AlexChirkin /

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

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Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Hospital beds across the state continue to fill with COVID-19 patients, and an investigation has been announced to look into the deadly breakout in the LaSalle Veterans' Home.  Michael Madigan says he has no intention of stepping down as House Speaker, although he may not have the votes needed to keep that position the next time the Legislature meets.

WBEZ's Dave McKinney joins the panel this week.

Illinois Department of Veterans' Affairs

Twenty-seven residents of the LaSalle Veterans’ Home have died in the last few weeks since the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs reported a COVID-19 outbreak at the facility in early November.

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.

Screenshot via BlueRoomStream

As Illinois sees its 12th day of new reported COVID-19 cases over 10,000, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday announced new statewide restrictions on businesses, including shuttering casinos, movie theatres, banquet halls and museums across Illinois, and limiting retail store capacity.

UIS Community Health Roundtable Webinar - Predicting the Cost of the Pandemic on the Economy & Recent Restrictions on Local Business

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.

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Brian Mackey

This week, Governor J.B. Pritzker admonished Illinoisans who continue to flout COVID-19 mitigation measures and warned that he soon may have no choice but to order another stay-at-home directive.  Meanwhile, the Pritzker administration is left with a huge budget problem to deal with, especially with the failure of the governor's proposed graduated income tax amendment.

Dan Vock, reporter and author of the States of Crisis newsletter, joins the panel.

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.

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.

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.

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Brian Mackey

This week saw a continued rapid rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations around the state, and ten out of the eleven regions in the Restore Illinois Plan will be under stronger mitigation measures by the end of the weekend.  There has been a record volume of early voting and voting by mail in the state ahead of Tuesday's election, and many eyes are watching Democratic Illinois Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride’s bid to retain his seat.

Ray Long of the Chicago Tribune joins the panel.

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.


High school basketball in Illinois — along with hockey and wrestling — won't take place as scheduled as the state struggles against a resurgence of COVID-19.

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.

Brian Mackey/NPR Illinois

Seven months after Congress passed a $2 trillion stimulus package in the early days of the Coronavirus pandemic, local governments in Illinois are still fighting Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration over approximately $150 million meant for municipalities. 

The Illinois Municipal League, which lobbies on behalf of cities and towns in Illinois, already won a fight with Pritzker’s administration this summer over whether municipalities would be able to spend their share of CARES Act money on small grants for businesses in their communities. 

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.

Screengrab via Facebook

Local State Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, he announced on social media.


Butler said he was quarantining in the basement at his Springfield home and was unsure where he contracted the virus.


The Illinois Department of Public Health Friday announced 51 counties are considered to be at a warning level for spread of the coronavirus disease.

A county enters the warning level when two or more risk indicators that measure the amount of COVID-19 increase.

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Brian Mackey

This week, the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations prompted Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health to impose increased mitigation measures in regions around the state.  State officials also revealed their plans for distributing a vaccine when one becomes available.  The election is just over a week away, and the ballot referendum on moving the state to a graduated income tax continues to be a focus of attention.

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.


Illinois' plan to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine will initially target health care providers, first responders and those associated with vulnerable populations, like nursing home employees and residents.  But many uncertainties remain, including a timetable.

Ruby Mendenhall, professor of sociology and African American studies and assistant dean for diversity and democratization on health and innovation at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine; and Robin Wilson, director, Institute of Government & Public Affairs at the University of Illinois have come together to lead a blogging project on COVID-19 throughout Illinois. They've signed-up citizen scientists to share their perspectives.

December 2, 3:00 p.m.

Sangamon County COVID-19 Update

Wednesday, the Sangamon County Department of Public Health reported 131 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death: a woman in her 90's, who tested positive for COVID-19 on November 29th.

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.

Confidential Coronavirus Outbreak Data Shows Undisclosed Incidents

Oct 17, 2020
A hand puts  a vile of saliva for a COVID-19 test into a biohazard bag.
University of Illinois Springfield

Nearly 2,600 separate outbreaks have been tracked across Illinois since March, including a worsening undisclosed outbreak at Naval Station Great Lakes. Here is the full list.

This story is republished with permission from the Midwest Center for Investivative Reporting. To see the original story, which includes a searchable database, click here.

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.

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Brian Mackey

This week, the pandemic saw a resurgence with a rapidly rising statewide positivity rate and a record number of new coronavirus cases in a single day.  Amid the state's growing budget woes, tax revenues from legal marijuana sales continue to bolster state coffers.  And the two candidates vying for Illinois' 13th congressional district seat ramped up their criticisms of each other.

Mark Maxwell of WCIA-TV joins the panel.