Friday, May 29, 2020

COVID-19 death toll in Illinois surpasses 5,000
Illinois passed a grim milestone in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor JB Pritzker announced Wednesday that 160 additional virus-related deaths had been reported over the previous 24 hours, bring the statewide total so far to 5,083.

“These are real people whose lives came to an end because of this pandemic,” he said. “They are grandparents and uncles and aunts and parents, cousins, children, friends. They had whole lives that were cut short because COVID-19 knows no boundaries and only seeks to destroy.”

Thursday, May 28, 2020

At last: Illinois enters Recovery
Illinois will advance to the “Recovery” phase of Gov. JB Pritzker’s plan to incrementally reopen the state’s economy on Friday after almost 70 days of residents living under a stay-at-home restriction.

It comes as Illinois is one of only two states to meet federal COVID-19 guidelines to reopening, according to a ProPublica analysis. New York is the other.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Legislators won't get pay raise after all
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza made known in a video she released Wednesday that state legislators will not be getting raises in the next budget year, which begins July 1.

The issue of a pay raise for legislators came up as they debated budget details in the early-morning hours Sunday. Republican legislators balked at the idea of a raise being included in the state’s approximately $40 billion, coronavirus-challenged spending plan for the next fiscal year.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Two counties in Illinois have yet to report a single virus case
In the early weeks and months of COVID-19’s presence in Illinois, state health leaders have cautioned people, especially those downstate, that the novel coronavirus is likely in their community even if their rural county had yet to report a case.

But now that testing has surpassed 800,000 – more than 6 percent of the state’s population – it remains a mystery why two counties, which have run hundreds of tests between the two of them, have yet to report a single COVID-19 case.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Pritzker: Illinois is past its peak
For the first time since Illinois had its first reported case of COVID-19 in January, the state saw fewer deaths in a week than in the previous week.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Tuesday that 780 people died from the virus this past week. There were 790 deaths the previous week.

And although that number “represents 780 individuals who lost their lives and families and loved ones and communities who are mourning those deaths,” Ezike said it makes her “hopeful that this fact is the beginning of a downward trend.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Lawmaker begins attempt to remove gov from office
An Illinois lawmaker dissatisfied with Gov. JB Pritzker’s handling of the large number of COVID-19-related unemployment claims is calling on his colleagues to support an effort to remove the governor from office.

Republican Rep. Allen Skillicorn, of Crystal Lake, said lack of staffing at the Illinois Department of Employment Security and its website’s disclosure of sensitive information is evidence of Pritzker’s “continued inaction.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Only half of Americans say they would get vaccine
Only about half of Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if the scientists working furiously to create one succeed, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

That’s surprisingly low considering the effort going into the global race for a vaccine against the coronavirus that has sparked a pandemic since first emerging from China late last year. But more people might eventually roll up their sleeves: The poll, released Wednesday, found 31% simply weren’t sure if they’d get vaccinated. Another 1 in 5 said they’d refuse.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Illinois prepares to begin to reopen
Barbers and their customers will have to wear face masks. Restaurants will be able to serve diners outdoors only, with parties no larger than six people, spaced apart. And youth sports may hold practices and drills for 10 or fewer people, as long as the water fountains are shut off and other rules followed.
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Grants will help expand broadband access
A new state grant program will provide communities with money and expertise to expand broadband capacity and improve digital access as more people work, shop and go to school online during the coronavirus pandemic.

The $150,000 Illinois Connected Communities grant program will provide grants of up to $15,000, on a competitive basis.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Judge: Illinois federal courts will look 'quite different'
The chief judge of federal courts in Northern Illinois says things will look “quite different” as some operations resume at courthouses in Chicago and Rockford.

Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer said in a video message released Monday that a task force has been planning for how courts can proceed safely during the coronavirus pandemic. She said the court will issue an order Tuesday outlining details.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Board okays O'Hare airport access to Interstate 490
The Illinois Tollway board has approved agreements with two major railroads that help clear the way for a western highway access into O’Hare International Airport that tollway officials have long argued is crucial to the airport’s expansion.
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Chicago sees deadliest Memorial Day weekend since 2015
Ten people were killed and another 39 were wounded in weekend shootings in Chicago in what despite a statewide coronavirus stay-at-home order was the deadliest Memorial Day weekend in the city since 2015.

Chicago police increased patrols in anticipation of a spike in violence, as typically occurs over the Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day weekends. But when it was over, according to data maintained by the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, there were three more homicides than recorded in either of the holiday weekends of 2018 and 2019. And the the total came within two of the 12 who did over the same weekend in 2015.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Driver's facilities reopening on June 1 with targeted service
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced today his office’s reopening plan, beginning June 1, with the first two months focused on serving ONLY new drivers, customers with expired driver’s licenses/ID cards and vehicle transactions. Currently there are more than 700,000 expired driver’s licenses/ID cards and 1.9 million expired vehicle registrations.
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Illinois Medal of Honor recipient: Award belongs to those who didn't make it home
It was February 23, 1945, when Corporal Hershel “Woody” Williams of the 3rd Marine Division earned an honored place in Marine Corps history. His unit was fighting its way north on a tiny patch of land known as Iwo Jima. After only three days of combat, his company of 275 Marines now had only 17 effectives. Of the seven flamethrower operators in the unit, Woody was the only one still in the fight.
Monday, May 25, 2020

Churches holding services say they're careful
Illinois churches holding services Sunday despite warnings about health risks during the coronavirus pandemic said they’re taking precautions to protect congregants, from scrapping communion to requiring masks.

While President Donald Trump’s Friday order declaring houses of worship essential prompted some to expand, others said it was simply time to reopen as more people suffer in the pandemic.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Restore Illinois commission bill passes after delays
A broad-ranging bill creating a limited oversight panel of the governor’s Restore Illinois plan among other measures passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly on Saturday night after its two most controversial provisions were removed in the House.

The removed measures would have temporarily delayed Freedom of Information Act law requirements and allowed the General Assembly to meet remotely during a pandemic.

Monday, May 25, 2020

COVID-19 deaths near 5,000 state wide, but positivity rate stays below 10%
With the state now just five days away from the potential Phase 3 of reopening under Gov. JB Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, the percentage of COVID-19 test results that are positive is important.

With a reported 25,674 tests reported during the past 24 hours, the rate of positive results was 9.77 percent, the second consecutive day below 10 percent. The statewide seven-day rolling positivity rate is now 12 percent, the IDPH reported

Monday, May 25, 2020

Illinois lawmakers pass $40B budget
Lawmakers approved a state operating budget shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday, but despite the passage of the document, nothing about the next fiscal year is black and white.

The state is depending on a broad package providing federal monetary aid to states passing through the U.S. Congress, or, failing that, borrowing up to $5 billion from the U.S. Federal Reserve at an interest rate of approximately 3.8 percent.

Monday, May 25, 2020

US intervenes in case challenging Pritzker
The U.S. Justice Department intervened Friday in a lawsuit challenging Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home order to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The federal government filed a statement of interest in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis supporting the lawsuit filed by Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey challenging some of Pritzker's actions in response to the pandemic. The department is also challenging the moving of Bailey's lawsuit to federal court and asserts Pritzker is acting in violation of Illinois law.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Chicago Police plan more holiday, summer weekend patrols
Chicago Police are increasing patrols and other agencies will help staff a new operations center beginning this weekend as the Memorial Day holiday marks a traditional summer kickoff.
Saturday, May 23, 2020

Chicago mayor estimates city can begin reopening in June
Chicago cannot begin to loosen restrictions designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus before early June, officials in the nation’s third-largest city said Friday.

Chicago, like the rest of Illinois, has been under a stay-at-home order since March 21. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said all parts of the state are on track for restrictions to begin loosening on May 29. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, though, said she could not provide residents with a specific date when the city can loosen restrictions but that she hopes it can move forward in early June.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

House puts final stamp on graduated tax language
The language of the graduated income tax ballot measure is finalized after the House joined the Senate in approving it Friday.

It will read: “The proposed amendment grants the State authority to impose higher income tax rates on higher income levels, which is how the federal government and a majority of other states do it. The amendment would remove the portion of the Revenue Article of the Illinois Constitution that is sometimes referred to as the "flat tax," that requires all taxes on income to be at the same rate. The amendment does not itself change tax rates. It gives the State the ability to impose higher tax rates on those with higher income levels and lower income tax rates on those with middle or lower income levels. You are asked to decide whether the proposed amendment should become a part of the Illinois Constitution.”

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Illinois changes way it reports nursing home virus cases
The state of Illinois is no longer providing the total numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths at long-term care facilities, choosing instead to disclose information about recent outbreaks.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the state’s Department of Public Health on Friday began to provide information only on nursing homes and other facilities that have at least one new coronavirus case in the last four weeks. The department as of Friday stopped publishing information about those facilities that had cases earlier in the pandemic but have not had any cases in the past 28 days.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Senate OKs graduated tax language for ballot, voter pamphlet
The Illinois Senate took the chamber’s last step in putting language for a graduated income tax constitutional amendment on the November general election ballot and publishing arguments for and against the measure in pamphlet form.

The Illinois Constitution Amendment Act requires the General Assembly to prepare a brief explanation of the proposed amendment, a brief argument in favor, a brief argument against, and the form in which the amendment will appear on the ballot in a pamphlet that will be distributed to voters.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Pritzker administration working on guidance for reopening next week
Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday his administration is developing guidelines for local governments and businesses to follow as the state prepares to enter the next phase of reopening the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

He reiterated that all four regions of the state are on track to enter Phase 3 of the reopening plan on May 29, when offices, barber shops, beauty salons and most retail businesses will be allowed to reopen under capacity limits and social distancing guidelines. People will also be allowed to gather in groups of 10 or fewer people.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Chicago mayor: City won't be ready for outdoor dining in May
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city’s restaurants won’t be ready for outdoor dining this month after Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker eased restrictions for restaurants starting May 29.

Lightfoot said June is more likely and she’s open to the possibility of closing streets to allow restaurants the space to operate. She said there are many considerations about safety, in addition to making sure restaurants of all sizes have similar opportunities.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Illinois House Republicans call for - but don't expect - vote on reopening plan
House Republicans are calling for — but not expecting — a vote to be taken on Gov. JB Pritzker’s reopening plan this week while lawmakers are in Springfield for an abbreviated legislative session.

