217 Today: Friday, Oct. 15, 2021

Friday, Oct. 15, 2021

Today’s headlines: 

  • More than 10,000 John Deere workers at plants in Illinois, Iowa and Kansas went on strike Thursday after their union contract ran out at midnight.

  • A 20-year-old Champaign man was arraigned Thursday for a deadly mass shooting that occurred in Champaign in July.

  • Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District is one of the first transit agencies to adopt zero-emissions technology using sunlight and water to power two new buses.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll get an inside look at how the Delta variant of COVID-19 has made hospitalized patients younger and sicker.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Elizabeth Rembert, Reginald Hardwick, Emily Hays and Natalie Krebs.

217 Today: Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021

Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration is pushing to make additional state funding for Illinois nursing homes contingent on facilities solving staffing issues.

  • The mother of Jelani Day says she is working hard to learn how and why her son was killed.

  • Higher fertilizer prices are pushing up the cost of growing food.

  • Four more Champaign County residents with COVID-19 have died, pushing the county’s death toll over 200 from the virus.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear from a criminal justice sciences expert who says the absence of information in the Jelani Day case has not served the public well.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Reginald Hardwick, Dana Cronin and Charlie Schlenker.

217 Today: Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021

Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021

Today’s headlines: 

  • U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth is urging her fellow Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly to repeal a law requiring teens seeking abortions to notify their parents or guardians —or else petition a judge.

  • Protests near the Illini Union and Alma Mater on the U of I Urbana campus may be restricted due to a proposed revised policy.

  • The Champaign County Board approved new district boundaries last May. Now that census figures are available, they’re getting ready to do it again at their meeting next week.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear from a cybersecurity expert who says COVID-19 has made our workplaces less safe– from online threats.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Luis Velazquez, Jim Meadows and Eric Stock.

217 Today: Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021

Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Democrats who control the General Assembly are already facing legal challenges from Republicans and Latino voting rights groups over new legislative maps the majority party passed earlier this year.

  • University of Illinois wheelchair athletes Tatyana McFadden and Daniel Romanchuk both finished second yesterday at the Boston Marathon, less than 24 hours after winning the Chicago Marathon on Sunday.

  • Cherokee citizen and Illinois businessman Andrew Johnson is working to change the fact that Illinois state employees don’t look like the people who live here– especially of the state’s Indigenous peoples.

In today’s deep dive, in one Midwestern elementary school, students take care of chickens, pigs, sheep and goats. As Harvest Public Media’s Katie Peikes reports, they’ve built chicken coops and sheep pens near their playgrounds in ways that seem to pay off in the classroom.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Emily Hays and Katie Peikes.

217 Today: Monday, Oct. 11, 2021

Monday, Oct. 11, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois may start offering tax incentives to electric vehicle manufacturers as part of its bid to build up its green energy industry.

  • Champaign-Urbana community members are looking for solutions to gun violence through local aid organizations.

  • A post on the Justice for Jelani Day Facebook page says today’s scheduled burial is being postponed because of the investigation into the grad student’s disappearance and death.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll speak with Illinois Newsroom’s Dana Cronin to learn more about two animals recently declared extinct by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that once called Illinois home.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Caroline Kubzansky, Charrice Jones, Reginald Hardwick, and Dana Cronin.

217 Today: Friday, Oct. 8, 2021

Friday, Oct. 8, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • President Joe Biden Thursday praised Governor JB Pritzker’s vaccine mandates for Illinois teachers, healthcare workers and certain state employees during a visit to Chicago’s northwest suburbs.

  • Lawmakers can’t really control the spread of misinformation on Facebook, but, they can try to break up the social media giant, according to University of Illinois journalism professor Nikki Usher.

  • A new, female-owned bookstore, bar and coffee shop called “The Literary” has opened in downtown Champaign.

  • Three more Champaign County residents have died of COVID-19. The countywide death toll is up to 196.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll get an update on how Illinois is doing in getting money to the K-12 schools in the state that need it most.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Emily Hays, Haley Bickelhaupt and Peter Medlin.

217 Today: Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021

Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois’ violent crime rate is about 7 percent above the national average, according to new FBI data released last week.

  • Advocates for the homeless say they’re working to close a critical gap in services in Champaign County—and they’re looking for the public’s help.

  • Officials at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign say they soon won’t let unvaccinated undergraduate students access most online class materials—unless they get tested regularly for COVID-19.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll talk to the administrator of the health department in Jackson County to get answers to some frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccine booster shots.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Justin Malone, Vivian La and Steph Whiteside.

Officials outline progress in Cairo river port development

SPRINGFIELD – A proposed river port development in the southern Illinois town of Cairo is drawing much attention and interest from companies that believe it could open up greater access to international markets, officials behind the project said Tuesday.

The Alexander-Cairo Port District project has been on the drawing board for about 10 years, but it was given a major boost in 2019 when the General Assembly passed a $45 billion capital improvements plan called Rebuild Illinois, which included a $40 million investment in the port project.

If the project is given final approval – officials have said it will require more than 20 state and federal permits – that money is expected to draw an estimated $300 million in private investment, creating hundreds of construction jobs and many more permanent jobs with cargo shipping companies and other supporting industries.

John Vickerman, a design consultant working on the project, and other consultants conducted a videoconference Tuesday to provide an update.

“We know that the Corps of Engineers has approved the deepening of the Lower Mississippi, allowing much bigger vessels up into the Mississippi, upwards of 50 to 75 miles from its current configuration,” Vickerman said. “So what’s happening here is we’re changing the very character of the inland waterway system.

“Every port and every terminal of the more than 35 terminals on the Mississippi, and many on the Ohio, on the Illinois and the Missouri, are now and will be shortly 50 to 75 miles closer to open ocean. Their ability to move export product down the Mississippi and effectively transfer to large ocean vessels is upon us.”

Vickerman said his firm performed a “macroeconomic” market analysis to identify the domestic industry sectors that would most likely benefit from such a port.

He said those include such products as non-GMO soybeans, and particularly “identity preserved” soybeans – a kind of specialty crop that enables processors to know precisely which field the beans were grown in – as well as other commodities like coal, coiled steel, scrap metal, agricultural fertilizer, biofuels and wind energy equipment.

Todd Ely, a Springfield-based economic development consultant who has been working on the project since its inception, said many firms that work in those sectors have already signed “nondisclosure agreements” with his company in order to have further discussions about possible future development.

“And as the port develops, and the business model becomes a bit more clear, we’ll be looking forward to offering them proposals and prices, and we’re confident we’re going to get quite a bit of their business,” he said.

The port is envisioned as a public-private partnership between the Alexander-Cairo Port Authority – a governing board that includes officials from Alexander County, the city of Cairo and the Cairo Public Utility Company, which owns the land where the port would be located – and a private port operator.

It would involve building a large landing facility on the Mississippi River, about five and a half miles upstream from the confluence with the Ohio River. It would also include a large system of cranes that would lift cargo containers off of barges or other vessels that come upstream from New Orleans – many of which would originate in Asia and pass through the Panama Canal – and load them onto rail cars and semi-trucks.

Vickerman noted that traditional barges have not been very successful in North America at carrying large volumes of standard 20-foot cargo containers, although they have had more success in Europe. But he said there are new types of vessels under development that can haul as many as 1,800 such containers, fueled by liquid natural gas, which reduces their carbon footprint.

Cairo is considered an ideal location for such a port because of its access to both the Mississippi and Ohio rivers as well as its access to three interstate highways and a transcontinental Class 1 railway system operated by the Canadian National Railway.

But one of the keys to making the project viable is making sure there is enough cargo originating from Illinois and the Midwest to put back on the vessels so they don’t have to return to New Orleans empty, something that project officials say they’re still working on.

“We do have a strategy we’ll be executing on early in 2022,” Ely said. “We’ll be working with various state agencies and trade associations and individual companies that have already expressed interest in using the port for export of their products.”

In a separate interview after the video conference, Ely said he hopes to be able to reach a deal with a private port operator during the first half of 2022 and to submit a permit application to the Corps of Engineers by November 2022.

If the project remains on schedule, he said, groundbreaking would take place near the end of 2022 and the port could become operational late in 2024.

 

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

217 Today: Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021

Today’s Headlines:

  • A new report is calling for more robust health and housing support for LGBT Illinoisans as they age.

  • Plans for the world’s first carbon-neutral industrial park are gaining momentum in Putnam County.

  • A group of public commenters chastised the Normal Town Council during its regular meeting Monday night about the town’s removal of artwork honoring Jelani Day.

In today’s deep dive, new survey research shows that pro-vaccine campaigns focused on the financial costs of COVID — and the need to protect children — are most likely to be effective.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Caroline Kubzansky, Tim Shelley and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021

Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021

Today’s Headlines:

  • Governor JB Pritzker signed an executive order Monday banning employers with state contracts from paying sub-minimum wage to workers with developmental disabilities.

  • Northern Illinois University administrators say they’ve avoided COVID-19 outbreaks so far, even with the rise of the Delta variant.

  • After two months of slight declines, the Flash Index to the Illinois economy rose in September to 106-point-zero. That’s the sixth straight month of economic growth in the state.

  • Champaign County public health officials say a man in his 70s is the 193rd person in Champaign County to die of COVID-19.

