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News Around Illinois – July 10, 2020

The latest news around the state, for July 10, 2020.

Gov. Pritzker Names New Head Of Unemployment Department Months After Complaints Pile Up

Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker Thursday named a new director of the agency that manages unemployment claims after the department encountered serious problems dealing with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. The Illinois Department of Employment Security also started a new approach to helping legions of unemployed workers who have been frustrated by problems with the state’s system for processing their benefits claims. Pritzker named Kristin Richards, the current chief of staff to the Illinois Senate president, to serve as the director of IDES, the governor said in a release. The agency had been headed previously by an interim director, Thomas Chan. For months, Pritzker has promised to fix the system, which has been beset with problems, even hiring an outside contractor to staff a new unemployment benefits call center. – Dan Mihalopoulos – WBEZ

UIS Releases Fall Plan For Return Of Students And Faculty

The University of Illinois Springfield released its fall plan with details on how students and faculty would return to the campus and remain safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Face coverings, hand sanitizer and frequent cleaning are all part of the University of Illinois Springfield’s plan for students to return to campus in the fall. The university will offer both on-campus and online options for students this fall up until November 25. After the Thanksgiving holiday, all classes will be online through the end of the semester. Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney said the administration consulted students and professors in the decision because of the uncertainty of COVID-19. – Olivia Mitchell – WUIS

Census Efforts Continue In Illinois Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

About a third of Illinois households still need to fill out their 2020 census forms, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Census officials touted Wednesday upcoming efforts to encourage people to participate in the census before the in-person follow-up begins, which was delayed until this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic. The efforts include more paid advertising and census takers standing outside grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses to help people fill out the forms. A spokesman for the regional census office in Chicago could not confirm if workers would be posted outside of Illinois businesses in the next few weeks. – Mary Hansen – WUIS

Complaint Against O’Shea Dismissed

Rockford’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners voted unanimously to dismiss a formal complaint against the city’s police chief. Commissioners found no probable cause to proceed to an evidentiary hearing over a formal complaint alleging that Police Chief Daniel O’Shea violated policy by showing bias and discrimination. The complaint arose over a comment O’Shea made in May during a news conference. O’Shea said, “The 16, 17-year-olds running around shooting each other, we’re not wasting our time trying to save them. They are lost. We’re trying to focus on 4 or 5-year-olds all the way up to 12 or 13, where we have a chance at saving them, changing their lives and changing the direction they are going in it.” – Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco – WNIJ

Rivian Lands Another $2.5 Billion; Biggest Investment Round To Date

The electric automaker Rivian has pulled in another $2.5 billion—its largest single investment round to date—as it prepares to begin production in Normal. Rivian, which has grown from stealthy startup to lead candidate to bring the first electric pickup to market, announced the new investment Friday. Rivian plans to make its electric vehicles at its Normal manufacturing plant. The company already has 350 employees in Normal, with plans to hire hundreds more. Rivian says it’s investing over $750 million into the plant to get it ready for production. It acquired the plant for $16 million in 2017, after Mitsubishi Motors shut it down and moved out. – Ryan Denham – WGLT

ISU Fall Semester Plans Are Definitely Maybe

Illinois State University is confirming a lot of plans for a pandemic-related fall class schedule. But in a news conference on Thursday, university President Larry Dietz said things are still pretty fluid. “This afternoon something could change. Tomorrow something could change. We’ve literally had instances where we met in the morning and thought we knew what to do in a particular area and something came out from the governor or the CDC or whatever, and we had to change pretty quickly,” said Dietz. The university announced there will be no triple or quadruple occupancy dorm rooms. There will be a mix of online and in-person classes. ISU is still doing a classroom inventory and matching it with class sizes to figure out how much it will have to offer online. There will be some on-campus COVID-19 testing, but how much isn’t certain. Dietz hopes a program the University of Illinois is test driving could help. – Charlie Schlenker – WGLT

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