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Springfield And Central Illinois Coronavirus Updates

Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
Sanitizing station at the Illinois Statehouse

These are updates between March 23 and 29. For the latest updates, go to this post. You can send tips, questions or announcements to engage@nprillinois.org.

Illinois’ reported COVID-19 cases total 4,596 as of Sunday afternoon. However, as testing continues to be limited, public health officials emphasize the prevalence could be more widespread. 65 people have died so far. Cases have been confirmed in 47 of Illinois' 102 counties.

For now, the state is under a stay-at-home order. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has guidelines for proper hand-washing and disinfecting surfaces.

March 29, 4:20 p.m.

One New Confirmed Case In Sangamon County

The Sangamon County Department of Public Health announced one new positive case in the county Sunday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 13, along with one death. Currently, three of the confirmed positive cases are hospitalized at Memorial Medical Center. Memorial Medical Center has eight inpatients currently under investigation. HSHS St. John’s Hospital has 17 inpatients under investigation for COVID-19.

As of Sunday's update, Menard and Montgomery counties now have confirmed cases.   COVID-19 has been confirmed in 47 of the state's 102 counties. 

March 29, 4:15 p.m. 

Pritzker Predicts Testing Will More Than Double Soon

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state is currently conducting around 4,000 coronavirus disease tests per day, with 28,000 total.  But he said that the effort hasn’t gone far enough. He points out experts determined a minimum of 10,000 daily tests would provide data to improve the statistical models used to determine the trajectory of the virus. He believes the state will be able to reach that number within the next 10 days.

Pritzker said all three testing laboratories in the state will be running second shifts to test more samples, all while considering a third shift. He said they are acquiring additional laboratory robotics to offload more equipment for testing.

Lastly, he said the Illinois National Guard has helped to open two drive-thru locations in the state.  Pritzker also called for lifting the federal cap on drive-thru testing facilities where just 250 tests are allowed to be conducted per day.

March 29, 1:55 p.m.

Website Shows Operational Status Of Businesses

A reminder there is a website to help consumers find out if specific businesses are open in Sangamon County.   The organizations can also register for free.  

March 28, 4:30 p.m.

Sangamon County Health Department Reports Three New COVID-19 cases

There are 12 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sangamon County, according to a daily tally from the Sangamon County Department of Public Health and the four major healthcare organizations in Springfield. This includes one death. Two of the newest cases are from residents outside the county,

March 28, 2020, 3 p.m. 

Illinois COVID-19 Death Toll Includes The First Infant  

Thirteen more people with COVID-19 have died in Illinois, including an infant in Cook County. Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said there hasn’t been a death of a person so young associated with the disease and an investigation into the cause of death is underway. Deaths reported Saturday also included a state of Illinois employee.

This entry has been edited to clarify that the cause of death of the infant, who tested postive for COVID-19, is under investigation.

Springfield Restaurants Can Serve Alcoholic Beverages With Takeout Orders

Springfield Mayor James Langfelder, who is also the city’s liquor commissioner, amended liquor licenses for restaurants to allow them to sell carryout liquor, beer and wine..

The order authorizes  resaurants licensed to sell unopened alcoholic beverages, in its original packaging with takeout orders. Liquor must be consumed off premises. 

The order is in effect during the COVID-19 emergency declaration, and will expire afterward.

Illinois Approved For SBA Disaster Assistance Loans 

The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved Illinois’ eligibility for disaster assistance loans for small businesses facing financial hardships because of the impact of COVID-19. 

Eligible businesses in all 102 Illinois counties can apply for up to $2 million in low-interest loans. Nonprofits are encouraged to apply as well. 

Loans are usually distributed on a first come, first serve basis. Eligible businesses can apply here, or call 1-800-659-2955 with questions. 

Springfield School District To Distribute Technology For Student Use

Next week, Springfield School District 186 will issue remote learning devices for students, prioritizing families who do not have devices at home for student use. 

The measure is to ensure all students have access to the appropriate technology needed for remote learning. 

