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. 

There is an outbreak of the coronavirus at The Villas in Sherman.
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Six residents and four employees at The Villas in Sherman have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

All three residents with newly confirmed cases are hospitalized, two at Memorial Medical Center and one at HSHS St. John’s Hospital, according to a statement from the Sangamon County Department of Public Health.

The ten cases include that of a resident in his 90s who died last week, according to the statement.

The Illinois Department of Public Health publishes a map of outbreaks at nursing homes and senior living centers in Illinois.
Illinois Department of Public Health

COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has spread to residents and staff at a nursing home in Sherman, just north of Springfield.

The Sangamon County Department of Public Health confirmed the outbreak Tuesday night, the first at a senior living center in the county.

Illinois Department of Public Health

In Illinois, at least 186 nursing homes and long-term care facilities are reporting at least one confirmed COVID-19 case, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, according to new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Essential Springfield businesses can download template signs and a social distancing policy from the city of Springfield’s website.

The city posted them to help businesses open during the stay-at-home order comply with an executive order recently signed by Mayor Jim Langfelder.

Illinoisans have been ordered to stay at home for almost a month so far. While many are following that order, some in Springfield have needed a reminder.

Blue Room Stream / Blue Room Stream

Illinois will likely take in $2.7 billion less this fiscal year, which ends in June, and another $4.6 billion less next fiscal year – all fallout from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Signs inform customers of new policies at a County Market in Springfield.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Stores in Springfield are now required to post signs that encourage customers to wear a face mask, enter the store with no more than one other family member, and avoid bringing children.

The essential businesses that are allowed to stay open during Illinois’ stay-at-home order must also have written policies on social distancing for customers to follow and employees to enforce.

The rules build on statewide mandates and recommendations that aim to make necessary trips to the grocery store or pharmacy amid the COVID-19 pandemic as safe as possible.

Tape at a Walgreens in Springfield shows customers where to stand to stay 6 feet apart.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Many businesses are closed during Illinois' stay-at-home order. But grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses in Springfield that can remain open must comply with new rules aimed at enforcing social distancing, or face a fine.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band, from New Orleans, performs on the Y-Block in downtown Springfield, July 11, 2019.
Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Concerts, festivals and other large events could be called off this summer. Gov. J.B. Pritzker urged organizers to “think seriously” about cancellations as restrictions could still be in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

At the entrance of the County Market on Monroe Street, an employee is wiping down carts with a bleach-solution. He said he usually works in the deli - which is temporarily closed - and is now sanitizing carts.

“They’re (sanitizing them) so the customer sees – they just did this. So it’s another source of comfort for the customer,” said Gerry Kettler, director of consumer affairs for Niemann Foods, which owns more than 30 County Markets in Illinois.

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

With concerns that the new coronavirus is being spread by asymptomatic people, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is advising Illinois residents to wear masks while out in public.

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing every day, Governor J.B. Pritzker’s statewide “Stay at Home” order has been extended until April 30th.  Hospital capacity is being increased, many businesses are struggling, and an unprecedented number of people have filed for unemployment in the past week.

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

Pana Community Hospital – about an hour south east of Springfield – is preparing to treat patients sick with COVID-19. But, like many of the rural hospitals around Illinois, it’s also wrestling with financial challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Blue Room Stream / Blue Room Stream

Thirteen more people with COVID-19 have died in Illinois, including an infant in Cook County.

At his daily press briefing Saturday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker grew emotional announcing the deaths, which also included an Illinois Department of Human Services employee.

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. 

Springfield Municipal Center West
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.

Memorial Health System's Respiratory Clinic is on Sixth Street in Springfield.
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.

Springfield Municipal Center West
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.

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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.

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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.

Springfield Community Relations Director Juan Huerta gives a tour of the Winter Warming Shelter in October.
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.

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