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. 

AlexChirkin / https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en

As hospitalizations due to COVID-19 remain at record levels, hospitals that serve small towns and rural areas in Illinois are facing unique challenges.

Sharon Reynolds, the administrator for The Villas Senior Care East, gives advice to leaders at other care facilities going through outbreaks after COVID-19 hit their facility in the spring.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Most of the new COVID-19 cases in Sangamon County are from what public health experts call community spread, at house parties, work, restaurants or other places within the community. But that wasn’t the case at the beginning of the pandemic, when most cases were in congregate settings, such as nursing homes.

Masks on statues of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln in downtown Springfield
Mike Smith / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

On the same day local enforcement began of COVID-19 mitigations aimed at bars and restaurants, the Sangamon County Department of Public Health released contact tracing data Friday showing where people who tested positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts had been the two weeks prior to the positive test.

Springfield Municipal Center West
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

A COVID-19 outbreak among Springfield firefighters has led the city to put two fire engines temporarily out of operation.

University of Illinois Springfield

Students and faculty at the University of Illinois Springfield will return to their in-person classes Thursday, after a two-day closure due to COVID-19 cases.

Just days into their two-week plan to allow bars and restaurants to continue indoor service despite Gov. JB Pritzker’s order to curb COVID-19’s rapid resurgence in the region, Sangamon County and Springfield officials are reversing course.

Campus entry signage
University of Illinois Springfield

Fifteen people tested positive for COVID-19 at the University of Illinois Springfield’s campus Monday.

Sangamon County Department of Public Health Director Gail O'Neill talks about the importance of flu shots during COVID-19 pandemic.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Mirroring Illinois’ statewide spike in Coronavirus cases, Sangamon County on Friday reported a record one-day total of new COVID-19 infections with 288 new cases.

Signs outside a store in downtown Springfield encourage handwashing and the use of face masks.
Mary Hanse / NPR Illinois

Individuals not wearing a face covering around their nose and mouth in grocery stores, gas stations and other retail businesses in Springfield can now be fined $50, and businesses can get hit with a $250 fine for not requiring customers to comply with the mask mandate.

U.S. Representative Rodney Davis has won a fifth term to represent the 13th Congressional District. He faced Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan in a rematch of their close 2018 race.

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder discusses enforcement of capacity limits and other rules for bars and restaurants, while allowing them to operate indoor dining and drinking.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Springfield and Sangamon County officials insist they support Gov. JB Pritzker’s new COVID-19 restrictions, despite announcing a plan Tuesday to delay by two weeks enforcement of a ban on indoor dining and drinking.

Masks on statues of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln in downtown Springfield
Mike Smith / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

A group of Springfield bars and restaurant owners say they’re taking legal action and refusing to follow new rules imposed by the governor shuttering indoor service after the west-central Illinois region saw a sustained rise in COVID-19 test positivity rates, triggering the restrictions.

A sign in the Sangamon County building directing voters.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Hundreds of thousands of Illinois voters have received a ballot in the mail but not yet returned it.

Illinois State Board of Election spokesperson Matt Dietrich said if any of those voters have changed their minds and now want to vote in person, they can.

A COVID-19 testing site outside of Sangamon County Health Department.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Just hours after Gov. JB Pritzker announced new COVID-19 restrictions for west-central Illinois on Thursday, the Sangamon County Health Board passed a resolution supporting local law enforcement agencies in enforcing the ban on indoor dining and bar service.

Election judges (from left) Bob Teel, Joanna Dodd and Dorothy Williams evluate signatures on vote-by-mail envelopes.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

In a small office on the first floor of the Sangamon County building in downtown Springfield, a team of three election judges pored over dozens of yellow ballot-certification envelopes on a recent morning.

A graph from the Sangamon County health department shows the number of new, COVID-19 cases and the rolling 7-day average of new cases.
Sangamon County Department of Public Health / Sangamon County Department of Public Health

More than 100 Sangamon County residents tested positive for COVID-19 on both Saturday and Sunday, setting a new daily record of 111 on Sunday. The county health department reported 285 new cases in its update Monday, which includes totals from the weekend.

