(Springfield-jm) -- State officials say while COVID-19 cases seem to be on a downward trend, now is not the time to let up on taking safety precautions. Governor J-B Pritzker is again asking families to not hold big family gatherings for the holidays, but to instead celebrate with your immediate family or open presents virtually. He says the chance of transmission is just still too high…




Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says he is hopeful that if everyone socially distances, stays home and continues to wear a mask, that officials can ease some of the COVID restrictions in coming weeks.


While the number of daily COVID cases have been under 10 thousand for a week now, patient deaths have been increasing in recent days. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 8,828 new cases and 181 deaths bringing the state’s total number of cases to 879,428 and deaths to 14,835. Locally, McLean County reported 89 new cases bringing their total to 10,422. Champaign County reported 108 new cases bringing their total to 12,735. Livingston County reported 40 new cases bringing their total to 2,841. Ford County reported 21 new cases bringing their total to 1,061. Kankakee County reported 56 new cases bringing their total to 10,144. Vermilion County reported 40 new cases bringing their total to 4,421. Iroquois County reported 12 new cases bringing their total to 2,133.



(Undated-jm) -- As for cases in area communities, 33 in Ludlow, 1082 in Rantoul, 129 in Gifford, 50 in Penfield, 390 in St. Joseph, 66 in Thomasboro, 33 in Dewey, 138 in Fisher, 29 in Foosland, 679 in Mahomet, 429 in Paxton, 23 in Elliott, 330 in Gibson City, 29 in Sibley, 88 in Loda, 35 in Buckley, 151 in Cissna Park, 48 in Rankin, 50 in Melvin, 24 in Roberts, 19 in Thawville, 126 in Milford, 441 in Hoopeston, 100 in Potomac, 51 in Crescent City, 105 in Rossville, 36 in Wellington, 61 in Sheldon, 426 in Watseka, 173 in Onarga, 237 in Gilman, 68 in Danforth, 130 in Ashkum, 230 in Clifton, 205 in Chebanse, 58 in Martinton, 45 in Donovan, 40 in Beaverville, 27 in Cabery, 21 in Kempton, 55 in Cullom, 102 in Piper City, 83 in Chatsworth, 49 in Saybrook and 26 in Bellflower.



(Springfield-jm) -- As the COVID-19 vaccine trickles into Illinois, public health officials are already learning that they can get more doses out of a single vial than originally thought. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says one vial was supposed to equal five doses, but the federal government has updated that recommendation…



Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says healthcare providers need to understand that if the vial gets to be about empty and doesn’t contain enough for a full dose, that vaccine cannot be combined with liquid from another vial to make up the difference.



(Springfield-jm) -- Unemployment continues to increase in Illinois, leading the nation in new filings. With 142,700 new filers last week, Illinois was second only to California’s weekly claims. The Land of Lincoln had 35,000 more filers than the week before. That eclipses the total number of unemployment filings across the country, which reported 21,000 fewer new filers than the week before.



(Onarga-jm) -- Onarga and Gilman will ring in the Christmas season this Saturday. Spokesperson Fred Walraven talks about the parade and activities…



Onarga and Gilman Christmas Parade Spokesperson Fred Walraven.



(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton business is closing at the end of the year. The Country Thyme Tea Room is closing after 26 years in the community. 



(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Agriculture, along with the University of Illinois Extension Service, is hosting the Certified Livestock Manager Online Training and Webinars for 2021. The webinar dates are Wednesday, January 20; Friday, January 29; Tuesday, February 9; Thursday, March 4, 2021.  These will have the same format as previous workshops starting at 9:00 am. After the webinar, those with over 1,000 AUs will be required to log in and take the 40-question online test in lieu of the IDoA's paper-based test. Pre-registration is required ($40). Please go to go.illinois.edu/CLMT to register. For questions with registration, please contact UI Extension at (815) 858-2273.



(Springfield-jm) -- One area state representative continues to wave the red flag about unemployment fraud in the state. Over 200 thousand Illinoisans have been the victim of the fraud that is coming in many different forms says 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City…



106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.



