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Coronavirus Information Center

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This site is a compilation of the latest news about the COVID-19 pandemic in Illinois, along with up-to-date resources and guidance from local, state and federal agencies.

What questions do you have? Send us your questions to help inform the stories we tell and what we investigate.

Where Can You Get Tested For COVID-19 In Central Illinois?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Illinois Department of Health

State of Illinois Coronavirus Response

Champaign-Urbana COVID-19 Coronavirus Information

University of Illinois COVID-19 Information Updates

Coronavirus by the Numbers

 

More Than 900,000 COVID-19 Tests Conducted in Illinois To Date

June 2, 4:05 p.m. – Illinois reported 1,614 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 122,848. There were an additional 113 new deaths in the last day, with the total fatalities now more than 55,525. The state has conducted more than 900,000 COVID-19 tests to date, with the statewide positivity rate at 7%.

Coles County reported one new COVID-19 death today, a resident at Charleston Rehab and Healthcare. In all, 81 cases are linked to the long-term care facility. The county now has a total of 129 cases, including 16 deaths. In Macon County, one new case brings the total number of cases to 197.

On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker also signed legislation that allows restaurants and bars in Illinois to sell cocktails for pickup and delivery. The cocktails must be in a sealed container, and cannot be delivered through a third party delivery app. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

COVID-19 Uncertainties Have Some Dental Workers Worried

June 2, 8 a.m. – Even without a global pandemic, dentistry is inherently riskier than many other medical professions.  That’s because dentists and hygienists spend a lot of time inches away from wide-open mouths, conducting procedures known to generate aerosols — tiny droplets that can linger in the air and carry viruses. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, dental offices across the nation canceled routine visits and began limiting visits to emergency care.

In recent weeks, nearly all states have allowed dentists to completely reopen. Guidelines from both federal and state agencies urge dentists to take numerous precautions to protect staff and patients from COVID-19. These include wearing masks and gowns at all times, screening everyone for COVID-19 symptoms, installing air filtration systems, and using techniques that reduce aerosol generation. But even with efforts to minimize the risks, some who work in dentist offices are left wondering if reopening for business as usual is the right move. Read the full story here. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

974 New COVID-19 Cases Reported In Illinois

June 1, 5:13 p.m. – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced 974 new COVID-19 cases Monday. The state has now seen 121,234 COVID-19 cases throughout 101 counties. An additional 23 deaths in the last day brings the total number of fatalities to more 5,412. The state’s seven-day positivity rate is now down to 6%.

Champaign County reported 14 new COVID-19 cases Monday, with a total of 646 cases. That includes 156 cases in the Rantoul zip code. The Champaign death toll remains at seven. In Macon County, one new case brings the total case count to 196. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Champaign County Records 21 New COVID-19 Cases Over The Weekend

May 31, 6:30 p.m. – Champaign County health officials reported 21 new cases of the virus over the weekend – bringing the county’s total case count to 632. Nearly 500 people in Champaign County have recovered from COVID-19, and the death count stands at 7.

Macon County health officials reported one new case of COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing that county’s total cases to 195. The county’s total number of deaths stands at 19. – Lee Gaines, Illinois Newsroom

Public Officials Announce 60 New COVID-19 Deaths in Illinois

May 31, 3:00 p.m. — Public health officials say there have been 1,343 new cases of COVID-19 and 60 additional deaths in Illinois. The state’s Department of Public Health announced the latest details on the coronavirus pandemic Sunday. Overall, there have been 120,260 cases, including 5,390 deaths. More than 21,000 tests have been administered in the past 24 hours. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older people and the infirm, it can cause severe symptoms and lead to death. – Associated Press

State Health Officials Report 1,400+ New COVID-19 Cases

May 30, 3:40 p.m. – Illinois health officials reported 1,462 new cases of the virus and 61 additional deaths as the state moves into Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan. The total number of COVID-19 cases statewide stands at 118,917, and deaths total 5,330, according to the latest information from the Illinois Department of Public Health. The state has collected more than 25,000 COVID-19 tests in the last 24 hours and is reporting a preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate of 7% for cases as a percent of total. IDPH says laboratories have collected more than 870,000 tests in total. Macon County health officials are reported one new case of COVID-19 on Saturday for a total of 195 cases and 19 deaths. – Lee Gaines, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Officially Enters Phase 3 Of Restore Illinois Plan; Edgar County Reports First COVID-19 Case

May 29, 5:18 p.m. – Illinois entered Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan Friday, allowing certain businesses to re-open with public health guidelines, including retail, child care and outdoor seating in bars and restaurants. But the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) says the virus is still circulating. Public health officials urge people to continue wearing face masks and maintain social distancing practices throughout Phase 3 in order to avoid an uptick in cases.

Illinois reported more than 1,622 new COVID-19 cases Friday, which brings the total number of cases to 117,455. 86 additional deaths in the last day brings the total fatalities to 5,270.

At his COVID-19 briefing Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker condemned Trump’s tweets and reaction to the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests. He says Trump’s response is “completely unacceptable.”

There are 15 new COVID-19 cases in Champaign County as of Friday, bringing the county’s total case count to 611. More than 400 people have recovered from the virus, and the death count remains at 7. Edgar County reported its first COVID-19 case Friday. Edgar County Public Health Department says the person is in home isolation and recovering. In Coles County, 3 new cases were identified for a total of 127 cases. There are now 80 cases linked to Charleston Rehab and Healthcare, a long-term care facility in the county. Coles County also reported an additional death Friday, bringing the total fatalities to 15. Macon County reported two new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total number of cases to 194. And Douglas County reported one new case. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

IDPH Mandates New Emergency Rules For Nursing Homes

May 28, 5:37 p.m. – Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced new emergency rules that mandate COVID-19 testing and infection control practices at nursing homes and long-term care facilities. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) now requires all nursing homes in the state to test all residents and staff, and each facility must report the number of tests conducted, as well as the number of positive cases.

IDPH also reported 1,527 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. That brings the total number of cases in the state to 115,833. 104 additional deaths brings the total fatalities to 5,186.

Champaign County reported 13 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total case count to 596. The total deaths remain at 7. The county has conducted more than 13,000 tests to date, and over 400 people have recovered from the virus. Macon County also saw 3 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 192 cases. The county’s total death count remains at 19, and 5 people are currently hospitalized. One new death was reported Coles County Thursday, for a total of 14 fatalities. The county also reported 3 new cases for a total of 124 cases. Out of that total, 75 cases are linked to Charleston Rehab and Healthcare. 57 people in Coles County have recovered from COVID-19.

As the state enters Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan Friday, Illinois’ regions will be held to new metrics that define their progress in reaching Phase 4. Gov. Pritzker says the earliest the state could enter Phase 4 would be June 26. He also says that IDPH will provide more guidance for houses of worship as the state enters Phase 3. Those will include capacity limits, new cleaning protocols and reduction of activities like sharing food. He also says horse racing will be permitted in Phase 3. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Champaign County Launches ‘Champaign County Safe’ To Guide Businesses In Re-Opening

May 27, 5:30 p.m. – A local Champaign County coalition has launched an online resource, called ‘Champaign County Safe,’ which aims to help businesses maintain safety precautions as they begin re-opening in Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan.

Champaign County reported 15 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the county’s total to more than 580. 146 of the positive cases are in the Rantoul zip code. Coles County identified 3 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, for a total of 123 cases. An additional positive case has been linked to Charleston Rehab and Healthcare for a total of 74 cases there. The cases include both residents and employees of the nursing home.

Two new cases were reported in Macon County for a total of nearly 200 cases. In Vermillion County, one new COVID-19 case—a person in their 20s—was reported Wednesday, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 40. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Entire State Set To Move To Phase 3 Of ‘Restore Illinois’ Plan Friday

May 26, 3:45 p.m. – Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the entire state is set to move into Phase 3 of the “Restore Illinois” plan this Friday. Phase 3 allows some businesses to re-open with safety measures in place — including salons, outdoor dining, summer camps and more — and permits gatherings of up to ten people. Pritzker says all regions of the state are meeting the requirements to take this step — including stable hospitalizations, availability of hospital beds, and a COVID-19 test positivity rate of less than 20%. He says COVID hospitalizations are now at a six-week low, and the state’s seven-day rolling positivity rate now stands at 9%.

Officials continue to emphasize the importance of wearing masks, washing hands and practicing social distancing even as guidelines loosen. The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 1,178 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the total number of cases to more than 113,195. The state also reported 39 additional deaths in the last day, for a total of 4,923 fatalities. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

State Health Officials Report 1,700+ New COVID-19 Cases

May 25 4:30 p.m. – On Monday, state health officials reported 1,713 new COVID-19 cases and 31 additional deaths. That brings the statewide total of positive cases to 112,017 and total deaths to 4,884. Here’s the central Illinois breakdown:

  • Champaign County: Nine additional Champaign County residents tested positive for the virus. No additional deaths were reported. Seven total people have died in the county. The highest case density remains in the Rantoul area with 143 cases.
  • Coles County: One additional death was reported in Coles County today. The person was a resident at Charleston Rehab and Healthcare facility, which currently has a total of 73 confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents and staff. The county is now reporting 10 deaths with a total of 119 positive cases.

  • Macon County: Local health officials announced one new case today, for a total of 186.

  • Piatt County: Four additional Piatt County residents have tested positive for the virus.

The Illinois Department of Health is now reporting a seven-day rolling positivity rate of 12%. – Dana Cronin, Illinois Newsroom

State COVID-19 Cases Top 110,000; More Deaths Reported In Coles & Macon Counties

May 24 3:30 p.m. – On Sunday, the state reported 2,508 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 110,304. Illinois Department of Public Health also reported an additional 67 deaths, making the statewide total 4,856. Here’s a partial breakdown of central Illinois cases on Sunday:

  • Champaign County: C-U public health reports 552 COVID-19 cases including 7 deaths. That’s an increase of 32 cases since Friday. The majority of cases (132) is in the 21-30 year old age group. The second highest majority (122) is between 31 and 40 years old.  People under 20 make up the third largest group with 118 cases.
  • Coles County: The county health department says two more residents of Charleston Rehab and Healthcare died of COVID-19. One was a woman in her 60’s, the other a woman in her 90’s. There are also 19 additional positive cases. The countywide caseload now stands at 119 and 9 deceased. 73 of the confirmed cases are tied to Charleston Rehab and Healthcare, including residents and employees.
  • Dewitt County: Dewitt Piatt Bi-County Health Department says there are 4 recovering patients.
  • Macon County: The county health department reports a man in his 60’s passed away due to coronavirus. The countywide caseload is 185 including 19 deaths.
  • Piatt County: Dewitt Piatt Bi-County Health Department says there are ten cases.