Dr. Donald Graham, an infectious disease specialist at Springfield Clinic, urges the public to follow health recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Sangamon County is nearing 4,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began – about 2% of its population. Local public health officials gathered at a news conference Sunday to sound the alarm about the surge, warning the area is “strikingly close” to having additional restrictions imposed by the state.

A COVID-19 testing site outside of Sangamon County Health Department.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

For the third time in recent weeks, Sangamon County set a record of new COVID-19 cases recorded in a single day. On Thursday, the county reported 105 new cases and two additional deaths.

Memorial Helath System CMO Dr. Raj Govindaiah talks about the importance of getting a flu shot at a news conference in September.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Five more people with COVID-19 died over the weekend, the Sangamon County Department of Public Health reported Monday, bringing the death toll to 62. The seven-day average of new cases in the county – one measure of how quickly the virus is spreading – continues to tick up to around 60.

Meanwhile, the number of patients sick with COVID-19 at Memorial Health System hospitals in central Illinois is the highest it’s been at any point during the coronavirus pandemic.

A surge in COVID-19 cases in central Illinois is causing concern for some local hospital leaders.

For now, there are enough hospital beds to accommodate those with serious COVID-19 infections. But as the number of confirmed cases and local test positivity rate rises, hospital leaders worry their emergency rooms and intensive care units could become overwhelmed – a threat that led to the statewide stay-at-home order in the spring.

Sangamon County Circuit Clerk Office sign
Brandon Smith / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Sangamon County State’s Attorney Dan Wright is running to keep the seat he was appointed to two years ago. The Republican incumbent is facing Democratic challenger Mike Drake.

People can respond online to the U.S. Census for the first time in 2020.
U.S. Census Bureau / U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that counting for the 2020 Census can stop.

The court decision adds to the ongoing confusion about the census but doesn’t change the message advocates have been touting since the count began in the spring, said Reema Kamran, executive director of the Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition.

Sangamon County Department of Public Health Director Gail O'Neill talks about the importance of flu shots during COVID-19 pandemic.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Two residents of Brother James Court – a care facility for men with disabilities – and one resident of Mill Creek Alzheimer’s Special Care Center died due to COVID-19 this week, bringing the total deaths related to the disease to 50 in Sangamon County.

Dr. Vidya Sundareshan talks about the importance of getting a flu shot. She's joined by representatives from Memorial Health System, HSHS Illinois and Springfield Clinic.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Sangamon County health officials are urging people to get a flu shot, as they continue to battle the spread of COVID-19.

Springfield Municipal Center West
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

A package of police reform proposals is on a path to final passage after Springfield City Council members made changes to the ordinance Tuesday night. The sponsors said the changes removed opposition, and aldermen placed the ordinance on their agreed-upon agenda for next week’s meeting.

A sign in the Sangamon County building directing voters.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Early voting for the November election began Thursday in most of Illinois. Local election authorities can also start sending out 1.8 million vote-by-mail ballots.

A car in a Black Lives Matter parade passes in front of Springfield Police Department headquarters on Monroe Street.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Springfield faith and community activist groups called for commitments from the mayor and police chief to work with them to strengthen the police oversight commission and reinstate a requirement for police officers to live in the city.

Gov. JB Pritzker touts the state's COVID-19 testing capacity at a news conference in Springfield.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

After weekend protests against postponing many fall high school sports, Gov. JB Pritzker again defended the decision.

Mike Smith / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

On Tuesday nights Jennifer Moore and her children pile into their van and make a stop at a church doing a grocery give-away. They then drop the bags off to people who respond that they need food in the Springfield Families Helping Families group on Facebook.

KRISTIN WALTERS / IL NEWSROOM

Illinois is starting to award grants to renters to help them catch up on late payments. But the need far outpaces the funding available and more than 50,000 applicants won't get help.

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