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Rockford Fourth of July fireworks canceled for 2020

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The July 4 fireworks will be canceled this year because of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the City of Rockford announced Saturday. "My family and I love all the activities on the Fourth of July and it’s one of the best days for our community to come together," Mayor Tom McNamara said in a release. "We worked closely with our police, fire, and Public Works to evaluate the best options for this event." But, the mayor said, with health and safety of the community in mind,…

Rockford Public Library’s Summer Reading Club kicks off June 1

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The Rockford Public Library's Summer Reading Challenge for children, teens, and adults will begin June 1 at all branches. The 2020 Summer Reading Challenge, “Digging Deeper!” will run through August 31. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no live celebrations kicking off the event, however, library officials say it is easy for readers to track their progress and win prizes from home by visiting RockfordPublicLibrary.org or by using the new Rockford…

Northern Illinois Food Bank to host free drive-through food market this Saturday

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The Northern Illinois Food Bank will host a free "Pop-Up Market" from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 23, in the parking lot of the Winnebago County COVID-19 Donations Center, 5460 E. State St. The drive-through market is part of the food bank's ongoing COVID-19 relief response and was coordinated through a partnership with the Winnebago County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). "Thanks to continued generous donations from Walmart, Amazon and Trader Joe’s, the Food…

Elderly, congregate communities still hardest hit by COVID-19

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Although numbers are improving, the COVID-19 outbreak continues to take its toll on area congregate settings. Statistics released by the Winnebago County Health Department Tuesday show that about 66% of COVID-related deaths have been linked to outbreaks in places like nursing homes, group homes, shelters, assisted-living centers, and jails. As of Tuesday, 20 local congregate facilities are considered areas of concern. That means there have been at…

Winnebago County leaders aim to open restaurants, churches June 1

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara, Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney and Public Health Administrator Dr. Sandra Martell announced Monday that leaders are working on a plan that would allow some businesses to open early with social distancing restrictions. The plan is for Winnebago County restaurants, day cares and churches to open by June 1, in Phase 3 of the five-phase Restore Illinois plan. As-is, however, the state plan does not permit those…

COVID-19: Local, state numbers remain steady

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The Winnebago County Health Department reported 57 new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases Sunday, bringing the county's total number of infections to 1,501. As of this report, there are 1,501 cases of the respiratory disease in the county, including many people who have already recovered. There have now been 14,943 tests administered in Winnebago County, 5,756 of which are still pending. As of Sunday, 41 people have died from complications of COVID-19. Statewide,…

SwedishAmerican names Rachel Galliano Nurse of the Year

Staff Report ROCKFORD - SwedishAmerican has named Rachel Galliano this year Daisy Foundation's Nurse of the Year. The Daisy Award is the highest honor given to a SwedishAmerican nurse each year. A pediatric registered nurse, Galliano was surprised with the award by her colleagues May 12 at a breakfast honoring National Nurses Week at SwedishAmerican Hospital. The Daisy Award was one of several honors handed out during the event. Co-workers nominated Galliano by submitting the…

Rockford Public Library makes WiFi available in branch parking lots

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The Rockford Public Library is making internet accessible to the public by keeping its wireless network live and accessible from parking lots during regular library hours while the facilities are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. People are welcome to park at any of the library locations and access the Internet from their cars in order to work, communicate, or enjoy online entertainment. Social distancing is advised; people are asked not to gather in groups or be…

State Sen. Dave Syverson weighs in on governor’s COVID-19 plan: ‘Open businesses’

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Illinois Sen. Dave Syverson (R-Rockford), has weighed in the impact COVID-19 restrictions are having on the economy. "We are just now starting to see the warned about social impacts as a result of these leader’s decisions to shut the state down as they did," Syverson said in his May 12 E-Newsletter. "Disturbing data is emerging that, during the lock-down, we are seeing increases in depression, domestic violence, drug and alcohol use, suicide, and child…

Mayor appoints 12th Ward alderman to replace John Beck

Staff Report ROCKFORD - Rockford Mayor McNamara on Wednesday, announced that he has appointed Jennifer “Ginger” Hanley to serve as 12th Ward alderman to replace John Beck, the longtime Republican who died last month. Hanley, a physical education teacher at All Saints Catholic Academy and a fitness instructor for the YMCA, has served as the Republican committeeman for the 12th Ward since May 2019. “I’m truly honored to be nominated to serve my community,” says Hanley. “I will strive to…

Nicholas Conservatory honoring 2020 graduates with school colors

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens, on Monday night, kicked off"Glowing for Grads," the Rockford Park District's way to celebrate local 2020 graduates by lighting up the facility with school colors. For the next month, the conservatory and gardens will bear colors of each Rockford-area high school and colleges: Rockford Career College, Rock Valley College, and Rockford University. Lights will go on at dusk and stay on through each night. Citizens are…

Illinois COVID-19 peak pushed to June, Winnebago County on pace to reach ‘Phase 3’ of restart plan

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that Illinois has not reached its peak in new COVID-19 cases. The governor said during his daily press briefing that it could be a month before the state hits a peak, according to models. “Compared to the forecast that I shared with you on April 23, which predicted peaking between late April and early May, that time frame of plateauing near a peak has been expanded from mid-May into mid-June,” Pritzker said. “In many…

LIHEAP open through June 30

Staff Report ROCKFORD - The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will be open through June 30 for eligible residents of Winnebago and Boone counties. LIHEAP pays a benefit directly to utilities or energy vendors on behalf of eligible households or directly to eligible renters if all energy costs are included in their rent. A single-person household can qualify with a monthly income for up to $1,561, a two-person household up to $2,114, a three-person household up to…

Mercyhealth Javon Bea Hospital receives $12.9M in COVID-9 relief funds

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Rockford's Mercyhealth Javon Bea Hospital will receive nearly $13 million in federal relief funds for treating COVID-19 patients during the coronavirus outbreak. The funds are part of Illinois' share of a $12 billion relief package from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for 6,000 medical centers that provided inpatient care for 100 or more COVID-19 patients through April 10. Illinois will receive $694,340,792. Mercy's totals…

New grocery store coming to northwest Rockford

Staff Report ROCKFORD - A new grocery store is coming to the northwest side of Rockford this year, the City of Rockford announced on its social media channels Friday. Jet Foods will move into the former Hilander location on North Main Street this fall. "The grocer currently operates a store in Park Forest and is known for providing fresh local produce at affordable prices," the city posted on Facebook. The space, which has been vacant since 2012, is in the same complex as CVS…