Mary Hansen

Reporter

Mary reports for NPR Illinois and the Illinois Newsroom. She graduated from the Public Affairs Reporting program at the University of Illinois Springfield, where she spent a legislative session covering statehouse news for The Daily Herald. Previously, Mary reported for The State Journal-Register, covering city government. She received her BA in International Studies from American University. 

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

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.

Medical and health officials answer questions about the first two confirmed COVID-19 cases in Springfield
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

There are six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Sangamon County, including one new case reported Wednesday, according to a news release from the Sangamon County Department of Public Health and Springfield’s four major healthcare organizations. 

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Amid the spread of COVID-19, Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder signed an emergency declaration Wednesday. The declaration will be in effect until Illinos' emergency delcaration is lifted.

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.

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois

The Sangamon County Department of Public Health is asking residents to call its hotline if they think they’ve been exposed to COVID-19. But because testing is still limited by lack of supply, calling the line is no guarantee of finding out whether you actually have the disease.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

On Wednesday, Erica Smith, the executive director of Helping Hands of Springfield, had a tough decision to make.

Washington Street Mission, which offers coffee, laundry and shower facilities, announced it is closing temporarily. St. John’s Breadline decided to hand out bagged lunches, instead of serving meals. Springfield’s Lincoln Library had closed its doors.

The closures follow new rules put in place by Illinois’ governor limiting the size of public gatherings and closing bars and dine-in restaurants. 

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rises, Sangamon County declared the county a disaster area this week, loosening rules for hiring and purchasing.

County Administrator Brian McFadden said the move will allow them to more quickly hire personnel or buy other equipment without having to wait for a county board meeting to approve it.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

This post has been updated with a new statement from Lisa Badger.

Lisa Badger, a member of the Springfield Park District Board, confirmed she tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in a statement released to NPR Illinois Sunday.

She released a separate statement Monday asking for privacy and that people stop contacting her. She said she has received calls, emails, Facebook messages, including threats to sue her and comments aimed at her daughter.

Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Testing for the novel coronavirus is still restricted in Sangamon County on Sunday, despite the first two confirmed cases being announced Saturday evening.

The two private hospitals in Springfield — Memorial Medical Center and HSHS St. John’s — have contracted with private companies to get test kits for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

But they have not begun using the tests, as the Illinois Department of Public Health still determines who should be tested, according to a St. John’s spokesperson.

Medical and health officials answer questions about the first two confirmed COVID-19 cases in Springfield
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Updated 9:50 p.m. Saturday, March 14

On Saturday evening, Sangamon County health officials announced there are two confirmed cases of coronavirus disease in Springfield.

State Week logo
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois takes drastic steps to slow the spread of coronavirus disease, including banning sporting events and other large gatherings. Meanwhile, politicians are deciding how to campaign amid a global pandemic with just days to go before Illinois’ primary election.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Sangamon County health officials are limiting the number of participants at large public gatherings, hours after the St. Patrick's Day parade was canceled.

Beginning Saturday and for the next 30 days, all indoor events will be limited to 250 people and outdoor events will be limited to 500. The order will be reassessed in early April as the coronavirus situation develops, health officials said.

Dr. Brian Miller, president of the Sangamon County Board of Health, said at a news conference Thursday afternoon the measures are precautionary and meant to protect residents.

Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

As the number of new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois continues to rise - as of Tuesday afternoon, 19 people have contracted the disease - social service agencies and hospitals are taking steps to protect the people they serve.

Wikimedia Commons

The Sangamon County Department of Public Health is opening a phone line dedicated to answering questions about the new coronavirus, starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday. The number is (217) 321-2606.

The new hotline comes after a passenger on an Amtrak train that passed through Springfield later tested positive for COVID-19, the disease spread by the novel coronavirus.

A Republican mailer billing itself as a census.
provided by the Democratic Party of Illinois

Illinois residents have been receiving mailers saying they’re a “2020 Congressional District Census.” But it’s not that census – the once-in-a-decade population count.

The mailer is a survey and fundraising document from the Republican National Committee, and that has the Democratic Party of Illinois crying foul.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

The city of Springfield is looking for feedback on proposals to change downtown parking. Three alternatives are on the table - installing meters that accept credit cards; removing meters in favor of kiosks; or using a mobile application drivers can use to locate and pay for parking.

Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

The City of Springfield’s inspector general will investigate claims of mistreatment of clients at the Winter Warming Center, Mayor Jim Langfelder informed the city council this week.

Still, faith leaders and those who volunteer at shelters took officials to task for not doing enough to address concerns at the emergency shelter.

On behalf of the city, the Salvation Army runs the Winter Warming Center, located at 1015 E. Madison Street, which provides a place to sleep and a meal for about 60 people who have nowhere else to go during the coldest months of the year.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Downtown Springfield is jammed with parking problems. Shoppers and tourists complain about a lack of nearby spots, while study after study shows occupancy rates for spots remain low.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

The boyhood home of Julius Rosenwald, which sits in the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, has been renamed in his honor. The legacy of the late Jewish philanthropist and Sears executive, who funded thousands of schools throughout the segregated south between 1917 and 1948, endures in Springfield.

Three smoke stacks from Springfield's City Water, Light and Power sit on the lake.
Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Springfield’s City Water, Light and Power will retire its two oldest coal units by the end of the year and a third by October, 2023.

Nine months after a city-hired consultant called for the three units to be shuttered as soon as possible, the Springfield City Council last night approved the timeline for the closures. City officials said a plan for around 60 affected plant workers is the next step.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Support is building in the Springfield City Council for retiring three of the city’s coal power generators. That came as Springfield residents shared their opinions at a public forum Wednesday night about the potential closure of Dallman 33 – one of three coal generators slated for retirement.

After a presentation from City Water, Light and Power, the debate turned to timing and questions about the fate of around 60 employees that could be affected by the closures.

NPR Illinois/LLCC

Springfield authorities have confirmed that the victims of a plane crash Tuesday were the Sangamon County Coroner Cinda Edwards, her husband Frank – a former fire chief and alderman, and John Evans, of Glenarm.

Cinda Edwards was appointed coroner in 2011. Frank Edwards served on the Springfield City Council and stepped in as mayor after the death of then-Mayor Tim Davlin in 2010.

NPR Illinois talked with State Journal-Register Political Columnist Bernie Schoenburg about the Edwards’ years of public service.

NPR Illinois

Springfield may have to wait for a decision on the fate of its coal generators. The city council decided Tuesday to delay a final vote by two weeks.

Instead of debating whether and when to retire three of its four generators, some city officials argued they don’t have enough information to make such an important decision.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

An exhibit by Springfield artists featuring portraits of people experiencing homelessness wrapped up last week.

The watercolors, photographs and mixed-media portraits were of clients of Helping Hands – a men’s shelter on Washington Street just east of downtown.

Three smoke stacks from Springfield's City Water, Light and Power sit on the lake.
Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Springfield utility officials presented their budget to aldermen Thursday. Utility leaders said the spending plan would change little if the city decides to shutter much of its coal plant.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Three women serve on the Springfield City Council, the most in the city’s history. Next Tuesday, Ward 3 Ald. Doris Turner, Ward 6 Ald. Kristin DiCenso and Ward 8 Ald. Erin Conley are inviting mothers and daughters to the Committee of the Whole meeting.

Conley, the newest woman on the ten-member council, said it’s important for young people to see them working together.

“I’d like especially young girls to see what it means to be leader,” she said. “But also what it means in leadership roles to work as a team. It’s not one person. We work as a team, we pull together.”

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

A recreational marijuana lounge is coming to downtown Springfield. The City Council on Tuesday granted one of the first permits to open an establishment specifically for the consumption of marijuana. It also allows on-site consumption at the dispensary.

U.S. Census Bureau

Advocates for an accurate census count are claiming a mailer from an anti-immigration group constitutes a “disinformation” campaign. The letter, sent out last fall, calls itself a “Consensus Survey” and asks residents for their views on immigration policy.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Springfield officials want to make sure all residents participate in the upcoming census count.

The population count begins in March, when residents will get a letter asking them to fill out an online form about their household.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Pension payments are the biggest financial challenge facing Springfield. At Wednesday’s first city budget hearing, officials agreed on that much, but argued over what to do about it.

Courtesy of John Schafer

Springfield city council members, utility officials, and clean-energy advocates reached an agreement on new rules for rooftop solar panels on Tuesday.

Pages