News

Memorial Health System's Respiratory Clinic is on Sixth Street in Springfield.
Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

More than two months after Gov. J.B. Pritzker declared testing would be key to Illinois’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, coronavirus testing is still limited in Sangamon County.

Meanwhile, state officials report more than 13,600 tests done in the county. Local officials, however, estimate that with repeat tests and people from outside the county limits screened here, only 5,600 individual Sangamon County residents have been tested.

A look at the numbers from one recent week provides a window into the complexities underlying the stats published by health authorities.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

As Illinois enters Phase Three of "Restore Illinois", Governor Pritzker is responding to  criticism and lawsuits surrounding his re-opening plan.  Meanwhile, the Illinois General Assembly wrapped up its short special legislative session last weekend after passing a state budget. The panel also discusses a controversy over whether or not lawmakers will see their pay go up.

Capitol News Illinois’ Rebecca Anzel joins the panel.

violin
Jose Zaragoza / flickr.com/jose_zaragoza

Bob Meyer talks with Ken Lam, Music Director and Conductor of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, and Trevor Orthmann, the ISO's Executive Director, about the new Sunday at Six Recital Series.  With live performances still on hold due to the pandemic, the ISO is taking the music online for the month of June.

The Sunday at Six Recital Series premieres this weekend - Sunday evening at six o'clock - on the Illinois Symphony Orchestra's YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/user/ilsymphonyorch

Damon and Aidan McParland pose for a photo
Damon McParland

While residents of Springfield wait for Gov. J.B. Pritzker to end his stay-at-home order, two members of the community have gathered their bagpipes to lift the city’s spirits and raise money during the pandemic. Reporter Mike Smith watched them perform and has this story.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker today (Thursday) announced new guidance for places of worship. It comes as he has faced multiple lawsuits over his ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. Pritzker now says faith leaders should try to limit attendance to a quarter of a building’s capacity or 100 attendees, whichever is lower, along with social distancing. 

Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

As University of Illinois officials deliberate over how to reopen the Urbana campus this fall, a group of faculty members say they don’t believe the university can safely allow tens of thousands of students back into residence halls and classrooms this year. 

This week, some employers are having difficulty reopening their businesses because many workers don't want to come back.  While there are health concerns, it also comes down to dollars and cents.  

Self-testing for COVID-19 could play a key role in fully reopening the economy.  But what are the concerns?  

Also, most rural hospitals have faced challenges preparing for the pandemic, even as they've seen fewer cases of the coronavirus disease. 

Those stories and more on this episode of Statewide.

Portillo's Oaklawn Facebook Page

Although the hospitality industry continues to struggle, Portillo's, a Chicago-area restaurant chain unveiled plans for a Springfield location, its fourth in central Illinois.

The restaurant, known for their Chicago-Style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, announced plans to open in Springfield in late 2021 at the site of a closed pharmacy at Veteran’s Parkway and Lindbergh Boulevard, on the southwest side of town.

Ward 10 Ald. Ralph Hanauer, who represents the area, said he has no concern about the restaurant opening up, even during the pandemic.

The Pandemic On Main Street: As State Restrictions Relax, Local Leaders Face Tough Choices

May 28, 2020
Jamey Dunn-Thomason / Institute of Government and Public Affairs

Editor’s Note: The Institute of Government and Public Affairs assembled a task force of interdisciplinary faculty experts from all three universities in the University of Illinois System to assess COVID-19’s effects on the state. This essay represents the work of several task force members to create a roadmap for safely reopening the state’s economy.

Mike Miletich / via Twitter

Close to two dozen staff and community members protested outside the State Journal-Register’s newsroom in Springfield Wednesday, demanding the paper's corporate owner reconsider a change to the newspaper's printing schedule.

Kenneth Lu / via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Illinois is on track for salons, some offices and outdoor seating at restaurants to open this weekend as the state moves into its next phase of reopening. The state’s movie theaters, which have been shut down since March, said Wednesday they want to welcome customers during that phase too.

