217 Today: Definitions of ‘rural’ stop many small towns from getting grant money

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022

Today’s headlines:

  • Most school districts in Illinois say they don’t have enough teachers, according to a new survey.

  • A Department of Children and Family Services supervisor said employees need more training on how to deal with difficult situations after a case worker was killed last month during a home visit near Springfield.

  • Environmental groups in Illinois are pushing for legislation that would ban the incineration of toxic chemicals.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn more about how the definition of the word “rural” has lasting consequences for small towns across the country.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Susie An, Eric Schmid and Jonathan Ahl.

217 Today: Danville pastor encourages people to get vaccinated after losing his wife to COVID-19

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022

Today’s headlines:

  • The COVID-19 death rate is 22 times higher for the unvaccinated across Illinois, according to a WBEZ analysis. 

  • A group of moderate GOP candidates running as a slate hope to make 2022 a Republican wave year in Illinois.

  • Catalytic converters keep disappearing from Champaign-Urbana cars, but because many scrap metal businesses won’t buy them, local police departments aren’t sure exactly why they are being stolen.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear from a Danville pastor who is encouraging others to get the COVID vaccine after the virus took the life of his wife last summer.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Kristen Schorsch, Hannah Meisel, Emily Hays and Tinisha Spain.

217 Today: Local Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award winner advocates for formerly incarcerated people

Friday, Jan. 14, 2022

Today’s headlines:

  • Candidates for county and state offices and judge seats in Illinois can start collecting signatures for the June primary. The state shortened the time to circulate petitions from 90 to 60 days because of the delay in approving new legislative maps.

  • Tens of thousands of Illinoisans are eligible for student loan relief as part of a nationwide settlement with private loan servicer Navient.

  • Danville students are learning remotely again Friday after a sudden increase in COVID-19 cases among both students and staff.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear from James Corbin II — one of the honorees at this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration this Sunday.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Eric Stock, Andrew Pritchard, Alex Degman, Emily Hays and Farrah Anderson.

217 Today: Additional federal money is coming for abandoned mine sites

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois’ record-breaking COVID-19 surge is showing no signs of easing.

  • The University of Illinois is expecting another surge of COVID-19 cases as students return to Champaign-Urbana.

  • Police in Urbana say two teenagers are under arrest in the killing of a ride-share driver.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn more about abandoned mines across Illinois and how federal money could help mitigate and redevelop these sites.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Dave McKinney, Emily Hays, Reginald Hardwick, and Tim Shelley.

217 Today: Wednesday, Jan, 12, 2022

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022

Today’s headlines:

  • The latest COVID-19 surge caused by omicron is due, in part, to people following outdated advice on rapid testing and large gatherings over the holidays, according to medical expert Dr. Sadiya Khan.

  • Urbana Middle School will stay remote for the rest of this week.

  • Illinois Democrats are predicting action this spring on an anti-crime package in Springfield.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn how suicide companion programs in prisons can increase trauma. Warning: This story contains descriptions of self-harm.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Alex Degman, Emily Hays, Dave McKinney, Lauren Bavis and Jake Harper.

217 Today: Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022

Today’s headlines:

  • A judge in Cook County Juvenile Court has found Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith in contempt for delays in placing two children in new homes.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new quarantine recommendations make sense, according to a University of Illinois virologist.

  • A recent Illinois law requires public universities and community colleges to provide free menstrual hygiene products like tampons and pads.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn how to fight the “post-holiday blues,” which could be worse than usual because of the ongoing pandemic.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Alex Degman, Emily Hays, Peter Medlin and Eric Stock.

217 Today: Monday, Jan. 10, 2022

Monday, Jan. 10, 2022

Today’s headlines:

  • Public Health officials reported nearly 1600 new COVID-19 cases in Champaign County over the weekend. The number of active cases has topped 7000 for the first time.

  • Cannabis sales in Illinois doubled in 2021 – the second year since cannabis became recreationally legal.

  • New data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows a 20 percent decline in grocery, specialty food and convenience stores in rural areas over a six-year period.

  • Students in the Danville school district will be back in-person Tuesday after three days of remote learning last week. The district went remote after nearly 60 teachers, bus drivers and other district staff tested positive for COVID-19.

In today’s deep dive, a look back at the early days of WILL-AM, which turns 100 years old this year. 

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Dana Cronin, Jonathan Ahl, Tinisha Spain and Jim Meadows.

217 Today: Friday, Jan. 7, 2022

Friday, Jan. 7, 2022

Today’s headlines:

  • It’s been one year since the attack on the U.S. Capitol building. Illinois U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said she still remembers the events of that day vividly.

  • Illinois Republicans are blaming Democrats in Springfield for not replacing a departing legislative watchdog.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has halved the number of days of isolation for those sick with COVID-19. But, Illinois school districts have not made that change yet.