Before the legislative session began Wednesday for the first time since March, four downstate members of the House GOP caucus hosted a video news conference arguing for more input from the General Assembly — a coequal branch of state government to executive authority. They also argued for a more regionalized approach.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Bourne: Increasing taxes on our small businesses is last thing we should do now
With Illinois small businesses reeling from the loss of revenue tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Governor's response, State Representative Avery Bourne  is co-sponsoring legislation that would remove the graduated income tax question from the November ballot.
Thursday, May 21, 2020

Lawmaker refuses to wear mask, is ousted
The Illinois House voted Wednesday afternoon to remove Republican state Rep. Darren Bailey, of Xenia, from session at the Bank of Springfield Center after he refused to comply with a facial-covering requirement in newly-adopted House rules.

In a bipartisan vote, the Illinois House adopted rules Wednesday that include a requirement for members, staff members and visitors to the special session to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth, if they are medically able to do so.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

IDPH withdraws rule calling for criminal charges
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that it plans to withdraw a controversial emergency rule that would have allowed for criminal charges against businesses that open in violation of Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order.

Instead, Pritzker announced Wednesday that he will pursue legislation while the General Assembly meets in special session this week. He said that bill will call for civil penalties for violations rather than criminal sanctions.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

State lawmakers, 6-feet apart, catch up on delayed work
Illinois legislators approved extraordinary safety rules Wednesday as they convened for the first time in 10 weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, prompting the highly unusual step of removing a Republican from the House floor when he refused to wear a face mask.

The Legislature has canceled all its scheduled meetings since early March because of health guidelines to keep at least 6 feet of space between two people, which is nearly impossible in the close quarters of the Capitol.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Illinois Supreme Court allows circuits to design their own reopening plans
Illinois’ 24 chief judges can decide when to reopen courthouses across the state to in-person proceedings, the state Supreme Court ordered Wednesday.

Each circuit is encouraged to continue holding remote hearings as frequently as possible, an extension of the highest court’s previous guidance. But beginning June 1 and in consultation with local health departments, courthouses may hold jury trials, lawsuit arguments and other actions in a courtroom.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Chicago teachers union sues DeVos over special ed
The Chicago Teachers Union on Wednesday announced it is suing U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the city’s public school district, saying its policies interfere with the education of students with special needs during the coronavirus pandemic.

DeVos and Chicago Public Schools have failed “to provide resources and guidance for special education students“ during the public health crisis, the union said in a news release announcing the federal lawsuit.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Outdoor dining added to next phase
As the entire state remains on pace to enter the next phase of reopening in just nine days, Gov. JB Pritzker announced a major addition to the allowed activities under the phase: outdoor dining at restaurants.

Pritzker on Wednesday said restaurants will be able to open outdoor seating to customers when the businesses’ region moves into Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois reopening plan, which all four regions are on pace to do on May 29.

“With the right restrictions, tables six feet apart and away from the sidewalks, masks and distancing measures for staff and other precautions, the experts believe that these services can open at a risk comparable to other outdoor activities,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing in his office at the Capitol, the first time he’s held a briefing in Springfield since March 16.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Third-party candidates now have until only July 20 to get needed signatures
Third-party candidates will have a little less extra time to get petition signatures this election cycle after a federal judge amended her earlier order last week.

Rebecca Pallmeyer, chief judge of the Northern District Federal Court, in April had extended the deadline for third-party candidates to get the required signatures to be on the Nov. 3 ballot from June 22 to Aug. 7. She also cut the number of signatures required by 90 percent.

But two weeks later, the Illinois State Board of Elections asked Pallmeyer to make the deadline earlier to give election officials enough time to have ballots ready.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Members violating precautions could be removed
The state’s COVID-19 response and operating budget will unsurprisingly be on the top of the agenda for lawmakers when they return for a socially distanced session this week, according to an email distributed to Illinois House members Tuesday.

The House will meet today through Friday at the Bank of Springfield Center in downtown Springfield, while the Senate will convene at the Capitol in its regular chamber.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Republicans hope to block rules making some business openings a crime
Republicans in the Illinois House said Tuesday they will attempt to block an emergency rule from the Illinois Department of Public Health that makes it a crime for any business to violate Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order.

IDPH submitted the rule to the secretary of state’s office Friday. It essentially codifies portions of Pritzker’s stay-at-home order into an administrative rule. Under existing state law, known as the Department of Public Health Act, violation of an IDPH order is a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 364 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

We'll enter 'Recovery' in 10 days
All of Illinois is “on track” to progress into the next phase of Gov. JB Pritzker’s plan to reopen the state safely, he said Tuesday during his daily update teleconference in Chicago.

The current phase of the plan allows residents to visit golf courses and state parks, retail shops to deliver orders placed remotely and medical centers to allow elective surgeries to resume.

By moving into the “Recovery” phase in 10 days, offices, salons, barbershops and manufacturers will begin to return with some capacity restrictions. Pritzker said the progress in various metrics — including the rate of positive COVID-19 tests, hospital admissions and ventilator availability — is “terrific news.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Special Consensus hosts a barn dance
Chicago blues is a sound and a brand. Chicago bluegrass has a more obscure history, and the band Special Consensus honors that past on "Chicago Barn Dance."
Wednesday, May 20, 2020

GOP seeks to removed graduated tax from ballot
State Republican leadership is pushing for a vote in the upcoming legislative session to remove a graduated income tax amendment question from the November general election ballot.

“Times have changed dramatically since this initiative was first put forward,” Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said Monday in a video news conference. “But never more has our state's economy been challenged than it will be, and is today.”

But Gov. JB Pritzker has said the revenues anticipated from the graduated income tax – estimated at more than $3.5 billion in its first full fiscal year before the COVID-19 pandemic – are now more important than ever amid uncertainty created by the spread of the virus.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Virus outbreak helps to sack Ditka's restaurant
The coronavirus outbreak has contributed to the closing of Ditka’s restaurant on Chicago’s Gold Coast.

Ditka’s Restaurant Group announced Monday that it will permanently close the downtown location because of her ongoing economic impact of the outbreak and the impending end of its lease

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

DuPage County honors fallen heroes online this Memorial Day
A suburban Chicago county has found a way to honor its fallen heroes this Memorial Day, even as the coronavirus pandemic has forced communities to cancel their celebrations.

DuPage County has created an interactive, online site for people to share stories, photos and memories to honor loved ones or friends. The website also features poems, quotes and videos, including one in which “Taps” is performed at Arlington National Cemetery and another that explains the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Pilot rescued at state park after plane crashed into tree
The pilot of a small plane has been rescued after the plane he was flying crashed and got stuck in a tree in Argyle Lake State Park, authorities said.

The McDonough County Sheriff’s Office said the plane crashed Friday, trapping the 75-year-old pilot in a tree about 50 feet in the area.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Fear of the future: Class of 2020 enters a world in crisis
Tyler Lyson watched his parents’ financial collapse in the Great Recession, a decade ago. He vowed he’d find the security they never had: He would get a college degree.

The 27-year-old won a full scholarship to the University of California-Berkeley and, on Monday, will become the first in his family to graduate from college. “I’m supposed to be doing great,” he said.

Monday, May 18, 2020

New unemployment portal's 'glitch' made private data public
State officials blamed a “glitch” in Illinois’ new online system for processing unemployment benefits for briefly making the private information of some applicants public.

An Illinois Department of Employment Security website showed claimants’ Social Security numbers and other details, according to WBEZ.  Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh characterized it as a “glitch.” The information belonged to independent contractors, who became eligible for jobless aid this year.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Gov.: Testing is key to reopening
SPRINGFIELD – As the COVID-19-related death toll surpassed 4,000 Friday, Gov. JB Pritzker said the state is focusing on expanding the number of tests performed each day – an effort he said is critical to reopening the state’s economy.
Saturday, May 16, 2020

State agencies unsure about reopening pools
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois park districts are uncertain whether public pools can safely open this season due to the coronavirus outbreak,  which has disrupted schedules for summer programming.
Saturday, May 16, 2020

Pandemic claims 118-yr-old J.C. Penney
NEW YORK (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic has pushed the storied but troubled department store chain J.C. Penney into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It is the fourth major retailer to meet that fate.
Saturday, May 16, 2020

Judge denies request to move case to Sangamon Co.

SPRINGFIELD — A downstate judge on Friday denied the attorney general office’s request to move to Sangamon County a Republican representative’s lawsuit challenging Gov. JB Pritzker’s authority to issue successive disaster proclamations.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Virus masks a boon for crooks who hide their faces
CHICAGO (AP) — The way the FBI tells it, William Rosario Lopez put on a surgical mask and walked into the Connecticut convenience store looking to the world like a typical pandemic-era shopper as he picked up plastic wrap, fruit snacks and a few other items. Then, when the only other customer left, he went to the counter, pulled out a small pistol, pointed it at the clerk and demanded that he open the cash register.
Saturday, May 16, 2020

Census outreach stymied by pandemic
SPRINGFIELD – Like everyone else, Illinois’ census outreach coordinators have had to adapt to a new reality during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday, May 16, 2020

If you or someone you love is struggling with depression, seek help
ILLINOIS — The month of May is Mental Health Month. Since 1949, Mental Health America and their affiliates across the country have led the observance of May being Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), while 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health.
Saturday, May 16, 2020

Lake Land will celebrate virtual graduation June 18
MATTOON — Lake Land College is pleased to announce it will be honoring graduates at the first-ever Lake Land College Virtual Commencement Ceremony on June 18, 2020 at 6 p.m.
Friday, May 15, 2020

Republicans push for revisions to 'Restore Illinois' plan; Pritzker resists
SPRINGFIELD — Republicans in the Illinois General Assembly said Thursday that when lawmakers return to the Capitol next week, they intend to push for changes to Gov. JB Pritzker’s plan for reopening the economy, a plan he dubbed “Restore Illinois.”
Friday, May 15, 2020

Stateville reopens F-House to hold COVID inmates
CHICAGO (AP) — After Juan Rodriguez tested positive for COVID-19 last week at Stateville Correctional Center, he told his wife that guards moved him to a cell inside Stateville’s notorious F-House, which officials closed in 2016 citing health and safety concerns.
Friday, May 15, 2020

Governor unveils resource for unemployed, 'Get Hired Illinois'
SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday announced new resources to help the hundreds of thousands of people unemployed in Illinois, unveiling an online portal that will offer job training and connect job seekers with prospective employers.
Friday, May 15, 2020

Worries about having enough to eat adding to anxiety of millions in US
OAK PARK, Ill. (AP) — Kate Maehr has never seen anything like it: lines stretching for blocks as people, many with children, inch forward to get boxes of food they hope will last until the next giveaway, until the next paycheck or until they can get government food assistance.
Friday, May 15, 2020

IDES: Over 1 million claims in 2 months
SPRINGFIELD — The U.S. saw nearly 3 million more unemployment claims the week ending May 9, including another 72,993 in Illinois, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Friday, May 15, 2020

All four regions of state still on track for recovery phase
ILLINOIS — The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,239 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday among 22,678 tests, for a positive rate of just over 14 percent. More than half a million Illinoisans have been tested, which is about 4 percent of the population, and 87,937 have tested positive.
Friday, May 15, 2020

Pritzker warns of 'consequences'
The state saw its largest daily increase in COVID-19-related deaths with 192 Wednesday as Gov. JB Pritzker warned business owners and local governments of consequences they will face if they defy his stay-at-home order.

