Maureen Foertsch McKinney

News Editor

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is the NPR Illinois News Editor and a lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers,  and is curator of the Equity blog. Maureen joined the staff in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Dusty Rhodes / NPR Illinois

This coming school year, districts will be expected to provide information on LGBTQ figures in history before students graduate eighth grade.

State representative Anna Moeller, an Elgin Democrat, said she believes the addition is positive for all students.

Rebecca Anzel / Capitol News Illinois

Last week, the Thomas More Society filed a lawsuit that says the year-old Reproductive Health Act requires employers to pay for coverage of abortion against their will.  The suit says unless the act is declared unlawful and enforcement of it is forbidden, plaintiffs will continue to “suffer irreparable injury."

Maureen Foertsch McKinney / NPR Illinois

The conservative Thomas More Society this week filed a lawsuit that in effect charges Illinois’ Reproductive Health Act violates the right to freedom of religion by forcing employers to pay for abortions.

Office of state Sen. Kimberly Lightford

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford says she is overwhelmed with emotion these days.  

The majority leader from Maywood was inaugurated more than two decades ago as Illinois’ youngest – and only African American woman – senator. She’s struggled working toward legislation that would help her community, one that’s been hit particularly hard recently.

At least three Illinois House members say they want a special legislative session to strike on issues of law enforcement reform and accountability while police brutality has the nation’s focus.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker today (Thursday) announced new guidance for places of worship. It comes as he has faced multiple lawsuits over his ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. Pritzker now says faith leaders should try to limit attendance to a quarter of a building’s capacity or 100 attendees, whichever is lower, along with social distancing. 

DONNIE NUNLEY / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Child care facilities will be able to operate again once Illinois enters the third phase of its reopening plan, which is expected Friday. 

Office of Rep. Allen Skillicorn

A Republican state representative who says he has taken steps to start the recall process against J.B. Pritzker was chastised by the governor Tuesday for consistently voting against spending on vital programs.

Wheaton College

A group of Chicago-based evangelical leaders plans to seek a virtual meeting with Gov. J.B. Pritzker because of “growing angst” about the rules he has set for religious gatherings.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the state is expanding testing to all frontline and essential workers, including those in health care and first responders.
That will cover employees at a wide range of jobs including those at grocery stores, prison and restaurants.

Maxica Williams / Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless has created a mutual aid fund that will give out grants of up to $500 for Illinoisans who are homeless, have been without a home or are at risk of being unsheltered.

CCH grassroots leaders – people who have experienced homelessness and work in partnership with CCH staff – run the fund and will decide what requests should be supported.

Bloomington Family Dental

The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois State Dental Society no longer recommend limiting dental procedures to emergencies.

The early May guidance is that dentists can again perform routine procedures – that is if they follow a series of checks with lawyers, insurers and occupational directives. 

Mike Miletich / Quincy Media Capitol Bureau

White supremacist organizations have infiltrated stay-at-home  protests such as  those in Springfield and Chicago last week, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. 

David Goldenberg, the Midwest regional director of the ADL, says over the last two weeks the center has tracked dozens of rallies to protest stay-at-home orders across the country, including in Illinois. “They’ve attracted a good number of members who are members of extremist organizations,’’ he said.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker decried as hate-filled some of the signs that demostraters in Springfield and Chicago carried Friday to protest his stay-at-home order.

He addressed the issue at his daily briefing Saturday. Of the hundreds gathered at state buildings in Chicago and Springfield, including the state Capitol. Some carried signs with swastikas that said, HEIL PRITZKER.

Rachel Muncy Bonney

The spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois says courts have ruled that laws can be set in the name of public health, which makes Gov. J.B. Pritzker s order on face coverings enforceable. 

Ed Yohnka said precedent has been set with vaccination requirements at public schools being imposed because they are considered to be for the good of public health.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker used some complicated math to come to the conclusion that Illinois is starting to see a slowing of new cases and deaths from COVID-19.

Blueroom Stream

Illinois House Republicans in a press conference Monday said Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration has not done enough to address the tsunami of unemployment insurance claims from recent weeks.

Ronnie Cobb

Illinoisans experiencing mental illness have had to face a new world in the pandemic.

Most -- except for those in residential or emergency situations – have had to make the choice between not having therapy or having to do it by phone or computer screen.

For this week’s Illinois Issues in-depth report, Maureen McKinney looked into how the transition is working.


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Illinois domestic violence shelters have not received as many calls in recent days perhaps because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that’s likely to change.

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By Saturday, officials expect 500 hospital beds to be in place at a converted McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago to deal with the overflow of COVID-19 patients. 

The massive facility off Lakeshore Drive is expected by mid-April to have up to 3,000 beds, including ICU units, to deal, if needed with COVID-19 cases. There are now more than 5,000 cases statewide, most in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Gov. J.B Pritzker announced the progress in his daily press briefing on Monday.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker in his daily COVID-19 briefing had harsh words for people who
gathered on Chicago’s beaches and in parks during this week’s warmer
temperatures

“Right now, hosting a party, crowding down 
by the lake, playing a pickup basketball game in a public park.  If you are doing these things you are spitting
in the face of the doctors and nurses and first responders who are risking
everything so you can survive. “

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday described an Illinois worst-case scenario in which the state could  be far short of the ventilators, hospital beds and intensive-care unit spaces for expected COVID-19 cases.

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After days of blasting President Donald Trump over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the two spoke by phone Monday.

Pritzker has been especially critical regarding the lack of supplies going to states.  But he said in their conversation, the president was “very responsive.”

ILLINOIS OFFICE OF COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION

Gov. J.B. Pritzker Tuesday announced Illinois’ first COVID-19 death – a Chicago woman in her 60’s with underlying medical conditions.

Vox Efx / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Polls are open, even though far fewer voters than usual are expected to turn out for today’s primary election because of coronavirus concerns.

Ken Lund / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Courtesy of RIchard Riley

One of the four women featured in the award-winning documentary Knock Down the House will be at UIS Thursday.

Carly Hagins / Flickr (BY-NC 4.0)

As national debate on government-mandated paid family leave continues, lawmakers in Illinois say they want it enacted here.

John Ho Photograhgy / Flickr (BY-CC 2.0)

Income of about $1.4 billion a year for Illinois workers would be generated if paid parental leave became law — that’s according to a report out today from a pair of Illinois think tanks.

Paid-leave legislation was introduced last year, and state Rep. Mary Flowers, a Chicago Democrat, told NPR Illinois she would introduce a version of that again this legislative session.

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Illinois today joined Virginia and Nevada, in filing a federal lawsuit to get the Equal Rights Amendment on the books now that it’s been ratified by enough states.

Virginia on Monday became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, but President Trump’s administration is trying to block it from being added to the Constitution.

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