Screenshot of J.B. Pritzker via Blue Room Stream
Blue Room Stream / Blue Room Stream

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a health organization in East St. Louis will lend its help to the state's COVID-19 contact tracing initiative. Meanwhile, the governor said Wednesday the state’s casinos will remain shuttered for now.

DONNIE NUNLEY / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Child care facilities will be able to operate again once Illinois enters the third phase of its reopening plan, which is expected Friday. 

Fighting The Flood And COVID-19 At The Same Time

May 27, 2020
State of Illinois

Flooding is beginning to feel like an annual event in some areas along the Illinois River.  The governor and head of the Illinois Emergency Management agency visited flood fighting efforts in west-central Illinois  Wednesday.

Protesters gather outside the Bank of Springfield Center as state lawmakers prepare to convene on May 20.
Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

Some Springfield City Council members questioned the mayor and the police chief about the city’s response to protests at the Capitol late last week, saying it was more permissive than the response they’re seeing in some neighborhoods. A few also reacted to a racial slur found spray painted at a local park.

Office of Rep. Allen Skillicorn

A Republican state representative who says he has taken steps to start the recall process against J.B. Pritzker was chastised by the governor Tuesday for consistently voting against spending on vital programs.

Downtown Springfield Inc. is developing a plan for more outdoor eating and shopping options this summer.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

As restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 begin to loosen, establishments in downtown Springfield are looking to add options for dining or selling merchandise outside.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois is arguing a lawsuit between a state representative and Gov. J.B. Pritzker should remain in circuit court, after state Attorney General Kwame Raoul's office moved the case up to the federal level.

COVID-19 Updates In Springfield And Central Illinois

May 26, 2020
A sign asks customers to wear face coverings, which is required by Gov. J.B. Pritzker's most recent stay-at-home order.
Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

This post is for news on the local response to the coronavirus in Springfield and Central Illinois. For last week's updates, go to this post.

You can send tips, questions or announcements to engage@nprillinois.org.

Justin Fowler / ILCA Photo pool

COVID-19 was both in the forefront and in the background during the abbreviated spring legislative session that Illinois lawmakers wrapped over the weekend. It was the focus of both the legislation and the politics in Springfield.

Justin Fowler / ILCA Pool Photo

In the midst of a global pandemic, despite social distancing, and all while wearing face masks, Illinois state lawmakers approved a new state budget over the weekend totaling $43 billion. But that budget won’t be possible without heavy reliance on the federal government.

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Diabolo-2 / Shiny Colors

As the hospitality industry continues to struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois lawmakers approved a measure to allow bars and restaurants to serve cocktails for curbside pick-up and delivery. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

Karina Villa puts on a shower cap
Ted Schurter / State Journal-Register

Workers who caught COVID-19 on the job will be eligible for workers compensation benefits.

Mary Hansen/NPR Illinois

Reports across the country of retail workers being physically attacked for enforcing safety rules, like the wearing of face masks and social distancing, prompted Illinois lawmakers to take action.  A measure was passed getting tougher on those who commit such acts. 

Ted Schurter/SJ-R

Illinois lawmakers have approved a $40 billion state budget and a plan to address tax rates for a casino expansion during a whirlwind special session held amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

via Blueroomstream.com

Expanded voting-by-mail is coming to Illinois. Governor J.B. Pritzker said Friday he will sign the expanded voting measure into law.

Wheaton College

A group of Chicago-based evangelical leaders plans to seek a virtual meeting with Gov. J.B. Pritzker because of “growing angst” about the rules he has set for religious gatherings.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

The Illinois legislature gathered in Springfield for the first time in weeks for a short special session.  Among the issues facing lawmakers are further responses to the pandemic, rules for voting this November, and the state budget.

The Politics Of A Virus

May 22, 2020
UIS

The following commentary was written by Dr. Robert Smith, Dean of the College of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Illinois Springfield.  

U of I Bans ‘Intimate’ Faculty-Undergraduate Student Relationships

May 21, 2020
Travis Stansel / Illinois Public Media

The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved changes to its policies on hiring as well as faculty and staff relationships with students and subordinates. 

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