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News Around Illinois May 14, 2020

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State To Keep Bloomington COVID Testing Site Open Through May 22

BLOOMINGTON – McLean County residents will have another week to prove they want a convenient drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in their backyard. Amid criticism from local officials, Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration will delay the planned closure and relocation of Bloomington’s testing site at the Interstate Center on the city’s west side.  The site, which was set to close Thursday and move to Peoria, will now remain open through May 22. State officials previously said Bloomington’s site was closing because it was underutilized. It was at first, but testing numbers have increased since more asymptomatic people (like grocery store workers) were allowed in starting April 29. The site hit its 250-test daily capacity for the first time ever on Tuesday. It did so again Wednesday and had to close early. – Ryan Denham and Eric Stock, WGLT

General Assembly Returning To Springfield Next Week

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, along with other legislative leaders, are “ready to convene” a special session as early as next week, according to letters sent to lawmakers and shared with the media. In a letter to House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (Western Springs), Madigan said House Democrats agreed to follow a laundry list of public health guidelines aimed at keeping lawmakers socially distant and limiting their contact with one another. While the three day session includes dealing with a budget during uncertain times, the high profile issue is COVID-19.  Negotiators are still finalizing details on a relief package. – Sam Dunklau and Bill Wheelhouse, WUIS

Many Illinois Student Loan Borrowers Will Soon Have A Better Idea Of Their Debt

DEKALB – In Illinois, public college and university students and their guardians will soon have a better idea of how much they’ve borrowed — and an estimate of how much they’ll be paying back per month. That’s thanks to a state pilot program. The letters relay information on federal, private and institutional loans. Along with the total amounts and repayment estimates, it also tells you what percent of the borrowing limit you’ve reached and lists financial resources available. Illinois schools have until the end of June to send the letters. Most will receive them through email. Some schools collaborated with student loan servicers like Great Lakes, while others used a template from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. – Peter Medlin, WNIJ

Black Caucus Wants Increased Support For African-American Community

CHICAGO – Illinois Senate Majority Leader and Chair of the Black Caucus Kimberly Lightford hopes to see increased state support for the African-American community, which has experienced a higher rate of COVID-19 cases and deaths. Some of the main legislative issues on the agenda for next week’s special session include the state’s budget shortfall, pension obligations, and constitutional amendments. Lightford says the Black Caucus has been donating masks and PPE to African-American communities as much as possible, but that state support is needed. Lightford made her comments on The 21st. – Lecia Bushak, Illinois Newsroom

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

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