In today’s deep dive, a new study from the Indiana University School of Public Health finds that there is more than a 16-year gap in how long people live in Indianapolis.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Peter Medlin, Jim Meadows and Farah Yousry.

217 Today: Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Women’s rights activists took to the streets of Champaign-Urbana on Saturday to march for abortion rights.

  • A Vermilion County judge ruled last week against calls from some teachers and parents to remove state mandates for COVID-19 vaccines, testing and masking in schools.

  • After merely steady increases, the price of farmland has rocketed up this year.

In today’s deep dive, we learn how some rural utilities are handling increased demand for power and water from marijuana businesses.

Reporting today contributed by Carolina Garibay, Farrah Anderson, Dana Cronin and Seth Bodine.

217 Today: Friday, Oct. 1, 2021

Friday Oct. 1, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • After more than 18 months, Illinois’ eviction moratorium will finally expire on Sunday.
  • Flu season is coming, and it’s expected to be more severe than the relatively mild influenza outbreak seen last year.
  • A Champaign Unit 4 high school student is dead after a fatal shooting near an elementary school in Champaign.

In today’s deep dive, a conversation with Champaign-Urbana Public Health District epidemiologist Awais Vaid.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Tim Shelley and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021

Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • An audit of the Illinois State Police’s firearm owner identification and concealed carry license program shows an increase in wait times even before the pandemic.

  • More than 750 University of Illinois students have requested a religious exemption from the university’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

  • The parent organization of WBEZ has voted to move forward with potentially acquiring the Chicago Sun-Times.

  • Champaign County public health officials say a woman in her 80s is the 187th county resident to die of COVID-19.

In today’s deep dive, beans, peas and lentils are gaining traction on Midwest farms as demand increases for the products.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Mona Alrazzaq, Tony Arnold and Elizabeth Rembert.

217 Today: Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • An Illinois man died of rabies this month —the first case of human rabies in the state since 1954.

  • Fraternities and campus organizations at the University of Illinois are hoping to educate the public about Hispanic history and culture during Hispanic Heritage Month.

  • School board members in Champaign met Monday to discuss a series of incidents and threats involving guns at Centennial High School.

  • Champaign County public health officials reported 39 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. The number of active cases in the county has fallen to 546.

In today’s deep dive, it’s National Suicide Prevention Month. We hear from a man who lost his daughter to suicide in 2017 and how he’s working to combat suicide year-round.

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Luis Velazquez, Gwyn Skiles and Farrah Anderson.

217 Today: Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021

Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • A new Illinois law will promote restorative justice approaches to identity-based bullying in schools.

  • Ten inmates at the East Moline State Prison have enrolled in the Augustana Prison Education Partnership.

  • Champaign County Executive Darlene Kloeppel wants the county board to pass new county board district boundaries now that Census data is available.

  • The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is hosting Pfizer vaccine booster clinics for healthcare workers and first responders.

In today’s deep dive, an artist hopes a colorful memorial will help remind drivers to share the road with tractors.

Reporting today contributed by Caroline Kubzansky, Herb Trix, Jim Meadows and Rich Egger.

217 Today: Monday, Sept. 27, 2021

Monday, Sept. 27, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • An Illinois congressman says the results of a controversial ballot review in Arizona could help change the minds of people who believe the election was “stolen” from former President Trump.

  • Attendees at Saturday’s 12th annual C-U Pride Fest vendor fair in Urbana say they are happy to be back in person this year.

  • Many University of Illlinois students say they want to see the university divest from companies that produce fossil fuels.

In today’s deep dive, a conversation with a pastor and hospital chaplain in Champaign who has been a strong voice promoting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Reporting today contributed by Susan Stephens, Charrice Jones, Vivian La, Farrah Anderson and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Friday, Sept. 24, 2021

Friday, Sept. 24, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The LaSalle County Coroner says a body pulled from the Illinois River earlier this month is that of missing Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day.

  • Three former lobbyists and an executive for utility giant Commonwealth Edison say the indictment against them jumps to conclusions about how three critical energy laws passed in Springfield.

  • At least 850 Afghan refugees will begin arriving in Illinois in mid-October.

  • Uniting Pride’s annual C-U Pride Fest is this week and has the theme “What the Health? Fighting. Surviving. Thriving.”

In today’s deep dive, Illinois has a plan in place to reduce farm runoff, in an effort to improve water quality locally and downstream. But it’s not working.

Reporting today contributed by Reginald Hardwick, Hannah Meisel, Caroline Kubzansky, Carolina Garibay and Dana Cronin.

217 Today: Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021

Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • A new Illinois law will help college students take a closer look at private student debt before they sign up for it.

  • Public health officials in Champaign-Urbana say COVID-19 booster shots will be available for local residents over 65 or at high risk for COVID, not that the FDA has authorized their use for those people.

  • Thursday is the start of the three-day cultural events festival Pygmalion.

  • A woman in her 70s is the 186th person in Champaign County to die of COVID-19.

In today’s deep dive, we get an update on the investigation of the disappearance of Illinois State University graduate student and Danville native Jelani Day.

Reporting today contributed by Caroline Kubzansky, Mona Alrazzaq, Gwyn Skiles and Sarah Nardi.

217 Today: Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021

Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • A court monitor recently found the Illinois Department of Corrections has failed to make some required improvements in its care of prisoners with mental illness.

  • September is suicide prevention month, and while the overall number of suicides has dropped over the past few years, it has increased among people of color.

  • Officials at the Refugee Center in Champaign say they’re planning to accept between 5-10 families of Afghan refugees in the next few months.

  • A woman in her 80s is the 185th Champaign County resident to die of COVID-19.

In today’s deep dive, a conversation with Brown University economist Emily Oster, who has written extensively about decision making during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporting today contributed by Maureen McKinney, Luis Velazquez, Charrice Jones and The 21st Show.

217 Today: Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021

Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • A union representing about 300 state employees has come to an agreement with Gov. JB Pritzker’s office on his vaccine mandate for frontline state workers.

  • The governor says money to keep northern Illinois nuclear plants online was a necessary part of his efforts to move Illinois to full clean energy production by 2050.

  • The Champaign County Board votes Thursday on salaries for four countywide elected officials for the next four years — including a raise for the county clerk, and a deep pay cut for the county executive.

  • Champaign County public health officials reported 45 new COVID-19 cases Monday and one additional death. The death toll in Champaign County is up to 184.

In today’s deep dive, COVID-19 vaccines are plentiful in the United States, but not in many other parts of the world. That’s leading some people to take extreme measures to get a shot.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Tim Shelley, Jim Meadows and Farah Yousry.

217 Today: Monday, Sept. 20, 2021

Monday, Sept. 20, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinoisans who use smart devices like Amazon’s Alexa are subject to new data protections under a law signed last month.

  • More than 50 artists and local businesses gathered over the weekend for the Champaign-Urbana Black and African Arts Festival.

In today’s deep dive, the University YMCA’s New American Welcome Center has released a plan outlining steps the community can take to better meet the needs of immigrants.

Reporting today contributed by Caroline Kubzansky, Olivia Vamos and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Friday, Sept. 17, 2021

Friday, Sept. 17, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • County clerks in Illinois will likely lose somewhere between $5-15 million in bond processing fees whn the state goes to a no-cash bond system in 2023.

  • A massive coal plant in the Metro East will be affected by the new clean energy law.

  • The University YMCA in Champaign will host an information session this weekend to help local DACA recipients.

  • ICU bed capacity in Illinois’ Region 6, including Champaign County, has dropped to 16%, down from 22% a month ago.

In today’s deep dive, a closer look at the environmental impact of the massive energy bill that Gov. JB Pritzker signed into law this week.

Reporting today contributed by Maureen McKinney, Eric Schmid, Carolina Garibay and Dana Cronin.

217 Today: Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021

Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Gov. JB Pritzker has signed a massive energy and climate plan to put Illinois on a path to 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

  • Childcare providers and families will soon be eligible for more state aid as the COVID-19 pandemic grinds on.

  • Wednesday was the deadline for University of Illinois students, staff and faculty to request to be exempt from the university’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

  • Two Champaign schools were on lockdown Wednesday afternoon following reports of shots fired near Centennial High School. No one was injured.

In today’s deep dive, a conversation with the incoming executive director of the Champaign County Forest Preserve District.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Caroline Kubzansky, Justin Malone and Reginald Hardwick.

217 Today: Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021

Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021

Today’s headines:

  • Southern Illinois reached a new record on Tuesday, with zero available ICU beds in Region 5.

  • Gov. JB Pritzker is lobbying for a federal law protecting abortion access after a Texas law banning abortions after six weeks went into effect this month.

  • While the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign welcomed a record breaking freshman class this fall, the campus is also seeing a decline in minority enrollment.

  • Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is launching a statewide effort to track and prosecute retail theft.

In today’s deep dive, we hear from the director of an agency that will help resettle refugees from Afghanistan in Illinois.

Reporting today contributed by Jennifer Fuller, Peter Medlin, Luis Velazquez, Hannah Meisel and The 21st Show.

217 Today: Tuesday Sept. 14, 2021

Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The Illinois Senate passed major energy and climate legislation Monday. It now goes to the governor, who says he will sign it.

  • Illinois recently became the first state to require high schools to offer media literacy courses.

  • An Illinois State University professor says President Biden’s vaccine mandate is in line with federal law.