Pritzker said there are no “easy decisions” in a pandemic and said he sympathizes with local elected leaders struggling with difficult choices.

“But what I don’t have sympathy for is those so intent on disregarding science and logic, so afraid to tell their constituents what they may not want to hear – that they put more people's lives at risk,” the governor said during a virtual news conference from his home in Chicago.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Amended argument sites AG memo as proof that Pritzker overstepped
A document included in a downstate representative’s revised lawsuit against Gov. JB Pritzker suggests the governor does not have the authority to issue successive disaster proclamations.

On April 23, Republican Rep. Darren Bailey, from Xenia, first alleged the governor overstepped his power by declaring more than one state of emergency to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, in amended arguments, Bailey cites a memo from the office of Republican Attorney General Jim Ryan in 2001 that says the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act allows a governor to wield expanded authority only “for up to 30 days.”

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Peoria County proposes a sub-regional reopening plan to state leaders
Gov. JB Pritzker’s regional plan to reopen Illinois does not play in Peoria.

Officials from Peoria County on Wednesday unveiled their own COVID-19 reopening plan that breaks up north-central Illinois into a sub-region of 11 counties, which officials say will allow the area to take a more localized approach that protects public and economic health better than the state’s plan.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Can the coronavirus survive on money? Yes, but. . .
Can the coronavirus survive on paper currency?

Yes, but experts say the risk of getting the virus from cash is low compared with person-to-person spread, which is the main way people get infected.

Still, many businesses worldwide have banned cash transactions and governments are taking extra precautions.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Illinois peak projected for mid-June
Illinois reported a one-day record high in COVID-19 cases Tuesday and its next-to-highest death toll, just a day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the peak in coronavirus infections originally projected for late April has been pushed into mid-June.

The governor noted that the 4,014 new cases reported — nearly 900 more than the previous high on May 1 — should come as no surprise given that the state received test results on more than 29,000 people in 24 hours, which is thousands more than in previous days. Testing availability, which continues to grow in Illinois, is key to tracking the disease and resuming a sidelined economy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Gov says he would consider withholding funds from counties opening early
Gov. JB Pritzker said Tuesday he would consider withholding federal pass-through funds to counties ignoring his stay-at-home order and said it “would be best” for the General Assembly to meet before the end of May to take up key state business.

When asked in his daily COVID-19 briefing via videoconference Tuesday if the state would consider withholding federal aid to counties reopening early, Pritzker said, “we would consider that.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Chicago morgue coping despite surge in deaths
The Chicago area’s chief medical examiner starts her day with a numbers problem: how to manage three times the number of deaths as before the coronavirus pandemic with the same number of pathologists.

On a recent morning when The Associated Press got exclusive access to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office for the day, Dr. Ponni Arunkumar scanned a list of 62 new death cases. The average last year was 20 a day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

State fast-tracking $25M for local gov't construction
The Illinois department tasked with the state’s economic development launched a program Tuesday providing grant funding to local governments for capital projects.

Its aim, said Michael Negron, assistant director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, is to return skilled laborers to work on road improvements, building upgrades and other ventures that can begin quickly at a time when communities are facing COVID-19-related economic struggles.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Three businesses sue Pritzker, challenge his power to shutter services
The attorney representing two Republican lawmakers in separate cases challenging Gov. JB Pritzker’s emergency powers has three new clients: a hair salon owner and a restaurateur with two establishments.

Thomas DeVore, in the five cases, argues the governor has neither constitutional nor statutory power to implement consecutive 30-day COVID-19 state of emergency orders. If the governor doesn’t have that power, DeVore argues, he cannot extend stay-at-home orders.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Senior staffer in gov's office tests positive for virus
All senior staff in Gov. JB Pritzker’s office are working from home after a senior staff member tested positive for COVID-19, the governor’s office announced Monday.

The unidentified staffer tested positive last week and has so far not shown any symptoms of the disease, but the person is reported to have been in close contact with the governor and other staff members.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Bradley to resume on-campus instruction in Aug.
Bradley University in central Illinois will resume on-campus instruction in the fall semester despite the continued presence of the coronavirus in the state, university officials announced Monday.

University officials said Bradley’s location in Peoria, with its population of about 111,000, and the school’s student population of about 5,000 gives administrators confidence regular operations can resume in a safe environment.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

'Recovery' phase expected late May
Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday that three of the state’s four regions are on pace to enter the next phase of reopening the state’s economy by the end of May, but he pushed back against suggestions that the state should begin to reopen earlier.

“If we were to lift all of our mitigations entirely at the end of the month, modeling shows that there would be a new surge of COVID-19 and a higher R-naught in each of the four regions, even in the least hard-hit regions of our state,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Senior aide to Governor Pritzker tests positive for COVID
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and all senior administration officials will work from home for an undetermined period of time after an aide tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement released today.

Pritzker has twice tested negative, with the last test administered Sunday, according to his office. All other senior staff members also tested negative.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Some economists fear disaster of W-shaped recovery
When the coronavirus erupted in the United States, it triggered quarantines, travel curbs and business shutdowns. Many economists predicted a V-shaped journey for the economy: A sharp drop, then a quick bounce-back as the virus faded and the economy regained health.

Others envisioned a slower, U-shaped course.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Governor defends extended order
Gov. J.B. Pritzker defended his stay-at-home order and incremental plans to reopen, saying Sunday that Illinois residents have to change the way things are done until COVID-19 is “eradicated.”

The Democrat’s comments on CNN’s “State of the Union” came as he faced a southern Illinois salon owner’s lawsuit, criticism from some Republicans who deem his plans an overreach and a  Chicago Tribune editorial  accusing him of being “cautious to the extreme.”

Pritzker dismissed the criticism Sunday.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Ex-comptroller seeks release from prison due to virus
The former Dixon comptroller convicted of stealing nearly $54 million from the northern Illinois city is seeking release from federal prison over fears of contracting COVID-19.

Rita Crundwell used the stolen money to fund her nationally renowned horse-breeding operation and luxurious tastes. She was sentenced in 2013 to nearly 20 years in prison after being convicted of wire fraud. The 67-year-old woman’s release date is Oct. 29, 2029.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Virus complicates safety in multigenerational homes
At the age of 24, Francy Sandoval has unwittingly become the sole breadwinner for her family, after her mom, dad and brother — a nanny, a painter and a server — all lost their jobs in the coronavirus pandemic.

Her family needs the money, so the aspiring nurse feels she has no choice but to keep her high-risk job at the front desk of a suburban Chicago community health clinic treating many COVID-19 patients. But her home hardly feels like a haven either.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Fugitive arrested in Minnesota slaying of real estate agent
A fugitive wanted for killing a real estate agent in Minneapolis in a murder-for-hire plot has been arrested in Illinois, police said.

Berry Davis and another alleged co-conspirator, Cedric Berry, have been indicted on first-degree murder charges for their alleged roles in Monique Baugh’s kidnapping and killing on New Year’s Eve.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Illinois tops single-day COVID-19 test record with 20K
Illinois continues to increase its COVID-19 testing capacity, setting a one-day record on Friday with more than 20,000 tests completed in state during the previous 24 hours.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported on Friday that 20,671 tests for COVID-19 were completed the previous day, bringing the state’s total to 399,741, which is about 3 percent of Illinois’ population.

“Illinois has made important and measurable progress in growing our daily test numbers, today for the first time exceeding 20,000 tests,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

State to begin treating parts of Illinois for gypsy moth
The Illinois Department of Agriculture will begin treating parts of northern Illinois infested with the gypsy moth, a destructive pest that eats more than 250 species of trees and shrubs but is partial to oak leaves.
Saturday, May 9, 2020

Illinois judge rejects l awsuit over ballot obstacles for constitutional amendment
A judge on Thursday sided against an Illinois organization that claimed restrictions implemented to combat the novel coronavirus made it impossible to gather the necessary signatures to place a constitutional amendment on November’s general election ballot.

The Committee for the Illinois Democracy Amendment is advocating for a constitutional change that would obligate the General Assembly to take roll call votes on bills proposing “stronger ethical standards for Illinois public officials.”

It would also allow residents to propose related bills by submitting a petition with at least 100,000 signatures.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Another 74,000 file first-time unemployment claims in Illinois this week
Another 3.2 million Americans filed for unemployment during the week ending May 2, including more than 74,476 Illinoisans.

That brought the total number of insured unemployed for the week to 697,443 in Illinois, according to the U.S. Department of Labor estimates, while the total number of jobless claims since mid-March grew to 33.3 million nationwide. The numbers represent roughly 11 percent of Illinois’ civilian labor force and 15 percent of the nation’s workforce.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Health Dept.: Honor mom Sunday by staying home
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,641 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 138 residents died in 15 counties over the previous 24 hours. That brings the state’s total to 70,873 cases and 3,111 deaths in 97 counties.

There were 17,783 tests results reported in the last 24 hours, meaning the positivity rate for those tested in that span was about 15 percent. A total of 379,043 tests have been conducted thus far. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

Governor says stay the course
As statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations remain stable, state leaders say not much has changed to warrant an altered response to the pandemic.

“The virus hasn't gone away. It is still out there, and nothing that we're doing now is changing that fact,” Gov. JB Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing Wednesday in Chicago. “What we have changed, what has made things better, what has reduced the number of potential infections and the number of people going into the hospital and dying, is the fact that people have adhered to the stay-at-home order.”

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Labor deal averts strike at dozens of nursing homes
Staff at dozens of Illinois nursing homes called off a strike set to begin Friday after the workers’ union reached a tentative deal with nursing home owners that union officials said would help safeguard both staff and residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

Leaders of the Service Employees International Union, which represents more than 10,000 workers at 100 nursing homes, most in the Chicago area, said in a statement Thursday morning that the planned strike had been averted after they reached a two-year tentative contract with nursing home owners. They said the deal would protect workers and residents “during this time of unprecedented vulnerability and risk.“

Thursday, May 7, 2020

House GOP slams the governor's reopening plan
Republican members of the Illinois House of Representatives on Wednesday criticized Gov. JB Pritzker’s multi-phase plan to reopen Illinois by region, saying it does not act quickly enough to respond to the economic hardship caused by his stay-at-home order.

“We all know that the stay-at-home order was the right thing to do to stop the spread of the virus and protect our health care,” said Deputy House Minority Leader Rep. Dan Brady, of Normal.