(Iroquois County-jm) -- Two Iroquois County communities could soon receive police protection from the county sheriff’s office. The Iroquois County board approved hiring two additional deputies that would cover Gilman and Onarga. Both communities would split the cost of the deputies salaries. The deal must still be approved by the Gilman and Onarga town boards.


The Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce along with the village of Rantoul will hold a drive thru lighted Christmas parade on Saturday from 5:30-8:30 pm at the Rantoul Aquatic Center.


The Vineyard Church in Urbana will hold a live drive thru nativity on Sunday from 5 to 7pm at their church on North Lincoln Avenue.


Looking at the case numbers from Thursday, Illinois now has 879,428 cases and 14,835 deaths after the state reported 8,828 new cases and 181 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 9,188 have recovered, 1127 are in isolation and 24 are hospitalized. Champaign County reported 11,851 have recovered, 806 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 2,596 have been released from isolation and 195 cases are active. Kankakee County reported 4,878 have recovered and 5124 cases are active. Vermilion County reported 4,035 have been released from isolation, 292 remain in isolation and 38 are hospitalized. Iroquois County reported 1,875 have been released from isolation, 205 remain in isolation and 6 are hospitalized.



(Undated-jm) -- As for local deaths, McLean County reported 8 additional deaths Thursday bringing their total to 83. Champaign County reported 1 new death bringing their total to 78. Livingston County reported 1 new death bringing their total to 50. Ford County reported 1 additional death bringing their total to 28. Kankakee County reported 2 new deaths bringing their total to 142.




(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Tollway is extending its popular toll violation relief program through the end of June. This will give drivers an extra six months to take care of any outstanding toll violations and outstanding fines they may have says Tollway Spokesperson Joelle McGinnis. She says there are quite a few people who can take advantage of the opportunity to settle up for just three dollars…



Illinois Tollway Spokesperson Joelle McGinnis. McGinnis says if you’re interested in this offer, visit illinois tollway dot com.



(Springfield-jm) -- For those shopping online during the coronavirus pandemic, it's important to stay safe from cyber threats, especially during the holidays. Illinois officials and the National Cyber Security Alliance encourage people to follow these tips to protect themselves while online: think before you click, do your homework, consider your payment options, watch what you give away, keep tabs on your bank and credit card statements and make sure your home wireless network is password protected.



(Ashkum-jm) -- Illinois State Police will be conducting Nighttime Enforcement Patrols. WPXNs Jason Madden has the details…




(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton police are reporting a pair of incidents in the community this week. On December 16th, no injuries were reported and no tickets issued after a single vehicle accident in the 200 block of W. Orleans. The teen driver slid on the snow covered road and struck a bush and clipped a tree. On December 15th, Damien Mackins of Loda was arrested on an Iroquois County warrant following a traffic accident at Patton and Railroad. Mackins was also cited for failure to yield for the accident.



(Urbana-jm) -- Officials with the University of Illinois Ice Arena said it will remain closed to the public through the Spring 2021 semester. They cited the current pandemic and state and university guidelines and restrictions as the reason. The ice arena also serves as a campus COVID testing site.



(Rantoul-cf)-- The Rantoul Chamber of Commerce will host their Drive-thru Christmas Parade this year at the Happ-Parker Aquatic Center parking lot tomorrow starting at 5:30 pm. Chamber Director Amanda Vickery details some of the events that will be happening at the drive-thru parade… 



Rantoul Chamber of Commerce Director Amanda Vickery.



(Champaign-jm) -- A new apprenticeship program taking place at Parkland College is looking for more students to train as surveyor and mapping technicians to fill a growing job demand. Developed in partnership with the Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association, the first-in-the-nation Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program is a two-year, U.S. Department of Labor-recognized apprenticeship program in which apprentices train to become surveyor technicians. These technicians assist professional land surveyors in collecting information about boundaries, terrain and property lines. Training consists of on-the-job learning blended with online coursework and 13 in-person labs provided by Parkland College. Apprentices are expected to take and pass the Certified Survey Technician Level I or Level II exam in order to complete the program.


A Wreaths Across America Remembrance Ceremony will take place on Saturday at 11 am at the Buckley American Legion.


Onarga will hold their Christmas parade on Saturday at 2:30 pm.


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