Each school has a scheduled day and pick up time, and families should only go to the school their children attend. Device distribution days and times for schools can be found here.

Schools will send out further instructions on pickup points and drive-ups locations for families.

Large-Item Drop Off/ Pickup Update

Eligible Springfield residents inn eed of a large item pickup can call Habitat for Humanity at 217.523.2710 or schedule online by clicking here. After registration, residents will be asked what item(s) they need picked up, and will then be given a collection date or a drop off date. 

Items are to be placed on curbside 24 hours before their scheduled pickup. Eligible residents qualify for 6 free residential curbside pickup or drop offs a year. 

Salvation Army Seeks Meals For Shelter Occupants

The Winter Warming Low Barrier Shelter has moved to the Salvation Army on Clear Lake Avenue in order to have more space to comply with the social distancing and stay-at- home 0rder. 

The Salvation Army is seeking meals to feed 60 people each night for dinner. Meals can be dropped off between 6:00-6:30 p.m. Monetary donations are accepted,and will be used to purchase food for the shelter. 

Volunteers can sign up through Meal Train.

City Closures

Due to rapid spread of COVID-19, the area downtown that includes the Municipal Center, Lincoln Library, and the park, are now closed to the public. 

Other than using portable restrooms, and sidewalks for walking or transportation, residents are prohibited from using the area. Only city employees conducting public business are allowed within the area. 

Oak Ridge Cemetery Closures And Postponements 

The main office at Oak Ridge Cemetery is closed to visitors, but the cemetery grounds are open from 7:00 a.m - 5:30 p.m. Staff can still be reached by calling 217.789.2340. 

The cemetery has postponed services including entombments and cremations. Burial services are limited to 10 people.

Postponed City Events

The City of Springfield Public Works has postponed its annual Earth Awareness Fair. The city hopes to reschedule at a later date. 

The City’s spring Household Hazardous Waste Collection is postponed. The next scheduled event will take place this fall. 

Medical Supply Donations

To assist with the national PPE shortage, Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach is asking for donations of boxed and unused surgical masks, clean handmade sewn masks, wrapped or boxed gowns and exam gloves; hand sanitizer, bleach wipes, and alcohol wipes.

Donations will support medical hospitals and clinics in the area including HSHS St. John’s Hospital, Memorial Health System, Springfield Clinic and SIU Medicine. 

Collections will take place on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. until Friday, April 3. Donation details can be found here.

Hygiene Product Donations For Home-bound Seniors

Donations of personal hygiene products for home-bound seniors will be accepted on March 31 between 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. at the Senior Services of Central Illinois located at 701 W. Mason Street.

COVID-19 Response Fund To Help Nonprofits in the Greater Capital Region of Illinois

The Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln and the United Way of Central Illinois have joined together to provide resources for nonprofit organizations that are still working to serve community-based needs through the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Local nonprofits can apply for grants at  Community Foundation’s website. 


All donations are accepted. Tax-deductible contributions can be made through the Community Foundation at www.CFLL.org or United Way by texting “HELPNOW” to 40403, or online at www.springfieldunitedway.org/covid19


Checks can be made payable to the COVID-19 Response Fund, and can be mailed to the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln or United Way of Central Illinois. The Community Foundation’s address is 205 S. Fifth Street, Suite 530, Springfield, IL. 62701. The address for United Way of Central Illinois is 1999 Wabash Avenue, Suite 107 Springfield, IL 62704.


March 27, 6:30 p.m.

Sangamon County Reports New Confirmed COVID-19 Case, Total Up To Nine

There are nine confirmed COVID-19 cases in Sangamon County, according to a daily tally from the Sangamon County Department of Public Health and the four major healthcare organizations in Springfield. This includes one death, and two cases of residents from outside of the county.

The county reports more than 300 negative tests, and another 88 pending. Of those, 32 hospitalized patients are under investigation for the disease at Memorial Medical Center and HSHS St. John’s Hospital.