“Unfortunately, the governor's plan fails to recognize that local officials throughout the state want the same thing he does: a safe return from the pandemic,” Brady said. “Instead of offering any semblance of local authority to the people who are on the ground in the community, it continues to be a decree by one person.”

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Health care advocates: Lifting stay at home order would be devastating
The novel coronavirus pandemic’s historic impact on Illinois warrants Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, four state health care advocacy organizations argue in a court filing.

That restriction, in place with modifications since March 21, prevented the accelerated spreading of COVID-19, health care facilities from using up stores of personal protective gear, hospitals from running out of beds and the short-staffing of personnel, attorneys for the organizations wrote.

At each step of the lawsuit filed by Xenia Republican Rep. Darren Bailey challenging Pritzker’s authority to issue successive 30-day disaster proclamations, the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, Illinois State Medical Society, Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing and the state’s chapter of the American Nurses Association have submitted their argument in support of the governor.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Davis part of group introducing FEED act
Tuesday Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05), Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-02), Rep. Rodney Davis (IL-13), Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) joined Chef José Andrés and World Central Kitchen in introducing the FEMA Empowering Essential Deliveries (FEED) Act.

This bill allows the Federal government to pay 100 percent of the cost to states and localities so that they can partner with restaurants and nonprofits to prepare nutritious meals for vulnerable populations, such as seniors and underprivileged children. These partnerships will support businesses and small farmers as the Coronavirus pandemic continues.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

What 'Restore Illinois' looks like
Gov. JB Pritzker unveiled a plan Tuesday for the gradual reopening of the state’s economy on a region-by-region basis, but he suggested it could take several months or even a year before the state fully reopens.

“Until we have a vaccine or an effective treatment or enough widespread immunity that new cases fail to materialize, the option of returning to normalcy doesn’t exist,” Pritzker said during his daily briefing in Chicago. “That means we have to learn how to live with COVID-19 until it can be vanquished.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Editorials from around the state reflect opinions on rules surrounding pandemic
If you haven’t watched the Chicago house party COVID-19 video, you’ve likely heard about it. The scene, posted to social media, lasts nearly 24 minutes, but it takes only about 10 seconds to absorb, and 2 more seconds to condemn. The video appears to show a packed room of young adults — some wearing masks but most not — chatting, laughing, drinking and quite possibly infecting each other. Oh, and obviously violating the state’s orders limiting crowds and enforcing social distancing.

The viral video of the April 25 party in Galewood on the city’s Northwest Side gained some context after Janeal Wright, 26, came forward as the organizer and expressed remorse. The party, he said, was meant to honor two friends who were shot to death in an incident on the West Side in 2018. Wright wasn’t concerned about the pandemic, but he was cooped up at home when not at work as a security guard. Time to party, he decided. Time to escape the worries of his world

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

By the numbers: COVID-19 in Illinois
Gov. JB Pritzker said the state is making modest progress in terms of COVID-19 hospitalizations and that his stay-at-home order will continue to be enforced at a local, not statewide, level.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday reported 2,341 new cases, bringing the state’s total to 63,840. IDPH also reported 46 additional deaths – the lowest daily number since April 19 – related to novel coronavirus, bringing that total to 2,662.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

How will we heal from damage COVID-19 caused to Illinois' agri-food system
In the midst of a global health crisis, the agri-food sector is pressing forward determined to do what it does best—feed the world. After all, empty grocery store shelves don’t simply restock themselves.

COVID-19, however, is rapidly exposing our food system’s susceptibilities and disconnects. Could this pandemic catalyze a rethinking and transformation of the current centralized model? With an outsized stake in the outcome, Illinois would be wise to consider.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Just in case you're wondering: What everyone but Illinois is doing
The reopening of the economy and loosening of coronavirus-prompted restrictions remain uneven and varied throughout the U.S. as governors watch case numbers and weigh caution against desires to ramp up business.

Texas, Oklahoma, and Montana are among states newly allowing restaurants to reopen. Malls, movie theaters and other venues are reopening in several states. Some states have outlined phased reopenings: North Carolina’s governor said he hopes to start such a process after this week if virus trends allow.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

State reports record number of tests
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Sunday reported the state’s highest one-day total of COVID-19 tests with 19,417 completed in the past 24 hours.

For more than a week, the state has met its long-stated goal of 10,000 daily tests, a trend Gov. JB Pritzker has said is key to incrementally lifting the stay-at-home order and other social and economic restrictions. Since the outbreak began, 319,313 tests have been completed.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Small church in northern Illinois defies stay-at-home order
A small northern Illinois church defied crowd restrictions in the state’s latest stay-at-home order, holding a Sunday service with dozens of people.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s extension of the order, which took effect Friday and lifts May 30, allows for worship limited to groups of 10, along with other social distancing measures.

Roughly 100 people attended The Beloved Church in Lena, according to WREX-TV, which was denied entrance but interviewed attendees and neighbors who counted congregants. The community of roughly 2,800 people is 130 miles (209.21 kilometers) northwest of Chicago.

Monday, May 4, 2020

HUD to allocate $38.3M for public housing residents
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has announced his Department will allocate $685 million in COVID-19 relief funding to help low-income Americans residing in public housing.  The funding, made available by the CARES Act legislation President Trump signed into law on March 27, 2020, will be awarded to Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) across the nation, including $38.3 million to Illinois.

“As a result of President Trump’s strong leadership, we were able to secure necessary funding through the CARES Act to help keep Americans living in public housing safe through these unprecedented times,” said Secretary Carson. “HUD has worked hard to ensure that these funds will reach Public Housing Authorities  quickly and efficiently, so they are well equipped to protect their residents and staff as we all work together as a Nation to combat this invisible enemy.”

Monday, May 4, 2020

Alzheimer's Assoc. supports global day of giving and unity during pandemic
ILLINOIS — The Alzheimer's Association Illinois Chapter is proud to join with individuals and groups around the country and the world to support #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5.
Saturday, May 2, 2020

Illinois 29 work begins May 4
ROCHESTER — The Illinois Department of Transportation announces that resurfacing of Illinois 29 between Cardinal Hill Road in Rochester and Jett Road at Berry begins May 4. 
Saturday, May 2, 2020

Massive contact-tracing to occur
SPRINGFIELD — The state of Illinois is about to hire hundreds of people to embark on a massive contact-tracing project to identify people who might have been exposed to COVID-19.
Saturday, May 2, 2020

Grant to expand access to private land for hunting
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will use a $2 million federal grant to expand access to private land for hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation and help landowners improve wildlife habitat on their property.
Saturday, May 2, 2020

Memorial offers devises to connect with loved ones
SPRINGFIELD — Technology helped Deborah Leahy cope with the loneliness of a two-week hospital stay during the COVID-19 pandemic. From her sixth-floor bed at Memorial Medical Center, the 67-year-old Springfield resident was able to see her daughter, who lives in Florida, for the first time in almost a year, thanks to an iPad provided free by Memorial during her recent stay.
Saturday, May 2, 2020

SIU is first state university to deliver in key COVID-19 test substance shortage

CARBONDALE — A team at Southern Illinois University Carbondale this week delivered its first round of a key substance needed for COVID-19 tests to health authorities in Springfield. SIU was the first university in the state to do so.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Some restrictions eased as of today
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois officials on Thursday said increased COVID-19 testing is “vital” to reopening the state’s economy, lifting social restrictions and protecting Illinois residents.
Friday, May 1, 2020

Illinois casinos to stay closed until further notice
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Gaming Board has decreed the state’s casinos will remain closed and its video gambling terminals will remain dark “until further notice” was the state fight to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus, officials announced Thursday.
Friday, May 1, 2020

Another 81,000 Illinoisans file for unemployment
SPRINGFIELD — Unemployment in Illinois and the U.S. continues to balloon amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Friday, May 1, 2020

State surpasses 50,000 virus cases
SPRINGFIELD – The state of Illinois is sending out teams of nurses and ramping up testing for COVID-19 at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities as it continues efforts to control the spread of the virus.
Thursday, April 30, 2020

Illinois Republicans call for reopening legislative session
SPRINGFIELD – Republicans in the General Assembly are urging House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Don Harmon to call lawmakers back into session so they can vote on whether to extend the state’s stay-at-home order beyond May 1.
Thursday, April 30, 2020

Unemployment pushing states toward insolvency
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A surge in unemployment stemming from the coronavirus shutdown of large parts of the U.S. economy is starting to push some state jobless funds toward insolvency.
Thursday, April 30, 2020

Second state lawmaker files suit against governor's stay-at-home order
SPRINGFIELD — A second Republican state representative on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Gov. JB Pritzker alleging he overstepped his authority in ordering Illinoisans to stay at home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Thursday, April 30, 2020

Gov: Decision sets a dangerous precedent
Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday denounced a state representative from southern Illinois, calling the lawsuit that defeated his stay-at-home order in court “a cheap political stunt.”

Referring to state Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, only as “the state representative from the 109th district,” Pritzker said Bailey’s successful lawsuit in Clay County circuit court on Monday was “designed so that the representative can see his name in headlines.”

“This ruling only applies to one person because it was only ever about one person,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

AG Raoul to appeal ruling halting stay-at-home rule for one lawmaker
The Illinois Attorney General’s office filed a notice to appeal a downstate judge’s ruling releasing one Republican representative from the governor’s executive orders, according to court documents.

Xenia Republican Rep. Darren Bailey alleged in his lawsuit that by issuing successive 30-day COVID-19 disaster proclamations, Gov. JB Pritzker overstepped his authority. The governor characterized the suit as “a cheap political stunt” that will have dangerous ramifications if allowed to stand.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Judge: Stay-at-home rule an overreach
Gov. JB Pritzker urged southern Illinoisans to continue to comply with a stay-at-home order and named a pair of counties where the rate of those killed by the virus is higher than in Cook County.

As he was speaking at his daily briefing Monday in Chicago, however, a Clay County judge was ruling against his authority to implement such an order.

When told by reporters that the judge had ruled against his stay-at-home order, Pritzker blasted Republican Rep. Darren Bailey, of Xenia, who filed the lawsuit challenging it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Workers' Compensation Commission repeals emergency COVID-19 rule
A state commission voted to repeal a new rule that would have made workers’ compensation benefits available to essential employees who contracted COVID-19 without having to prove the illness was contracted at the workplace.