COVID-19 cases are now being reported in 100 of 102 counties in the state. – Reginald Hardwick, Illinois Newsroom

2300+ New COVID-19 Cases In Illinois Reported

May 23 3:00 p.m. – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,352 new coronavirus cases on Saturday afternoon. The figure brings the state total to 107,796.  The state also said COVID-19 claimed 75 more lives to bring the death toll to 4,790. Here’s the breakdown in central Illinois:

  • Champaign County: 27 new cases reported to bring the total to 547 including 7 deaths.
  • Coles County: 1 new case reported to bring the total to 100 including 7 deaths.
  • Macon County: The death of a man in his 90’s was reported along with 3 new positive cases. The county now has 185 cases, including 18 deaths.

The state also says there have been more than 722,000 COVID-19 tests administered so far. – Reginald Hardwick, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Changes Way It Reports Nursing Home Virus Cases

May 23 9:18 a.m. — Illinois is no longer providing the total numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths at long-term care facilities in favor of disclosing information about recent outbreaks. The Chicago Tribune reports that the state’s Department of Public Health now only publishes information about nursing homes and other facilities with at least one new case in the past four weeks. The department says that it made the change to ensure the public has information about facilities experiencing an outbreak. But critics worry that the change means that people researching facilities for loved ones won’t have all the information they need to make an informed decision. – Associated Press

Champaign County COVID-19 Cases Pass 500, From More Than 10,000 Tested

May 22, 5:11 p.m. — The total number of COVID-19 cases and people tested for the virus in Champaign County has doubled over the past two weeks. Health officials reported 23 new cases in Champaign County on Friday, for a total of 520 cases, compared to 254 two weeks ago on May 8. 10,011 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted in Champaign County, up from 5,128 on May 8. The number of Champaign County deaths from COVID-19 has risen by one during that time, from six to seven.

Coles County reported three new COVID-19 cases Friday, bringing their total to 99, including seven deaths. The Coles County Health Department says the number of cases among residents and employees of Charleston Rehab and Healthcare has risen from 37 to 55 in the past week. The number of deaths at the facility rose from three to six during that time.

Macon County reported three new COVID-19 cases for a total of 182 cases, including 17 deaths. Vermilion County reported one new case, for a total of 38 cases, including one death. Iroquois County reported four new cases, for a total of 128, including four deaths. Moultrie County reported one new case, for a total of ten. Piatt County reported two new cases, bringing their total to ten.

An employee at the Horizon Health rehabilitation center in the Edgar County town of Paris has tested positive for COVID-19. But the Edgar County Public Health Department says the employee lives outside the eastern Illinois county. That means Edgar County is still one of two Illinois counties where no residents have tested positive for the coronavirus.

No new COVID-19 cases were reported Friday in DeWitt, Douglas and Ford. — Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom.

University of Illinois Expecting $167M Pandemic Impact

University of Illinois Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

May 22, 11:11 a.m. — The University of Illinois System expects to sustain a financial hit of about $167 million this fiscal year because of the coronavirus pandemic that’s closed down its campuses. Chief Financial Officer Avijit Ghosh told the school’s board of trustees during a Thursday virtual meeting that nearly $50 million of the projected financial impact comes from adjustments to student fees for housing, dining and other activities. The News-Gazette reports that Ghosh says travel expenses are currently on hold and units of the university have also been instructed “to control spending on supplies and services and non-essential construction and capital investments.” – Associated Press

Local Officials Not Disclosing Locations Of 22 COVID-19 Outbreaks 

May 22, 6 a.m. – When pressed by reporters during a news briefing earlier this month, Governor J.B. Pritzker said he thinks local public health departments should inform the public when outbreaks occur at area businesses. In Champaign County, which is dealing with 22 outbreaks of COVID-19 as of Thursday, local officials aren’t providing information about where those outbreaks are occurring. At a press briefing, when asked why her agency doesn’t disclose where local outbreaks are occurring, Champaign-Urbana Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde said the main issue is the concern than local businesses will be negatively impacted by something that is no longer a public health concern. “It could hurt businesses unnecessarily,” she says. Read the full story here. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

New Site Provides Businesses Guidance On Safely Reopening

May 21, 6:30 p.m. – A group of local organizations and municipalities has launched a new online resource — www.ChampaignCountySafe.org — to help Champaign County businesses as they prepare to re-open per state guidelinesThe site provides a list of resources, including information about protective equipment and cleaning procedures, and best practices to keep employees and customers safe. Sue Grey, president and CEO of the United Way of Champaign County, says the site is a great resource for both for-profit and non-profit businesses to help them open safely, and following best practices. “If you ever have any questions, there’s also a place to go and get those answered,” Grey says. Read the full story here. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

New COVID-19 Cases Reported In Champaign, Macon, Vermilion, Ford Counties

May 21, 6:01 p.m. — Champaign County reported 21 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday for a total of 497. Out of that total, 271 cases, or more than half, are considered to be recovered. The hot spot in Champaign County continues to be the 61866 zip code, where the total number of cases has risen to 127. 61866 includes the village of Rantoul and the Rantoul Foods meat processing plant. The plant has been linked to more than 100 cases (some of them involving non-county residents).

Macon County reported five new COVID-19 cases for a total of 179.

Vermilion County reported three new cases, for a total of 37.

Iroquois County reported three new cases for a total of 124.

Ford County reported its 20th COVID-19 case Thursday.

No new COVID-19 cases were reported Thursday in Edgar, DeWitt or Douglas counties. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Public Media

Pritzker Says No Decision Yet On Holding State Fairs This Summer

May 21 5:52 p.m. –  Governor J-B Pritzker says no decision has been made yet on whether Illinois’ two state fairs can be held safely this summer.

Pritzker was asked Thursday about the state fairs in response to news that the Ohio State Fair would not be held this year, due to concerns about spreading the coronavirus.

The Ohio State Fair was set to run from July 29 to August 9. Illinois’ two fairs are scheduled for later in the summer: August 13-23 for the Illinois State Fair in Springfield and August 28 to September 7 (Labor Day) for the DuQuoin State Fair in southern Illinois.

Speaking in Springfield at his daily briefing, Pritzker said whether the fairs will be held depends on what Restore Illinois phase the state will be in by then.

“I think all of us enjoy the state fair,” said Pritzker. “I would love to make it happen. But we just have to do the best we can.”

Illinois law indicates that holding the two state fairs is mandatory, stating that they “shall” be held every year.

State Public Health officials announced 2,268 new COVID-19 cases in Illinois Thursday. That brings the state’s total number of cases up to 102,686. There were 87 additional deaths, bringing the total to 4,607.

More than 29,307 tests for COVID-19 were administered in the last 24 hours in Illinois, a new daily record. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Champaign County Reports 27 New COVID-19 Cases

May 20 5:55 p.m. — Champaign County reported 27 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday for a total of 449 since the coronavirus outbreak began. The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District says 223 of those cases – just under half – are considered recovered, while five are hospitalized and seven have died. Looking at Champaign County through its zip codes, the largest number of cases (127) is in the 61866 zip code, which includes the village of Rantoul and the Rantoul Foods meat processing plant, where several dozen workers have been infected.

Macon County reported two new COVID-19 cases for a total of 174. 64 of those cases are considered recovered, while 17 have died.

Douglas, Piatt, Coles and Ford Counties each reported one new COVID-19 case Wednesday.  Douglas County has now reported 27 cases, Piatt has reported eight, Coles County reports 92, and Ford County has reported a total of 19 cases.

No new cases of COVID-19 were reported Wednesday in DeWitt, Edgar, Iroquois, Moultrie and Vermilion Counties.  — Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

New Modifications To Phase 3 Will Allow Outdoor Seating In Restaurants, More Outdoor Activity

May 20, 4:57 p.m. Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced new modifications to Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan Wednesday, which he says all regions are on track to reach by the end of May. The modifications will allow more activity, including outdoor seating at bars and restaurants, with public health guidelines. All state parks and concessions, as well as indoor and outdoor tennis facilities, will also be allowed to re-open in Phase 3. Golfers will be allowed to play in groups of four.

The governor held his daily COVID-19 briefing in Springfield Wednesday as legislators returned to the General Assembly for the first time since March.

The Illinois Department of Health also reported 2,388 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, with the total cases surpassing 100,000 An additional 147 deaths brings the total fatalities to 4,525.

Champaign-Urbana Public Health District Administrator Julie Pryde, who was present at the briefing, says Champaign County is ready to enter Phase 3. But she says innovations to accompany social distancing may become the new normal even with phased re-opening. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Online SNAP Purchasing Now Available To Illinois Residents

May 20, 3:46 p.m. – Governor Pritzker’s office announced today that food stamp recipients will soon be able to make purchases online. The new program was approved by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and will be available June 2nd to the 1.8 million Illinoisans who rely on food stamps. Link card users will automatically have access to online ordering, but can still choose to shop in-person if they prefer. Online ordering will become a permanent part of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). So far, Walmart and Amazon have signed on to participate in Illinois. The USDA is also working to include more independent retailers. – Dana Cronin, Illinois Newsroom

37 New COVID-19 Cases Reported In Champaign County; One New Death In Coles

May 19 5:55 p.m. — Champaign County reported a record 37 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, for a total of 449 cases since the pandemic began. That total includes seven deaths and 217 recoveries. Hundreds of tests are being conducted in Champaign County each day, including testing at a new drive-through facility outside Market Place Mall in Champaign.

Coles County reported three new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, plus another death from COVID-19 among residents at Charleston Rehab and Healthcare. The total number of cases in Coles County is now at 55, including 24 who have recovered, and seven who have died. In all, 49 COVID-19 cases have been linked to Charleston Rehab, although not all are Coles County residents.

Macon County reported two new cases, for a total of 172. That total include 60 who have recovered and 17 who have died. Iroquois County reported two new cases for a total of 121; 61 of those have recovered, while four have died. Vermilion County reported one new COVID-19 case Tuesday for a total of 34 cases. 17 of those have recovered, while one has died.