  • Champaign County health officials reported two additional deaths Monday from COVID-19, a woman in her 60s and a man in his 40s.

In today’s deep dive, we look at new carbon capture research for farmers.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Peter Medlin, Jim Meadows and Jonathan Ahl.

217 Today: Monday, Sept. 13, 2021

Monday, Sept. 13, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The Illinois Senate returns to Springfield Monday in hopes of wrapping up a last-minute energy deal.

  • People across Central Illinois spent part of the weekend remembering the Sept. 11 attacks 20 years ago.

  • The Run to Remember brought hundreds of runners and walkers to the streets of Champaign-Urbana over the weekend.

  • Sentencing is scheduled Monday for the leader of an anti-government militia group convicted of bombing a mosque in Minnesota.

In today’s deep dive, a conversation with the acting medical center director of the VA Illiniana Health Care System in Danville.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Reginald Hardwick, Jim Meadows and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Friday, Sept. 10, 2021

Friday, Sept. 10, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The Illinois House passed major energy and climate legislation Thursday night that aims to put Illinois on the path to 100% renewable energy by 2050.

  • A Champaign Unit 4 school bus was struck by gunfire yesterday while transporting students home. No students or staff were injured.

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that it’s making a big investment in renewable energy in rural America.

In today’s deep dive, a conversation with Champaign Fire Chief Gary Ludwig. He discusses his memories of the 9/11 attacks and how they changed firefighting.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Christine Herman, Dana Cronin and Reginald Hardwick.

217 Today: Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021

Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • As energy negotiations continue in Springfield, renewable energy entrepreneurs say each day that goes by means a less certain future for their businesses.

  • U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is indicating support for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for schoolchildren, once vaccines are authorized for those under 12.

  • In-person campus tours resumed Tuesday at the University of Illinois, 16 months after they were stopped in the early days of the pandemic.

  • The University of Illinois has set new enrollment records on two of its three campuses, and system wide.

In today’s deep dive, the Illinois House returns to Springfield Thursday to take up massive energy legislation. We get a preview of those discussions.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Jim Meadows, Gwyn Skiles, and Tony Arnold.

217 Today: Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021

Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Adlai Stevenson III, who was born into a political family and carved out his own accomplishments, has died.

  • Illinoisans could start seeing more safe sidewalks and bike lanes, thanks to a new law that took effect this month.

  • Beginning this school year, colleges and universities in Illinois must survey their students annually about sexual assault on campus.

  • The number of active COVID-19 cases in Champaign County has fallen slightly to 1065. That’s still more than twice as many active cases compared to last month.

In today’s deep dive, as the school year gets underway, pediatricians are worried about what a lag in childhood vaccinations could bring.

Reporting today contributed by Sean Crawford, Dana Cronin, Caroline Kubzansky and Sebastián Martínez Valdivia.

217 Today: Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021

Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Time is running out for lawmakers in Springfield to agree on a massive energy and climate plan.

  • It’s been two weeks since anyone saw Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day, a Danville native.

  • The Illinois Flash Index dropped slightly for a second straight month, but the economist who compiles it isn’t worried.

  • Parkland College in Champaign has expanded its hours for community COVID-19 testing.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll meet the Undocumented Student Resource Liaison at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Reginald Hardwick, Jim Meadows and Farrah Anderson.

217 Today: Friday, Sept. 3, 2021

Friday, Sept. 3, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois’ governor says COVID cases among school students are likely higher than what official numbers show.

  • Central Illinois U.S. Representative Darin LaHood says two top Biden administration officials should resign over the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

  • Officials at Planned Parenthood Illinois Action say they’re preparing to help patients from Texas after a new restrictive abortion law took effect earlier this week.

  • On top of the pandemic, children and families are now also worrying about access to transportation to go to school.

In today’s deep dive, changing the kind of rock farmers use to treat their soil could be good for the environment and the harvest.

Reporting today contributed by Sean Crawford, Eric Stock, Carolina Garibay, Luis Velazquez and Jonathan Ahl.

217 Today: Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021

Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Republican U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger says the U.S. exit in Afghanistan was “probably some of the worst military decision-making in my lifetime.”

  • U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says efforts are ongoing to secure the release of Mark Frerichs, an Illinois man held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

  • Utility crews across Illinois will take a caravan to Louisiana to help restore power for hundreds of thousands of people following Hurricane Ida.

  • Urbana Middle School was in a “soft lockdown” yesterday morning because of rumors on social media of a possible school shooting.

In today’s deep dive, there was a nurse shortage in the United States before the pandemic. Now there’s concern that nurses on the frontlines are at risk of burnout.

Reporting today contributed by Peter Medlin, Tim Shelley, Eric Stock and Natalie Krebs.

217 Today: Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021

Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Comprehensive energy legislation finally moved through the Illinois Senate Tuesday night after a months long impasse.

  • Democrats in the General Assembly pushed through new legislative district maps over the objections of both Republicans and community advocacy organizations.

  • Urbana’s Vineyard Church was the site Tuesday of the funeral for a longtime University of Illinois police officer.

  • University of Illinois officials reported 74 new COVID-19 cases from testing conducted on Monday. That’s the highest one-day total on campus since February.

In today’s deep dive, we learn how nursing schools are prepring new graduates to join the profession during a pandemic.

Reporting today provided by Hannah Meisel, Jim Meadows and Steph Whiteside.

217 Today: Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Tuesday August 31, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Democrats in the General Assembly are set to vote on new legislative maps as they return to Springfield Tuesday.

  • Legislators also hope to agree on major energy and climate change legislation during Tuesday’s one-day session.

  • The Farm Progress Show, one of the largest agriculture trade shows in the country, is back in person for the first time since before the pandemic.

  • A University of Illinois police lieutenant killed in an off-duty crash will be laid to rest later Tuesday.

In today’s deep dive, with increasingly hot summers linked to climate change, livestock producers are searching for ways to keep their animals safe from the heat.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Reginald Hardwick and Dana Cronin.

217 Today: Monday, August 30, 2021

Monday, August 30, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois lawmakers return to Springfield this week to revise new legislative maps that Democrats pushed through the General Assembly just a few months ago.

  • Police in many downstate cities stopped Black drivers at much higher rates last year than white motorists.

  • Family members and police are looking for a missing Illinois State University graduate student from Danville.

  • Public health officials reported nearly 200 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend.

In today’s deep dive, we hear from a University of Illinois epidemiologist about how K-12 schools can stay open for in-person learning this year.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Maureen McKinney and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Friday, August 27, 2021

Friday, August 27, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • All Illinois teachers, school staff and college students will have to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before September 5th under a new mandate Governor JB Pritzker announced Thursday.

  • The three Republicans running for Illinois governor used words like tyrant and dictator, as they condemned Governor Pritzker’s new mask and vaccine mandates.

  • New research shows how the pandemic has changed the way we buy and consume food. 

  • There are just 15 open ICU beds in Region 6, including Champaign County, as of Thursday afternoon.

In today’s deep dive, Maureen McKinney takes a closer look at the new Illinois law that requires schools to teach Asian American history.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Jim Meadows, Dana Cronin and Maureen McKinney.

217 Today: Thursday, August 26, 2021

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Gov. JB Pritzker is expected to reestablish a statewide mask mandate and announce vaccine mandates for school staff.

  • The head of the Illinois State Police says they’ve made substantial progress in catching up with a backlog of unprocessed DNA evidence.

  • An Illinois state senator discusses the impact of pending nuclear plant closures.

  • Two more Champaign County residents have died of COVID-19, bringing the county’s death toll to 174.

In today’s deep dive, we hear from several University of Illinois students about how they’re feeling as they resume in-person classes this week.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Jim Meadows, Peter Medlin and Carolina Garibay.

217 Today: Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • A longtime fixture in state and national Democratic politics is mounting a challenge to Congressman Rodney Davis in Illinois’ 13th District.

  • Gov. JB Pritzker says he won’t hesitate to implement COVID mitigations again if warranted, but he has declined to say what they might be.

  • An Illinois Congressman who serves on the House Intelligence Committee says the United States has failed its partners in Afghanistan.

  • The CDC considers the level of COVID transmission in Champaign County and all surrounding counties to be “high,” and recommends mask wearing in all indoor public spaces.

In today’s deep dive, a look at the increasing frequency and severity of ransomware attacks against hospitals and health care providers.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Carter Barrett and Lauren Bavis.

217 Today: Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • A new use-of-force policy for Urbana Police places an emphasis on deescalating potentially violent situations.

  • Extensive changes are on the horizon for two University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign buildings built more than a century ago.

  • More than a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, childcare providers say they’ve learned a lot about operating safely.

  • COVID-19 has claimed its youngest victim in Champaign County. The News-Gazette reports that a girl in her teens is one of three deaths from COVID reported Monday.

In today’s deep dive, more on how hospitals are faring during the latest wave of COVID-19 from a critical care doctor.

Reporting today contributed by Jim Meadows, Reginald Hardwick and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Monday, August 23, 2021

Monday, August 23, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The percentage of available intensive care beds has dropped below 20% in Illinois, as the number of COVID hospitalizations continues to rise.

  • A pediatric hospitalist at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria says a recent spike in childhood respiratory illnesses has her worried.

  • A shooting in Champaign’s Campustown left a young man critically injured over the weekend.

