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. 

Briana Rodriguez, who works at Ascend Springfield, talks about the effort to unionize.
UFCW Local 881's Facebook page

Employees at a cannabis dispensary in Springfield are voting on whether to unionize.

Workers at Ascend Springfield’s downtown location said Wednesday that lax COVID-19 precautions and a lack of guaranteed sick time during the pandemic pushed them towards organizing.

City of Springfield

The Springfield City Council rejected the mayor’s nominee to fill the Ward 3 vacancy on the council, despite support from faith and community leaders.

Dozens of tables with equipment for COVID-19 vaccinations sit in the Orr Building at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Illinois has given more than two million vaccinations. But Black residents are less likely to get the shots than their white peers, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data. As of Feb. 22, 4% of Sangamon County’s vaccine doses have gone to Black residents, who make up 13% of the county’s population, according to census numbers.

Springfield Municipal Center West
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

The Springfield City Council Tuesday night approved a $130 million budget for the fiscal year that starts next week.

To achieve a balanced budget, Springfield will dip into city reserves for $2.2 million and direct the fire department to reduce spending by $1.4 million.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Newly minted State Sen. Doris Turner (D-Springfield) will continue serving as Springfield alderwoman for the next two weeks as the city council prepares to vote on a city budget later this month.

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

Just over a quarter of appointments booked at Sangamon County’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic for Feb. 1 through March 15 went to the county’s targeted population – healthcare workers and residents 85 and older.

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

The Sangamon County Department of Public Health announced last week it would prioritize new appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations at its drive-thru clinic to those 85 and older, and their 65-or-older caregivers.

But some of the more than 6,000 people who scheduled for slots Feb. 1 through March 15 did not actually meet that criteria, the health department noted in a document provided Tuesday. The county did not provide specifics of how many people.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

As Illinois marks one year since its first COVID-19 case, vaccine distribution remains on a slower pace than expected, while state and local officials try to determine just how much of an impact the pandemic has had on revenues.

NPR Illinois reporter Mary Hansen joins the panel this week.

An Illinois Air National Guard member receives his COVID-19 vaccination at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

March 2: This post has been updated with new information on the Illinois State Fairgrounds site.

The Illinois National Guard and the Sangamon County Department of Public Health are expanding hours at the mass vaccination site at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and have opened appointments through March 21.

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

The Sangamon County Department of Public Health on Monday announced it will prioritize COVID-19 vaccine doses for seniors, starting with those 85 and older.

All seniors over 65 are eligible for COVID shots now that Illinois is in Phase 1b of its vaccine rollout plan. But the county health department cited a limited and inconsistent supply of doses and “frustration and confusion” due to the lack of supply as reasons for narrowing eligibility for its vaccination clinic, in a document released Monday.

The first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine arrived in Illinois at the state's Strategic National Stockpile on Monday, Dec. 14.
Screenshot from video provided by Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office

Update: The Sangamon County Department of Public Health on Monday announced it will prioritize COVID-19 vaccine doses for seniors, starting with those 85 and older. Read more here

Asima Rahman has a new routine since she’s been back teaching in her third grade classroom at Ridgely Elementary in Springfield.

She checks the Sangamon County Department of Public Health and Walgreens websites before work in the morning, at lunchtime and after school, searching for an open COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

Memorial Health System

Sangamon County seniors over 65 and essential workers eager to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should keep an eye on the county health department’s website and Facebook page.

The Sangamon County Department of Public Health will announce new availability of appointments for the shots on those channels in the coming days and weeks, as well as inform local news outlets, according to county spokesperson Jeff Wilhite.

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

Sangamon County will begin Monday vaccinating seniors over 65 and essential frontline workers against COVID-19, the next priority group behind healthcare workers.

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

Sangamon County healthcare professionals who don’t work at area hospitals can sign up to get a COVID-19 vaccine from the health department.

Some Springfield public school students will return to classrooms next Tuesday. In a 4-3 vote, District 186 board members approved offering a hybrid learning model, where students attend in-person two days per week and remotely the other days. Families also have the option to remain online-only.

Memorial Health System

As distribution of the new COVID-19 vaccine continues, some Illinois leaders are turning their attention to encouraging vaccine use, particularly among communities of color.

The first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine arrived in Illinois at the state's Strategic National Stockpile on Monday, Dec. 14.
Screenshot from video provided by Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office

The same day the first employees at Memorial Health System hospitals in central Illinois were getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, an internal blog post was published: “Debunking COVID-19 Vaccination Myths.”

Dr. Prashant Jagtap, St. John’s Hospital medical director of critical care, was among the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine Wednesday.
HSHS St. John's Hospital

Hundreds of nurses, doctors and other medical staff at central Illinois hospitals received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine this week.

Springfield Dreams: Visions Of 2021 And Beyond

Dec 17, 2020

A pandemic, a civil rights uprising, economic turmoil, an historic election – this year has brought many hardships. It has made the inequalities and divisions in our society clearer. It’s also been a time for reflection and change.

The first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine arrived in Illinois at the state's Strategic National Stockpile on Monday, Dec. 14.
Screenshot from video provided by Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office

When Gov. JB Pritzker observes COVID-19 vaccines administered at a Peoria hospital on Tuesday morning, he’ll be witnessing among the first COVID-19 inoculations in Illinois after the state received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech.

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.

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