  • The University of Illinois system will now require COVID-19 booster shots to be on campus.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll ride along on a Rockford school bus where they’ve been dealing with a shortage of bus drivers all year.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Dave McKinney, Emily Hays and Peter Medlin.

217 Today: Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois lawmakers won’t be coming back to Springfield next week because of spiking COVID-19 cases amid the spread of the Omicron variant.

  • People should look into swapping their cloth masks for surgical masks or N95 masks, according to Illinois State Medical Society President-Elect Clarence Brown. 

  • Illinois likely just experienced its fifth warmest December on record.

  • Public Health officials reported 913 new COVID-19 cases in Champaign County Wednesday. The number of active cases hit another all-time high with 5737.

Even as Illinois has shifted to more of a blue state politically, more of its counties are voting Republican. In today’s deep dive, we’ll take a closer look at these “two Illinoises” created by political polarization throughout the state.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Dave McKinney, Steph Whiteside and Dana Cronin.

217 Today: Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois lawmakers are scheduled to return to Springfield Wednesday for an abbreviated start to the session. Leaders canceled two days of session this week because of concerns over rising COVID-19 cases.

  • A northern Illinois health expert says most individuals forget about their mental health when making resolutions for the new year.

  • As COVID-19 hospitalizations reach a pandemic high, Carle Health has decided to delay non-emergency procedures.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear the third and final story in a series from Side Effects Public Media on how the pandemic continues to affect rural towns with meatpacking plants.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Tony Arnold, Yvonne Boose, Emily Hays and Natalie Krebs.

217 Today: Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2021

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said he’s deeply concerned by the record number of COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals at a COVID-19 news conference in Chicago Monday. State officials say there now are more people hospitalized by the coronavirus than at any stage in the pandemic.

  • Those walking around Urbana are more likely to get hit by a car than pedestrians in Champaign, Chicago or Boston, according to a local activist group.

  • The Illinois men’s basketball team resumes play tonight at Minnesota. This comes after most of the Illinois players tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning to campus after Christmas.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear the second story in a three-part series on COVID outbreaks at meatpacking plants. Last year’s wave of COVID outbreaks at meatpacking plants revealed how protections are lacking for many workers in plants throughout the United States. 

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Dan Mihalopolous, Emily Hays, Rob McColley and Natalie Krebs.

217 Today: Monday, Jan. 3, 2022

Monday, Jan. 3, 2022

Today’s headlines:

  • Former President Donald Trump is getting involved in an Illinois Congressional primary contest, endorsing the state’s newest Republican over a ten-year veteran in Washington, D.C.

  • Today marks the start of Chicago’s new COVID-19 vaccination policy – businesses like gyms and restaurants are now required to ask patrons for proof of vaccination.

  • Despite a spike in COVID-19 cases over the holidays, the Champaign and Urbana school districts plan to resume in-person classes this week as scheduled.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear the first story in a three-part series from Side Effects Public Media on the search for answers about how COVID-19 swept through the nation’s meat processing facilities.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Adora Namigadde and Natalie Krebs.

217 Today: Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021

Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois has surpassed 2 million COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began.

  • A University of Illinois professor has discovered that chemical byproducts created when water is cleaned could impact the body’s ability to reproduce.

  • Illinois led throughout in an 88-63 win Wednesday night in the annual Braggin’ Rights basketball game against Missouri in St. Louis.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll get tips for upcoming holiday gatherings from an infectious disease specialist. 

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Farrah Anderson and Rob McColley. 

217 Today: Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Electric utility Commonwealth Edison says it’ll voluntarily issue a $21 million refund to customers after it admitted former executives and lobbyists engaged in a years-long bribery scheme.

  • With colder months ahead, there’s more farmers can do to protect their fields for future seasons. 

  • The Champaign City Council voted Tuesday night to install automated license-plate readers in parts of the city.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear a conversation with one of the developers of a new curriculum that teaches Illinois middle school students about electricity.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Dana Cronin and Charrice Jones.

217 Today: Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021

Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health reported a new record number of COVID cases for 2021 on Monday.

  • The University of Illinois announced Monday that it will delay the start of in-person spring classes on its Urbana campus by one week.

  • Public health officials are pleading with the community to take all necessary COVID precautions ahead of holiday gatherings to help ease the burden on hospitals.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear a conversation with the director of the Vermilion County Health Department about the county’s struggles to keep up with contact tracing as cases rise over the holiday season. 

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel and Farrah Anderson.

217 Today: Monday, Dec. 20, 2021

Monday, Dec. 20, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • State public health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says people need to continue to follow COVID-19 prevention protocols, including getting vaccinated.

  • Beginning Jan. 1, Ameren Illinois customers will see an increase in their electric bill of around $2.50 per month. Some of the money will go toward ongoing upgrades to current grids and getting ready for future clean energy projects.