The Workers Compensation Commission repealed the rule, which it approved on April 16, unanimously Monday after a Sangamon County judge granted a temporary restraining order against the new rule last week. That action was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

House GOP wants details on inmates released
Illinois House Republicans on Monday stepped up their demands that the Pritzker administration release more information about inmates being furloughed or granted early releases from state prisons during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also requested the governor consult more with the General Assembly about granting such releases.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Pritzker comments on finances, business
Gov. JB Pritzker  said lost revenues will present a “real challenge” for next fiscal year’s state budget. When he made his initial proposal in February, it was “balanced” upon the money officials expected the state to receive, but COVID-19 has made those estimates obsolete.
Monday, April 27, 2020

St. Louis police break up crowd of reckless drivers
Officers were called to downtown St. Louis this weekend to break up crowd of between 200 and 250 stunt drivers and spectators, police said.
Monday, April 27, 2020

Gov to teachers: Prepare for e-learning
The state reported more than 10,000 novel coronavirus tests completed for the third day in a row Sunday, leading to 2,126 more positive cases of the virus in Illinois.

Gov. JB Pritzker has said that meeting the 10,000 per-day threshold gives medical professionals and state officials a more accurate understanding of COVID-19’s impact on communities across Illinois. In the last 24 hours, 13,335 test results were recorded.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Third-party candidates' ballot access rules loosened
A federal judge’s ruling Thursday made official what Capitol News Illinois reported earlier this week: Requirements for third-party candidates to be on November ballots in the state will be loosened this election cycle.

Rebecca Pallmeyer, chief judge of the Northern District federal court, agreed with the state’s Libertarian and Green parties that stay-at-home and social distancing requirements in Illinois have made gathering the required number of petition signatures by June 22 “practically impossible.”

Monday, April 27, 2020

State ups amount of low-interest loans to small biz to $500M
The Illinois State Treasurer’s Office announced it is increasing to $500 million the amount of money available to small businesses for low-interest bridge loans to help employers navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs made the decision because nearly all of the initial $250 million he made available in March has already been committed to financial institutions throughout the state. Frerichs has the sole authority to make the money available through the linked deposit program, which has been a core function of the Illinois Treasurer’s Office since 1983.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Lawmaker sues gov, alleges improper use of emergency powers
Gov. JB Pritzker’s state of emergency should have expired April 8, an Illinois lawmaker says in a lawsuit, rendering improper his subsequent actions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Republican Rep. Darren Bailey, of Xenia, said during a video news conference Friday he does not dispute COVID-19 is a public health crisis. But he says the governor overstepped authority granted to him by the Illinois Emergency Management Act.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Lawmakers face May deadline on change to redistricting
Illinois lawmakers are facing a May 3 deadline to approve a joint resolution that would alter how congressional and legislative maps are drawn across the state to help make elections more competitive.

Lawmakers typically draw maps every 10 years by using new census data, without getting input from the public. The process has sparked criticism from some people in the public and in many government reform groups that it essentially results in lawmakers choosing their voters, rather than voters choosing their elected officials.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Chicago's police superintendent apologizes to aldermen
Chicago’s new police superintendent apologized to aldermen for not warning them about an order that took dozens of officers from their districts and moved them to curb gun crime and enforce Illinois’  stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A day after David Brown was sworn in, he had a conference call Thursday with several aldermen whose wards on the North Side were impacted, the  Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“He came out and apologized immediately and said, ‘I’m sorry that I blindsided you guys with this,” said Anthony Napolitano, alderman for the 41st ward. “He apologized that he had no warning for us.”

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Lawmaker sues Pritzker, alleges improper use of emergency powers
Gov. JB Pritzker’s state of emergency should have expired April 8, an Illinois lawmaker says in a lawsuit, rendering improper his subsequent actions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Republican Rep. Darren Bailey, of Xenia, said during a video news conference Friday he does not dispute COVID-19 is a public health crisis. But he says the governor overstepped authority granted to him by the Illinois Emergency Management Act.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Illinois Supreme Court to hear arguments via video
The Illinois Supreme Court will for the first time in its history hear oral arguments through videoconference because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The unusual procedure during May will allow the court’s seven justices to observe social distancing, a practice which experts believe significantly limits transmission of the potentially deadly virus.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Chicago's horse-drawn carriages to end next year
The Chicago City Council voted Friday to end horse-drawn carriage rides in the city after Dec. 31.

Alderman Brendan Reilly, whose ward includes the city’s central business district, said he has tried to persuade carriage operators to “treat their animals in a humane way.” When the violations continued, he had no choice but to push to banish them from city streets, Reilly said.

Animal rights activist Ingrid Newkirk praised the aldermen’s decision.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Judge blocks new Illinois workers' compensation rule
A judge has blocked a new Illinois workers’ compensation rule granting benefits to any employee deemed essential who contracts COVID-19, even if working from home.

Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John M. Madonia issued a temporary restraining order Thursday blocking the rule following a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association this week against emergency amendments adopted by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. More than two dozen business groups supported the lawsuit.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Illinois rents fleet of refrigerated trailers as morgue contingency
Illinois has rented a fleet of refrigerated semi-truck trailers to store the bodies of deceased COVID-19 patients in case morgues become filled to capacity, according to a spokesperson for the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

The “more than 20” trailers rented by the state thus far are “part of the state’s response to expand mortuary capacity,” IEMA spokesperson Rebecca Clark said in an email.

“These structures are being retrofitted for medical examiners throughout the state should a need arise,” she said.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Homebound for one more month
Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday that Illinois’ novel coronavirus data necessitated an extension of his stay-at-home order through the end of May.

The current executive order will expire May 1, at which time an order with “some modifications” will take effect.

Masks will be mandatory for all residents above the age of 2, who can “medically tolerate a face covering,” when in a public place, the governor said.

State parks will begin to open, although social distancing measures must be obeyed in them.

Friday, April 24, 2020

New order: Elective surgeries may resume; golf courses and parks will reopen
The Illinois Department of Employment Security said Thursday that 4.4 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims during the week that ended April 18, including 102,936 workers in Illinois.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 520,227 workers in Illinois, or 8.2 percent of the state’s civilian labor force, drew unemployment benefits during the week.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Republicans respond to new order: 'First step in moving Illinois forward'
The changes announced Thursday by Governor Pritzker represent many of the changes that Republicans in the General Assembly have been urging him to make in recent days. Some Republicans, however, wanted even further easing of restrictions, such as allowing small, independent retailers, barber shops and hair salons to reopen as long as they follow health guidelines and limit the number of people in the store at one time.

Some have argued that the restrictions have been unfair to small, independent retailers because, for example, shoe stores are considered nonessential businesses while big-box retailers like Walmart and Target, which also sell shoes, have been allowed to remain open.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Business groups challenge new work comp rules
Business groups are challenging a decision by a commission that makes workers’ compensation benefits available to essential workers who contract COVID-19 without having to prove the illness was contracted at the workplace.

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Sangamon County Circuit Court and are represented by the law firm Greensfelder, Hemker and Gale.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

High court will hear cases via videoconference
Illinois’ highest court will hear its May session’s oral arguments through videoconference.

The decision, made to follow social distancing and stay-at-home orders in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, marks the first time such technology has ever been embraced by the seven justices.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Illinois reports largest daily increases in virus cases
Illinois health officials reported the state’s largest one-day increase of COVID-19 cases and tests results Wednesday as Gov. JB Pritzker announced two new drive-thru testing facilities.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,049 new cases Wednesday and 98 additional deaths. Those new cases coincided with 9,349 test results reported – the largest single-day output by nearly 2,000. Pritzker has said previously, however, that the number of tests reported daily fluctuates as private labs, state labs and hospitals all report on different schedules.

“That's the largest number yet, so that's why you see a larger positive testing result,” he said at his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

GOP calls for strategic reopening
Republicans are calling for a strategic reopening of sectors of the economy in the coming days, and Gov. JB Pritzker has hinted at changes to his stay-at-home order, which is scheduled to end April 30.

Sen. Brady said in a phone call he would like to see the data Pritzker is relying upon so it could inform a regionalized approach to opening some businesses. He specifically pointed to hospitals that indicate they can reopen for certain procedures while still handling COVID-19 cases.

He said data may indicate some areas are ready for openings sooner than others.

“We need to plan for that,” he said. “We need to tell the people of Illinois what the benchmarks are.”

Thursday, April 23, 2020

COVID-19 beginning to affect meatsupply chain
The meat supply chain, which was running at full capacity at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, is now taking a hit as the disease infects plant workers and threatens the livestock industry’s ability to keep up with high demand.

The spread of coronavirus through employees at some of the nation’s largest meat plants could slow the flow of food, depending on how long plant closures last. At the same time, other plants that normally supply the food service industry with larger quantities of food are not equipped to distribute smaller packages suitable for grocery stores.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Governor: Normal is a long way away
Changes are coming to the stay-at-home order, Gov. JB Pritzker said again at his daily COVID-19 briefing Tuesday in Chicago, but it is unclear what they are and when they will happen..

More information on what models the state is using to predict a peak and what changes will be made to the order is “coming in the very near future,” Pritzker said, and many options are being considered,

“We're looking at lots of things like that,” Pritzker said when asked about the possibility of opening golf courses.. “We understand the summer is different than what we've had up to now, which has been colder weather. We want to consider all of those things, that's just one of the many, many things we are trying take into consideration.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Virus Diary: The kids, at a distance, caring for their parents in their 90s
We call them “Madad,” my siblings and I: So inseparable, not to say indistinct, have my parents become during 66 years of marriage. When they call it’s a twofer, dueling voices on separate extensions cheerfully greeting the new arrival on the line.

But they don’t call often. Depression babies, I suspect they have never completely let go of the long-distance toll charge. So when I recently picked up a buzzing phone to see “Jack & Shirley O’Connor,” my stomach dropped. As I explained in a text to my sisters and brother:

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

U of I creates $36-million fund to offset tuition hike
The University of Illinois System has created a fund to provide financial aid to students who are facing increased economic distress due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund, which will have at least $36 million available to students, is being supported by the federal COVID-19 relief package, money from all three universities in Illinois’ system and private fundraising. The recently approved federal economic assistance bill set aside $14 billion for higher education.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

GOP: State should not request aid 'beyond crisis'
The state’s five Republican congressmen responded Monday to a letter sent last week by Illinois Senate President Don Harmon requesting $40 billion in aid to the state, including $10 billion for the state’s pension system, which has an unfunded liability of $138 billion.

The GOP members hold five of Illinois’ 18 Congressional seats, and they said Harmon, D-Oak Park, should consider pushing structural reforms before requesting “aid that is beyond this immediate crisis.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Illinois 'curve bending the right way'
Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday that the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, is showing signs of slowing down and that the social distancing measures put in place have saved thousands of lives.

“Our curve is bending the right way,” Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Pritzker faces questioning on prison sentence commutations
Illinois Senate Republicans are calling for greater communication from the governor’s office when he commutes prison sentences, but Gov. JB Pritzker has not indicated he will make any voluntary changes to the process, which is spelled out in state law and also goes through the state Prisoner Review Board.

