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News Around Illinois – July 30, 2020

The latest news around the state, for July 30, 2020.

Senators Seek EPA Help To Fix Metro East Public Health Issue

CENTREVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Residents in Illinois’ Metro East region are facing a major public health crisis because of persistent flooding and sewage problems, the state’s two U.S. senators said in a letter sent Wednesday to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Democrats Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin asked the federal agency to enforce environmental laws, conduct water testing and identify solutions to the problems that plague Centreville and nearby communities east of St. Louis. In parts of Centreville, dirt trenches — that haven’t been maintained — instead of storm drains line the streets and drain runoff. Standing water and trash cause overflows into yards and homes. Some streets with storm drains are quickly overwhelmed in a downpour, flooding streets and trapping residents. In the letter to Region 5 of the EPA, the senators noted Centreville, which neighbors East St. Louis, is a low income, African American community of about 5,000 that faces chronic stormwater flooding and sewage issue that have destroyed homes. – Associated Press

Hospital Announces Closure After Operating Nearly 170 Years

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago’s oldest hospital announced Wednesday it will close next year after the state of Illinois failed to finance its merger with three other money-losing hospitals. Mercy Hospital & Medical Center on the city’s South Side has been struggling for years due to decreasing reimbursements, a decline in the largely African American population in the surrounding neighborhood, and increased capital needs. Administrators say Mercy’s monthly operating losses of $4 million can no longer be sustained. An outpatient facility is in the works that will be able to care for up to 50,000 patients. Although details about timing and location are still being determined, administrators say it will offer everything from diagnostics to urgent care. – Associated Press

ComEd CEO: ‘I Wanted To Apologize On Behalf Of The Entire Company.’

In his first public comments since Commonwealth Edison admitted a Springfield bribery scheme, CEO Joe Dominguez said Wednesday he was sorry for the power company’s conduct – but quickly added that he did not think the public suffered as a result of the scandal. “I wanted to apologize on behalf of the entire company,” Dominguez told officials at a meeting of the Illinois Commerce Commission, which regulates ComEd and other public utilities in the state. Dominguez quickly pivoted from that mea culpa to show the limits of his contrition. He focused largely on defending the company’s overall performance as excellent – and protecting the legislative gains ComEd achieved during the eight-year-long bribery scheme. – Dan Mihalopoulos, WBEZ

State Senate Resolution Urges ComEd Fine Be Redirected Back To Illinois

Republican State Senator Dave Syverson is co-sponsoring a resolution that encourages the Illinois Congressional Delegation to direct a ComEd federal fine back to the state. ComEd has to pay $200 million to settle allegations it engaged in long-term bribery in Springfield. Syverson said normally the money would go directly to the federal government. “There are some allowances that can be made which either Congress or the U.S. Attorney General could step in and direct those payments back to those who were damaged, in this case the ratepayers.” Syverson argues that homeowners and businesses had to pay higher rates on their bills as a result of ComEd’s actions. So returning this money back would be a form of restitution. – Chase Cavanaugh, WNIJ

ISU To Change Watterson Towers House Names Over Slavery History

Illinois State University said Thursday it will rename floors in the Watterson Towers residence hall in the wake of nationwide upheaval and a renewed dialogue on race and history. Watterson Towers opened in 1968 and every five floors in both towers are called a “house.” The university named those houses for the nation’s first 10 secretaries of state.: Van Buren, Clay, Marshall, Madison, Adams, Pickering, Monroe, Randolph, Smith, and Jefferson. Eight out of the 10 were involved in slavery. Several would be elected president after serving as secretary of state.  Opponents of removing such commemorative names and statues have frequently argued the historical artifacts should not be erased because the contributions of those (mostly) men were and remain valid historical markers, symbols of the national culture, and icons of American identity. – Charlie Schlenker, WGTL

Summer Travelers Can Bring Back COVID To Central Illinois, But No Quarantine Required

Thousands of people are traveling this summer to COVID-19 hotspots and coming back to the Bloomington-Normal and the Tri-County areas — and none of them are being told to quarantine when they return.
Other cities and states, like Chicago and New York, have required a two-week quarantine period for those returning from hotspots, such as Florida and Arizona. But no such requirement exists in downstate Illinois, even as county health officials warn about the risk of out-of-state travel. Peoria County just slipped into a warning level for COVID-19, putting it at risk for new restrictions if left unchecked. Many new cases in Peoria are linked to recent travel to Wisconsin, Iowa, Texas, or Florida — all states with fewer protective measures than Illinois. Chicago requires people traveling to the city from 22 states, including Wisconsin and Missouri, to quarantine for two weeks. Illinoisans going to New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut must do the same. But that’s not required if you take a road trip from Bloomington-Normal to Wisconsin Dells, or fly from Peoria to Florida or Arizona. And plenty of people are taking those trips. – Ryan Denham and Daniel Musisi, WGLT and WCBU


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