  • The number of active COVID-19 cases fell slightly over the weekend, but is still over 2,000, near an all-time high during the pandemic.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear from Awais Vaid at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District about the state of Champaign County’s intense wave of COVID-19 infection, and what the future holds.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Susan Stephens, Kevin Boucher and Dana Cronin.

Friday, December 17, 2021

December 17, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Despite increasing cases of COVID-19, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said he’s not planning to implement new restrictions on gatherings or businesses.

  • The new year will bring higher Ameren bills because of a rate hike recently approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

  • Two bus stops are getting upgrades as part of a settlement of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into accessibility at the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn more about the challenges that students faced with remote learning last year — including that one in five Illinois students were chronically absent.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Reginald Hardwick, Kevin Boucher, Emily Hays and Peter Medlin.

217 Today: Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021

Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • After nearly 20 years of attempts, the state of Illinois will finally sell the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago.

  • Champaign’s new plan to reduce gun violence divides $3.2 million in pandemic relief among local agencies. None of that new money would go to the Champaign Police Department.

  • Residents hoping to travel by rail this month might find their options limited due to increased demand for public transportation this time of year.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll take a tour through an exhibit at Krannert Art Museum that’s meant to change the way we think about disability. Two Illinois Public Media student reporters visited the exhibit this semester as part of a class trip meant to help University of Illinois students understand how museum exhibits could be made more accessible for guests with disabilities.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Emily Hays, Olivia Vamos, Farrah Anderson and Vivian La.

217 Today: Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois stopped licensing traditional midwives in the mid-1960s, and made the practice illegal in 1992. But on Tuesday, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a law once again sanctioning midwifery outside of hospitals beginning next fall.

  • The Champaign City Council unanimously approved a blueprint on Tuesday for a plan which infuses $3.2 million in the first year into existing efforts from the housing authority, school district, reentry groups and more to curb rising gun violence.

  • A University of Illinois dorm’s tradition of singing through the phone, known as Dial-a-Carol, continues after dealing with the pandemic.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll take a look at the history and consequences of religious exemptions that are now being used to avoid COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Emily Hays, Luis Velazquez and Lauren Chapman.

217 Today: Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021

Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a state disaster proclamation Monday for 28 Illinois counties hit by Friday’s severe storms. The proclamation gives the state and its emergency management agency the authority to provide resources to help storm victims.

  • Republican candidate for governor Darren Bailey is the first in the GOP field to announce a running mate in his bid to unseat Governor J.B. Pritzker next year.

  • The FBI is offering up to a $10,000 reward for information on the final hours of Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day who disappeared in August and was later found dead in a river.

  • A German Christmas Market in Urbana is running at full capacity for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear a conversation with the new executive director of C-U at Home, which provides services to those living in Champaign-Urbana without a home. C-U at Home has been working to get winter shelters opened in time to keep people safe from the cold weather. They were scheduled to open Monday, but didn’t, due in part to staffing shortages.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Jim Meadows, Hannah Meisel, Reginald Hardwick, Haley Bickelhaupt and Dana Cronin.

217 Today: Monday, Dec. 13, 2021

Monday, Dec. 13, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The search for more victims and cleanup efforts will continue Monday at the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville after being struck by an EF-3 tornado Friday night. Officials have confirmed that six employees died, one is in the hospital with serious injuries, and 45 were rescued and reunited with family.

  • Meteorologists confirmed an EF-2 tornado with 125 mile-per-hour winds swept through Coles County on Friday night. Most houses emerged unscathed — but not the Cox family farmhouse near Mattoon.

  • Meteorologist Chuck Schaffer with the National Weather Service traveled to Shelby, Moutrie and Douglas Counties, among others, to see whether storm damage from Friday night showed any evidence of being caused by tornadoes.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll speak with meteorologist Andrew Pritchard about Friday night’s severe storms and what listeners should take away from seeing tornadoes in December.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Jonathan Ahl, Emily Hays and Jim Meadows.

217 Today: Friday, Dec. 10, 2021

Friday, Dec. 10, 2021

 

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois lawmakers have increased funding to the state’s child welfare budget for the last few years, but those on the ground say that money hasn’t helped a system in crisis.

  • A University of Illinois lab is turning modified sugar cane into fuel. U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, visited the lab on Thursday to see how this fits into the future of renewable energy.

  • More than a dozen people spoke out in Danville Thursday night at a public meeting to discuss cleanup of three coal ash sites in Vermilion County.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn about our next News, Brews and Beatz event, discussing solutions to the problem of gun violence in our community. 

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Emily Hays, Tinisha Spain and Reginald Hardwick.

217 Today: Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021

Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021

Today’s Headlines:

  • A federal judge this week upheld a new Illinois law banning county jails from detaining immigrants for profit.