The Chicago Tribune reported Pritzker commuted 17 sentences between March 11 and April 9. Another two commutations were conducted on April 13, according to the Prisoner Review Board.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Chicago archdiocese settles suit in abuse of 7-yr. old
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has settled a lawsuit that alleged a 7-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at a church camp in 2015, an attorney for the girl announced Monday.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Rockford businesses lean on each other to survive virus
Small businesses are leaning on each other in order to withstand the effects of the novel coronavirus.

The “Here For Good” collection by the Rockford Art Deli is an example of the unifying effort from small businesses. Companies that have T-shirts made through this collection will get $10 of the profits paid directly to them weekly.

Monday, April 20, 2020

4th Cook County Jail detainee dies after positive virus test
A 64-year-old man awaiting trial on a first-degree murder charge has become the fourth Cook County Jail detainee to die after testing positive for the coronavirus, authorities said.
Monday, April 20, 2020

Crews tackle $20M expansion of northwest Illinois hospital
Crews are continuing work on a $20.5 million expansion of a community hospital in northwest Illinois during the coronavirus pandemic, hospital officials said.

Workers were already wearing protective equipment to do their jobs and there are barriers in place to separate employees and patients, said Morrison Community Hospital Marketing Director Mick Welding, according to Sauk Valley Media.

Monday, April 20, 2020

COVID-19 Sunday Update: 31 more fatalities reported; Pritzker salutes National Guard
Gov. JB Pritzker praised the state’s National Guard as he welcomed one of its units home and gave an update on personal protective equipment Sunday at his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago.

Pritzker welcomed home the 1st battalion of the 178th Infantry Regiment of the Illinois National Guard, which had been serving in Afghanistan. He also credited the Guard for setting up drive-thru testing sites, building an alternate care facility at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago and providing surge support at various facilities.

Monday, April 20, 2020

First stop for navy recruits: An Illinois water park
NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. (AP) — The U.S. Navy’s only boot camp will resume accepting recruits next week, but those recruits will have to spend two weeks in isolation at a hotel and indoor water park near the northern Illinois base.
Saturday, April 18, 2020

Springfield devastated as pandemic deals massive blow to the economy
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Coronavirus outbreak has left Illinois’ capital city devastated as the pandemic dealt a massive blow to the city’s economy.
Saturday, April 18, 2020

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation announces fifth "Secondary Site" license for adult use cannabis
CHICAGO — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has announced it has awarded the fifth "Secondary Site" adult use cannabis license.
Saturday, April 18, 2020

Pritzker administration releases WI-FI Hotspot Map to support Illinois students during COVID-19 pandemic
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois state agencies released a wi-fi hotspot map today to help students across the state who lack internet access in their homes. The effort was spearheaded by the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) along with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT), the Office of the Secretary of State Illinois State Library, and the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB).
Saturday, April 18, 2020

Schools to remain closed for academic year as Pritzker says virus not yet at peak
SPRINGFIELD – Following the lead of nearby states, Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday announced Illinois’ public and private schools will remain shuttered for the rest of the school year.
Saturday, April 18, 2020

Illinois Supreme Court rules against teacher on sick leave
CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Supreme Court, in a decision handed down Thursday, ruled a teacher in Wood Dale School District 7 was not entitled to all her paid sick leave because she gave birth just before summer break.
Friday, April 17, 2020

Parts of state to get 8" snow
SPRINGFIELD — The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning, beginning this evening, for heavy, wet snow across central and northern Illinois, with accumulations of 6 inches in the Peoria area, northwestern Illinois and Chicago area. Higher amounts, up to 8 inches, are possible from Macomb to Galesburg.
Friday, April 17, 2020

Pritzker joins with regional states to plan to reopen economies
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday that he and five other Midwestern governors have agreed to coordinate with one another as they make plans for reopening their economies after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
Friday, April 17, 2020

Gov fights virus from Chicago, downstate notices
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker has spent countless hours plotting and planning strategy in the state’s race against the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who live in central and southern Illinois have noticed he’s done it almost exclusively from Chicago.
Friday, April 17, 2020

Another 141,000 in Illinois file initial unemployment claims
SPRINGFIELD — In the week ending April 11, another 141,049 Illinoisans filed initial unemployment claims, bringing the total number during the latest four weeks of the novel coronavirus pandemic to more than 634,000 in the state.
Friday, April 17, 2020

State revenue will be short by billions
Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration estimates state revenues will come up billions of dollars shorter than expected this fiscal year and next due to the novel coronavirus’s economic impact.

The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget revised revenue estimates downward by $2.7 billion for the state’s current fiscal year, which ends June 30. About $1 billion of that decline is due to the three-month extension of the income tax filing deadline.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Illinois nursing home: 23 virus deaths
Twenty-two residents and one staff member at a nursing home in the northern Illinois community of Joliet have died of the coronavirus, a spokeswoman for the facility said.

In announcing the deaths Wednesday, Symphony of Joliet, which reported a total of three deaths as recently as last week, became among the latest nursing homes across the United States to report a spike in the number of COVID-19 deaths.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

House Republicans petition governor to reopen Illinois state parks and trails
State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) joined a group of House Republicans this week in petitioning the Governor to reopen State Parks and trails that have been closed to the public since the “Stay at Home” order took effect in Illinois on March 20.
Thursday, April 16, 2020

Maintaining mental health amid virus pandemic
State lawmakers put mental health on center stage Wednesday during a virtual town hall in which medical professionals offered advice to Illinoisans struggling with the mental and emotional pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hosted by Chicago Democrats Rep. Ann Williams, Rep. Yoni Pizer and Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, the town hall laid out the mental health challenges related to COVID-19’s social and economic disruptions and offered therapies and solutions to people affected.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Chicago tavern sues insurer for refusing to pay claim for business interruption
A Chicago tavern that was closed since March 16 due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Illinois filed a lawsuit this week against an insurance company for refusing to pay out a claim under the tavern’s “business interruption” policy.
Thursday, April 16, 2020

State has spent nearly $170 million fighting virus
The state of Illinois spent almost $170 million on cleaning supplies, face masks, gloves, thermometers and other supplies to battle the novel coronavirus in roughly three weeks, according to data from the comptroller’s office.

Since March 24, the state submitted 64 orders for personal protective gear, ventilators and other essential equipment from companies including Costco and Menards.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Rep. Bourne demands answer as clemency is granted and inmates are released
Concerned about public safety in Illinois, State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) joined fellow House Republicans in a letter asking the Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) to provide answers to a series of questions prior to the release of inmates from any Illinois correctional center in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Pileup on icy expressway this morning
Portions of a Chicago expressway left icy by a wintry blast that brought overnight snowfall led to a pileup involving of dozens of vehicles early today, sending 14 people to hospitals, officials said.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Intensive care beds and ventilators adequate and available
The percentage of intensive care beds and ventilators in use in Illinois remained relatively flat since last week as state officials on Tuesday announced another encouraging sign that Illinois is “flattening the curve” in dealing with the novel coronavirus disease, or COVID-19.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020

8th day: 1,000+ new cases in Illinois
Certain essential workers in Illinois who believe they contracted COVID-19 on the job will now be automatically covered by workers’ compensation.

Gov. JB Pritzker made the announcement Monday as the state reported that new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois increased by more than 1,000 for the eighth straight day, jumping 1,173 to a new total of 22,025, according to the Illinois Department of Health. Deaths rose 74 to a total of 794.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Ex-professor sought freedom from jail to fight virus
A former Northwestern University professor charged in the murder of his boyfriend was rebuffed by a judge after asking to be released from a Chicago jail so his research skills can be used to battle COVID-19.

Wyndham Lathem asked last week to be freed on $1 million bail from Cook County Jail, which has one of the nation’s most aggressive outbreaks of coronavirus. In addition to his research skills, Lathem also cited health issues that put him at greater risk if he contracts COVID-19.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

House Republicans call for beefing up state's unemployment system
Illinois House Republicans on Monday called on Gov. JB Pritzker to do more to handle the unprecedented volume of new claims for unemployment benefits coming into the Illinois Department of Employment Security, even if that means reassigning workers there from other state agencies.
Tuesday, April 14, 2020

No herd immunity yet in Illinois
Gov. JB Pritzker said Sunday there are signs the COVID-19 outbreak is starting to level off, but he urged people to continue practicing social distancing to control the virus’ spread.

Speaking during an abbreviated Easter Sunday daily briefing in Chicago, Pritzker said the state is now conducting more testing than ever but that the percentage of tests coming back positive has remained almost exactly the same for the past two weeks, while the number of daily deaths appears to be dropping.

Monday, April 13, 2020

3rd Cook County inmate dies after testing positive
A third inmate at a Chicago jail under court order to reduce the spread of the coronavirus died after testing positive for COVID-19, officials said.

Nicholas Lee died Sunday at Stroger Hospital in Chicago, six days after he was hospitalized, the Cook County sheriff’s department said. Officials suspect he died of cardiac arrest, but a cause of death won’t be determined until an autopsy is conducted.

Monday, April 13, 2020

UIC plays key role in monarch conservation
The University of Illinois at Chicago is taking a lead role in a nationwide effort to conserve monarch butterflies.

The number of the the orange-and-black insects has declined by 80% in the last two decades with a loss of habitats with native plants as a leading cause, according to federal officials.

Monday, April 13, 2020

National endowment grant funds 'history of gun control' and more
Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History was among nine institutions and researchers across Illinois sharing $1.4 million in grants awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund projects and programs in the field of humanities.

The Field Museum’s $399,357 grant will fund a traveling exhibition called “First Kinds of Europe: The Emergence of Hierarchy in the Prehistoric Balkans” that will examine the evolution of hierarchy in prehistoric southeastern Europe, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Monday, April 13, 2020

State reports first-year hemp totals
Illinois farmers produced 2.3 million pounds (1 million kilograms) of industrial hemp in the first year of legal cultivation in decades, state officials said.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture began issuing hemp-production permits last spring after production was legalized. Of 651 licenses granted, 514 planted at least one acre. Nearly three-quarters of the acreage planted was harvested.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Crime drops around the world as COVID-19 keeps people inside
The coronavirus pandemic that has crippled big-box retailers and mom and pop shops worldwide may be making a dent in illicit business, too.

In Chicago, one of America’s most violent cities, drug arrests have plummeted 42% in the weeks since the city shut down, compared with the same period last year. Part of that decrease, some criminal lawyers say, is that drug dealers have no choice but to wait out the economic slump.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Renewal deadlines for gun owners, drivers extended
Gun owners now have more time to renew a firearm owners identification card and concealed carry license in Illinois.