In today’s deep dive, the third and final story in a series about sexual misconduct at Covenant Fellowship Church in Urbana.

Reporting today contributed by Christine Herman, Tim Shelley, Reginald Hardwick, Esther Yoon-Ji Kang and Susie An.

217 Today: Friday, August 20, 2021

Friday, August 20, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • With a difficult governor’s race next year, Illinois GOP leaders face an uphill battle to unite the party behind one message.

  • Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis says he believes Americans would support maintaining a footprint of a few thousand soldiers in Afghanistan indefinitely to help keep the peace.

  • As Gibson City cleans up from last week’s flash flood, a special fund has been set up to help people pay for the damage.

  • As students move in to the University of Illinois Urbana campus, officials reported 17 new COVID-19 cases from testing conducted Tuesday, the highest number since late April.

In today’s deep dive, the second story in a three-part series looking at issues of sexual abuse at Covenant Fellowship Church in Urbana.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Eric Stock, Jim Meadows, Esther Yoon-Ji Kang and Susie An.

217 Today: Thursday, August 19, 2021

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Leaders in charge of the Democratic Party of Illinois are preaching party unity even as former House Speaker Mike Madigan’s absence has left fractures.

  • The University of Illinois has hired its first Associate Vice Chancellor for Native Affairs on the Urbana-Champaign campus.

  • University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen says he has hopes for a safe fall semester.

  • Champaign County public health officials reported 150 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. That’s the highest number of cases in a single day since January.

In today’s deep dive, the first story in a three-part series about a church on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus accused of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Christine Herman, Esther Yoon-Ji Kang and Susie An.

217 Today: Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • At the Illinois State Fairgrounds Wednesday, Democrats will promote party unity at their annual rally day. But just outside, environmental activists will spotlight an issue that’s divided Democrats all summer.

  • U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) says the country’s focus in Afghanistan right now should be on evacuations, including America’s Afghan allies.

  • Urbana’s emergency housing program is about to move from rented hotel rooms to its own apartment buildings.

  • Champaign County health officials are encouraging people who may be eligible for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to check with their medical provider.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn how one Illinois-based relief organization is trying to help victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Tim Shelley, Jim Meadows and The 21st Show.

217 Today: Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Gov. JB Pritzker is brushing off findings by Republicans and independent consultants that the new legislative maps passed by Democrats this spring are unconstitutional.

  • University of Illinois President Tim Killeen says reaction to COVID requirements at the university has been mostly in favor.

  • As summers get increasingly hot due to climate change, farmworkers in the Midwest will continue to face dangerous working conditions or lose out on income.

  • Carle Health reports 84 patients with COVID-19 at its five hospitals, the highest number since early January. Twenty-four of those patients are in the ICU.

In today’s deep dive, a look at the problems facing Emergency Medical Services in Indana and across the Midwest.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Sean Crawford, Dana Cronin and Carter Barrett.

217 Today: Monday, August 16, 2021

Monday, August 16, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Governor JB Pritzker recently signed a series of measures that advocates say could take a sizable share of Illinoisans off the streets and into their own homes. 

  • Leaders in Illinois’ tourism and hospitality sector are asking state lawmakers to allocate more money from the most recent federal stimulus package to help their industries recover.

  • Illinois schools have struggled with a teacher shortage for several years. The pandemic has only intensified it.

  • Champaign County public health officials reported 140 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend. The number of active cases now sits at 801.

In today’s deep dive, a conversation with Illinois’ acting state epidemiologist about how COVID-19 variants have changed over time.

Reporting today contributed by Maureen McKinney, Hannah Meisel, Peter Medlin and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Friday, August 13, 2021

Friday, August 13, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is calling on each state legislator to get vaccinated against COVID-19. That comes after a recent WBEZ survey of lawmakers.

  • A nearly stationary line of heavy thunderstorms brought flooding to parts of Champaign, Ford and McLean Counties Thursday.

  • Like other industries, the clean energy sector took a big employment hit during the pandemic.

  • Two more Champaign County residents have died of COVID-19, bringing the county death toll to 164. Public health officials reported 64 new COVID-19 cases Thursday. The number of active cases now sits at over 740, the highest total since mid-February. 

In today’s deep dive, we learn how farmers and ranchers could have a role in convincing their neighbors in rural areas to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Reporting today contributed by Tony Arnold, Jim Meadows, Dana Cronin and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Thursday, August 12, 2021

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The vast majority of Illinois state legislators say they are vaccinated against COVID-19, but several Republicans would not respond to WBEZ’s survey of all 177 lawmakers asking for their vaccination status.

  • The Illinois State Board of Education Wednesday dealt major consequences to a private Christian school in Elmhurst that’s not planning to comply with Governor J.B. Pritzker’s mask mandate.

  • State health officials reported more than 3,900 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday. That’s the highest number of cases in one day in Illinois since April 9.

In today’s deep dive, even before new congressional district maps are drawn, Central Illinois Democrat David Palmer says he’s running for Congress. 

Reporting today contributed by Tony Arnold and Hannah Meisel.

217 Today: Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • A Northwestern University expert is working with Illinois teachers to make them clear on core aspects of media literacy. That’s ahead of a new law that takes effect next year.

  • Students and teachers in Illinois are heading back to the classroom beginning this week. A top teachers union has signaled it might be open to a COVID vaccine mandate for its members.

  • A special Champaign County Board committee has until November to come up with a plan to resolve the county’s jail issues. County board members voted unanimously Tuesday night to create the committee.

  • Fifty-seven percent of the county’s vaccine eligible population and just over 50% of the total population is vaccinated against COVID-19, which is about a one percentage point increase over the past two weeks. The state has an overall vaccination rate of 52%.

In today’s deep dive, in the third and final part of our series on how HIV has affected Black women, we hear from a woman who’s lived with the virus for more than 30 years.

Reporting today contributed by Maureen McKinney, Hannah Meisel, Jim Meadows and Darian Benson.

217 Today: Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The amount of money Illinois owes for paying state retirees their pensions has ballooned to $144 billion, according to new, official calculations from state pension analysts.

  • Across Illinois this week, schools are kicking off practices for fall sports. The IHSA is recommending member school follow IDPH guidance for masking during indoor sports.

  • Health experts in Illinois say Governor Pritzker’s statewide mask mandate for schools is a smart move.

  • Fifty-seven percent of the county’s vaccine eligible population and nearly 50% of the total population is vaccinated against COVID-19. The state overall has a vaccination rate of 51%.

In today’s deep dive, in part two of our series from Side Effects Public Media, we look at efforts to help Black women who are HIV positive. They’re infected at unusually high rates.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Christine Herman and Darian Benson.

217 Today: Monday, August 9, 2021

Monday, August 9, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • After canceling the Illinois State Fair last year due to the pandemic, organizers are set to open the 10-day event next week. But the specter of COVID-19 will be present throughout the fairgrounds in Springfield.

  • Carle Health is now requiring unvaccinated employees to wear an N-95 mask, along with other safety measures. The new policy at Carle comes about a month after OSF Healthcare imposed a similar requirement for its workers.

  • The Champaign County Board will consider spending nearly a half-million dollars to move inmates out of the aging county jail in downtown Urbana, due to a shortage of correctional officers.

  • Champaign County public health officials reported 46 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, and the number of active cases held steady at 617, the highest number of active cases in the county since February.

In today’s deep dive, there’s a hidden HIV epidemic among Black women. In the first part of a series from Side Effects Public Media we find out they’re being infected at unusually high rates.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Eric Stock, Jim Meadows and Darian Benson.

217 Today: Friday, August 6, 2021

Friday, August 6, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Educators are reacting to the state’s mask mandate for schools.

  • New bills signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker today will help provide feminine hygiene products to poor women as well as order public colleges and universities to offer the items in campus restrooms in Illinois.

  • Illini football and basketball fans will hear a new fight song joining the traditional music during the upcoming season.

  • Public health officials reported 86 new COVID-19 cases in Champaign County Thursday, the most since April 14.

In today’s deep dive, FarmFED Coop is a new cooperative that’s trying to help produce growers in Illinois scale up their operations. 

Reporting today contributed by Peter Medlen, Maureen McKinney, Reginald Hardwick and Dana Cronin.

217 Today: Thursday, August 5, 2021

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Masks will be required in all Illinois schools and childcare facilities effective immediately. Gov. JB Pritzker made that announcement Wednesday.

  • Illinois Republicans running for governor were quick to condemn the governor’s masking order.

  • School districts that were planning to allow some people to go without masks inside their buildings are making quick adjustments after the governor’s order.

  • Champaign County health officials announced 52 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, and the number of active cases increased to 448.

In today’s deep dive, the internet is now for much more than entertainment, but rural areas are often the last to receive high-speed broadband.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Jim Meadows and Seth Bodine.

217 Today: Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly says he’s hopeful a new law will help slow illegal gun transfers, as universal background checks will be required for all private gun sales.

  • Local health officials are encouraging people who’d previously decided against getting the coronavirus vaccine to reconsider.

  • Bald eagle populations continue to rebound in Illinois and across the country.

  • WCIA-TV reports that Gov. JB Pritzker will announce new coronavirus protocols today, which could include a statewide mask mandate for schools.