  • The pandemic threw a wrench in expanded gambling plans, which are just now getting back on track. Those projects are largely funding the state’s large infrastructure bill.

  • Republican Congressman Rodney Davis says there was a lot to like in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that President Biden just signed into law. So why didn’t he vote for it?

  • Health officials reported 44 new COVID-19 cases in Champaign County Wednesday. The number of active cases has topped 1700 for the first time since August 2020.

In today’s deep dive, the first in a two part series from Side Effects Public Media on how ivermectin became a coveted treatment for COVID-19 despite shaky research.

217 Today: Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021

Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The state’s Department of Public Health says Illinois has confirmed its first case of COVID’s Omicron variant. The news comes as Illinois has seen a more-than 160 percent increase in the number of new COVID patients entering hospitals each day over the past six weeks.

  • The balance of political power in Illinois for the next decade is now in the hands of three federal judges after a marathon hearing Tuesday in Chicago.

  • The Latino Student Association hosted a Las Posadas celebration on campus. Las Posadas is celebrated in most Latin American countries and in the United States and commemorates Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll take a closer look at the struggles of dual-language students during the COVID-19 pandemic. As Carolina Garibay of the Illinois Student Newsroom reports, teachers in dual-language classrooms are trying to teach students at all different language proficiencies now that they’re back in class. 

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Luis Velazquez and Carolina Garibay

217 Today: Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • A three-judge panel in Chicago is set to hear arguments Tuesday over whether the court should change the legislative maps crafted by Democrats who control the General Assembly.

  • Urbana officials say roadside cameras that track the license plates of passing cars are off the table as a solution to gun violence in Urbana.

  • The first pandemic-era standardized test results are out. Student achievement dropped all over Illinois and COVID-related stress seems to play a role.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn how some central Illinois tenants are faring now that the eviction moratorium has expired in the state.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Justin Malone, Emily Hays and Caroline Kubzansky.

217 Today: Monday, Dec. 6, 2021

Monday, Dec. 6, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • An Illinois prisoner who lost his leg after getting inadequate treatment for a yearlong infection will get $400,000 from the Illinois Department of Corrections.

  • University of Illinois scientists recently confirmed dicamba-resistant waterhemp plants in a central Illinois soybean field — meaning that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for farmers to control weeds in their fields. 

  • University of Illinois officials say they plan to close the undergraduate library in the summer of 2022 and split its resources among four other libraries on campus.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear about a community in Central Illinois that appears to be reducing the racial disparities in traffic stops. 

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Dana Cronin, Justin Malone and Eric Stock.

217 Today: Friday, Dec. 3, 2021

Friday, Dec. 3, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported the highest number of new positive COVID tests since December first of last year.

  • High vaccination rates and strategic testing have been the University of Illinois’ answers to staying safe as the end of the COVID-19 pandemic remains out of reach.

  • A new statewide program is offering full-tuition scholarships to help stymie the teacher shortage in early childhood education.

  • Champaign County Public Health officials reported nearly 270 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday — the highest single-day total in about a year.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn why Major League Baseball owners have locked out players after their collective bargaining agreement expired earlier this week.

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

217 Today: Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021

Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Governor JB Pritzker Wednesday announced $94 million dollars will be used to fund 96 airport projects statewide, many of which won’t be eligible for federal infrastructure money.

  • The state’s economy continues to grow at a good pace, according to the monthly Flash Index from the University of Illinois.

  • The dancers of the Champaign Urbana Ballet are busy preparing for the company’s annual performance of The Nutcracker ballet after last year’s cancellation due to the pandemic.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn why some libraries are starting to hire social workers to better serve their communities. 

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Jim Meadows, Olivia Vamos and Darian Benson

217 Today: Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike says there’s still not a lot known about the omicron variant of COVID-19 and is urging Illinois residents to remain calm.

  • With the help of the Champaign County Board, C-U at Home is looking to create new shelters for the homeless.

  • This holiday season, Miss Market, a Champaign-based group that highlights women-owned businesses nationally, is working with “Visit Champaign County” to promote those businesses here. 

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear from Republican U.S. Representative Rodney Davis, who is running for re-election in the newly drawn Illinois 15th Congressional District.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Reginald Hardwick, Luis Velazquez, Mona Alrazzaq and Charlie Schlenker.

217 Today: Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021

Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Republican Congressman Rodney Davis is set to officially announce his re-election bid Tuesday, ending months of speculation about a potential run for governor.

  • The shorthanded Fighting Illini men’s basketball team beat Notre Dame Monday night in the ACC-Big Ten challenge 82-72.

  • Wild turkey populations in Missouri and other states have taken a nosedive in the past decade, which has biologists and hunters worried. But this year, there was a small increase in baby turkeys.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn about a program in Champaign County that helps young people get their high school diplomas while fixing public housing properties. 