The public health department began tallying tests done at both the Illinois Department of Public Health lab and private labs this week, causing a jump in the total number of tests the county reports.

Health officials continued to stress the importance of social distancing and staying at home to slow the spread of the virus.

HSHS Medical Waive Fees For Online And Over-The-Phone COVID-19 Screening

To minimize exposure to COVID-19, HSHS Medical is waiving the fee for its online and telephone visits for patients who require COVID-19 screening.

The service, Anytime Care, is accessible 24/7, and medical providers can diagnose, treat non-emergency health concerns, and prescribe medications as needed. No appointment is needed.

Depending on a patient's health condition, they may be referred to in-person care.

There is a $29 fee for calls not related to COVID-19. If lab tests are needed, it will be billed to the patient's insurance. Anyone experiencing minor symptoms can visit anytimecare.com , download the app, or call 1-844-391-4747.

March 27, 4:15 p.m.

Pritzker Calls Trump Comments ‘Deadly’, Touts More Money For Food Assistance And Homelessness Services

At his daily press briefing, Gov. J.B. Pritzker once again criticized President Donald Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling comments the president made on a talk show "questioning whether people needed ventilators" as "deadly" at worst.

Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou and a representative from a Chicago homelessness assistance group said the state submitted federal waivers to get another $80 million for Illinois' share of the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). The department is also providing 5% more money to various community groups, aimed at helping them provide more services to the state's homeless.

Illinois’ public health director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, also called for more retired healthcare workers to return to the profession to help the state combat the new coronavirus pandemic. She said about a thousand professionals have already offered to help in the last few weeks, but even more personnel will be needed.

Officials are encouraging any first responder or medical professional to register for an emergency alert system that can dispatch them electronically to where they’re needed.

March 27, 2:45 p.m.

Public Health Officials Announce 488 New Confirmed Cases, 8 More Deaths

Illinois’ confirmed case total rose to more than 3,000 cases across 40 counties. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported Friday afternoon eight more deaths, bringing the toll to 34. The majority of fatalities have been patients 60 years or older.

More than 20,000 people have been tested around the state.

March 27, 2:25 p.m.

Springfield Pridefest 2020 Canceled

Following CDC guidelines on social distancing, and orders from the state and federal government to reduce growing COVID-19 numbers in Illinois, Springfield PrideFest 2020, scheduled for May 16, is now canceled.

The event has been rescheduled for May 15, 2021.

The Phoenix Center will issue refunds to sponsors and vendors when staff can return to work. For questions, contact Jonna Cooley, Phoenix Center’s executive director and co-chair of Springfield PrideFest Event.

Postponed: Opening of Lake Jacksonville

In an effort to reduce the COVID-19 outbreak in Illinois, Mayor Andy Ezard of Jacksonville announced that Lake Jacksonville will not open on April 1, 2020, as previously scheduled.

However, fishing is still allowed.

There is still no projected opening date for the lake, but the city is taking precautionary measures as needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

March 26, 6:30 p.m.

Two More COVID-19 Cases Confirmed In Sangamon Co.

In a joint statement Thursday, Sangamon County health experts confirmed two more people have the virus, one of whom is a county resident, bringing the county's total so far to eight including one person who has died. Memorial now has 12 inpatients being investigated for the virus, while HSHS St. John's has six. 

Also on Thursday, officials shared the latest testing data. More than 280 people who were tested for COVID-19 were shown not to have the virus, while 98 more are still awaiting results.

March 26, 4:30 p.m.

Feds Extend REAL ID Deadline By A Year

Illinois remains one of the last states in the country to not issue REAL ID-compliant ID cards and driver's licenses by default. The standard that was set in place by the federal government a few years after 9/11.

The Department of Homeland Security originally planned to stop accepting standard-issue Illinois ID cards at airports and other government locations like military bases on October 1st of this year. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department has pushed it back to October 1st of 2021 at the urging of Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, among others.

White said in a statement the action was "proper and necessary." 