In today’s deep dive, we learn more about a new group led by formerly incarcerated people that has launched a campaign to end what it calls “permanent punishments” for people who have been convicted of felonies.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Christine Herman, Jim Meadows and Vivian La.

217 Today: Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Governor JB Pritzker has signed a new law aimed at actually removing guns from Illinoisans with revoked gun licenses.

  • The new school year approaches, just as the COVID-19 Delta variant is surging. That has led schools to rethink mask-optional policies in place from earlier this summer.

  • The University of Illinois Flash Index showed the Illinois economy growing at a slightly slower pace in July, compared to the month before.

  • Champaign County health officials reported 45 new COVID-19 cases Monday and one additional death. The county’s death toll from the coronavirus is up to 160.

In today’s deep dive, children under 12 are not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine yet, but they can still catch and spread the coronavirus. We get tips from a pediatrician on keeping kids safe.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Peter Medlin, Jim Meadows and Shahla Farzan.

217 Today: Monday, August 2, 2021

Monday, August 2, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Senator Dick Durbin hopes to use the budget reconciliation process to pass a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
  • The number of coronavirus cases is rising once again in much of central and southern Illinois. Local health officials say most cases are occurring among unvaccinated people, following a national trend.
  • We may learn more Monday about the killing of a 14-year-old Champaign boy, found in a ditch Friday morning in Urbana.
  • As of Monday, the city of Champaign joins Urbana in requiring all visitors and employees inside city facilities to wear a mask or face covering.

In today’s deep dive, we meet several contact tracers who have been on the job talking to Illinoisans with COVID-19 for nearly a year.

Reporting today contributed by Jim Meadows, Christine Herman, Reginald Hardwick and Peter Medlin.

217 Today: Friday, July 30, 2021

Friday, July 30, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois students with special needs will no longer have to immediately leave high school when they age out at 22.

  • In Rockford, officials recently shut down a longtime homeless encampment near the city’s downtown.

  • Health officials are sounding the alarm about counterfeit drugs, especially with large music festivals on the schedule this summer.

  • More than 50 businesses are moving ahead with their plans to sell Cannabis in Illinois.

In today’s deep dive, we learn about the ways the blood shortage is affecting some African Americans’ need for blood transfusions.

Reporting today contributed by Juan Pablo Ramirez Franco, Reginald Hardwick, Sean Crawford and Farah Yousry.

217 Today: Thursday, July 29, 2021

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • This week, the city of Champaign dedicated a portion of University Avenue to police officer Chris Oberheim.
  • Illinois lawmakers are still mulling whether to get rid of, replace or contextualize statues and monuments on state property.

  • At Illinois state parks, officials say balancing conservation and tourism is trickier with the increase of visitors this summer.

  • The hordes of people expected to descend on Chicago’s Grant Park for the Lollapalooza music festival will be required to show proof that they’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19 or tested negative for the disease within the last three days.

In today’s deep dive, a conversation with Champaign-Urbana Public Health Administrator Julie Pryde about what the CDC’s new mask guidance means for Champaign County.

Reporting today contributed by Reginald Hardwick, Hannah Meisel, Vivian La and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Two-and-a-half weeks after the Centers for Disease Control said it was OK for people vaccinated against COVID-19 to go mask-less indoors — including schools — the agency reversed course Tuesday. 

  • Beginning January 1, certain employer-sponsored health insurance plans offered in Illinois will be required to cover infertility treatments for same-sex couples and single people.

  • The number of shooting incidents in Champaign County so far this year has surpassed the total number in 2020. These range from shots fired into the air to people killed by gunfire.

  • State officials report 260 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in Champaign County Monday, bringing the seven-day rolling average of vaccinations administered daily to a 287 doses.

In today’s deep dive, Tuesday marked the beginning of the House Select Committee investigation into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Among the members on the committee is Illinois Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger, who became emotional during his opening remarks.  

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Farrah Anderson and Reginald Hardwick.

217 Today: Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The so-called Delta variant of COVID-19 keeps making inroads in Illinois. The more contagious COVID-19 mutation has propelled positivity rates in some areas of the state to levels not seen since the first half of January.

  • The St. Louis region this week became one of the first places in the nation to re-impose a mask mandate to help stem the new wave of coronavirus infections. The mask mandate applies to everyone age 5 and older, even if they’ve gotten the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • An Illinois congresswoman wants to defund universities that provide abortion medication to students.

  • A northern Illinois couple is facing federal charges alleging they breached the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 insurrection.

In today’s deep dive, some rural residents of Champaign County had their water contaminated by a gas leak, but they could eventually be hooked up to a nearby public water system.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Sarah Fentem, Reginald Hardwick and Jim Meadows.

217 Today: Monday, July 26, 2021

Monday, July 26, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said he will be taking his wife and some friends to Lollapalooza in Chicago this weekend. That comes as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

  • A bill aimed at preventing maternal mortality by changing emergency department and insurance policies is awaiting Governor J.B. Pritzker’s signature.

  • In northern Illinois, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency confirms the presence of elevated concentrations of metals in groundwater at the former Beloit Corporation Superfund Site in Rockton.

  • Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger says he will “work diligently” “to get to the truth” as a member of a House Select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building.

In today’s deep dive, a conversation with a professor at the University of Chicago who discusses a new study about Medicaid. The study explores some of the challenges doctors face when trying to get paid for health care services.

Reporting today contributed by Tony Arnold, Maureen McKinney, Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco, Jim Meadows and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Friday, Jul 23, 2021

Friday, July 23, 2012

Today’s headlines:

  • A new court filing contains previously unknown details about alleged sexual misconduct against a Chicago Blackhawks player by an assistant coach in 2010.

  • Our global food supply is at risk due to the rise in infectious diseases, according to a new study from the University of Illinois, which focused on diseases affecting plants and animals. 

  • There is a love-hate relationship with dandelions even though they have many benefits.

  • Matthew Henson will be Champaign’s interim police chief when Anthony Cobb steps down on August 6.

In today’s deep dive, a conversation with one WILL’s news production interns, who spoke with some theater operators about their plans for reopening in the next couple of months.

Reporting today contributed by Tony Arnold, Mikah Walker, Dana Cronin, Jim Meadows and Brian Moline.

217 Today: Thursday, July 22, 2021

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The University of Illinois will require all faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated by the start of the upcoming fall semester.

  • Congressman Rodney Davis may not be serving on that January 6 Select Committee after all.

  • A new statewide campaign called “Fully Free” aims to change the laws that restrict those with a criminal record.

  • OSF HealthCare now says it will require all employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September.

In today’s deep dive, the Tokyo Olympics officially start Friday. We learn about the physics behind the Olympics.

Reporting today contributed by Sean Crawford, Ryan Denham, Vivian La and Peter Medlin.

217 Today: Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker is calling for stricter ethics measures as the Democratic incumbent mounts his re-election campaign.

  • U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth says Congress needs to get the National Guard reimbursed for the half billion dollars it spent responding to the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.

  • The Urbana Park District culled over 100 geese at Crystal Lake Park last year. This past June, a subdivision in Urbana did the same. Some activists and experts are advocating for non-lethal means of controlling the goose population.

  • Champaign public health officials reported 35 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday. The current number of active cases has been rising since late June, when the county saw an all-time low of 43 cases.

In today’s deep dive, prisons often provide a variety of job training programs. Now, one is turning to beekeeping.

Reporting today contributed by Maureen McKinney, Tony Arnold, Farrah Anderson and Katie Peikes.

217 Today: Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Governor J.B. Pritzker has ended speculation about his political future. The governor says he will seek another term.

  • School districts are trying to figure out the best approach to having students and staff back in the classroom this fall.

  • An American Legion post in north Champaign was the scene of gun violence earlier this month, with one person killed and four others injured. Monday night, members of the community gathered there to ask questions and look for solutions.

  • Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis is one of five Republicans nominated to serve on the House select committee to investigate the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

In today’s deep dive, we hear from we hear from the authors of a new book about how to create a slice of prairie in your backyard.

Reporting today contributed by Sean Crawford, Jim Meadows and Tim Shelley.

217 Today: Monday, July 19, 2021

Monday, July 19, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • A child poverty report released today shows major improvement in the last decade, but for kids in many rural pockets of the state, progress was less significant.

  • The Red Cross is urging people to donate blood to help with a blood shortage as patients resume elective surgeries and trauma cases increase across the nation.

  • Local mental health professionals say the psychological impact of the pandemic is something many people are still struggling with, even as life begins to return to normal.

  • The University of Illinois has released updated COVID-19 guidelines for faculty and staff on its Urbana campus this fall.

In today’s deep dive, we meet the founder of a new organization in Champaign-Urbana that aims to provide critical support to local families whose babies spend their first weeks of life in the neonatal intensive care unit. 

Reporting today contributed by Maureen McKinney, Steph Whiteside and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Friday, July 16, 2021

Friday, July 16, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois will become the first state in the nation to ban police from lying to suspects under 18 during interrogation under a measure signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker Thursday.

  • Researchers at Southern Illinois University are studying the causes of burnout in the nursing profession.

  • Some Illinoisans are getting ready to fly to Tokyo next week for the 2020 Olympics.

  • The COVID-19 Delta variant has reached Champaign County. Officials with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District say the variant appears to be more transmissible.