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Rob McColley, Shahla Farzan and Emily Hays.

217 Today: Monday, Nov. 29, 2021

Monday, Nov. 29, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • A little-known program has been providing food, income assistance or help with housing to Illinoisans quarantining due to COVID-19 for the last seven months.

  • Thousands gathered in downtown Champaign on Saturday to see the first parade of lights since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

  • Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen lit a menorah Sunday night in front of the city’s public library as a part of Hanukkah, an eight-day day holiday celebrated by the Jewish community.

  • The Fighting Illini men’s basketball team will face Notre Dame in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge at State Farm Center in Champaign Monday night.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll take a closer look at court-ordered guardianship, or a conservatorship. Some states allow less-restrictive alternatives, but, many aren’t aware of those options.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Reginald Hardwick and Carter Barrett.

217 Today: Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021

Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Governor J.B. Pritzker signed off on a new congressional map Tuesday designed to give Democrats a partisan advantage for the next 10 years.

  • Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is releasing his annual Holiday Safe Shopping Guide highlighting recalled toys and other products.

  • One museum in Illinois is making a rare handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address available to many guests for the first time by including accommodations for people with disabilities.

In today’s deep dive, farmers across the Midwest are upset that ditches and low-lying areas of their fields might end up being protected under the Clean Water Act. We’ll learn more about the upcoming changes putting farmers and environmentalists at odds.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Tim Shelley, Farrah Anderson and Jonathan Ahl.

217 Today: Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021

Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Governor J.B. Pritzker wants to increase Medicaid reimbursements to nursing homes in Illinois for the fourth time in recent years —something the state’s long-term care facility industry has been begging for. But, Illinois’ largest nursing home trade group has big objections to the plan.

  • Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White is urging children in grades four through 12 to participate in the 2022 “Letters About Literature in Illinois.”

  • A defense attorney from Illinois fears vigilantes will be emboldened by the not-guilty verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. 

In today’s deep dive, we’ll head to Columbia, Missouri to see how they are trying to counter the continuing rise in opioid overdose deaths.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Yvonne Boose, Reginald Hardwick and Sebastián Martínez Valdivia.

217 Today: Monday, Nov. 22, 2021

Monday, Nov. 22, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Democrats in the U.S. Senate are trying for an end-of-year deadline to pass the so called “Build Back Better” bill in that chamber. Among disagreements over the size and scope of the $1.75 trillion social spending package is whether to repeal a Trump-era tax policy. 

  • Most things on Thanksgiving shopping lists will cost more this year– including turkey.

  • A new exhibit in Urbana honors the fortieth anniversary of the first documented case of AIDS. The Spurlock Museum’s “Sewn in Memory” exhibit features nineteen fabric quilt panels with names of people who died of AIDS and have ties to Central Illinois.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll head to O’Fallon in southwestern Illinois to see how the new congressional maps for the state are splitting this community in half.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Dana Cronin, Haley Bickelhaupt and Eric Schmid.

217 Today: Friday, Nov. 19, 2021

Friday, Nov. 19, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois hasn’t officially authorized COVID vaccine booster doses for the general population, but nearly 1.5 million Illinoisans have already gotten theirs.

  • Illinois residents are quitting their jobs at a high rate during the pandemic. That’s leaving workforce shortages across a number of sectors that community colleges are trying to help fill.

  • School districts in Champaign and Urbana are considering installing metal detectors in response to a rise in youth violence. But a social science researcher says metal detectors are not as effective as more long-term prevention.

In today’s deep dive, in the middle of Native American Heritage Month, we bring you a conversation with Dr. Jacki Rand. She’s the first Associate Chancellor for Native Affairs at the University of Illinois.

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

217 Today: Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021

Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Governor J.B. Pritzker says Illinois emergency management coordinators are working with cities and towns — especially Chicago and suburbs that border Wisconsin — to prepare for possible unrest following a verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case.

  • Republican State Representative Dan Brady has formally announced he’s running for Secretary of State next year.

  • A new study looks at the impact of tax payment programs on vulnerable families.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn about the impact of climate change in the state of Illinois in a TV special that premieres tonight on WILL-TV.

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

217 Today: Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021

Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois’ elections oversight board has cleared the state’s top fiscal watchdog in a long-running case over his campaign finance violations.

  • Illinois football coach Bret Bielema has tested positive for COVID-19.

  • The Urbana School Board has appointed its first student representatives.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear the third and final story in our Big Ag U series from Harvest Public Media and Investigate Midwest. Today, we’ll take a look at how big business is funding college ag facilities.

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

217 Today: Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Governor JB Pritzker has signed into law a ban on so-called dark money in judicial elections in Illinois.

  • Students and faculty at the University of Illinois and the University of Waterloo in Canada launched a satellite into orbit last month called CAPSat.