 March 26, 4:15 p.m.

Pritzker Chastises Disobedient; Confirmed Cases Surge, But Less Than Experts Expected

Governor J.B. Pritzker  had harsh words for people who gathered on Chicago’s beaches and in parks during this week’s warmer temperatures:
"Hosting a party, crowding down by the lake, playing a pickup basketball game in a public park: if you are doing these things you are spitting in the face of the doctors and nurses and first responders who are risking
everything so you can survive."
Much of Thursday's addition of 673 confirmed COVID-19 cases comes from additional testing results. While the spread of the disease has been rapid, the state’s public health director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, said cases are “slightly under” original projections

March 26, 3:00 p.m.

Trump Approves Illinois Disaster Declaration

The White House signed off on the statewide disaster declaration issued by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. That approval means Illinois now has access to federal funding that will supplement its efforts in combatting the new coronavirus pandemic.

From a FEMA statement: "Federal funding is also available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance under Public Assistance, for all areas affected by COVID-19 at a federal cost share of 75 percent."

March 26, 2:00 p.m.

Illinois Unemployment Claims Surge Amid COVID-19 Closures

The state's Department of Employment Security offered the latest data on unemployment claims statewide. As of Thursday, 133,763 people filed jobless claims, compared to just 27,493 a year ago. Just last month, the state had reached a record low unemployment rate of 3.4 percent.

“This administration remains dedicated to providing relief to small businesses and families during this challenging period for the state economy,” Deputy Governor Dan Hynes said in a statement.

March 26, 1:40 p.m.

District 186 Offers Update, Springfield Diocese Churches Offer Remote Mass

Springfield School District 186 said it is uncertain when schools will re-open and in-person classes will resume as Illinois' partial coronavirus lockdown continues. By order of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, district schools have been closed since March 13th.

"The simple answer is that we do not know. At this time we have to surrender to the unknown," district representatives said in a Facebook post.

Teachers continue to offer home-based learning activities, and meal distribution is still happening every day from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at a number of locations. Illinois standardized tests have all been cancelled, and a free SAT testing day for high schoolers originally scheduled for April 14th has been postponed. The district assured students the state will still offer the test "in the coming months."

Those needing emotional care during this time were encouraged to call an Emotional Support phone line provided by Memorial Behavioral Health. The line accepts calls every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 217-588-5509.

Separately, some 30 Catholic parishes across the Springfield Diocese are now offering church-goers live online streaming of their weekend Masses
Catholics can visit the diocese’s website for the complete list, Mass times, and links to each online Mass.
March 25, 5:15 p.m.

Langfelder Signs Emergency Declaration

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder signed an emergency declaration on Wednesday, which will be in effect until Gov. J.B. Pritzker lifts the state's emergency declaration. 

With the declaration, the mayor can spend up to $100,000 without getting the council’s approval, but he has to notify the council within a day. Usually, the limit is $50,000. He could also call for citywide curfew.

"This declaration will allow us the flexibility we need during this changing environment to ensure our operations continue, our departments respond to the challenges ahead, and residents receive the services they need without interruption," Langfelder said in a news release.

March 25, 4:30 p.m.

State Tax Filing Deadline Extended, More Help For Small Businesses On The Way

Illinois is extending its income tax filing period, days after the federal government did the same.

Both Illinois and federal income taxes will have the same deadline – July 15, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday. He said it will soften the economic impact of the current COVID-19 crisis.

While pushing back the deadline will give a bit of a reprieve to filers, it comes at a cost to the state's finances. This time of year typically brings in more money as people pony up, allowing Illinois to pay outstanding bills.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza said in a news release the filing extension will create cash management challenges.

Pritzker also announced new measures to help businesses stay afloat during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting Friday, small businesses across the state will be eligible for more than $90 million in emergency loans and grants.

March 25, 2:40 p.m.