In today’s deep dive, protests last summer fueled a debate over police in schools. In many cities, the conversation about “school resource officers” or “SROs” continues.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Steph Whiteside, Dana Cronin and Peter Medlin.

217 Today: Thursday, July 15, 2021

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • An Urbana man faces multiple charges after allegedly ramming a stolen truck into the Champaign County jail Wednesday morning. 

  • The Illinois General Assembly’s watchdog is resigning from her job, saying her calls for reform have gone unheeded.

  • Car catalytic converter thefts have increased in Champaign-Urbana, and auto shop owners say there’s little that people can do about it.

  • The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency reported Tuesday evening in a news conference that there is currently no evidence that air or water quality was adversely affected by the weeks-long fire at the Rockton ChemTool facility.

In today’s deep dive, as the delta variant of COVID-19 picks up steam, vaccination rates have slowed. We’ll learn how one Midwestern state is trying to get more shots in arms.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Vivian La, Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco and Natalie Krebs.

217 Today: Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • As the Delta variant of the coronavirus spikes COVID-19 caseloads and hospitalizations in Missouri, Illinois regions near the Missouri border have seen huge jumps in test positivity, too.

  • State Treasurer Mike Frerichs says state lawmakers and Governor Pritzker did a good job in passing a balanced budget this year and need to continue doing so every year.

  • After a year’s delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, work has begun on renovating a downtown Urbana hotel that’s been closed since 2016. Plans are to rename the former Urbana Landmark Hotel as the Hotel Royer.

  • Rising COVID-19 rates in other states have prompted Chicago to restart a travel order.

In today’s deep dive, it’s summer, and schools are searching for silver linings from their COVID-19 school year. We look at one pandemic idea that has lasted: summer food programs. 

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Jim Meadows and Peter Medlin.

217 Today: Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Cities and towns in Illinois are calling on Governor J.B. Pritzker’s administration to apply for the federal funds they’re entitled to under the American Rescue Plan.

  • The annual Redneck Fishing Tournament is coming back to Central Illinois after a two-year hiatus.

  • A new bill awaiting Gov. JB Pritzker’s signature could make it easier for undocumented students in Illinois to get their degrees.

  • OSF HealthCare and the University of Illinois announced Monday in a press release that they will be partnering with Parkland Community College to expand the SHIELD-CU COVID-19 testing program.

In today’s deep dive, it has been a rough year for kids across the country, especially for those in lower income areas. In one Midwest neighborhood, a small vegetable garden is providing fresh food and a safe haven.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Tim Shelley, Farrah Anderson and Farah Yousry.

217 Today: Monday, July 12, 2021

Monday, July 12, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Governor JB Pritzker signed a law Friday making Illinois the first state in the nation to mandate schools teach Asian American history.

  • U.S. Senator Dick Durbin says Senate Republicans face a “moment of truth” on infrastructure.

  • Recent tests confirm air and water quality levels near the Rockton chemical fire are safe.

  • Champaign County officials are reporting more than 204 thousand doses of a COVID vaccine have been administered as of Saturday. More than 100,000 individuals are fully vaccinated, nearly 55% of the county’s vaccine-eligible population.

In today’s deep dive, the pandemic has been stressful for many families. That stress can affect a child’s development, including their language and social skills.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Eric Stock, Yvonne Boose and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Friday, July 9, 2021

Friday, July 9, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Provisions in a massive criminal justice reform bill pushed by Black Illinois lawmakers earlier this year began taking effect last week, but the state’s legislative Black Caucus has experienced fractures over something that didn’t end up in the law: ending qualified immunity for police officers.

  • Millions of rural residents across the Midwest are at risk of nitrate contamination in their drinking water but might not know it.

  • Lake Land College is giving kids the chance to express their creativity and practice their problem-solving skills with Camp Invention.

  • After nine years as Champaign Police Chief, Anthony Cobb is stepping down to take a job as deputy director of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board.

In today’s deep dive, we learn how the Illinois National Guard is working to prevent cyber attacks in Illinois.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Dana Cronin, Carolina Garibay and Dana Vollmer.

217 Today: Thursday, July 8, 2021

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois’ first vaccine lottery drawings take place today, with $1 million dollars and three scholarships on the line.

  • A pro-EV group is urging Illinois and other states to encourage more widespread adoption of electric buses and semis.

  • Researchers in Fulton County are using image recognition technology to control invasive Asian carp on the Illinois River.

  • Fifty-six summer residents are moving back into Hendrick House at the University of Illinois, ten days after an explosion forced them to evacuate.

In today’s deep dive, the planned closure of two nuclear plants in northern Illinois wouldn’t just affect the energy market – it could also hurt funding for schools in the area.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Ryan Denham, Vivian La and Peter Medlin. 

217 Today: Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • There have been no arrests after a mass shooting at an American Legion post on the north side of Champaign on Friday afternoon.

  • Calling the police simply because a person looks suspicious based on their race could become a hate crime under a measure awaiting the Illinois governor’s signature.

  • According to the latest University of Illinois Flash Index, the Illinois economy is growing at its highest rate since 2015. 

In today’s deep dive, we take a look at the barriers to getting treatment for a child with mental illness, the first in a two-part series from Side Effects Public Media.

Reporting today contributed by Reginald Hardwick, Maureen McKinney, Jim Meadows and Carter Barrett.

217 Today: Friday, July 2, 2021

Friday July 2, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Drivers in Illinois will no longer have their licenses suspended because of unpaid fines, under a law that took effect Thursday.

  • A Bloomington attorney and Lincoln scholar is giving an 1854 letter Lincoln wrote to a Peoria Attorney to the Abraham Lincoln Library and Presidential Museum in Springfield.

  • Only one out of every 20 farmland acres in the Corn Belt has cover crops planted.

  • Eastern Illinois University in Charleston announced that every student taking in-person classes this fall will be expected to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In today’s deep dive, In today’s deep dive, a 2019 study shows that LGBTQ+ youth in foster care are at higher risk for abuse and harassment than those not in foster care. We’ll learn what the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is doing to try to change that. 

Reporting today contributed by Maureen McKinney, Charlie Schlenker, Dana Cronin and Carolina Garibay.

217 Today: Thursday, July 1, 2021

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois’ senior-most judicial authority says Springfield Democrats’ efforts to re-draw the state’s judicial district boundaries for the first time in 60 years could interfere with a major law aimed at criminal justice reform.

  • A portion of Illinois’ recreational cannabis revenues goes into the R-3 program, which aims to reinvest in communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.

  • Urbana’s two hospitals are strongly encouraging – but not requiring – their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that 388 doses ofCOVID-19 vaccines were administered yesterday Tuesday in Champaign County. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered is currently 596.

In today’s deep dive, the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization have issued conflicting guidance for mask-wearing among people vaccinated against COVID-19. We hear from a psychology professor about how people are dealing with that conflict.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Dana Vollmer, Vivian La and Yvonne Boose. 

217 Today: Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The investigation continues into Monday night’s explosion at a residence hall on the University of Illinois Urbana campus.

  • Public health officials say a more contagious variant of the coronavirus is fueling a rise in infections just to our west in Missouri.

  • College athletes throughout Illinois will now be able to profit off of their name, image and likeness.

  • The Macon County Health Department is hosting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic today at its offices on E. Condit St. in Decatur.

In today’s deep dive, today is the last day of Pride Month, and we’ll hear from a Champaign resident and activist about what Pride Month celebrations in the community have meant to her. 

Reporting today contributed by Jim Meadows, Sarah Fentem, Farrah Anderson and Carolina Garibay.

217 Today: Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Urbana firefighters are trying to figure out what caused an explosion at a privately-run residence hall on the University of Illinois campus Monday night.

  • A Champaign County Board committee holds a study session Tuesday to gather input on improving local broadband service.

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health is investigating a COVID-19 outbreak at a summer camp in western Illinois that’s now expanded to 85 known cases, and at least one unvaccinated young adult has been hospitalized.

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health reports 95 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered Sunday in Champaign County. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered is currently 566.

In today’s deep dive, Illinois and states around the country are concerned about the Delta variant, a variant of the coronavirus that is thought to be more transmissible, and thus more dangerous. In many places, it could become the majority of cases.

Reporting today contributed by Reginald Hardwick, Jim Meadows, Hannah Meisel and the 21st show.

217 Today: Monday, June 28, 2021

Monday, June 28, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Cleanup continues after a portion of a historic building in Champaign collapsed over the weekend.

  • The General Assembly this spring approved a measure that would allow pharmacists to hand out hormonal birth control to a patient who has not seen a doctor.

  • New research from the University of Illinois explores why it can often take years for new medical guidelines to be adopted.

  • University of Illinois alum Alex Diab will represent Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics as an alternate for the men’s gymnastics team.

In today’s deep dive, some Midwest ethanol plants are part of big plans to capture and store the carbon dioxide they release when ethanol is made.

Reporting today contributed by Reginald Hardwick, Maureen McKinney, Christine Herman and Katie Peikes.

217 Today: Friday, June 25, 2021

Friday, June 25, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • State Democratic leaders are touting a Wall Street agency bumping Illinois’ credit rating outlook from negative to positive this week as the state continues to recover from the COVID-19 recession.

  • In May of last year, Champaign County home sales were at their lowest point due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but those sales recovered quickly.

  • At the start of the pandemic, food stamp recipients began receiving more money each month due to state emergency declarations. With some states moving to end their emergency declarations, that extra help is going away.