Emergency rules filed by the Illinois State Police ease renewal requirements during the novel coronavirus pandemic. A submitted renewal application ensures extension of current FOID and CCL permits through the length of the state of emergency declared by Gov. JB Pritzker, plus 12 more months following its expiration.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Virus rules unlikely to ease by April 30
Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday, one month since he issued a state of emergency, it is “unlikely” his stay-at-home order can be lifted safely before April 30 and organizers of large summer events “need to think seriously” about canceling them.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported an additional 1,344 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, bringing the state total to 16,422 in 81 of Illinois’ 102 counties.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Cook County opens warehouse to store bodies
The Illinois county that includes Chicago is setting up new places to store bodies in preparation for a likely surge in the number of coronavirus deaths that could overwhelm hospital morgues.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office said in a news release Thursday that a 66,000-square-foot refrigerated warehouse located 5 miles from the medical examiner’s office would be up and running by the end of the day. The facility, according to the release, will be able to hold more than 2,000 bodies.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Another 200,000 Illinoisans file for unemployment
More than half a million Illinois workers have filed first-time unemployment claims in the four weeks since the COVID-19 outbreak first hit the labor market.

Economists at the University of Illinois are now forecasting a major economic downturn that could last months, or even years, depending on the local severity of the pandemic.

Friday, April 10, 2020

State sees largest single-day increase again
Another 82 people have died from complications of novel coronavirus disease in Illinois and the state announced more than 1,529 new cases Wednesday as Gov. JB Pritzker said testing still lags behind public health officials’ goal.

Both cases and deaths once again saw their largest single-day spikes, but Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at the daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago that the rate of increase in cases from day to day is beginning to decline.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Rural hospitals brace for downstate surge of COVID-19
Although the COVID-19 outbreak in Illinois so far has been mainly concentrated around the Chicago area, public health officials are bracing for a surge of cases in rural areas of downstate Illinois, including areas that already have shortages of hospital beds, health care providers and equipment.
Thursday, April 9, 2020

Governor: Illinois not yet meeting testing goals
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday the state is unable to reach its daily novel coronavirus testing goal this week as previously expected.
According to medical and scientific experts, he said, processing 10,000 tests per day will give officials the clearest picture of how many confirmed COVID-19 cases are in the state and how it is spreading.
Laboratories “only just recently surpassed” 6,000 tests daily, Pritzker said.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Chicago Fire Department loses first member to COVID-19
A Chicago firefighter who died Tuesday night from complications of COVID-19 is the first member of the department to be killed by the virus, a spokesman said.

Mario Araujo’s death came just days after the city’s police department announced that Officer Marco DiFranco had become its first member to die from complications of the virus.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

California ventilators en route to Illinois and others
The California National Guard flew ventilators Tuesday to New York, New Jersey and Illinois as part of an effort to help other states manage a crush of coronavirus hospitalizations, the governor’s office said.

“We couldn’t be more proud as a state to be sending those ventilators back East,“ Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

State reports largest single-day spike in deaths
Illinois officials announced on Tuesday the largest single-day increase of novel coronavirus-caused deaths in the state.

The 73 new fatalities in 14 counties  bring Illinois’ total to 380. Coles, Lawrence, Richland and Shelby counties each reported their first confirmed cases of the virus Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Illinois borrows to infuse hospitals with cash
The Illinois comptroller’s office borrowed $105 million from various funds in March, in large part so it could make bigger-than-normal payments to hospitals as they brace for the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak later this month.

But Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is advising all state vendors that there will likely be payment delays in April, in part because the tax filing deadline for both state and federal taxes has been pushed back to July 15.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Libertarian, Green parties sue over election rules
Social distancing and stay-at-home orders, instituted to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic, are in direct conflict with Illinois’ ballot eligibility requirements, the Libertarian and Green parties of Illinois allege in a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Both are considered “new” parties under state election rules, meaning a candidate running for office under those banners must receive a greater number of in-person petition signatures than those with “established” parties — typically, the Democrats and Republicans.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Illinois, 1 of 7 states with 300-plus COVID-19 deaths
Illinois became the seventh U.S. state to eclipse 300 deaths from COVID-19 on Monday as the state Department of Public Health announced an increase of 33 deaths and 1,006 cases in the past 24 hours.

“Seventy percent of the individuals who have lost their fight against COVID have had a comorbid condition,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike alongside Gov. JB Pritzker at his daily press briefing in Chicago on the novel coronavirus pandemic. “The most commonly listed conditions were hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.”

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Illinois legislators should end partisan gerrymandering
As a lifelong Illinoisan, I have never felt prouder or safer to be a resident of this state. Gov. JB Pritzker and his administration are setting a precedent for pandemic response in a time of fear and uncertainty.
Monday, April 6, 2020

Judge keeps pregnant inmate in jail to protect unborn child
A northwestern Indiana judge declined to release a pregnant inmate from jail after her mother pleaded to keep her locked up, saying her daughter’s history of substance abuse threatens the life of her unborn child.

Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer denied release Wednesday for Alysha Ramos, 29, after her mother’s warnings.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Suburban Chicago zoo gets 2 lions named Brutus and Titus
A zoo in suburban Chicago is getting two new lions named Brutus and Titus after the previous lions ones were euthanized, officials said.

Brookfield Zoo officials said they are 4-year-old male siblings that arrived from Hogle Zoo in Utah last month.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Authorities: Man's COVID-19 worries prompt murder suicide
The bodies of a man and a woman were found inside their suburban Chicago home in what authorities say was a murder-suicide that was apparently prompted by the man’s concern that the two of them had the coronavirus, authorities said.
Monday, April 6, 2020

Pritzker: 'I've given up' on adequate federal COVID-19 response
Gov. JB Pritzker said Sunday he is “given up” on an adequate coronavirus response from the federal government and announced an expansion of emergency child care during his daily COVID-19 briefing Sunday in Chicago.

 At the same briefing, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois Department of Public Health director, announced 899 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 along with 31 more deaths. That brings the total to 11,256 confirmed cases and 274 deaths from the virus in 71 of Illinois’ 102 counties.

Monday, April 6, 2020

With a few tricks and practice, tropicals can be overwintered for next year
URBANA, Ill. — Tropical plants have gained a lot of popularity in recent years as an easy way to add an attractive look to back patios, decks, and containers. Plants such as mandevilla, alocasia (elephant ear), and hibiscus are sold at garden centers in containers and, while they offer great interest over the warm months, by the first hard frost they are done for.
Saturday, April 4, 2020

COVID-19 death toll in Illinois over 200
This is a place that will relieve some of the strain from our hospital partners. We will accept patients from our hospital partners who are already COVID-positive, and who are appropriate for this kind of setting.”
Saturday, April 4, 2020

ISBE launches podcast to celebrate educator outreach
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has launched a new podcast that will celebrate extraordinary educators and connect schools with great ideas while learning remotely. Called We Love Illinois Schools, the podcast will showcase the creativity and agility of the people who work in and around education in Illinois. The podcast will share resources and opportunities to inspire teachers, administrators, students, and families.
Saturday, April 4, 2020

Fill in with these All-America Selection winners
URBANA, Ill. — After the polar vortex of last winter, many are wondering if those cold blustery temperatures will return this season to affect our plants in Illinois. According to winter predictions, and University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Bruce J. Black, this winter should be cold, but with enough snow, plants will be successfully insulated.
Friday, April 3, 2020

Pritzker: 'This will go down in history as a profound failure of our national government' 
The COVID-19 death toll grew by 16 Thursday, to 157, and the confirmed cases grew to 7,695, an increase of 715 from one day ago.
Friday, April 3, 2020

Central Illinois legislators join calls for volunteers for Meals on Wheels, wellness checks for senior citizens
SPRINGFIELD — State Representatives from central Illinois are joining urgent calls from the Area Agency on Aging for Lincolnland as the need for volunteers and supplies continue to grow amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Friday, April 3, 2020

Sales of recreational marijuana remain high

SPRINGFIELD — More than $109 million of marijuana products were purchased in Illinois in the first three months of legalization, and the third month of sales was on par with the first two despite a stay-at-home order being in place for 11 days in March.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Suit seeks inmates' release due to new virus
CHICAGO (AP) - A federal lawsuit filed Thursday in Chicago seeks an order directing state officials “to drastically reduce Illinois’s prison population” on grounds that hundreds of inmates are particularly vulnerable to catching and dying from the coronavirus.
Friday, April 3, 2020

Unemployment continues to soar amid COVID-19 outbreak
SPRINGFIELD – First-time unemployment claims skyrocketed again in Illinois and throughout the nation in the last week of March as businesses closed their doors or scaled back operations in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday, April 3, 2020

Legal Aid to serve clients during crisis
SPRINGFIELD — Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, a legal aid provider in central and southern Illinois, continues to serve low-income individuals who need civil legal assistance during the coronavirus outbreak.
Friday, April 3, 2020

Free course on infection control offered
SPRINGFIELD — Lincoln Land Community College’s Capital City Training Center is offering a free online training course on infection control in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday, April 3, 2020

LLCC business center offering free assistance to area businesses
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) is reaching out to small businesses in the area to offer assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday, April 2, 2020

'Be strong and courageous'
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The state public health director on Wednesday issued a somber warning that Illinois residents can expect mounting numbers of illness and death in the new month from the vicious spread of the coronavirus.
Thursday, April 2, 2020

Outdoors: In these uncertain times, quest for birds can offer an escape
PARK FOREST, Ill. (AP)  As people everywhereare hunkered down for what could be an extended period, Sue Zelek can't wait to get outside.
Thursday, April 2, 2020

Pritzker announces new fund to support artists
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday the formation of a new relief fund to support artists and performers who have been temporarily put out of work by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thursday, April 2, 2020

Chicago reports increase in murders over 2019
CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago saw an increase in murders and shootings for the first three months of 2020, compared to the same period last year, the city’s police department revealed Wednesday.
Thursday, April 2, 2020

Pritzker extends stay-at-home order until April 30
 SPRINGFIELD — K-12 schools will remain closed and a stay-at-home order for Illinoisans will remain in place through April 30, as Gov. JB Pritzker announced during his daily COVID-19 briefing Tuesday that he plans on extending those orders.
Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Chicago cops restrict access to 4 blocks to bar drug trade
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago police have started checking the identities of people attempting to enter four blocks on the city’s West Side to discourage gatherings of gang members, authorities said Tuesday.
Wednesday, April 1, 2020

So what exactly does remote learning mean?
Wednesday, April 1, 2020

State sets designated times to handle jobless claims
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois department tasked with overseeing unemployment benefits is employing an alphabetized schedule to handle “an unprecedented volume” of claims.
Wednesday, April 1, 2020

City of Chicago renting hotel rooms for first responders
CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that the city is renting nearly 300 hotel rooms for first responders working during the coronavirus outbreak and worried that returning home between shifts puts their family members at risk.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

State gives guidance on mortgage payments, student loan debt and banking
SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued guidance for lenders and borrowers Monday regarding debt collection during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Admissions deadlines get pushed back
CHICAGO (AP) - The coronavirus pandemic has made the nerve-wracking experience of picking a college all the more difficult for Illinois’ high school students as campus visits are canceled and admission deadlines get pushed back amid the school shutdown over COVID-19 concerns.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Illinois negotiating against other states to get masks
SPRINGFIELD — As state leaders try to gather as much personal protective equipment (PPE) as possible to distribute to health care workers treating COVID-19 patients, Gov. JB Pritzker says the federal government sent Illinois 300,000 of the wrong type of mask.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Inmate among 8 more dead as state report 461 new cases
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.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Peak in Illinois cases 'sometime in April'
Illinois officials yesterday announced the largest one-day jump in confirmed novel coronavirus cases and deaths in the state yet. But public and private labs’ per-day testing ability is also higher than it has ever been.

