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Winnebago County

Machesney Park deaths ruled murder-suicide

By Jim Hagerty Reporter MACHESNEY PARK - The three people found dead inside a Machesney Park apartment in the 1100 block of Minns Drive Wednesday afternoon were victims of a murder-suicide, the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office reported Thursday. The sheriff's office said 37-year-old Michael Earls fatally shot 28-year-old Sandra Fernandez-Cardenas and her 11-year-old son before killing himself. Deputies discovered the bodies just after 4 p.m., when they responded to 911 call that…

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: Rosecrance, two more nursing homes now local areas of concern

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Three more congregate sites have been added to the local COVID-19 areas of concern list, Winnebago County Health Department Director Dr. Sandra Martell reported Thursday. The Atrium and Lincolnshire Place, two assisted-living facilities that specialize in memory care, along with Rosecrance, have now seen cases of coronavirus disease. "They have self-identified and have also notified their staff and residents of the communities," Martell said. "That is…

Frank Haney: 60% of county’s pending COVID-19 tests are missing

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - More than 2,100 COVID-19 specimens collected at the UIC Health Sciences Campus are nowhere to be found, according to Winnebago County Board Chairman Frank Haney. Haney said National Guard teams began collecting nose-swab specimens since April 24 and have been sending them to a third-party vendor for processing. "Zero tests have been reported to the Winnebago County Health and the Illinois Department of Public Health from this vender," Haney said in a…

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 governor: Winnebago County a COVID-19 hotspot

By Jim Hagerty Reporter CHICAGO - Winnebago County is considered a COVID-19 hotspot, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday. "Rockford is a hotspot in the state," Pritzker said. "Winnebago County has quite a number of infections." As of this report, 426 people in Winnebago County have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the coronavirus outbreak was deemed a pandemic last month. The county has seen 14 fatalities. As in other counties, almost all COVID-related fatalities locally have involved at…

COVID-19 Donation Center opens at former Circuit City building

Staff Report ROCKFORD – The Winnebago County Emergency Operations Center, in coordination with The Salvation Army, has announced the opening of the COVID-19 Donations Center. The center is at 5460 E. State St., the former Circuit City building, is accepting donations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,  Monday through Friday. Donations, except PPE, will be distributed to agencies serving the homeless and those in need during the COVID-19 crisis. Personal Protective Equipment donations will be…

Rockford Ald. Joe Chiarelli wins GOP primary race for county board chairman

By Jim Hagerty Reporter ROCKFORD - Rockford Ald. Joe Chiarelli (R-14), has won the Republican primary for Winnebago County Board Chairman. Chiarelli registered 57% of the vote while board member Jim Webster (R-2) won 43%. In terms of votes, it was 9,072 for Chiarelli and 6,859 for Webster. Chiarelli will face District 15 board member Burt Gerl (D) in the November general election. The winner of that race will take over for County Board Chairman Frank Haney, who announced last year that he…

Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office announces Junior Ambassador program

Staff Report ROCKFORD - Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross announced Wednesday the launch of the Winnebago County State’s Attorney Junior Ambassador program. The goal of program is to engage students with positive interaction with the criminal justice system. Students will learn core values that they can share with their community and their schools. The program will being by running six weeks at Washington Park Community Center. “Teens from Washington Park Community…