  • Community and faith leaders in Champaign-Urbana are hosting events through the weekend in an effort to halt gun violence in the community.

In today’s deep dive, we hear from a Republican political strategist about what new Congressional maps could mean for the state’s five GOP members of the U.S. House.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Jim Meadows and Dana Cronin.

217 Today: Thursday, June 24, 2021

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Some Democrats in the Illinois Senate are beginning to push for allowing non-citizens to vote in local school board elections.

  • When schools in Illinois re-open for the new school year, they’ll still have to take precautions against the coronavirus.

  • Illinois could become the first state to require the teaching of Asian American history in public schools if Governor Pritzker signs legislation passed by state lawmakers earlier this month.

  • Champaign-Urbana Public Health officials report 244 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered Tuesday.

In today’s deep dive, environmental groups have been fighting for years to have toxic coal ash removed from retention ponds near the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River. Now, it may finally be happening.

Reporting today contributed by Derek Cantu, Michelle O’Neill and Vivian La.

217 Today: Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs says it’s working on a fix to allow veterans who got their COVID-19 shots at VA facilities to participate in Illinois’ vaccine lottery.

  • A new plan that just passed in Springfield and a recent report from the State Board of Higher Education come to the same conclusion: it’s time for Illinois to use an equity-focused formula to fund colleges.

  • With only 30% of its population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Vermilion County is turning to incentives for help.

  • The Macon County Health Department is offering walk-in Pfizer vaccination clinics in Decatur today.

In today’s deep dive, we head to McLean County to learn how health officials and faith leaders are trying to combat vaccine hesitancy among those yet to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Peter Medlin, Farrah Anderson and Eric Stock.

217 Today: Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The University of Illinois plans a return to mostly normal class schedules in the fall, but vaccinations for COVID-19 will be a requirement for students.

  • One of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s top advisors is leaving his administration. Former Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes has served as Deputy Governor for Budget and Economy for 2 1/2 years.

  • In Rockton, concerned residents packed a local banquet hall Monday night to discuss the ongoing chemical fire at the Chemtool facility.

  • Champaign County officials reported just two new cases of COVID-19 Monday, and the current number of active cases fell again to 56, including six county residents in the hospital with the virus.

In today’s deep dive, we hear from a resident of Rockton, Illinois a week after an explosion and fire at a chemical plant displaced residents of the small Northern Illinois town.

Reporting today contributed by Jim Meadows, Sean Crawford, Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco and The 21st Show.

217 Today: Monday, June 21, 2021

Monday, June 21, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Six months after a state lawmaker went through prostate cancer treatment largely in private, he’s going public to encourage men to get checked.

  • The Illinois General Assembly this spring approved a measure to allow people convicted of engaging in sex work to expunge their criminal records.

  • Following state and national trends, Champaign County is seeing an uptick in deaths from drug overdoses.

  • Beginning today, people on the University of Illinois Urbana campus who have verified COVID-19 vaccination records will no longer have to test for the virus to gain building access.

In today’s deep dive, the 2018 Farm Bill allowed farmers to start growing hemp, but in at least one Midwestern state, the number of licenses issued is on the decline.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Derek Cantu, Christine Herman and Brian Grimmett.

217 Today: Friday, June 18, 2021

Friday, June 18, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • State government offices, including driver services facilities, will be closed today to observe Juneteenth, which President Joe Biden signed off on making a federal holiday yesterday.

  • More students will be prepped to enter the cannabis industry thanks to a new class offered at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Uniting Pride of Champaign County is continuing their Pride Month related events this weekend with a queer clothing swap.

  • All vaccinated Illinoisans are eligible for $10 million dollars in either cash prizes or scholarships in a COVID-19 vaccine lottery the state launched Thursday.

In today’s deep dive, we learn about a new book that documents the punk rock scene in Peoria in the 1980s and ’90s.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Dana Cronin, Carolina Garibay and Tim Shelley.

217 Today: Thursday, June 17, 2021

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The Illinois House Wednesday approved sweeping gun legislation expanding mandated background checks to person-to-person gun sales.

  • Illinois’ budget beginning July 1 will include automatic cost of living adjustments for state lawmakers, and a class-action lawsuit filed by a former Republican House member could open the door to the state having to dole out 10 years in back pay.

  • Juneteenth is this Saturday and celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. In Champaign County, organizers are preparing Juneteenth events to celebrate African American culture and remind people of issues affecting the community today.

  • As of Wednesday, about a quarter of Black residents and a third of Hispanic residents in Champaign County are fully vaccinated, compared to about 44% of White residents.

In today’s deep dive, a conversation with John Hanlon, who is retiring. Hanlon is the director of the Illinois Innocence Project who helped change the state of Illinois.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Derek Cantu, Vivian La and Edith Brady Lunny.

217 Today: Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Lawmakers headed back to Springfield for a couple of days in order to take a vote on massive legislation that would get Illinois on the path to 100% renewable energy by 2050. But a deal on major energy and climate legislation in Springfield appears to have fallen apart — at least for now.

  • The parent company of Chemtool is apologizing for a fire that continues to burn in northern Illinois. Seventy workers at the Rockton grease plant were evacuated safely Monday.

  • Local organizations are teaming up to help more people of color get the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • A large group of police supporters marched from the Champaign Police Department to Tuesday’s night’s city council meeting.

In today’s deep dive, with nearly half of Illinoisans fully vaccinated against COVID-19, some people are relishing a return to normalcy, while others are struggling with anxiety. A psychologist explains where this anxiety might come from and ways to cope with it. 

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco, Farrah Anderson and Shahla Farzan.

217 Today: Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois Senate President Don Harmon says he thinks lawmakers are close to a compromise on a massive energy proposal.

  • Health officials are warning residents in northern Illinois to stay away from potentially dangerous debris after a chemical fire Monday.

  • Artists from the Champaign-Urbana area will once against be showcased at the 19th annual Boneyard Arts Festival this weekend.

  • Almost 94,000 people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Champaign County, which is about 52% of the county’s vaccine-eligible population.

In today’s deep dive, most states don’t allow trans people to correct their names on marriage certificates, even after going through a legal name change. But legislators and advocates hope to make Illinois the second state to permit marriage certificate name changes.

Reporting today contributed by Tony Arnold, Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco, Jim Meadows and Christine Hatfield.

217 Today: Monday June 14, 2021

Monday June 14, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • In an effort to address the so-called digital divide exacerbated by the pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission is temporarily providing low-income Americans discounted Internet access.

  • A federal judge has stopped debt payoffs for Black and other minority farmers.

  • The police department of the University of Illinois is launching a new initiative to provide help to people experiencing mental health crises.

  • Champaign-Urbana public health officials report the number of active COVID-19 cases has declined for the 15th straight day – down to 94 on Sunday. The number of hospitalizations held steady at seven for the third day in a row.

In today’s deep dive, a look at how therapy dogs are helping to expand mental health services in schools.

Reporting today contributed by Derek Cantu, Seth Bodine, Christine Herman, and Peter Medlin.

217 Today: Friday June 11, 2021

Friday June 11, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois is officially in “Phase Five” of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s economic reopening plan today, as new cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations for the virus continue to plummet. The new phase means no more pandemic-induced capacity restrictions on businesses or social gatherings or masks necessary for vaccinated Illinoisans. 
  • The Illinois Department of Public Health says more than 68% of Illinois residents who are 18 or older have received at least one dose of vaccine. The health department says 209 people with COVID-19 were in intensive care units statewide, one of the lowest counts during the pandemic.

  • Illinois has finally dedicated money to reducing fertilizer runoff from farmland.

  • To celebrate Pride Month, Uniting Pride of Champaign is hosting several events this month, including a Pride Dance Party Saturday, June 12 at the Rose Bowl Tavern in Urbana.

In today’s deep dive, an independent Illinois watchdog group released a report detailing neglect and abuse at a residential school for students with disabilities in Aurora.

Reporting today contributed by Dana Cronin, Hannah Meisel, Peter Medlin, and Carolina Garibay. 

217 Today: Thursday June 10, 2021

Thursday June 10, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Just days after Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed off on new legislative district boundary maps drawn by Democratic lawmakers, Illinois Republicans sued over the new maps in federal court Wednesday.

  • The sponsor of the Keystone XL oil pipeline says it’s pulling the plug on the contentious project. But the rest of the Keystone pipeline system will continue to send crude oil to Illinois.

  • Nurse practitioner Kate Srikant, co-owner of KP Healthcare in Champaign, is providing free mental health screenings in celebration of Pride Month. Screenings are open to anyone, regardless of sexual orientation.

  • Illinois lawmakers want to replace a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. across the street from the state Capitol building in Springfield and put the new one in a more prominent place.

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health says it will expand the use of the University of Illinois covidSHIELD saliva test into elementary schools across Illinois.

In today’s deep dive, even though only 3% of Americans are currently farmers, a lot of people still identify as part of the agricultural lifestyle. That community has found a home in a video game.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Vivian La, Derek Cantù, and Jonathan Ahl.

217 Today: Wednesday June 9, 2021

Wednesday June 9, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Repeal of parental involvement in abortion laws was proposed in three states this legislative season, and advocates viewed Illinois as most likely to give approval, but it didn’t happen.

