(Springfield-jm) -- The state of Illinois has paid out $19 billion in unemployment benefits. How much of that is fraud hasn’t been revealed. The state’s unemployment agency says fraudsters are using fictitious addresses and they want employers to register with a state data exchange to help combat such fraud. Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported Illinois finished the year with nearly 339,000 insured unemployed, behind only California, New York and Texas.



(Springfield-jm) -- A University of Illinois Springfield professor says data suggests almost all K-12 schools should be open, despite COVID-19 concerns. Professor Gary Reinbold reviewed data from nearly a dozen studies on the issue and found children can attend school, even if just part-time, without contributing to spreading the virus. 



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House will return to Springfield Friday for a lame duck session. One of the concerns House GOP members like Representative Dan Brady has is the potential for a tax increase to address the state’s budget…



State Representative Dan Brady. 



(Undated-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 5,059 new Coronavirus cases Monday and 79 additional deaths. Locally, McLean County reported 299 new cases bringing their total to 11,888. Champaign County reported 626 new cases bringing their total to 14,465. Livingston County reported 99 new cases bringing their total to 3,228. Ford County reported 35 new cases bringing their total to 1,271. Iroquois County reported 61 new cases bringing their total to 2,394. Vermilion County reported 169 new cases bringing their total to 5,994. Kankakee County did not have a report.



(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Public Health Department is launching a social media challenge. Megan Reutter (Righter) is the community educator at the Ford County Public Health Department. She explains the challenge…



Ford County Public Health Department Community Educator Megan Reutter. The first challenge is Dry January where they will share mocktail recipes.



(Undated-jm) -- Registration is underway for the virtual 2021 Soybean Summit. The summit will be held February 10th, 17th and 24th from 9 to 11:30 am. Registration is free.



(Champaign County-jm) -- Champaign County home sales hit a record in November. 236 homes sold in November, up 33 percent from November 2019 when 177 homes sold. The median price rose 14.39 percent to $177,300 from $155,000 in November 19. Pending home sales were up 30 percent and the average number of days on the market was 71 days. 



(Washington-jm) -- There are several new things in the latest edition of the federal government's Dietary Guidelines. Stephanie Ho has the details…



(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois House announced that members are headed back to Springfield on Friday. Representatives will hold session and committee hearings at a Springfield convention center, similar to how they did in May 2020. That three-day session cost taxpayers an extra $143,000 on top of the regular costs. 



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois businesses hoping to get state aid via Business Interruption Grants were largely let down last week. Roughly 8 out of 10 businesses that applied were notified that they wouldn't get any money, something bar and restaurant owners are saying came as a surprise that will likely lead to closures. Governor J.B. Pritzker used the grants as leverage to ensure bars and restaurants obeyed his COVID-19 mitigations, saying anyone who broke his rules wouldn't get state aid.



(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Secretary of State Drivers Services Facilities open back up statewide today. Doors are opening but mask and social distancing requirements will still be in place. Secretary of State Spokesperson Dave Druker reminds you can hold off awhile if you prefer, since expiration dates have been extended…



Secretary of State Spokesperson Dave Druker. Druker says you can take care of lots of things online like renewing a license plate sticker or driver’s license for qualifying drivers. The website is: cyber drive illinois dot com.


(Undated-jm) -- Illinois now has 984,880 Coronavirus cases and 16,834 Coronavirus-related deaths after the state reported 5,059 new cases Monday and 79 additional deaths. As for local active and recovered cases, McLean County reported 10,763 have recovered, 994 are in isolation and 18 are hospitalized. McLean County also reported 12 additional deaths bringing their total to 113. Champaign County reported 13,465 have recovered, 639 are in isolation and 9 are hospitalized. Livingston County reported 3,049 have been removed from isolation and 122 cases are active. They also recorded their 57th death.  Iroquois County reported 2,224 have been released from isolation, 110 are in isolation and 8 are hospitalized. Vermilion County reported 795 cases are active and 41 are hospitalized. Vermilion County also recorded 2 additional deaths bringing their total to 79.



(Paxton-cf)-- The two COVID-19 vaccines that have been approved by the FDA from Moderna and Pfizer have not been approved for use in individuals under the age of 18. Andy Hudson, Owner  of Hudson Drug and Hallmark shop in Paxton has the details on why…. 



Andy Hudson, Owner  of Hudson Drug and Hallmark shop in Paxton



(Undated-jm) -- Six Ford County students have placed first in national Daughters of the American Revolution contests. 66 students from Tri-Point, PBL and GCMS competed locally. Ava Fehr, Jack Goembel and Josie Klerst from GCMS, Melanie Tamayo and Lainey Bertrand from Tri-Point and Lauren Sawyer from PBL all placed first in national contests.


(Undated-jm) -- High school seniors gearing up for college have a shot at $60,000 in scholarship support thanks to Mediacom. Sixty high school seniors will be awarded $1,000 scholarships. The winning seniors are chosen based on academic achievement and leadership. Students have until February 15, 2021 to apply.



(Washington-jm) -- An aggressive approach towards opening new markets for U.S. farm and food goods has resulted in specific products finally entering nations via export. Rod Bain reports…



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