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State News

Pritzker urges Illinois churches to submit reopening plans

By Jim Hagerty Reporter SPRINGFIELD - Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker urged faith groups across the state to submit plans for reopening to his office. And the more comprehensive, the better. The governor said it has been a challenge during the pandemic to phase churches back to in-person worship and other gatherings, which is why he put a stamp of approval on the Catholic Church's detailed plan. "Every church is different--and mosque and synagogue," Pritzker said during his Thursday…

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…

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,…

Pritzker criminalizes stay-at-home violations, Rep. John Cabello responds

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Illinois businesses could now face jail time if they violate rules under Gov. J.B. Pritzker "stay-at-home" executive order. Pritzker filed an amendment to Illinois' public health laws Friday to include the section, "Pandemic or Epidemic Respiratory Disease -- Emergency Provisions." The section states restaurants are limited to carryout, and that gyms, salons and tattoo shops must close during a disease outbreak. Businesses owners who defy this law…

Pritzker issues more warnings for businesses that open before COVID-19 restrictions expire

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued more warnings Wednesday for businesses that open before executive orders issued during the COVID-19 outbreak expire. Repeating that businesses that are regulated by the state could have their licensees suspended for opening too soon, the governor added a call for local leaders to step up and prevent citizens from defying the stay-at-home edict that expires at the end of this month and the restrictions in his "Restore Illinois"…

Dixon employees want Rita Crundwell to serve her entire prison term

By Jim Hagerty Reporter DIXON - City of Dixon employees, all 103 of them, do not want ex-Comptroller Rita Crundwell released from prison, leaders expressed in a letter to a federal warden. Addressed to Frederick Entzel and signed by City Manager Danny Langloss, the letter recalls that Crundwell stole more than $53 million and lived a lavish lifestyle while Dixon's roads and infrastructure crumbled into their own footprints. "Rita destroyed public trust and confidence and the…

COVID-19: Illinois numbers steady, Cook County reports 81 deaths

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - State officials reported 136 COVID-19-related deaths Wednesday, 81 of which occurred in Cook County. The deaths also included two Winnebago County residents in their 70s. Labs processed 14,974 tests in last 24 hours, resulting in 2,270 new cases or coronavirus disease and a statewide total of 68,232--a number the includes those who've already recovered. It also includes presumptive positives. There were 4,832 people with confirmed cases of…

Pritzker announces 5-phase plan to re-open Illinois

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - The Illinois economy will re-opened in five phases, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday. Titled "Restore Illinois," the plan separates the state into four regions and will allow cities in those regions to move through the five phases as COVID-19 data permits. The regions are Northeast, North-Central, Central and Southern. Phase 1 - "Rapid Spread:" This phase was sparked by the arrival of coronavirus in Illinois, the governor's disaster proclamation his first…

Coronavirus infection rate, hospitalizations key to gauging curve

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Illinois officials announced 2,450 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, bringing the total number of infections to nearly 60,000. And while the number of cases continues to rise, it's not the figure that indicates where Illinois is on the curve. It's also not the number Gov. J.B. Pritzker will use to decide when to lift more stay-at-home restrictions. "I would look at the infection rate and not the total case numbers," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Saturday…

Illinois could see some regions re-open before June 1

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Although Illinois is expected to be under a modified stay-at-home executive order through the end of the month, some areas of the state could open sooner. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday regions "heading down the other side"of the COVID-19 curve could start opening up according to the plan presented by the White House last month. "If it's 14 days on a downslide of those numbers, then absolutely," Pritzker said during his daily press briefing as hundreds…

Illinois Supreme Court heads online for May cases

By Rebecca Anzel Capitol News Illinois SPRINGFIELD — Illinois’ highest court will hear its May session’s oral arguments through videoconference. The decision, made to follow social distancing and stay-at-home orders in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, marks the first time such technology has ever been embraced by the seven justices. The state joins 26 others in using the technology. According to the National Center for State Courts, seven states use teleconference to conduct…

Rockford mayor, governor get real about reopening Illinois

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker continue to address cries to reopen nonessential businesses as the state trudges through the outbreak of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. McNamara's position on getting the Illinois economy back online came in a letter penned to Pritzker, expressing his concern that while big box stores have flourished during the shutdown, local merchants are in grave shape.…

Illinois Department on Aging distributes $7M to feed seniors during pandemic

Staff Report SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois Department on Aging is distributing $7 million across the state to meet the growing demand for meal assistance by older Illinoisans impacted by the coronavirus public health emergency. IDoA distributed the funds, provided through Emergency Assistance Services grants, to the state's 46 Care Coordination Units (CCUs) to support meals programming for older Illinoisans at highest risk for malnutrition and hunger. Last year, more than 85,000 seniors…