The Department of Public Health identified 1,105 new cases and 18 deaths, putting the state totals at 4,596 case in 47 counties and 65 related deaths.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Tornado touches down in Ogle County Saturday
Strong storms that brought tornadoes, high winds, hail and rain to parts of the Midwest and South caused extensive damage in some areas but no deaths, officials said Sunday.

Tornadoes were spotted in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin as thunderstorms swept through the area Saturday. High winds and a possible tornado were also reported in Indiana.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Gov issues flood of executive orders over outbreak
Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker is on a pace to set a modern-day record for issuing the most executive orders by an Illinois governor.

Since 1999, which is as far back as the executive orders page of the governor’s website goes, the most executive orders any governor issued in a single year was 20. That mark was set by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2009. The average from 1999 through 2019 was 11.2 executive orders per year.

Monday, March 30, 2020

U of Illinois wants suit by slain scholar's estate dismissed
The University of Illinois is seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the estate of a slain visiting Chinese scholar against two social workers at a campus counseling center.

A judge dismissed a federal lawsuit against the social workers in December, but the estate of Yingying Zhang refiled it in state court in January.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Authorities: Iowa slaying suspect captured at Illinois hotel
A suspect in the Iowa slaying of a 27-year-old man has been captured in Illinois, authorities said.

Todd Jenkins, 24, was spotted at a hotel in Aurora, Illinois, and then arrested Thursday as he tried to flee officers.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Pritzker keeps pressure on feds, asks all medical professionals to join COVID-19 fight
Gov. JB Pritzker announced new measures benefitting the homeless and people on supplemental nutrition programs Friday and continued to pressure the federal government for further, centralized action in response to COVID-19.

At the same daily briefing in Chicago, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced 488 new confirmed cases of the virus and eight more related deaths in Illinois.

Pritzker said the state is also working on collecting numbers of hospitalizations caused by COVID-19.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

US appeals court upholds Dish Network robocall violations
A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court judgment and injunction against Dish Network for illegal phone calls to people on the Do Not Call Registry.

The Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found Friday that Dish Network is responsible for the robocalls because its retailers were acting as Dish’s agents. And it rejected a claim by Dish that penalties for the conduct are unconstitutionally excessive.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

New money announced to fight virus as number of cases soars
New federal and charitable funding will soon be available to Illinoisans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as the state on Thursday saw its largest one-day spike of new cases and deaths during the pandemic.

President Donald Trump approved Illinois’ disaster declaration on Thursday, allowing the state to access emergency funding to expand health care services like increasing hospital and housing capacity and expanding telehealth services.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Attorney General taking action on price gouging
The Illinois Attorney General’s office has been working with a reduced and mostly remote staff the last 10 days, but it continues to warn against COVID-19-related price gouging, scams and utility shut-offs.

Earlier this month, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul issued a news release warning businesses to “maintain fair prices on goods” and announcing that his office will “take action to stop unfair pricing on items that are crucial to stopping the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.”

Friday, March 27, 2020

State unemployment spikes, 114,000 new claims
More than 114,000 workers in Illinois filed first-time unemployment claims in the week ending March 21 as the United States saw its biggest one-week spike in recorded history. 3.2 million workers filing for benefits.

The U.S. Department of Labor said the seasonally-adjusted number was due entirely to the COVID-19 outbreak, which has forced bars and restaurants to close, halted public gatherings and severely restricted travel across the country. The department said economists typically expect to see a decline in new jobless claims during the third week of March.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Next week's session is canceled again
Lawmaking remains on hold in Illinois amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the state’s Senate and House each canceled next week’s scheduled session Wednesday.

The House was scheduled to be in Tuesday through Friday and the Senate was set to be in Tuesday through Thursday ahead of a scheduled two-week spring break from April 6 until an April 21 return.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

State officials warn of possible looming recession
A commission that advises the General Assembly on revenue and economic issues is warning that a slowdown of business activity caused by the COVID-19 outbreak is likely to bring about a recession that could cause a 20 percent drop in state revenues, spread out over a number of fiscal years.
Thursday, March 26, 2020

Pritzker delays tax filing; details new initiatives for financial relief
Gov. JB Pritzker announced a number of financial initiatives Wednesday to assist owners of bars, restaurants, hotels and other small businesses during the economic slowdown caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

By Friday, he said, owners of businesses with fewer than 50 employees and less than $3 million in 2019 revenue can qualify for a piece of $90 million in state emergency assistance through three new programs.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Suburban nursing home reports 1st virus death
An elderly resident of a suburban Chicago nursing home where dozens of residents and staffers tested positive for the coronavirus has died, officials said.

The death of the 90-year-old woman who lived at Chateau Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook comes as a top official at the facility denied a contention made by a former certified nursing assistant that she had quit her job because there were not enough protective gear and appropriate cleaning supplies.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

General Assembly: No firm plans for reconvening
The Illinois General Assembly on Monday began its second week of shutdown due to the spread of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, and officials said it is still uncertain when, or under what circumstances, the session will resume.

Officials in the offices of Senate President Don Harmon and House Speaker Michael Madigan said Monday that conversations have been taking place among legislative leaders and their respective caucuses, but as of yet no decision has been made.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Illinois could need 38,000 more hospital beds if virus isn't contained
Illinois would have to double the number of available hospital beds in the next two weeks to treat COVID-19 patients if the coronavirus is not contained amid a pandemic that has claimed 16 lives in the state, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday.
Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The $2-trillion rescue pkg. at a glance
A snapshot of the emerging rescue package in Congress to provide health care and economic aid amid the coronavirus outbreak and national shutdown. The details are subject to change as congressional leaders and the White House continue negotiating the nearly $2 trillion package.
Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Pritzker details the state's efforts to stockpile all sorts of virus supplies
Gov. JB Pritzker detailed the state’s efforts to stock up on personal protective equipment and said President Donald Trump was “responsive” to the state’s needs in a phone call Monday, one day after the pair feuded on Twitter.

During his daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago, the governor also announced a new partnership with the manufacturing and biotech industries in the state to produce needed supplies and called for donations of personal protective equipment, or PPE.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Unions: 'Essential' workers need more protection
Union leaders representing workers that have been deemed “essential“ as Illinois battles the coronavirus called Monday for more protective gear to guard members against infection.

Kenneth Franklin, head of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, which represents Chicago Transit Authority train engineers, said the agency is adequately cleaning train cars, but is paying little attention to air filtering systems. Franklin is calling for a quarantine of workers that would shut down train service, which officials say served about 750,000 riders daily before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Illinois Nat'l Guard dispels rumors of military action
The Illinois National Guard is assisting the state’s COVID-19 response by setting up testing centers and other civil action, not preparing for military action as has been rumored on social media, its adjutant general said during a news briefing on the virus Monday.

Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, adjutant general of the Illinois National Guard, reassured Illinoisans at Gov. JB Pritzker’s daily coronavirus news conference in Chicago.

“We're not doing any policing action,” Neely said. “We’re not doing any kind of work at all like that.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Chicago reserving hotels for isolation or quarantine
Chicago is reserving thousands of hotel rooms for people with mild cases of the coronavirus and others unable to return home while they await test results, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday.

The city has partnered with five hotels and will have 1,000 rooms available by Tuesday, Lightfoot said. She estimates 2,000 rooms will be available by the end of the week.

Chicago officials said the proactive measure should keep hospital beds available for people with severe symptoms.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

State Treasurer to make bridge loans for businesses
Illinois small businesses can tap into $250 million in low-interest bridge loans as soon as this week to help push through the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs said today.
Monday, March 23, 2020

After serving time for murder, man tries to clear name
Forty years ago, Mark Fair came home from work to find his fiance dead in the basement of the small Wood River house they were preparing to move into after they were married.

Karla Brown had been beaten, strangled and placed head first in a large barrel of water. She was 22 years old and a student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Grieving and saying goodbye in the time of coronavirus
Tucked deep in the obituary for Charles Recka was an announcement that a Mass celebrating his 87 years of life “will be held at a later date.”

Such notices are increasing amid the coronavirus pandemic, as an untold number of burials around the globe go forward with nothing more than a priest, a funeral home employee and a single loved one.

Monday, March 23, 2020

The public is urged to report suspected virus fraud
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The following is a joint statement from Central District of Illinois U.S. Attorney John C. Milhiser and FBI Special Agent in Charge Sean M. Cox, Springfield Division:
Saturday, March 21, 2020

ICC takes action to halt solicitations
CHICAGO — In Emergency Special Session this week, the Illinois Commerce Commission issued Emergency Orders placing an immediate moratorium on in-person or door-to-door marketing of services by Alternative Retail Electric Suppliers (ARES) and Alternative Gas Suppliers (AGS) for the duration of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The action is in response to Governor Pritzker’s public health emergency declaration.
Saturday, March 21, 2020

Hospitals impose no visitor policy
SPRINGFIELD — As COVID-19 cases spike throughout Illinois, nine central Illinois hospitals with HSHS Illinois system and Memorial Health System will no longer allow visitors – with some exceptions.
Saturday, March 21, 2020

Many waking up to new way of life
SPRINGFIELD  Gov. JB Pritzker on Friday issued a "Stay at Home" order throughout Illinois, directing all residents to stay home except to conduct essential business, and all non-essential businesses to stop operations.
Saturday, March 21, 2020

Oberweis declared winner of 14th District GOP primary
CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois state Sen. Jim Oberweis was declared the winner Friday by The Associated Press of this week’s Republican congressional primary, giving him the opportunity to snatch the 14th District U.S. House seat from first-term Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood.
Saturday, March 21, 2020

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