No additional COVID-19 cases were reported Tuesday in DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Moultrie or Piatt Counties. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Per Capita Testing Exceeds Other States, Officials Say

May 19, 3:55 p.m. – Governor J.B. Pritzker announced today that in the past week, Illinois has performed more COVID-19 tests per capita than any other state. But Pritzker says efforts to expand testing are far from over. As the state moves toward slowly reopening — and more people return to work — Pritzker says COVID-19 testing criteria will further loosen to allow more people to qualify. The state now has more than 250 public sites offering free testing — including a new site that opened today at Market Place mall in Champaign

The Illinois Department of Public Health also reported 1,545 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the total number of cases to more than 98,030. The state also reported 146 deaths in the last day, with more than 4,379 total deaths. IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says more than 70% of people recover within 28 days of receiving a positive COVID-19 test. -Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

COVID-19 Deaths Reported In Coles & Iroquois Counties; 25 New Cases In Champaign County

May 18, 5:30 p.m. — Coles County reports another resident of Charleston Rehab and Healthcare with COVID-19 has died. Most of the six COVID-19 deaths in the county have involved residents of the long term care facility. And 47 cases of the virus are linked to Charleston Rehab. The Coles County Health Department say two additional county residents have tested positive for COVID-19, for a total of 88.

Iroquois County also reported another COVID-19 death Monday, a man in his 60’s, along with two new cases of the virus. Iroquois County has reported a total 119 COVID-19 cases and four deaths.

25 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Champaign County Monday, for a total of 412 county residents who have tested positive for the virus. That averages out to about one person with COVID-19 for every 20 tests conducted in the county. Seven of those people have died.

Macon County reported four new COVID-19 cases Monday, for a total of 170 cases, including 17 deaths. Vermilion County reported one new case for a total of 33 cases, including one death.

No new COVID-19 cases were reported Monday in DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Moultrie and Piatt Counties. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Free COVID-19 Testing Offered At Champaign Mall

COVID-19 testing site at Market Place mall in Champaign. Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

May 18, 5:10 p.m. – A new drive-through COVID-19 testing site opens Tuesday at the Market Place mall in Champaign. Officials say the state-supported site supplements local testing efforts and aims to increase access for those in marginalized communities. The site is located at the Market Place shopping mall on North Neil Street, outside the J.C. Penney’s wing. The facility will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week, and will offer free testing for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, as well as all employees who support critical services — including health care workers, first responders and employees of grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses — regardless of whether they have symptoms. Read the full story here. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

New COVID-19 Contact Tracing Initiative Aims To Trace Up To 60% Of Known Cases In Illinois

May 18, 4:28 p.m. – Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a new COVID-19 contact tracing initiative Monday that will be ramped up throughout the state. Called the Illinois Contact Tracing Collaborative, the initiative aims to reduce the spread of the coronavirus by tracing people who have been in contact with known cases.

Pritzker says only about 29% of known COVID-19 cases are currently being traced in Illinois, and the goal is to increase contact tracing to more than 60% of known cases. The collaborative will rely on local health departments to expand their contact tracing abilities. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has already sent out assessments to 97 local health departments and will pilot the program in St. Clair County and Lake County.

IDPH also reported 2,294 new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the total number of cases to 96,485. The state also reported 59 deaths in the last day, with 4,234 total fatalities. The state’s 7-day rolling positivity rate is now at 14%. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Powell: Recovery May Begin By Summer, Will Likely Be Slow

May 17 6:33 p.m. — Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell expressed optimism that the U.S. economy can begin to recover from a devastating recession in the second half of the year, assuming the coronavirus doesn’t erupt in a second wave. But he suggested in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” that a full recovery won’t likely be possible before the arrival of a vaccine. Powell noted that the economy was fundamentally healthy before the virus struck suddenly and forced widespread business shutdowns and tens of millions of layoffs. He said that once the outbreak has been contained, the economy should be able to rebound “substantially.”  – Associated Press

31 New COVID-19 Cases In Champaign County; Total State Cases Rise To More Than 94,000

May 17, 6:15 p.m. – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 1,734 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases to 94,191. An additional 125 deaths over the weekend made the total fatalities in Illinois rise to 4,129. The state conducted more than 43,000 COVID-19 tests over the weekend, and the 7-day rolling positivity rate is at 15%.

Champaign County saw 31 new cases since Friday, which brings the county’s total case count to 387. There are currently 174 active cases in the county, with 3 people hospitalized, according to the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

Coles County also reported three new COVID-19 cases Sunday for a total of 86, as well as one more death for a total of 5. The person who died was a resident at Charleston Rehab and Healthcare, a nursing home. There are now 46 COVID-19 cases linked to the facility. In Macon County on Sunday, 2 more people tested positive for the virus, and one new death was reported, bringing the total death number to 17. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

More Than 2,000 New COVID-19 Cases In Illinois; 7-Day Rolling Positivity Rate Drops Further

May 16, 4:58 p.m. – Illinois reported 2,088 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total to 92,457 in 100 counties in the state. An additional 74 deaths brings the total fatalities to 4,129. The state’s 7-day rolling positivity rate lowered a bit further, at 15% Saturday, a decrease from 16% Friday and 17% Thursday. Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the drop in the positivity rate is due to increased testing throughout the state. In the last 24 hours, Illinois has conducted 23,047 COVID-19 tests, for a total of more than 561,000 to date.

Macon County reported three new COVID-19 cases for a total of 164 cases, but no new deaths, leaving the total fatalities at 17. In Coles County, eight new cases were reported Saturday for a total of 83. As of Saturday, 3 people were hospitalized and 23 had recovered. 45 cases have been linked to Charleston Rehab/Healthcare, a nursing home in Coles County, though not all of the cases live in the county. The county reported no new deaths, for a total of 4 deaths. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Champaign County: 23 New COVID-19 Cases; Macon County: Death Of Fair Havens Resident

May 15, 6:45 p.m. — Champaign County reported 23 additional COVID-19 cases Friday for a total of 356 cases, including seven deaths.

Macon County reported its 17th death from COVID-19. The victim was a man in his 80s who was a resident at Fair Havens Senior Living in Decatur. 14 COVID-19 deaths are linked to Fair Havens. Macon County officials also reported three new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 161. 86 cases involved residents and employees at Fair Havens, some of whom may not be county residents.

Coles County reported six new cases, for a total of 75. Douglas County reported one new case for a total of 23. Iroquois County reported one new case for a total of 112 COVID-19 cases. Ford and Vermilion Counties reported no new cases.

And for the first time, Edgar County has confirmed a case of COVID-19. But local public health officials say because the person involved is not an Illinois resident, it will not be counted in the official state data on the virus. Edgar County is one of three Illinois counties to report no COVID-19 cases so far among its residents.  – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom;  Numbers for Fair Havens cases updated 5/15/20 7:17 p.m.

New Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Site To Open In Champaign May 19

May 15, 4:45 p.m. – Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that several new drive-thru testing sites will open across Illinois in the coming weeks. They’ll be located in Chicago, Rolling Meadows and Peoria. There will also be one in Champaign, which opens May 19 outside the J.C Penney’s store at the Market Place shopping mall. The facility will provide free testing for people with COVID-19 symptoms, those with depressed immune systems or pre-existing conditions, and people with jobs that support critical services.

The governor says the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate has declined due to ramped up testing. The state’s peak positivity rate was on April 4, when 23% of tests came back positive on a rolling average. The state’s cumulative positivity rate is now at 16%.

He says every region in Illinois is currently meeting positivity rate standards to move into Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois plan. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 2,432 new COVID-19 cases Friday. The state’s total number of cases is at 90,369. With an additional 130 deaths in the last 24 hours, the total number of fatalities now stands at 4,058. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Champaign, Urbana Libraries Launch Curbside Service

May 14, 5:11 p.m. — Public libraries in Champaign and Urbana will begin offering books and other items for curbside pickup beginning Friday, May 15. Patrons can use the websites and apps of the Champaign Public Library and Urbana Free Library to look up and reserve items. Once they’re notified that items are ready, they can phone the library to arrange a pick-up time. At the appointed time, patrons can drive up to the library, (the front entrance of the Champaign library and the Elm St. entrance of the Urbana library) and call to let them know they’ve arrived. A library staff member will bring out their items. The two libraries have posted specific hours seven days a week for curbside pickup. No hours are set at the Champaign Public Library’s Douglass Branch, but curbside pickup is available by appointment.

The Champaign and Urbana libraries are joining others across Illinois in offering curbside pickup, even while library buildings remain closed to the public. Libraries in Mattoon, Danville and Clinton are among those offering curbside pickup.  Most libraries are not yet accepting returns of books and other items, while they work out how to do so without spreading the virus. One exception is the Paxton Carnegie Library in Ford County, which isolates and sanitizes books and other items before returning them to the collection.  — Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Eleven New COVID-19 Cases In Champaign County; A Nursing Home Resident Dies In Coles County

May 14, 4:48 p.m. — Champaign County reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, for a total of 333 cases in the county, including seven deaths. 173 of those cases have recovered.

Coles County reported its fourth death from COVID-19. The victim was a resident at Charleston Rehab and Healthcare, where 40 cases of the virus have been reported. Coles County reported five new cases of COVID-19 Thursday for a total of 69.

Macon County reported six new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 158, including 16 deaths. Iroquois county reported four new cases for a total of 111, including three deaths.  Ford County reported two new cases, for a total of 17, including one death.  Moultrie County reported two new cases, for a total of nine.

Edgar County continues to report no cases of COVID-19. The public health department in the county bordering Indiana says a total of 215 residents have tested negative for the virus, with 14 tests pending.  – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom; updated 5/14/20 7:28 p.m., adding Moultrie County data.

Pritzker Highlights Lower Positive Rate Of COVID-19 And Announces New Resources For Job-Seekers

May 14, 3:45 p.m. – The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 138 COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, for a total of more than 3,928 deaths in Illinois. The agency also reported more than 3,239 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the state to nearly 87,937. Governor Pritzker says the rise in cases is a result of more people being tested. He says the average rate of positive cases in the past week has dropped to 17% after being above 20% when testing was more restricted due to limited supplies. The World Health Organization has recommended a positive rate of 10% as a benchmark to suggest testing levels are sufficient, as countries that have done extensive testing have positive rates of about 1 in 10, according to NPR.