  • Illinois Public Media’s first News Brews and Beatz event was held Monday night in Champaign. The conversation centered around possible solutions to gun violence in the community.

  • The Fighting Illini men’s basketball team fell to 2-1 on the season with a 67-66 loss at Marquette last night. Illinois led by 12 points in the second half before faltering late.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear the second part of Big Ag U, an investigative series by Harvest Public Media and Investigate Midwest on corporate influence at public universities across the Midwest.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Mona Alrazzaq, Jim Meadows and Dana Cronin.

217 Today: Monday, Nov. 15, 2021

Monday, Nov. 15, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Governor JB Pritzker will be in Washington D.C. Monday for the signing of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill Congress finished passing earlier this month.

  • State Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike this week told a congressional panel that young people, communities of color and rural Illinoisans are still the most vaccine-hesitant.

  • The U.S. is on track to admit more agricultural guest workers than ever before, according to the Department of Labor. Most Midwestern states are on a similar trajectory.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear the first part of Big Ag U, a series from Harvest Public Media and Investigate Midwest, that looks at the influence of corporate money on state universities.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Dana Cronin, Sky Chad

de and Jonathan Hettinger.

217 Today: Friday, Nov. 12, 2021

Friday, Nov. 12, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Veterans Day events around the state Thursday both celebrated Illinois veterans’ service and highlighted the challenges faced by many former military members.

  • One in five Illinois students missed at least 10% of the school year last year.

  • Beginning next week, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Illinois in Urbana will start requiring audience members to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination– or a negative test result.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn about how many school districts don’t ha

ve enough school nurses.

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

217 Today: Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021

Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Attorneys for a woman who alleges she was raped by a Lyft driver in Chicago are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to overturn a state law that shields ride share companies from liability.

  • Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs is trying to find the owners of 11 unclaimed Purple Hearts.

  • It’s been almost two weeks since the F-D-A authorized the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11. In that time, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District has vaccinated roughly 1,250 kids.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll head to the St. Louis area to see how scientists are working to discover new tick-borne illnesses.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Caroline Kubzansky, Emily Hays and Shahla Farzan.

217 Today: Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021

Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The Chicago Rockford International Airport announced Tuesday that it’s limiting access into the Bell Bowl Prairie until further environmental assessments can be completed. The Rockford Airport Authority agreed to temporarily halt construction over some of the last remaining high quality dry gravel prairie in Illinois.

  • The Champaign community gathered last week to celebrate a new community resource for African American families.

  • The Illinois men’s basketball team opened its season Tuesday night with a 71-47 win over Jackson State at State Farm Center in Champaign.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll speak with University of Illinois epidemiologist Rebecca Smith about what she thinks is the cause of rising COVID-19 infections on the Urbana campus.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco, Luis Velazquez and Rob McColley.

217 Today: Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021

Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • The House passed a $1 trillion infrastructure bill over the weekend. The bill is projected to send at least $17 billion to Illinois for things like roads and bridges, airports, public transit, broadband access, and water infrastructure.

  • Governor J.B. Pritzker appeared Monday on a panel with three other Democratic governors at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. 

  • Champaign substitute teachers can now earn at least $140 a day– a $30 raise over the previous base pay.

  • The University of Illinois Urbana campus has reported nearly 200 new cases of COVID-19 over the last week. That’s more than three times as many as the previous week and the test positivity rate on campus has nearly tripled over that period as well.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear a conversation with the director of a new Illinois agency dedicated to reducing gun violence. The Office of Firearm Violence Prevention will help dole out a promised $250 million to violence prevention organizations over the next three years.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Tim Shelley, Hannah Meisel, Emily Hays and Patrick Smith.

217 Today: Monday, Nov. 8, 2021

Monday, Nov. 8, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Illinois political leaders have been in Glasgow, Scotland for the U.N. Climate Change Conference —or COP26 —since last week. They’re touting the state’s new plan to prioritize green energy and cut fossil fuels from Illinois’ electric grid by 2050.

  • LGBTQ+ students were harassed during Spirit Week at Mahomet-Seymour High School in September. Now, leaders at Uniting Pride are waiting for a formal apology.

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture said frozen supplies of turkeys in the U.S. are 24% below the 3-year average because higher feed prices mean fewer farmers are raising them.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn about a new report from the Environmental Working Group that looks at what contaminants are in your tap water.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Charrice Jones, Seth Bodine and Dana Cronin.

217 Today: Friday, Nov. 5, 2021

Friday, Nov. 5, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Republican congressman Rodney Davis currently sits alone in the new 15th Congressional District, but he hasn’t yet announced his 2022 election plans.

  • A new tool school districts could use might help their educators improve and get students back on track.

  • Champaign County’s Jail Facilities Committee voted Wednesday to make improvements on Urbana’s satellite jail as they prepare to close the county’s aging downtown jail due to safety concerns and staff shortages.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear from ranchers who are starting their own beef processing plant in response to rising costs from large processers in the industry. 