  • Illinois drivers who tow items using a utility trailer will be able to pay considerably less for their trailer plates.

  • The Danville Veterans Affairs office is undergoing a major employee recruitment effort to hire everything from housekeepers to physicians.

  • Champaign County reported its 152nd COVID-19 related death Tuesday. Local health authorities have reported three COVID-19 deaths over the past two days. Eleven new cases of the coronavirus were reported in Champaign County on Tuesday.

In today’s deep dive, a Vermilion County health official explains why COVID-19 vaccination rates are lagging there.

Reporting today contributed by Maureen McKinney, Derek Cantu, Farrah Anderson and Tinisha Spain.

217 Today: Tuesday June 8, 2021

Tuesday June 8, 2021

Today’s headlines

  • On Monday, Joanne Geigner helped raise the rainbow flag above the Urbana City Building in honor of Pride Month.

  • The Flash Index to the Illinois economy increased to 105.3 for May. That’s the second consecutive month above 100, which means economic expansion.

  • A bipartisan group of downstate lawmakers is making a final appeal for municipally-owned coal-fired power plants, like the one owned by City Water Light and Power in Springfield, to be spared from a 2035 closing date.

  • Champaign County reported Monday that a man in his 50’s is the 150th person to die from the coronavirus. As of Monday, there are 114 active cases in the county and 15 people hospitalized.

In today’s deep dive, increasingly, farmers don’t own the land they work. That’s particularly true in the country’s breadbasket and can have environmental consequences.

Reporting today contributed by Reginald Hardwick, Jim Meadows, Hannah Meisel and Dana Cronin. 

217 Today: Monday June 7, 2021

Monday June 7, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law legislative district maps to govern elections for the next 10 years. 
  • Champaign County is reporting a new death from COVID-19. The public health department says a man in his 80s is the 149th person to die from the illness. There are 122 active cases in Champaign County right now.

  • The head of the Illinois Public Health Department told a college graduating class in western Illinois to write their own stories, and make those stories Pulitzer Prize winners.

  • The number of Illinois children needing foster care has increased by about ten percent over the last year.

In today’s deep dive, when colleges like the University of Illinois switched to online-only learning last year, many people expected the end for many marginalized students. But a new study is painting a different picture.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Rich Egger, Brian Moline, and Carolina Garibay.

217 Today: Friday June 4, 2021

Friday June 4, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • In the wake of an ongoing federal investigation that’s nabbed political types from Chicago to Springfield, Democratic lawmakers earlier this week pushed through ethics legislation that Republicans say is weak, but they still voted for it.

  • The state legislative maps approved by the Illinois General Assembly last week created a number of narrowly shaped districts that now include two cities.

  • As Illinois inches toward more fully reopening, parents with young children may wonder how COVID-19 guidance applies to them.

  • In Champaign County, health officials announced eight more coronavirus cases. There are currently 153 active cases – the lowest it’s been since late August of last year.

In today’s deep dive, Governor JB Pritzker spoke with Illinois Public Radio government and politics editor Hannah Meisel about where negotiations stand on a massive energy bill before lawmakers go back to Springfield for a vote on a final deal.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Derek Cantu, and Christine Herman.

217 Today: Thursday June 3, 2021

Thursday June 3, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Lawmakers left Springfield Tuesday without a final vote on a plan to both prevent the threatened closure of three nuclear power plants or lay down tough standards for clean energy in Illinois moving forward. But Governor JB Pritzker says he believes a deal is imminent.

  • Central Illinois Congressman Darin LaHood says Congress will have to look beyond the gas tax to pay for a new infrastructure bill regardless of the final price tag. The federal gas tax hasn’t been increased in nearly 30 years.

  • With COVID-19 vaccination rates in Illinois declining, the state department of health is looking for ways to incentivize Illinois adults to get the shot.

  • Carle announced Wednesday that it’s permanently closing the Kohl’s Plaza COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Sunday. 

In today’s deep dive, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police last year, many school leaders vowed to better reflect and serve their students. One year later, we look at what’s changed in education. 

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Eric Stock, Dana Cronin, and Peter Medlin.

217 Today: Wednesday June 2, 2021

Wednesday June 2, 2021

Today’s headlines

  • After weeks of negotiating with nuclear giant Exelon, there’s a tentative deal for state subsidies to keep power generators online, but another issue threatened to blow up bargaining over the holiday weekend. 
  • As of this morning, there’s a new place for medical helicopters to land in Champaign County. It will allow the hospital system to bring patients in via flight for life-saving procedures.

  • Pride month is here, and LGBTQ+ folks and allies in Champaign will celebrate this weekend at a Drag Picnic at West Side Park.

  • State health officials reported just over 400 new cases of COVID-19 across Illinois Tuesday and eight additional deaths from the virus. That’s the lowest single-day case total in more than a year. 

In today’s deep dive, the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the mental health of many Midwesterners, including children. One state in the region has been trying to standardize mental health services for kids.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Reginald Hardwick, Carolina Garibay, and Natalie Krebs. 

217 Today: Tuesday June 1, 2021

Tuesday June 1, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Six months ago, Illinois voters rejected Governor Pritzker’s signature graduated income tax plan. Since then, the governor has been warning of difficult budget choices, but that didn’t end up happening.

  • Birthing hospitals in Illinois are invited to participate in a new effort to improve outcomes for moms and babies.

  • Katie Dana, specialist in entomology at the Illinois Natural History Survey, said Brood X of Cicadas is appearing in four eastern Illinois counties. But in 2024, she said two different broods will emerge in the Chicago area and downstate.

  • For the first time in over a year, city facilities in Champaign will open to the public today Tuesday. The city is requiring people to wear a mask while requesting in-person customer service.

In today’s deep dive, a few times a year, farmers have to do a dangerous task; go inside large grain bins to take care of their harvest. Last year, more than 30 of them were trapped inside silos in the U.S., according to Purdue University. But a new robot could help keep farmers safe.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Reginald Hardwick, Christine Herman, and Melissa Rosales.

217 Today: Friday May 28, 2021

Friday May 28, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • A State Police investigation continues into the fatal shootings of Champaign Police Officer Chris Oberheim and a suspect, Darion Lafayette. State police have released security and bodycam video of last week’s pre-dawn shooting, and a state’s attorney’s report says a second officer’s shooting of Lafayette was justified.

  • Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth says she’s not surprised to see Senate Republican leaders plan to block the creation of a commission to investigate the U.S. Capitol attacks on January 6.

  • Democrats on the Champaign County Board are expected to override a veto of their new district map, at a special meeting Friday night at 6:30 p.m.

  • The Vermilion County Health Department is holding vaccination clinics next week for the Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. Illinois National Guard personnel will help with the clinics, which are set for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings at the health department office on South College Street in Danville.

In today’s deep dive, parts of eastern Illinois are beginning to hear a brood of cicadas finally coming above ground after 17 years. Katie Dana, specialist in entomology at the Illinois Natural History Survey, discusses what to expect from these cicadas and what to do if you see them.

Reporting today contributed by Jim Meadows, Eric Stock, and Reginald Hardwick.

217 Today: Thursday May 27, 2021

Thursday May 27, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • An estimated 2,000 friends, family, and police officers filled a church in Decatur Wednesday for the funeral of Champaign Police Officer Chris Oberheim who was killed last week while answering a domestic disturbance call. While the funeral was private, the public was encouraged to come out and view the procession that followed.

  • Governor JB Pritzker claims that in order for the state budget avoid suffering painful reductions in spending, the General Assembly should cut nearly $1 billion in corporate tax loopholes. But one of those tax incentives on the chopping block is a tax credit for Illinoisans who donate to organizations that award non-public school student scholarships.

  • Federal prosecutors are alleging former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s chief of staff lied to a grand jury.

  • Champaign County public health officials reported 32 new COVID-19 cases today Wednesday. The number of active cases fell slightly from Tuesday to 216, but the number of county residents hospitalized with COVID-19 jumped from four to 14. 

  • Nearly 87,000 Champaign County residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Health officials say that’s more than 47% of the vaccine-eligible population and 41% of the county’s total population.

In today’s deep dive, Western Illinois University’s new riverfront campus in Moline was supposed to allow Western to grow in the Quad Cities, but instead, enrollment has shrunk. This has led to criticism from some leaders in the Quad Cities about the university’s direction.

Reporting today contributed by Jim Meadows, Derek Cantu, Tony Arnold, Herb Trix, and Rich Egger.

217 Today: Wednesday May 26, 2021

Wednesday May 26, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois’ constitution mandates the legislature re-draw their own district boundaries every decade, the year after a Census, but the state’s judicial districts haven’t been touched since the early 1960s.

  • The Illinois Senate Tuesday voted to repeal a 1989 law criminalizing the transmission of HIV.

  • It’s been one year since George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. Black Lives Matter activists in Illinois are reflecting on what has and hasn’t changed since then.

  • Hundreds of first responders attended the visitation for a Champaign police officer Chris Oberheim Tuesday in Decatur. Authorities say Oberheim was shot and killed last week while responding to a domestic disturbance call at an apartment complex on North Neil St.

In today’s deep dive, in the wake of the George Floyd murder and the following protests, the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus drafted a series of reforms centered on creating more equity in several areas including health care.

Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Dana Cronin, and Maureen McKinney.