Pritzker says a new state website will help connect job-seekers with free online job training, virtual career fairs and education resources. The “Get Hired” website also allows employers to list job openings, with 60,000 jobs already listed. Starting June 1, the site will provide free online college courses through Coursera, in partnership with colleges and universities across the state, including the University of Illinois. Pritzker says the state is working to address the large number of unemployment claims filed due to COVID-19 and has hired additional staff and created an online call center for the Illinois Department of Employment Services. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

A COVID-19 Death In Coles County; Still No Cases In Edgar County

May 13, 5:40 a.m. — Champaign County reported 14 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Wednesday for a total of 322, including seven deaths. A total of 83 cases have been reported among workers at the Rantoul Foods meat processing plant in northern Champaign County. But no new cases were reported Wednesday.

Coles County reported its third death from COVID-19: a resident at Charleston Rehab and Health Care. The Coles County Health Department reports 39 cases of COVID-19 have been linked to the long term care facility. The total number of cases in Coles County is 64.

Macon County reported one new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 152. Ford County reported 1 new case for a total of 15, including 1 death. Iroquois County reported six new cases for a total of 107, including three deaths.

Edgar County reported no cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. The eastern Illinois county, which includes Paris, is one of three Illinois counties (along with Putnam and Scott) that have yet to report a single case of COVID-19. The Edgar County Health Department says it’s recorded 214 tests of county residents. 201 of those have tested negative, while 13 cases are pending. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Reports Highest Number Of COVID-19 Deaths In One Day

May 13, 5:20 p.m. – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced 1,677 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 84,698. IDPH also reported 192 deaths in the last 24 hours, the largest one day increase to date. That brings the state’s total fatalities to 3,792.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the state’s efforts to prioritize nursing homes and long-term care facilities have led to increased testing for residents and employees. Some 30,000 tests have been provided to 129 long-term care facilities across the state. He also says IDPH and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) are coordinating an effort to deliver masks, gloves and hand sanitizer to more than 1,200 nursing homes across the state. 85% of the facilities have received their personal protective equipment (PPE), and the final deliveries will be made in the coming days.

Gov. Pritzker also addressed news that some counties are choosing to re-open despite the stay-at-home order. He says those counties may be held accountable for ignoring the order, and may not be reimbursed by FEMA for any damages caused. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

U Of I Report: COVID-19 Has Created Challenges, Highlighted Inequities Within Health Care System

May 13 – A new report from the University of Illinois’ Institute for Government and Public Affairs identifies several ways the COVID-19 pandemic is creating challenges for health care workers and health care facilities. The report, which is part of an initiative from the U of I System to convene dozens of faculty experts to study how COVID-19 is affecting the state, also highlights inequities within the health care workforce in Illinois that are being brought to the forefront by the current crisis. Psychiatry professor Stevan Weine, who directs the Center for Global Health at the U of I Chicago campus, says the cross-disciplinary team shared a concern for the “unprecedented strain” being placed on health care workers and organizations by the pandemic. They set out to understand the nature of the problem, examine responses and help chart a path forward. Read the full story here. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

New COVID-19 Cases In Double Digits In Champaign, Coles Counties

May 12, 5:10 p.m. – Champaign County reported ten new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. One new case was reported at Rantoul Foods, where a total of 83 workers have tested positive for the virus. Julie Pryde with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District says all current employees at the meat processing plant have been tested, but testing is still sought for more than 200 who worked there until recently.

In addition, Champaign county has reported its seventh death from COVID-19: a woman in her 40s with underlying health conditions. The total number of COVID-19 cases in Champaign County is now at 308.  146, or about half of those cases. have recovered.

Coles County reported 16 additional COVID-19 cases, for a total of 62. As of Monday, 21 cases had been reported at the Charleston Rehab and Healthcare long-term care facility. The number of additional cases was not known Tuesday afternoon. 

The total number of COVID-19 cases reported in Iroquois County rose to 101, with two new cases. The Iroquois County Public Health Department says 31 of those cases have recovered, three have died and five are hospitalized. The rest are staying at home in isolation. 

Macon County reported five new cases for a total of 151. Vermilion County reported one new case for a total of 32. Douglas County reported two new cases for a total of 22. 

DeWitt County reported one new case for a total of four. Piatt County reported one new case for a total of seven. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom; (updated  to add cases at Rantoul Foods, and Douglas & Iroquois Counties)

Illinois Sees More Than 4,000 COVID-19 Cases In One Day As State Ramps Up Testing

May 12, 4:14 p.m. – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 4,014 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, the highest case count in 24 hours to date. That brings the total number of cases in the state to 83,021. An additional 144 deaths in the last day brings the state’s total number of fatalities to 3,601.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the new high in cases is a result of increased testing across the state. In the last day, more than 29,000 COVID-19 tests were processed, for a total surpassing 470,000.

The governor also announced Tuesday that the state will fast-track $25 million in funding to public infrastructure projects, using money allotted to Rebuild Illinois. The goal is to jumpstart planned construction projects that may have been put on hold or lost financing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as bring people back to work over the summer. The grants will support construction projects for water and sewer systems, as well as schools and other public buildings. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Rantoul Foods COVID-19 Outbreak Up To 82 Confirmed Cases

Rantoul Foods plant sign in Rantoul Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

May 11, 4:45 p.m. – Champaign County, officials announced 32 new COVID-19 cases Monday, for a total of 298. Champaign-Urbana Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde says 82 employees at the Rantoul Foods meat processing plant have now tested positive for COVID-19. She says there are still 225 employees at the facility yet to be tested, and officials are working to get them tested as soon as possible.

Elsewhere in Central Illinois, Coles County health officials announced 17 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, and the death of a resident at Charleston Rehab and Healthcare. They say there are now 21 confirmed cases at that long-term care facility. It’s the second COVID-related death in Coles County. Officials say they are contact tracing all of the confirmed cases, which now total 46 countywide.

Macon County officials announced the 16th death in that county from COVID-19 Monday. They say the patient was a man his 70s who was a resident at Fair Havens Senior Living. Fifteen of the county’s 16 deaths were Fair Havens residents. Officials also report one new confirmed case, for a total of 146 in Macon County.

Officials in Vermilion county reported three new cases of COVID-19 Monday, for a total of 31 confirmed cases.

Gov. Pritzker’s Office Working From Home After Senior Staffer Tests Positive For COVID-19

May 11, 4:29 p.m. – Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday that his office is working from home after a senior staffer tested positive for COVID-19. The staff member is reportedly asymptomatic, but staying in isolation.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) also reported 1,266 new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the state’s total to 79,007. An additional 54 deaths in the last 24 hours brings the total fatalities to 3,459.

Gov. Pritzker released an updated COVID-19 model for Illinois, which now predicts the state’s case numbers will plateau to a peak later than expected, from mid-May to mid-June. The model is based on data regarding COVID-19 cases, deaths, hospitalizations and ventilator use across the state. The governor also provided updates on the state’s four regions in meeting key metrics as part of the Restore Illinois plan. Those metrics include no overall increase in hospital admissions across a 28-day period. He says the North-Central, Central and Southern regions are currently on track to move to Phase 3 of the re-opening plan after the 28-day period.

Illinois COVID-19 Cases Surpass 77,000, With More Than 3,400 Deaths

May 10, 5:50 p.m. — State officials reported 1,656 new COVID-19 cases in Illinois on Sunday, the lowest number reported in 24 hours in 19 days. 57 additional deaths were reported, the lowest number since May 4. The Illinois Department of Public Health says the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state has reached 77,741, out of 129,984 tests conducted. The total number of deaths in the state related to the coronavirus is 3,406.

In Champaign County, three new cases of COVID-19 were reported, for a total of 266. None of the new cases were in the Rantoul zip code, home of the Rantoul Foods meat processing plant, where dozens of workers have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Macon County reported four new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 145. Coles County reported three new cases for a total of 29. — Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Saturday: More Than 2,300 New COVID-19 Cases In Illinois

May 9, 6:05 p.m. — 2,325 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Illinois on Saturday. That brings the total number of people testing positive for the virus to 76,085, out of a total of 76,085. 111 additional deaths were reported, for a total of 3,349.

Nine new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Champaign County, including four new cases in the Rantoul zip code, the home of Rantoul Foods, where dozens of infections have been confirmed. The total number of cases in Champaign County is 263, including six deaths. 146 of those infected are now considered to be recovered, an increase of 21 from Friday. The number of cases considered active has fallen from 125 to 111.

Iroquois County reported six new COVID-19 cases for a total of 93. Coles County reported four new cases for a total of 26. Ford County reported one new case for a total of 14.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported a total of 33 COVID-19 cases and one death among residents and employees at a nursing home in Clifton, in northern Iroquois County. The number of cases given on Friday at the Presence Merkle-Knipprath Countryside facility, operated by Ascension Living, increased from just two cases reported a week earlier.

In Champaign County, four cases have been confirmed at University Rehab Center (the former Champaign County Nursing Home) in Urbana.

In Decatur, in Macon County, the number of cases at Fair Havens Senior Living is at 82, including 15 deaths. Villa Clara Post Acute Care in Decatur has had two cases, including one death. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom; updated 10:20 p.m. with Iroquois County cases.

Continuing: Double-Digit COVID-19 Cases In Champaign County; Testing At Rantoul Foods

May 8, 5:09 p.m. — Champaign County reported 18 new COVID-19 cases Friday, for a total of 254 cases, including six deaths. The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District reports that 125 of those cases are currently active.

The number of cases involving workers at Rantoul Foods increased by three Friday for a total of 55. OSF Healthcare is testing previously untested workers at the meat processing plant. That testing will continue Saturday.

Macon County reported six new COVID-19 cases Friday, for a total of 141. Vermilion County reported two new cases for a total of 28. Iroquois County reported three new cases, for a total of 87 … and its second death, a woman in her 90s. Ford County reported one new COVID-19 case Friday, for a total of 13.  — Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Nearly 400,000 COVID-19 Tests Conducted In Illinois; Gov. Pritzker Pushes For More Testing

May 8, 4:55 p.m. – An additional 2,887 COVID-19 cases in Illinois were reported Friday, bringing the state’s total to 73,760. That includes 130 deaths that occurred in the last day, which brings the total fatalities to 3,241.