Two Illinois Correctional Facilities On Lockdown After Workers, Inmate Test Positive

Stateville Correctional Center and Sheridan Correctional Center are on a two-week lockdown. Two officers and one inmate at Stateville and one contract worker at Sheridan have tested positive for Covid-19, according to a news release from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Meanwhile, IDPH announced 330 new confirmed cases of the disease and three deaths. The total number of confirmed cases around the state is 1,865, including 19 deaths.

The state’s testing labs have the capapcity to analyze 600 tests a day, and so far just over 19,000 tests have been done there. Public health officials say limited testing means the disease could be more prevalent throughout Illinois.

March 25, 2:15 p.m.

Courthouse Dog Deployed To Help Sangamon County Health Department, First Responders

State’s Attorney Dan Wright announced the courthouse dog – Gibson – will support staff at the Sangamon County Department of Public Health.

There isn’t evidence that pets can spread COVID-19, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. According to a news release, the state’s attorney’s office is working with local 911 dispatch, the health department, fire and EMS personnel for Gibson to support their staffs.

Illinois House Cancels Session

The Illinois House of Representatives canceled its legislative session for next week, according to an email from House Speaker Michael Madigan’s chief of staff. But she warned members should be ready to return to Springfield at any time, including the weeks originally scheduled for spring break – April 5 and April 12.

The Illinois Senate has not yet announced changes to its schedule.

March 25, 12 p.m.

Springfield To Declare State of Emergency

Amid the spread of COVID-19, Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said he’ll sign an emergency declaration this week.

The Springfield City Council on Tuesday approved new rules for what powers the mayor has during an emergency.

With the declaration, the mayor can spend up to $100,000 without getting the council’s approval, but he has to notify the council within a day. Usually, the limit is $50,000. He could also call for citywide curfew.

Governor Lays Out 'Worst-case Scenario'

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday described an Illinois worst-case scenario in which the state could be far short of the ventilators, hospital beds and intensive-care unit spaces for expected COVID-19 cases.

Right now, the state has about 26,000 hospital beds. In two weeks, by some projections, the state could be short more than double that number and in need of thousands more ventilators.

However, it is too early to know the effect of measures like the stay-in-place order and closings of bars, restaurants and schools. But Pritzker says he hopes the need will be far lower.

Pritzker also mentioned his administration will work with the General Assembly to craft a new state budget , which would take effect once Illinois' new fiscal year begins July 1.

“There’s no doubt that any estimates that were made, even two months ago, would be not useful at this point. I don’t think anyone expected where we would be today,” he said Tuesday during a briefing with reporters.

COVID-19 Pumps Brakes On Real Estate Industry

Those in the real estate industry were hoping for a competitive and prosperous housing market during the spring season, but the rapid spread of COVID-19 put a pause on their plans.

Michael Oldenettel, a managing broker for real estate company REMAX Professionals, said buyers should be looking out for what’s going to be on the market. Sellers, meanwhile, should regroup and get their homes better poised for the market for when the pandemic is over.

Responses to COVID-19 are also causing delays in closings for sellers and homebuyers.

Due to fears of infection, Oldenettel said his company made the decision to cancel open houses - a process in which a dwelling is open to be viewed by potential buyers.

March 24, 6:00 p.m.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the number of confirmed cases in Sangamon County is 5, along with one death that occurred last week.  

March 24, 11:50 a.m. 

Extension For Senior Citizen Property Tax Freeze Application

Sangamon County has announce it is extending the deadline to file PTAX-340-2020 Senior Citizen Assessment Freeze Exemption application forms and waiving the requirement of notarization for this year and delaying the mailing of application forms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, the county expects forms to be mailed later this spring or early summer. Seniors with questions can call (218) 753-6805.  

March 24,  11:34 a.m.

Springfield Large Item Pickup

Habitat for Humanity has been given the go-ahead to continue the City of Springfield Large Item Pick Up for disposal/recycling.  If you were previously scheduled and postponed, Habitat for Humanity will be in contact  in the next few days, with your rescheduled date.  Online City of Springfield Large Item Pick Up requests are up and running, or you may call 217-523-2710, to schedule. 