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Tim Shelley, Peter Medlin, Mona Alrazzaq and Elizabeth Rembert.

217 Today: Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021

Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger is retiring after Illinois Democrats drew him into a new 16th district with fellow GOP incumbent Darin LaHood.

  • University of Illinois service workers Union members protested Wednesday to raise wages and fill vacant positions– including a five dollar per hour raise. 

  • The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is hosting Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination clinics for children ages five through eleven. Appointments can be scheduled through OSF HealthCare online.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll get a sneak peek at “Fun Home,” the latest production from Lyric Theatre at Illinois. It opens Thursday at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Tim Shelley and Emily Hays.

217 Today: Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021

Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • After getting his COVID-19 booster shot Tuesday, Governor J.B. Pritzker is urging eligible Illinoisans to get their boosters and join the more than 800,000 adults in the state who have already gotten their supplemental dose.

  • Urbana residents stepped up one after another at this week’s city council meeting to argue against the purchase of roadside devices that would track passing cars’ license plates.

  • The District 116 Board of Education spent Tuesday night debating whether to install A-I-powered metal detectors inside schools. 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first confirmed case of AIDS. In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear from Danville native Arlen Miller who lost his partner to the disease more than 30 years ago. 

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

217 Today: Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021

Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021

Today’s headlines: 

  • Governor JB Pritzker signed an executive order on Monday declaring gun violence a public health crisis in Illinois.

  • lllinois’ economic growth slowed down in October, according to the University of Illinois Flash Index.

  • Upperclassmen at Champaign’s Centennial High School have mentored freshmen for the past seven years. So, when this fall brought nearby gunfire and social media threats, many freshmen turned to their mentors for answers. 

In today’s deep dive, we’ll speak with Illinois Newsroom’s Emily Hays about her findings from the Illinois State Board of Education’s annual report card for schools. 

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

217 Today: Monday, Nov. 1, 2021

Monday, Nov. 1, 2021

Today’s headlines: 

  • Illinois’ legislature is the only one in the country to ever back off a Parental Notice of Abortion law.

  • The Centers for Disease Control is evaluating “test-to-stay” as a way to keep students in class, even if they come in contact with someone who tests positive.

  • Pumpkin farmers in the Midwest say they’ve had a really good harvest this year, and that consumers should have plenty to choose from.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn how, and why, a mummy came to a high school in Naperville back in the 1940s.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Maureen McKinney, Dana Cronin and Peter Medlin.

217 Today: Friday, Oct. 29, 2021

Friday, Oct. 29, 2021

Today’s headlines: 

  • Governor JB Pritzker’s effort to immediately shut down a promised wave of lawsuits challenging COVID vaccine mandates has come to the end of the road in Springfield. 

  • Urbana residents are voicing concerns this week about the city’s plan to install roadside devices that could read the license plates of anyone who drives by.

  • Carle Hospital in Urbana, which serves several counties, reports 33 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, the lowest number since late July. 

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear a conversation with an Eastern Illinois University professor and American Baptist minister about COVID-19 misinformation among white evangelicals and what can be done to counter it. This is part of “Who’s in Charge of The News?” from Illinois Public Media. 

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel and Justin Malone.

217 Today: Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021

Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Since Illinois launched its legal sports betting industry nearly two years ago, in-state college teams have been off limits to bettors. But, that would change under legislation moving through Springfield this week.

  • The White House announced Gregory Harris will be its nominee for U.S. Attorney for the central district of Illinois. The 46-county district includes Champaign-Urbana, Danville and Decatur.

  • A labor shortage at U.S. factories is making it hard for the Champaign school district to find school lunch ingredients.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear Illinois Newsroom’s Reginald Hardwick conversation with two people who are documenting the next generation of news outlets. This is part of our continuing coverage this week looking at “Who’s in Charge of The News?”

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Ryan Denham, Emily Hays and Reginald Hardwick.

217 Today: Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021

Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Democrats in the Illinois Senate voted Tuesday night to repeal a decades-old law requiring the parents of teens who seek an abortion to be notified before the procedure.

  • Jelani Day’s mother says the LaSalle County coroner’s report indicating her son drowned was an insult to her and her son.

  • The Urbana school board decided Tuesday night to raise the pay for substitute teachers in Urbana District 116.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn about a team at the University of Illinois that’s investigating how COVID-19 misinformation spreads in rural areas of the state. This is part of our “Who’s in Charge of The News” special coverage. 

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

217 Today: Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021

Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • State employees who work in congregate settings like prisons and group homes for adults with disabilities have until the end of the day today to get their first COVID-19 vaccine dose. But despite progress with Illinois’ largest public employee union, Governor JB Pritzker has reached an impasse on negotiations over his vaccine mandate’s application to 12,000 state workers.