At his COVID-19 briefing Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker stressed that increased testing is key to re-opening the state’s economy. The number of COVID-19 tests processed in the last 24 hours reached 20,671. The state has completed nearly 400,000 total tests to date.

Gov. Pritzker also says the state now has 244 public testing sites, up from 177 on April 30. He says three more testing sites will open up next week. Additional supplies from the federal government to help ramp up testing are expected to arrive in Illinois May 10th, including 620,000 swabs and 465,000 vials of viral transport media (VTM). – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Due To Outbreak, All Rantoul Foods Employees To Be Tested For COVID-19

May 7, 6:00 p.m. – The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is responding to the recent outbreak at Rantoul Foods, a meat processing plant located in Rantoul. Administrator Julie Pryde says OSF Healthcare is leading the effort to test the remaining 500 employees who have not yet been tested. Of the roughly 200 who have already been tested, Pryde says 52 cases have been confirmed as of May 7. 

CU Public Health is following up with contact tracing—notifying people who’ve been in close contact with confirmed cases and instructing them to isolate or quarantine and monitor their symptoms.

Since many employees live outside of Rantoul—and COVID-19 cases are attributed to the counties where people live—Pryde says the COVID-19 cases linked to Rantoul Foods are creating other outbreaks in Champaign, Urbana and other cities outside of Champaign County. Read the full story here. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

More COVID-19 Cases At Rantoul Foods, 15th Death In Macon County

May 7,  5:15 p.m. – Champaign County reported 19 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Thursday, for a total of 236. That includes three new cases linked to Rantoul Foods. Julie Pryde with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District says the total number of cases at the meat processing plant has reached 52, and more testing of employees will begin on Friday.  Macon County reported its 15th death due to COVID-19, and confirmed two new cases today Thursday, for a total of 135. More than half of those cases are linked to the Fair Havens Senior Living facility in Decatur. Iroquois County reported six new cases for a total of 84. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Total Illinois COVID-19 Fatalities Surpass 3,000

May 7, 4:08 p.m. – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 2,641 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the total to 70,873 cases. There have been a total of 3,111 deaths in the state, with 138 fatalities in the last 24 hours.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the state is building up capacity to process the large number of unemployment claims coming in due to the pandemic. Illinois has processed over 1 million unemployment claims since March 1, compared to the 180,000 the state saw during the first nine weeks of the 2008 recession.

The governor says the Illinois Department of Employment Security (DES) is starting a new call center that will provide 100 new agents by Monday. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program website will be able to process more than 140,000 claims per hour. Under the program, claimants can receive up to 39 weeks of benefits starting from their first week of unemployment. On Monday, IDES will also begin processing claims for 1099 workers. Those include self-employed people and independent contractors who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment.

According to a recent study out of Harvard, Illinois is among the 41 states that fall short of of benchmarks for adequate testing. Currently, the state is averaging about 14,942 tests per day, falling short of the minimum daily testing of around 64,000 needed by May 15. Responding to a question about the study during his daily briefing, Gov. Pritzker says that a benchmark of 64,000 daily tests may not be enough for Illinois, and the state will continue to ramp up its testing. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

GOP Wants ‘Local’ Say In Pritzker’s COVID-19 Reopening Plan

May 6 — House Republicans say Illinois’ pandemic control plan needs GOP input and have again urged the Democratic governor to convene the Legislature. Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday released a five-phase plan to reopen shuttered businesses and ease social distancing guidelines imposed to quell the coronavirus crisis. GOP lawmakers said Wednesday that Pritzker’s plan moves too slowly to save many businesses and take the state back to how it had been. Lawmakers haven’t met in session since early March, but say they could meet safely if they follow public health department guidelines. – Associated Press

ADL: White Supremacists Involved In Capitol Protests

Protester’s sign at the Capitol last week MIKE MILETICH / QUINCY MEDIA CAPITOL BUREAU

May 6 – White supremacist organizations infiltrated stay-at-home protests in Springfield and Chicago last week, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. David Goldenberg, the Midwest regional director of the ADL, says members of well-known extremist groups appear to have been at those protests. They held up signs featuring swastikas and other hate messages, including one at the state Capitol, which read “Heil, Pritzker.”  – Maureen McKinney, NPR Illinois

COVID-19 Cases Increase At Meat Plant & Jump In Iroquois County

May 6 5:50 p.m. – Champaign County reported nine new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, for a total number of 217. Two of those cases are linked to the Rantoul Foods meat processing plant, which has now seen a total of 49 cases.

Iroquois County reported 27 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, raising the total number of cases sharply, from 51 to 78.  20 of the 27 new cases are in their 70s or older. The Iroquois County Public Health Department said in a news release there would be no further details about the cases. The department also noted that tests had been conducted on 460 county residents to date. The Illinois Department of Public Health notes that as of May 1st, there had been two cases of COVID-19 at a nursing home in the county.

Vermilion County reported one new case (a person in their 20s) for a total of 26.

Ford County reported its 12th case.

Macon County reported five new COVID-19 cases for a total of 132, and Moultrie County confirmed two new cases for a total of seven. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Latinx Population Testing Positive For COVID-19 At Highest Rate In Illinois

May 6 4:55 p.m. – Illinois saw 2,270 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 68,232. 136 additional deaths in the last day brings the total fatalities to 2,974.

The state’s Latinx population is becoming the hardest hit, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). The Latinx community is testing positive for COVID-19 at the highest rate in Illinois, with a positivity rate of 60%. That’s 3 times higher than the state average. The population also has more than 40% of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois. Community leaders say many people work in essential parts of the economy and can’t stay home.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the state is working on improving data collection to butter understand the disparity, and is working with community leaders to raise awareness about the more than 200 available public testing sites in the state. He also says the state is working to provide additional housing services and workers’ rights guidelines to support the community. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Provides Grants To Homeless Service Providers, Agencies Say More Is Still Needed 

May 5 4:46 p.m. – Thirty homelessness prevention organizations across Illinois will receive grants totaling a collective $340,000. The money will be distributed by affordable housing advocacy organization, Housing Action Illinois, and most of it comes from donations to the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund.

Erica Smith, executive director of Helping Hands of Springfield, says her organization received a $15,000 grant from Housing Action Illinois. Since the pandemic began, Smith says her organization has had to significantly change the way it operates.

“For our emergency shelter program, what we had to do was create a situation where 45 to 50 people would want to stay together in the same building pretty much day in and day out. That’s very challenging,” Smith says. “People couldn’t come and go, as they were used to doing. And so what we turned into was a 50 member family, and the shelter became really a home.” Read the full story here.Lee Gaines, Illinois Newsroom

Gov. Pritzker Announces ‘Restore Illinois’ Plan To Re-Open State In Five Phases

May 5 4:19 p.m. – Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a new plan to re-open the state Tuesday. Under the Restore Illinois plan, each of the state’s four designated regions (Northeast, North-Central, Central and Southern) would gradually re-open in five phases. Pritzker says the state is already past Phase 1, and the modified stay-at-home order that took effect May 1st marked the start of Phase 2.

In Phase 3, regions that meet certain thresholds could re-open non-essential manufacturing and businesses. Child care services and salons would be included in that list. Phase 4 would allow restaurants, bars, gyms and schools to re-open with new capacity limits and guidelines. Phase 5 would be a return to normalcy, only after an approved vaccine or effective treatment becomes available.

The Illinois Department of Health also reported an additional 2,122 cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. That brings the state’s total to 65,962. 176 deaths in the last day brings the total fatalities to 2,838, the highest number of deaths in a single 24-hour period to date. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Program Uses Apps To Monitor Patients With COVID-19 Symptoms

May 5 2 p.m. — A state-funded program run by OSF Healthcare and two other Illinois health care systems uses technology to connect people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms with nurses and doctors. Cindy Magsamen, an OSF nurse leading the Pandemic Health Worker Program, says people can get assessed online or by phone, and those who qualify will get a health kit delivered to their door. The kits contain a thermometer and a tablet computer pre-loaded with apps that help monitor symptoms; people can also receive instructions for installing the apps on their own devices. “If we find that the client’s symptoms are worsening, it sends a yellow or red alert, and a nurse follows up with that client,” Magsamen says. The free program is open to anyone throughout OSF’s service area, Magsemen says. More information can be found online. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

Senate Reopens Despite Risks As House Preps More Virus Aid

May 4 7:10 pm. — The Senate has reopened in a Capitol largely shuttered by the coronavirus, but prospects for quick action on a new aid package are uncertain. Lawmakers face a deepening national debate over how best to confront the deadly pandemic and its economic devastation. Senate Republicans are reluctant to spend more money on virus relief. They hope the gradual reopening of the economy will reduce the need for more aid. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon unveil a new relief package. The 100 senators are convening for the first time since March. The House is staying away on doctor’s orders due to health risks. – Associated Press

Treasury Says April-June Borrowing Will Be A Record $2.99T

May 4 — The economic paralysis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic is forcing the U.S. Treasury to borrow far more than it ever has before — $2.99 trillion in the current quarter alone. The amount is more than five times the government’s previous record borrowing for a quarter, $569 billion, set in the depths of the 2008 financial crisis. It also dwarfs the $1.28 trillion the government borrowed in the bond market for all of 2019. The Treasury Department said the huge sum is needed to pay for nearly $3 trillion in rescue aid that the government has unleashed in programs to support tens of millions of jobless workers and shuttered businesses with direct payments and loans. – Associated Press

Champaign County COVID-19 Cases Include 21 At Rantoul Foods Plant

Rantoul Foods in Rantoul

May 4 5:05 p.m. – Champaign County reported ten new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Data from the Champaign County Public Health District shows that five of those new cases are in the Rantoul zip code, which a total of 32 cases have now been counted. And a majority of the Rantoul cases are linked to the Rantoul Foods meat processing plant. A Rantoul Foods official confirms 21 COVID-19 cases at the plant, which has a work force of 650. Human Resources Director Jerry Jacobsen says the company is taking safety measures to control the outbreak. But in the meantime, he says many employees are staying away from work, due to fears of infection. Read coverage from the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting here. Elsewhere, Macon County reported three new COVID-19 cases today (Monday) , and Ford County reported one new case. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom; additional reporting from Pam Dempsey, Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.

