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News Around Illinois – May 6, 2020

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Gov. Pritzker: 5-Part Reopening Plan Dependent On Infections

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ governor on Tuesday outlined a five-phase plan for reopening the state as the threat from COVID-19 subsides, but there were no surprises here — the speed with which normal activity returns still depends on vigilance against the coronavirus. Under pressure to show signs of normalcy’s return, the Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled “Restore Illinois,” which indicates Phase 2 is underway with looser restrictions on movement. But while some states moved aggressively last week to re-open commerce, Pritzker made clear that without a vaccine, there’s no return to a former way of life. And a surge in cases could mean moving back a phase. – Associated Press Click here to read the details of the 5-phase plan.

COVID-19 Cases Grow At Rantoul Foods; 14th Death In Macon County

URBANA – Champaign County reported 25 new cases of COVID-19  Tuesday. 15 of those new cases were reported at Rantoul Foods. The total number of COVID-19 cases linked to the meat processing plant now stands at 47 out of 208 total cases in Champaign County.  

Authorities in Macon County are reporting their 14th death from COVID-19. The patient was a woman in her 70s who was a resident at Fair Havens Senior Living, where dozens of residents and employees have tested positive for the coronavirus. Macon County also reported two new COVID-19 cases. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Plans For Champaign County Tax Vote On New Jail May End

URBANA – Champaign County Sheriff Dustin Heuerman says plans to ask voters to approve a tax referendum to consolidate the county’s two jails appear to be, in his words, “dead in the water.” Heuerman told the Champaign County Board’s Facilities Committee on Tuesday night that he’s starting to talk with sheriffs in other counties about housing some Champaign County jail inmates. That’s in case he has to close the county’s aging downtown Urbana jail, without enlarging the remaining satellite jail. County Executive Darlene Kloeppel told the committee that she’s not seen any consensus on the county board for moving ahead with a jail referendum in November. The Champaign County Board is expected to discuss the matter further next week at its Committee of the Whole meeting. – Jim Meadows, Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Reports April Pot Sales Top Previous 2 Months

CHICAGO — The legal sale of marijuana during Illinois’ first full month of lockdown due to the coronavirus surpassed sales in two previous months. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation reported Monday that April adult-use cannabis sales totaled more than $37.2 million. Only the $39.2 million in January sales topped April. When Gov. J.B. Pritzker on March 20 issued his stay-at-home order to battle spread of the coronavirus he allowed medical and adult use cannabis dispensaries to remain open as essential businesses. However, operators adapted to the new social situation by implementing online ordering systems, curbside pickup and social distancing in stores. – Associated Press

COVID-19 Crisis Delays Probe Of Former Priest’s Prison Death

PINCKNEYVILLE — Officials say the investigation into the death of a southern Illinois priest who died shortly after going to prison for child pornography and drug possession has been delayed because of the coronavirus crisis. Perry County Coroner Paul Searby told the Belleville News-Democrat that it is impossible to determine the cause of 56-year-old Gerald Hechenberger’s March 6 death because he hasn’t received the investigative reports from the Illinois Department of Corrections. The warden of Pinckneyville Correctional Center, where Hechenberger had just begun serving a 9-year sentence, agrees that the virus crisis has delayed the probe. Hechenberger was a priest at a  Mascoutah church when he was arrested in 2018. – Associated Press

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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