  • Staffing shortages have left many schools, including Rockford Public Schools, with many empty classrooms and sporadic attendance if kids can’t get a ride to school.

  • The Champaign Unit 4 Board of Education decided on Monday to keep on AGB, the security company that has guarded Champaign middle and high schools since August.

  • The LaSalle County coroner says Illinois State University graduate student Jelani Day, who disappeared before being found dead, died from drowning.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear Illinois Newsroom’s Jim Meadows speak with a Northwestern professor who has spent years researching areas with a shortage of news coverage. This is part of Illinois Public Media’s “Who’s in Charge Of The News” series where we’re exploring topics like news deserts and the changing journalism landscape. 

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

217 Today: Monday, Oct. 25, 2021

Monday, Oct. 25, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Democrats who control the General Assembly are preparing to approve new political boundary lines this week for the next 10 years of congressional elections in Illinois.

  • Federal regulators are set to decide soon whether to authorize the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. Local providers are getting ready.

  • Farmers across the Midwest appear on track for record-high harvests despite a year of extreme weather.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll look at two newspapers in Ford County– one that just started last year, and another that ended publication last month. This coverage is part of “Who’s In Charge of The News?” where Illinois Public Media is bringing you special coverage of the decline of newspapers, the increase of misinformation and the story by ownership of local TV and newspapers.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Tim Shelley, Dana Cronin and Jim Meadows. 

217 Today: Friday, Oct. 22, 2021

Friday, Oct. 22, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Representative Adam Kinzinger was the only Republican member of Congress from Illinois who voted to hold Trump ally Steve Bannon in contempt for defying a subpoena from the committee investigating the January 6th attack on the US Capitol.

  • African-American enrollment in the University of Illinois system has inched up in recent years, but it’s still far from representative of the state as a whole.

  • For the second time this year, Champaign County has a new district map for next year’s election.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll take a look at Illinois’ progress on getting 1 million new electric vehicles on the roads.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Susan Stephens, Emily Hays, Jim Meadows and Caroline Kubzansky.

217 Today: Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021

Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • After passing a major criminal justice reform law earlier this year, Democrats in Springfield are pushing for more progressive ideas, like allowing prisoners to vote and expanding parole. But Republicans are pushing back.

  • From now through next Friday, Champaign County residents who have failed to pay fines related to traffic tickets, D-U-I’s and various criminal offenses can pay them off without late-payment fees as a part of the Champaign Circuit Court’s annual Amnesty Event.

  • In three Urbana elementary schools, most students take COVID-19 tests once a week. We take a closer look.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll learn how one Indiana community is redefining emergency medical services by trying to prevent emergencies altogether. 

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Olivia Vamos, Emily Hays and Carter Barrett.

217 Today: Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021

Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021

Today’s headlines:

  • Yesterday, a three-judge panel ruled Democrats’ plan to redraw Illinois’ legislative district boundaries is unconstitutional.

  • The Reverend Jesse Jackson is calling for federal investigations into the death of Jelani Day, an Illinois State University grad student whose body was found last month.

  • A new comedy at Krannert Center focuses on a Latinx couple and is part of a co-director’s effort to bring more people of color on stage.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll find out how the ‘pandora papers’ aren’t too far from home. We’ll hear how a Ukrainian oligarch used an abandoned Motorola factory in Harvard, Illinois as a part of a big scheme.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Gwyn Skiles, Luis Velazquez and The 21st show.

217 Today: Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021

Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021

Today’s headlines: 

  • A fourth labor group has now agreed to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state employees in congregate care settings.

  • Illinois educators rewrote their environmental literacy framework for the first time in a decade.

  • Carle Foundation Hospital will drop Aetna Medicare in January.

In today’s deep dive, we’ll hear from two reporters from the Quad Cities covering the John Deere Strike– where more than 10,000 Illinois employees are on strike.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Peter Medlin, Emily Hays and the 21st Show.

217 Today: Monday, Oct. 18, 2021

Monday, Oct. 18, 2021

Today’s headlines: 

  • By the end of the month, Democrats who control the General Assembly will approve a new map determining Illinois’ congressional district boundary lines for the next decade.

  • The Durga Puja festival took place over the weekend at the Channing-Murray Foundation in Urbana. The annual festival celebrates the Hindu goddess Durga.

  • Nearly every county in Illinois has a shortage of primary care physicians according to a new report from the Illinois Rural Health Summit.

In today’s deep dive, more Midwest farmers are turning their cornfields into chestnut trees. As Harvest Public Media’s Jonathan Ahl reports, chestnuts are a growth industry in the region, and offer an option for small-scale, low-effort and, importantly, profitable way to farm.

217 Today is produced by Farrah Anderson. Reporting today contributed by Hannah Meisel, Olivia Vamos, Eric Schmid and Jonathan Ahl.

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.