Gov. Pritzker Warns Illinois Cities That Re-Open Could Put Communities At Risk

May 4, 4:28 p.m. – Illinois reported 2,341 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, bringing the state total to 63,840. 46 additional deaths in the last day brings the total state fatalities to 2,662.

The Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) administered nearly 14,000 COVID-19 tests over the last 24 hours, with about 17% testing positive for the virus, a drop from 20% on Saturday. IDPH also reported a drop in the percentage of COVID-19 occupied ICU beds in the state. As of May 3, 33% of ICU beds in the state were in use, a drop from 43% on April 5.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker also responded to news that the mayor of East Peoria says he’ll re-open the city in phases starting on Friday. That goes against the state’s stay-at-home order and would include re-opening businesses like salons. Gov. Pritzker warned it could cause an uptick in cases and put workers and the community at risk.

Gov. Pritzker says he is considering opening parts of the state before the stay-at-home order lifts at the end of May. But he says consistently low case and hospitalization numbers would be a requirement before that could happen. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

COVID-19 Leaves Blind Students Even Further Behind

Two participants in a National Federation of the Blind BELL Academy event read braille together. Courtesy of the National Federation of the Blind

May 4 – Amber McKeag says her son Darrin received little braille instruction before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Illinois. Now, she says, he doesn’t receive any. 

Many educators in Illinois expect students to be a little behind when in-person classes eventually resume. But advocates and parents of visually impaired students fear they’ll be worse off than their sighted peers, largely because many of those students received minimal braille instruction even before the coronavirus pandemic began. Read the full story here. – Lee Gaines, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Reaches Record High For COVID-19 Tests Performed in 24 Hours

May 3, 3:45 p.m. – In his daily briefing Sunday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a new record high for COVID-19 tests performed in Illinois in a single day: 19,417. The state is reporting 2,994 new cases, bringing the state total to 61,499. An additional 63 deaths were reported, bringing the total fatalities to 2,618.

Pritzker cautioned against comparing Illinois and Cook County to other cities and states based on number of confirmed COVID-19 cases alone, but advised people look instead at how much testing is being done and compare the percentage of positive cases among those tested. “That’s the number that ought to be going down” as testing capacity increases, Pritzker said.

Champaign County announced 24 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday – for a total of 173. Two new cases were announced in Douglas County, for a total of 20. Iroquois County announced 5 new cases over the weekend for a total of 41, and the county’s first COVID-19 death: a woman in her 60s.  Macon County announced 9 new cases – 2 of which are associated with nursing homes – and one additional death, for a total of 13. No new cases were reported in DeWitt, Piatt, Christian, Coles, Edgar, Moultrie, or Vermillion Counties. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

Percentage Of Positive COVID-19 Tests In Illinois Drops Below 20%

May 2, 4:00 p.m. – The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,450 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing the total case count to 58,505. Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the recent rise in new cases is a reflection of the state increasing its COVID-19 testing capacity, which is “a very good thing,” because it means the state is able to test more people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 and prevent them from infecting others.

The percentage of people who receive a positive COVID-19 test has dropped from about 22% last week to less than 20%, Pritzker says. The White House coronavirus task force and World Health Organization have both recommended a positive rate of 10% as a benchmark to suggest testing levels are sufficient, as countries that have done extensive testing have positive rates of about 1 in 10, according to NPR.

Champaign County reported 20 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Saturday. Among the 169 total COVID-19 case, six people have died and 89 have recovered. Eight new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Macon County – two of which are associated with long-term care facilities – for a total of 121 cases. Two new cases were reported in Douglas County. No new cases were reported in Vermilion, DeWitt or Piatt counties. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois COVID-19 Case Count Reaches New High In One Day

May 1 5:30 p.m. – There were 3,137 new cases of COVID-19 reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Friday, the highest number of cases in 24 hours to date. The total case count in Illinois stands at 56,055.

An additional 105 deaths were reported, bringing the total fatalities to 2,457. Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a new statewide initiative to ramp up contact tracing. He says the operation will aim to identify individuals who’ve been in contact with people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. To start, there will be 30 contact tracing workers per every 100,000 residents in Illinois.

Gov. Pritzker also noted he may allow some parts of the state to re-open before the end of the stay-at-home order, if they show a significant decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations for 14 days. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

More COVID-19 Cases In Champaign County, But None At Clark-Lindsey

May 1, 4:15 p.m. — Champaign County reported 14 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 Friday. This is the county’s third day of ten or more new cases. Champaign County has reported 149 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began. Two new COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Macon County for a total of 113 cases. DeWitt County reported two new cases for a total of five.  The DeWitt-Piatt Bi-County Health Department says it’s awaiting results of testing of staff and residents at Liberty Village in Clinton — after an employee there tested positive this week for COVID-19. Meanwhile, Clark-Lindsey says after reporting one case, further testing of residents and staff has confirmed no additional cases of COVID-19 at its two group living facilities. The senior living community in Urbana says the resident of its Meadowbrook Health Center who originally tested positive is recovering in isolation. In addition to existing measures, Clark-Lindsey says it has increased the frequency of temperature checks for employees, and has made scrub washing mandatory.  – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Champaign County Plans To Offer COVID-19 Testing To All Nursing Homes

April 30, 6:20 p.m. – All nursing home employees in Illinois can now get tested for COVID-19, even if they’re not showing symptoms, thanks to the state loosening testing criteria last week to allow all health care and front line workers to qualify. But Champaign-Urbana Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde says she would like to further expand testing to include residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities, even those with no confirmed COVID-19 cases. C-U Public Health has requested the test kits, Pryde says, and will be sending them to the facilities so that residents can get tested on site. Read the full story here. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

11 New COVID-19 Cases In Champaign County; 12th Death In Macon County

April 30, 5:43 p.m. – Champaign County reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, the second consecutive day that double-digit cases have been reported. To date, the county has reported 135 COVID-19 cases and six deaths. Two cases reported this week are linked to nursing homes. In Macon County, a resident at Fair Havens Senior Living in Decatur has died after contracting COVID-19. Authorities say the man in his 60s is the 12th Macon County resident with the coronavirus to die. Macon County also announced one new COVID-19 case Thursday for a total of 111 cases. A majority of those cases are linked to Fair Havens. Douglas County reported one new COVID-19 case, for a total of 15 cases. Iroquois County reported five new cases for a total of 34. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Modified Stay-At-Home Order Will Take Effect May 1

April 30 4:30 p.m. – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 2,563 new cases of COVID-19 in the state Thursday. That brings the total to 52,918 cases throughout 97 counties in Illinois. An additional 141 deaths were reported, bringing the total fatalities to 2,355.

On Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker responded to news that an Illinois church and pastor filed a lawsuit against him for the extended stay-at-home order. Gov. Pritzker urged faith leaders to keep churches closed, noting that restrictions will only be lifted after a 14-day period of declining case numbers and hospitalizations.

Friday, May 1 marks the start of the modified stay-at-home order. The order will allow retail stores to re-open to do online or phone orders, as well as pick-up and delivery. Hospitals will also be allowed to resume some elective surgeries with guidelines. Individuals will be required to wear face coverings in public places where they’re unable to maintain a six-foot distance. Find a full list of the stay-at-home order modifications here. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Slowed COVID-19 Spread Leaves 1,000s of Makeshift Beds Empty

In this April 10, 2020 file photo, construction continues at the COVID-19 alternate site at McCormick Place in Chicago. The city pared back plans for a 3,000-bed temporary hospital at McCormick Place, the nation’s largest convention center, as infection numbers decreased. Opened April 3 instead with 500 beds, the $64 million facility treated just 12 people as of last week, with six of them being released. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh File) AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh File

April 30 1:30 p.m. — Illinois has spent tens of millions of dollars building makeshift field hospitals to prepare for an anticipated flood of coronavirus cases. But Gov. J.B. Pritzker contends that prevention strategies such as a statewide stay-at-home order have worked so well that the plan for a small city of beds at McCormick Place in Chicago has been dramatically reduced. Additional beds at closed hospitals are on standby. Pritzker said last month that in a worst-case scenario, the state would need 38,000 more hospital beds than it has. He has said if the extra beds are never used “then we will have done our job.” – Associated Press

Illinois COVD-19 Cases Surpass 50,000

April 29 5:20p.m. – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced a milestone of surpassing 50,000 cases in the state Wednesday, with a total of 50,355. There were an additional 2,253 cases reported in the last 24 hours. 92 new deaths in the last day brings the total fatalities to more than 2,215.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker also announced new initiatives to bolster nursing home assistance in the state. IDPH plans to expand testing to 3,000 COVID-19 tests per day at Illinois long-term care facilities. Starting Wednesday, IDPH will also deploy ten teams of 50 nurses to long-term care facilities across the state, with an additional 200 nurses to join in the coming days. The nurses will assist facilities in conducting swab testing, training staff and improving hygienic practices and use of personal protective equipment.

