Mary Hansen


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. 

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Child getting temperature taken.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Illinois health officials suspect a handful of children in the Chicago region have a syndrome connected to COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health and a physician on a task force looking into the syndrome.

Springfield Community Relations Director Juan Huerta gives a tour of the Winter Warming Shelter in October.
Daisy Contreras / NPR Illinois

Springfield’s emergency winter shelter is closing. The Winter Warming Center - operated by the Salvation Army and funded by the city of Springfield - opened last October to provide shelter for those who don’t have another place to stay during the winter months.

Staff at The Villas Senior Care Community in Sherman gather to watch a parade of cars full of supporters. The nursing home is experiencing a coronavirus outbreak.
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Dozens of cars snaked around the entrance to The Villas Senior Care Community in Sherman Wednesday. Staff in scrubs and facemasks waved as the cars slowed and honked, while some of their passengers hung out of the windows or sunroofs shouting thanks and encouragement.

Kamil Hamid/flickr

Illinoisans won’t be able to eat at restaurants until the end of June at the earliest, under the governor’s plan to reopen the state. The statewide association representing restaurants is pushing to move that up to the end of May.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker's plan to reopen Illinois breaks the state into four regions.
Restore Illinois Plan, Office Of The Governor

Editor's Note: As of May 29, Illinois is in Phase 3 of the plan, moedified to include restaurants offering outdoor seating; and some offices, salons, barbershops and gyms can open with capacity restrictions and public health precautions. Read more here. 

Springfield Municipal Center West
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

Springfield is looking for input on its plan to spend nearly $800,000 from the federal aid package approved in March for coronavirus relief efforts.

The draft plan outlines five priorities – rental assistance, grants to small businesses, support for the food bank, health and safety equipment, and funding for public services.

The city held its first public meeting Thursday via Zoom to listen to input from residents and businesses about fund distribution.

A graph of the three-day average of new COVID-19 cases in central Illinois from data SIU Medicine collected on behalf of Sangamon County.
SIU Medicine

The graph of average number of new COVID-19 cases in central Illinois looks a bit like a roller coaster, with small hills.

Three recent outbreaks caused a steep incline, said Dr. Jerry Kruse, dean of the SIU School of Medicine and CEO of the healthcare group, SIU Medicine.

Sangamon County Department of Public Health
Mary Hansen / NPR Illinois

A 7-year-old and a 10-year-old in Sangamon County have tested positive for COVID-19, Jeff Wilhite, a spokesman for the county confirmed Thursday.

The two were in the same household as another person who has tested positive, according to Wilhite.

There is an outbreak of the coronavirus at The Villas in Sherman.
Google Maps

Two more residents of The Villas East in Sherman, both women in their 80s, died from COVID-19 at HSHS St. John’s Hospital Wednesday, the Sangamon County Department of Public Health reported.

There is an outbreak of the coronavirus at The Villas in Sherman.
Google Maps

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases associated with a nursing home in Sherman nearly doubled Tuesday. The increase accounts for all but one newly reported case in Sangamon County, where 153 residents have tested positive. 

Sam Dunklau / NPR Illinois 91.9 FM

A Clay County judge is lifting Illinois' extended stay-at-home order for a single state representative.

A map of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Illinois by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Illinois Department of Public Health

Illinois is seeing the highest number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths in Chicago and its suburbs, which is also the most populous region of the state.

Critics of the governor say the stay-at-home order and other restrictions shouldn’t be applied statewide because there are fewer cases in central and southern Illinois. But Gov. J.B. Pritzker defended the move Monday, saying that infection and death rates are guiding decisions.

There is an outbreak of the coronavirus at The Villas in Sherman.
Google Maps

Two more staff members and 10 more residents have tested positive for COVID-19 at a nursing home in Sherman, bringing the total cases associated with the facility to 26, according to a news release form the Sangamon County Department of Public Health.

The confirmed cases at The Villas Senior Care Community include two deaths. A man in his 90s died last week, and a second resident, a man in his 70s, died at Memorial Medical Center Thursday.

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

Heather Kadyk’s job is like trying to solve a big puzzle. She's an infectious disease nurse with the Sangamon County Department of Public Health, piecing together the spread of COVID-19, in an effort to slow it down.

There is an outbreak of the coronavirus at The Villas in Sherman.
Google Maps

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 /

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.

State Week logo
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.