March 23, 7:10 p.m.

Pritzker By Phone Tells Trump What Illinois Needs

After days of blasting President Donald Trump over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the two spoke by phone Monday.

Pritzker has been especially critical regarding the lack of supplies going to states.  But he said in their conversation, the president was “very responsive.”

Pritzker says he left the call with hope Illinois can receive items like masks and ventilators.

March 23, 7:05 p.m.

Testing Focuses On Hospital Patients, Those In Nursing Home

When county officials announced the first positive case in Sangamon County the weekend before last, the guidance was that testing would focus on those who had symptoms and had been in contact with someone with the disease or who had been travelling abroad.

Now, according to the county department of public health, which follows guidelines from the state health department, testing is focused on those who are in the hospital with unexplained pneumonia, or for people living or working in a nursing home or other group living facility where there are at least two suspected cases of COVID-19.

A spokesperson with Memorial Health System confirmed the health system is following the guidelines.

Dr. Gurpreet Mander, chief medical officer at St. John’s Hospital, said his hospital is using them as well.

“If you’re sick, and well enough go home and have the symptoms, we are not recommending that they get tested,” Mander said. “That’s because of the limited supplies the state has.”

March 23, 6:55 p.m.

Disaster Declaration Extended

The disaster declaration for Sangamon County is extended at least through mid-April. In an emergency meeting Monday night, the county board approved the extension with no dissenting votes.

The declaration allows the county to more easily buy equipment and hire personnel to fight the COVID-19 outbreak. It also authorizes the emergency operations plan and a unified team of city and county officials in charge of the response to the virus.

The meeting was held by conference call to follow social distancing rules and restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people. The next meeting, when the board could vote to end the disaster declaration, is April 13.

March 23, 5:32 p.m.

Sangamon County Update

One new positive case was reported in the county as of Monday afternoon.  That brings the total number of cases confirmed in Sangamon County to 5 with one death last week.  None of the reported cases are currently hospitalized.  However, there are still test results pending and patients considered under investigation for COVID-19.  

March 23, 5:30 p.m.

County Building Closure

The Sangamon County Building will close at noon beginning Tuesday (March 24). The county urges individuals to contact specific offices to see which services are still available. Open and operating as usual are 9-1-1 dispatch, juvenile center, public health, sheriff and Office of Emergency Management. Others may have restricted services.

March 23, 1:12 p.m.

Medical Supply Donations Accepted For Local Hospitals

Those wishing to donate medical supplies to local health facilities will be able to do so starting this week.

A news release from HSHS Illinois, Memorial Health System, Springfield Clinic and SIU Medicine indicates collection will begin Wednesday March 25 from 1 - 4 p.m.

The collection will occur at Hospital Sisters Mission outreach at 4930 LaVerna Road in Springfield and will continue Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays from 1-4 p.m. each of those days until April 3.

Donations can include: boxed, unused surgical type masks (including N95 masks); clean handmade, sewn masks; unused, wrapped or boxed gowns and exam gloves; hand sanitizer; bleach wipes and alcohol wipes to help with the national shortage during the COVID-19 outbreak.

For those who wish to make masks, please use this https://youtu.be/ueWkAuY3k6Y" target="_blank">link (which includes instructions for elastic ties) or this link (which includes instructions using cotton ties) as a guide.

Community members should only use this location. Do not bring items to hospitals or clinics. Call 217-525-8843 with questions.

Illinois Surpasses 1,000 Cases, Testing Limited

Officials on Sunday said they’d confirmed 296 new cases of COVID-19, though official tallies are thought to significantly understate the actual number of infections. The total number of confirmed cases is now 1,049, the vast majority of which are in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Illinois' population is 12.7 million. The Illinois Department of Public Health has reported 8,374 tests. And testing remains limited.

IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said the state is working with hospitals so testing for COVID-19 can be done in hospital labs, but it’ll be a few weeks before that’s up and running.

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