Gov. Pritzker also responded to a second lawsuit filed Wednesday by State Rep. John Cabello against the extended stay-at-home order, calling it “irresponsible.” The Illinois Attorney General filed an appeal Wednesday after a judge ruled in favor of State Rep. Darren Bailey’s lawsuit against the stay-at-home order. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Wednesday COVID-19 Cases Include Ten In Champaign County

April 29, 4:21 p.m. – Champaign County reported ten new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, for a total of 124 cases and six deaths. Macon County reported two new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 110 cases and eleven deaths. Vermilion County reported one new case for a total of 19 cases and one death. Iroquois County reported five new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 29. DeWitt County has reported its second COVID-19 case in as many days. Local health authorities say both patients are young healthcare workers who work in Decatur, and are close contacts of each other. The DeWitt-Piatt Bi-County Health Department says that healthcare workers make up five of the nine COVID-19 cases identified in the two counties. (Updated to include Iroquois County cases – JM 4/29/20 6:45 p.m.) – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

New Round Of Small Business PPP Loans May Go Fast

April 29 11:00 a.m. – The federal Paycheck Protection Program resumed taking applications this week, thanks to an additional $311 billion in funding approved by Congress.  The nearly $350 billion initially allocated for the program was exhausted in two weeks. The PPP finances low-interest, potentially forgivable loans through local lenders, so small businesses can keep paying their employees during the coronavirus shutdown.  But Don Elmore with the Illinois Small Business Development Center in Champaign says businesses applying now may already be too late to benefit from the latest round of funding. “I think if you were starting from scratch today, you have virtually no chance of getting in on this round of funding,” said Elmore, “because the money is only expected to last about two or three days.” But Elmore says it can still make sense for small businesses to apply for PPP loans, because he expects Congress will approve a third round of funding in the coming weeks. The Paycheck Protection Program is managed by the U.S. Small Business Administration, which also oversees a nationwide network of Small Business Development Centers. The Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation holds regular webinars on the PPP and other programs to help small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. Their website is cusbdc.org. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Clark-Lindsey Resident Tests Positive For COVID-19

April 29 9:31 a.m. – A resident of the nursing facility at Clark-Lindsey in Urbana has tested positive for COVID-19. This is the first known cases of COVID-19 connected to Clark-Lindsey, and the first reported case among nursing homes in Champaign County. In a statement, Clark-Lindsey’s Director of Marketing, Karen Blatzer, says the resident is receiving care at a local hospital. It is not known when the resident will return to the Meadowbrook Health Center, the nursing facility at Clark-Lindsey. Local public health staff have been on site to evaluate procedures at Clark-Lindsey and have no further recommendations for change.  Since mid-March, Clark-Lindsey has requested residents not leave the campus except for medically necessary appointments. Clark-Lindsey says they responded immediately to notify residents, family members and staff. They also sanitized the resident’s room and other high-touch areas. The case has been reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Nursing Homes With ‘Serious Quality Issues’ Face Coronavirus Outbreaks

April 29 –  Four Illinois nursing homes already identified by federal medical authorities as having a history of serious quality issues have suffered outbreaks of the coronavirus in the past two months. Twenty-four nursing homes are listed under the federal Special Focus Facility program, which is overseen by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Four Illinois nursing homes are in the Special Focus program and another 20 are candidates for the program, as of February 26. Click here to read the entire story by Karen Liu, Midwest Center For Investigative Reporting.

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., on the coronavirus response, in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) AP/Evan Vucci

Trump Order Keeping Meat Packing Plants Open Worries Unions

April 28 11:22 p.m. — Unions in the U.S. meat packing industry say President Donald Trump is jeopardizing lives and prioritizing cold cuts over workers’ health. Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order under the Defense Production Act to classify meat processing as critical infrastructure during the coronavirus outbreak. The goal is to try to prevent a shortage of chicken, pork and other meat on supermarket shelves. More than 20 meatpacking plants have closed temporarily because of the outbreak. One union estimates that 6,500 workers are sick or have been exposed while working near someone who tested positive. At least 20 workers have died. – Associated Press

Among Local COVID-19 Cases, Vermilion County’s First Death

April 28 5:00 p.m. – Vermilion County has reported its first death from COVID-19.  The Vermilion County Health Department says the patient was in their 70s, tested positive for the coronavirus around Easter and was recently hospitalized. The County also reported one new COVID-19 case for a total of 18. Also Tuesday, Champaign County reported five new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 114. DeWitt, Ford and Macon Counties each reported one new case of COVID-19. DeWitt County has reported a total of two cases, Ford County reports nine cases and one death, and Macon County reports 108 total cases and eleven deaths. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Sees Highest Number Of COVID-19 Deaths In One Day

April 28 4:25 p.m. — Gov. J.B. Pritzker responded Tuesday to the ruling of an Illinois judge yesterday that sided with State Representative Darren Bailey against the extended stay-at-home order. Gov. Pritzker said the judge’s ruling is limited and only applies to one person. He noted the state acted within its legal authority and is appealing immediately, and that the stay-at-home order still stands.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) also announced 2,219 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the total case count to 48,102. An additional 144 people died from COVID-19, marking the highest number of deaths in 24 hours to date. That brings the total fatalities to more than 2,125. In the last day, 14,561 COVID-19 tests have been processed in the state, bringing the total number of tests to 242,189. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Trump: US Coronavirus Deaths Could Reach 70,000

April 27 9:38 p.m. – President Donald Trump is projecting that coronavirus deaths in the United States could reach 70,000, but says original projections were much higher as he explained why voters should consider re-electing him in November. Trump has at times this month cited 60,000 as the estimate of how many people would die from COVID-19. Trump was asked during a White House news conference on Monday whether an American president deserved to be re-elected after losing more Americans in six weeks than died in the Vietnam War. Approximately 58,000 U.S. troops were killed during the Vietnam War. The number of dead in the U.S. from COVID-19 surpassed 55,000, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. – Associated Press

Monday’s COVID-19 Cases Include Family Members in Vermilion County

April 27 5:48 p.m. – Vermilion County health authorities say three COVID-19 cases reported Monday and a fourth reported Saturday all come from the same family. The Vermilion County Health Department says a preschooler and three residents in their 20s are related by family and/or marriage.  Vermilion County has reported 17 COVID-19 cases to date. Champaign County confirmed four new COVID-19 cases (Monday. Authorities also reported one additional death — a woman in her 60s. Champaign County has had a total of 109 COVID-19 cases to date, including six deaths. Douglas County reported one new COVID-19 case, for a total of 14 confirmed cases. Iroquois county reported two new cases, for a total of 20. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Judge Rules Against Gov. Pritzker’s Extended Stay-At-Home Order

State Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia)

April 27 4:51 p.m. — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced 1,980 new cases of COVID-19 Monday. That brings the state’s total to 45,883. The state saw 50 deaths in the last day, bringing total fatalities to 1,983. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker also responded to news that an Illinois judge had ruled against the extended stay-at-home order. Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney ruled in favor of State Representative Darren Bailey, who filed a lawsuit against the governor for extending the stay-at-home order through May. Gov. Pritzker called the ruling “insulting” and “dangerous,” and said he would try to get it overturned. Pritzker urged people to continue to stay home.

IDPH also noted six additional COVID-19 symptoms, announced by the CDC. Those include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or smell. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Sunday Local COVID-19 Cases: Champaign, Macon Counties See Increase In Confirmed Cases

April 26 4:06 p.m. – Champaign County announced its 105th case today, which is one more than yesterday. Total deaths in the county stand at five. In Macon County, public health officials announced three newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the total there to 107 with 11 total deaths. Of the 107 confirmed cases, 75 of them are among residents and staff of Fair Havens Senior Living in Decatur. Although the cases in Macon County are mostly concentrated, public health officials there encourage the public to continue social distancing and to not have a false sense of security. Overall, the state announced 2,126 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and an additional 59 deaths in Illinois. Total cases in the state rose to 43,903 and total deaths rose to 1,933. – Dana Cronin, Illinois Newsroom

Total Confirmed Cases In Illinois Surpasses 40,000

April 25 6:41 p.m. – Today, The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 2,119 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 41,777. The number of deaths rose by 80 to 1,874. Locally, Champaign County reported one new confirmed case of COVID-19, bringing the county’s total to 104 with five deaths. Douglas County also announced a new confirmed case, bringing the total there to 13. Iroquois County announced two new cases, bringing the total to 18. A Vermilion County resident in their 20’s also tested positive for the virus, bringing the total to 14. – Dana Cronin, Illinois Newsroom

Friday Local COVID-19 Cases: Coles County Reports COVID-19 Death

April 24 4:40 p.m. – Coles County reported its first death of a resident from COVID-19 Friday, becoming the latest east-central Illinois county to report a death linked to the coronavirus.  Coles County has confirmed 15 cases of the coronavirus so far, but reported no new cases Friday. Macon County reported nine new cases of COVID-19 , enough to bring its total number of cases to 108 (one of the new cases is an out-of-county resident, and is not being considered in the total). The majority of those cases are residents and staff at Fair Havens Senior Living in Decatur, but local authorities are not giving a specific breakouts. Champaign County reported three new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 103 cases. Moultrie County reported two new cases for a total of four.  Christian County reported two new cases for a total of 28. Vermilion County reported two new cases for a total of 13. One of the new Vermilion County COVID-19 cases is a preschooler. Iroquois County reported one new case for a total of 16. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois COVID-19 Cases Reach New High As Statewide Testing Increases

April 24 3:55 p.m. — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced 2,724 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, bringing the state total to 39,658. That’s the largest 24-hour increase in positive cases Illinois has seen to date. IDPH also reported an additional 108 deaths, bringing the total to 1,795.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that an increase in testing may be driving the rise in positive cases. Thursday, the state saw the greatest number of test results in a 24-hour period, with more than 16,000 tests conducted. More than 186,000 tests have been completed in total. There are now 112 public testing sites in Illinois, located in each of IDPH’s 11 regions. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Champaign County Reports 100th COVID-19 Case; More New Cases In Coles, Macon

April 23 5:09 p.m. – Champaign County health officials confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. That brings the total number of cases in the county to 100. About 16 of those cases are considered currently active. Reports from Champaign County officials indicate that about one-thousand people per day are being tested for the coronavirus.  Coles County reported 2 new COVID-19 cases Thursday for a total of 22. Macon County reported one new case. But health officials are keeping the county total at 96, because a previously confirmed case was determined to live in another county. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Gov. Pritzker Extends Stay-At-Home Order Through May, With Some Modifications

Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-Illinois)

April 23 4:21 p.m. — Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that the stay-at-home order in Illinois will be extended through the month of May to continue curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

The order is modified, however, and includes some phased re-opening of state parks and non-essential businesses with social distancing guidelines. Greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries will be allowed to function as essential businesses, and non-essential retail will be permitted to re-open for online orders and pick-up and delivery. All employees of these sites and businesses will be required to maintain social distancing guidelines and wear face coverings.

The governor also announced that people will be required to wear face masks in public places where they can’t maintain a six-foot distance. The new order will become effective May 1.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also reported an additional 1,826 COVID-19 cases, bringing the total statewide to nearly 36,934. 123 new fatalities today brings the Illinois total to 1,688. Gov. Pritzker says the peak or plateau of deaths per day in Illinois is now estimated to occur between late April and early May. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

More Testing Finds More COVID-19 Cases At Decatur Nursing Home

Fair Havens Senior Living Center in Decatur Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

April 22 5:24 p.m. – The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases linked to Fair Havens Senior Living nearly doubled Wednesday, with the report of 33 additional cases from the Decatur nursing home, plus five more cases elsewhere in Macon County. Authorities say the surge is due to additional testing performed this week that covers all residents and staff at Fair Havens. Previously, testing had only been done in one part of the nursing facility. The Illinois Department of Public Health, which regulates nursing homes, sent over more test kits at the request of local officials. Macon County now reports 72 COVID-19 cases at Fair Havens and other congregate facilities, plus 14 total cases elsewhere in the county. Eleven Macon County residents have died, ten of them at Fair Havens. Champaign County is reporting two new cases of COVID-19, and one new death, that of a man in his 90s with underlying health conditions. There have now been 98 COVID-19 cases reported in Champaign County, and five deaths. Coles County reported two new cases for a total of 20 COVID-19 cases. Iroquois County reported one new case for a total of 15. No new cases were reported Wednesday in DeWitt, Douglas, Ford, Moultrie, Piatt or Vermilion Counties. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Reports Highest Number Of New COVID-19 Cases In One Day

April 22 4:10 p.m. — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported 2,049 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. That’s the highest number of positive cases of COVID-19 the state has seen in one day.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the high case numbers could be a result of more tests being conducted. More than 164,000 tests have been performed in Illinois so far, according to IDPH. The new cases bring the total number of positive COVID-19 cases statewide to 35,108. An additional 98 deaths were reported today, bringing the total up to 1,565.

Gov. Pritzker also announced that two new drive-thru testing sites would open this week, one in Aurora and one in Rockford. The state will now have five drive-thru test sites which, in total, will be able to run almost 3,000 COVID-19 tests per day. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

GOP Lawmakers Suggest Plan For Gradually Reopening Illinois

April 22 1:09 p.m. — Illinois House Republicans are suggesting ways for slowly reopening businesses and relaxing restrictions on public interaction as the threat from COVID-19 potentially recedes. With Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order scheduled to expire April 30, GOP lawmakers seeking relief for a devastated economy and frustrated constituents offered modifications which they said the public would find acceptable. They include re-opening businesses such as car dealerships, golf courses and state parks and department stores and allowing hospitals to resume regular screening procedures. People would be required to wear face coverings in public and maintain from others to discourage transmission of the illness. – Associated Press

COVID-19 Prompts Cancellation of Spring High School Sports

April 21 9:20 p.m. — The Illinois High School Association has canceled state tournaments for all spring sports because of COVID-19. The IHSA’s action on Tuesday comes after Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week closed the state’s public schools to in-person instruction through the end of the academic year. IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson acknowledges the association’s decision is disappointing for students, but he adds it is the right decision for their health and safety. Among the tournaments canceled were those for baseball, bass fishing, boys gymnastics, lacrosse and water polo. – Associated Press

University of Illinois Creates Fund To Offset Tuition Hike

April 21 7:40 p.m. — The University of Illinois 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 for students, is being supported by the federal COVID-19 relief package, money from all three universities in Illinois’ system and private fundraising. President Tim Killeen says students from Illinois will have priority in accessing the aid, which will cover a 1% to 1.8% tuition increase in the fall across the system. – Associated Press

Illinois Supreme Court To Hear Oral Arguments Via Zoom

April 21 5:10 p.m. — The Illinois Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on cases in May via the videoconference platform Zoom. The court has scheduled eleven cases to be heard via Zoom on May 12-14. This is the first time that the state’s highest court will use videoconferencing technology to hear arguments. In a news release, Chief Justice Anne Burke said that such a practice would have seemed impossible a few months ago, but “the Court has found that a lot of our regular work — including oral arguments — can be done remotely while still keeping people safe from COVID-19”. Court personnel will hold training sessions with counsel so they will know what to expect from the virtual proceedings. The public will be able to attend the arguments via Zoom, on the Illinois Supreme Court’s YouTube page. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Local COVID-19 Report Includes Two Deaths In Macon County

April 21 5:00 p.m. – Champaign County reported one new confirmed case of COVID-19 Tuesday. Macon County reported three additional cases, and two additional deaths. One of those who died was a resident at Fair Havens Senior Living in Decatur, where nine others have also died from the coronavirus. To date, Macon County has reported 58 cases of COVID-19 — 39 of them from Fair Havens or other group living facilities in the county.  The Illinois Department of Public Health sent additional testing kits Monday so that all residents and staff at Fair Havens could be tested. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsrooom

Alexa Valadez, a student at Urbana Middle School, helps keep the books organized at the little free library located at 24 Ivanhoe Drive in Urbana. Courtesy of Lucia Maldonado

‘Little Free Libraries’ Provide Books While Schools Remain Closed

URBANA – With schools and public libraries closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, communities are finding creative ways to provide children access to books and reading materials. Alexa Valadez, a seventh grader at Urbana Middle School, helps manage a “little free library” in her neighborhood in northeast Urbana. It’s a collection of books for children of all ages that anyone can borrow from, which Valadez says is especially needed right now. “Now that we are in quarantine… some people are getting bored of being inside,” Valadez says. “So they can enjoy a good book.” Read the full story here. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

 

Illinois Expands Payment Relief For Student Loan Borrowers

April 21 4:12 p.m. – Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the state will expand payment relief for student loan borrowers to help soften the financial burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. The expansion will reach nearly 140,000 student loan borrowers not covered by the federal CARES Act, who are repaying private and non-federal student loans.

Relief options with some 20 private student loan servicers include providing 90 days of forbearance, waiving late payment fees and pausing debt collection lawsuits for 90 days.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) also announced 1,551 new cases of COVID-19 in the state Tuesday. That brings the statewide total to over 33,000. 119 new fatalities brings the death toll to over 1,400. IDPH noted that of the people who had confirmed cases of COVID-19 four weeks ago, 77 percent have recovered. Gov. Pritzker said the peak in the rate of COVID-19 cases in Illinois is yet to come, and may not arrive until May. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois School Nurses Fear For Their Students Safety During The COVID-19 Pandemic

School nurses from St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 deliver food and cleaning supplies to a homeless shelter in St. Charles, Ill. Many school nurses are spending their time volunteering while schools remain closed in Illinois. Courtesy of Juanita Gryfinski

April 21 – Lisa Marlow is worried about her students. Marlow is a school nurse and educator with the Murphysboro Community Unit School District 186. 

The district serves primarily low-income students in a rural part of southern Illinois. 

Schools in Illinois are closed through the end of the current school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and students may be missing out on more than just face-to-face time with teachers. They also might be missing an important link in their access to health care: school nurses. Without daily access to students, school nurses like Marlow fear that warning signs of illness or abuse may go unnoticed. Read the full story here. – Lee Gaines, Illinois Newsroom

Champaign Unit 4 Superintendent: District Is Meeting Technology, Food Needs Of Families

April 21 – Champaign Unit 4 Schools Superintendent Susan Zola says the district is on track to meet the digital needs of its families as e-learning continues through the end of the school year. In general, she has a positive outlook on the remainder of the school year, as well as what might be in store for the district this fall. 

Zola hosted a virtual press conference Monday afternoon and answered questions on a range of topics, including e-learning, Chromebooks, the district’s meal distribution plan, graduation for high school seniors, and what the next school year may look like. Read the full interview here. – Lee Gaines, Illinois Newsroom

IDPH Provides More COVID-19 Testing For Decatur Nursing Home 

April 21 10:35 a.m. – Local officials in Macon County say the state has granted their request for more COVID-19 testing kits for residents and employees at Fair Havens Senior Living. Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe said last week she was asking State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) for help obtaining the tests so that everyone at the long term care facility could be tested. Wolfe said she was also seeking training for Fair Havens staff on the proper use of PPE. On Monday, Manar, Wolfe and other Macon County officials and legislators offered their thanks to Gov. Pritzker’s administration and the Illinois Department of Public Health for providing 300 COVID-19 tests to be used at Fair Havens. “These 300 tests will allow county health officials to identify and isolate carriers, which is the first step in halting the spread of COVID-19 throughout the facility and Decatur community,” said the officials in a statement. The Macon County Health Department reports 36 COVID-19 cases linked to Fair Havens Senior Living, and nine deaths. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

New COVID-19 Cases Range From Teen To Octogenarian

April 20 4:52 p.m. – Vermilion, Macon, Coles and Ford Counties each reported one new COVID-19 case apiece Monday.  The patients’ ages range from a teen-age resident in Vermilion County to a man in his 80s in Ford County. Champaign County had no new cases to report. To date, Champaign County has confirmed a total of 95 COVID-19 cases. Macon County’s total is 55 cases — 37 of them at nursing homes or other group facilities. Coles County has confirmed 17 cases.  Vermilion County has confirmed eleven cases. And Ford County has confirmed six. None of these counties reported any additional deaths.   – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois COVID-19 Cases Pass 31,000

April 20 4:28 p.m. The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 1,151 new cases of COVID-19 across the state Monday, bringing the total number of cases to 31,508. As of Monday, the number of new deaths is at 59, which brings the total number of deaths in the state to 1,349.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that 23 percent of the state’s ventilator capacity is in use, a decrease from 27 percent on April 10. He noted that social distancing measures implemented have “prevented worst-case scenarios.” Pritzker also announced that the state would ramp up testing at nursing homes and long-term care facilities – both at facilities without previously identified COVID-19 cases, as well as among staff in facilities with known cases. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

Nurses Face Different Challenges Across Illinois

April 20 – Nurses battling COVID-19 in big cities have much different experiences than those in rural areas. Health facilities in some of Illinois’ rural counties are sending nurses home, since elective procedures have been canceled and they’ve yet to be flooded with COVID-19 cases, says Susan Swart, executive director of the Illinois Nurses Association. Swart says some nurses caring for COVID-19 patients are taking steps to minimize risks by living apart from their children and other family members during the pandemic. But not everyone has the support system that allows them to physically distance themselves from members of their household, “so they are coming home to their young children every single night and then worried about you know, what risk factors am I bringing home? So I think it’s very emotional,” Swart says. – Christine Herman, Illinois Newsroom

Coronavirus Cases Top 30,000

April 19 – On Sunday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported the number of COVID-19 cases has grown to 30,357. The death toll stands at 1,290. – Reginald Hardwick, Illinois Newsroom

COVID-19 is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. We recommend checking the Coronavirus Information Center for the most recent numbers and guidance.

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