WPXN Blog Archives for 2020-04

Governor J-B Pritzker plans to issue a modified stay-at-home order that runs through May 30

(Springfield-jm) -- With neighboring states like Missouri and Iowa loosening restrictions this week, Governor J-B Pritzker plans to issue a modified stay-at-home order that runs through May 30. The governor's latest stay-at-home order includes a number of changes that loosen restrictions on some activities. On Wednesday, the governor offered a different tone, saying downstate areas with low numbers of COVID-19 cases may be able to open sooner. Pritzker said he has received letters and calls from downstate mayors and public officials on the subject of reopening downstate economies.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois now has more than 50 thousand confirmed cases of Coronavirus. The State Department of Public Health is reporting over 22 hundred new cases pushing the total above that unfortunate benchmark. 92 more people have died says director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Of those, nearly 13 hundred are in the ICU and 777 patients are on ventilators. Locally, Ford County is reporting one new case bringing their total to 9. Iroquois County is reporting five new cases bringing their total to 29. Champaign County is reporting 10 new cases bringing their total to 124. Vermilion County is reporting one new case bringing their total to 19. Kankakee County is reporting 10 new cases bringing their total to 372. Livingston and McLean Counties both did not report any new cases, leaving their total number of cases and 20 and 94 respectively

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J.B. Pritzker said he’s not interested in calling lawmakers back to the Illinois State Capitol for a special session to deal with the ambiguity of his stay-at-home orders amid a pandemic and legal challenges to his authority. With two lawsuits pending and more expected, several Illinois statehouse Republicans held a virtual video news conference Wednesday urging legislative leaders to call the legislature back to address whether stay-at-home orders should continue. Pritzker said the legislature can come back whenever they want during the pandemic. They are considered essential under his order. He urged them to follow social distancing guidelines.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says the new facial covering requirement taking effect Friday should not be a problem for those who concealed carry. Under state law, it’s a class four felony to carry a weapon while your face is covered. But the Governor says they’ve made allowances for those legally carrying...

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Illinois State Police says the order was not intended to negatively impact permit holders or suggest that local law enforcement should arrest someone with a COVID-19 mask who is carrying.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- No injuries were reported after a woman had a seizure while in her vehicle. The incident occurred near the Dollar Tree in Rantoul. Police say Kimberly McWhorter of Fisher became unconscious after having the seizure. Her car jumped the curb, crossed five lanes of traffic before striking a vehicle at a house on Klein Avenue. 


 

(Springfield-jm) -- Some of the restrictions from Governor J-B Pritzker’s stay at home order will ease Friday. As part of his revised stay at home order, golf courses will be allowed to open with some restrictions, some state parks will be allowed to reopen for fishing, hiking and boating and some non essential businesses will be allowed to reopen to handle online and curbside pickup only. Some area lawmakers, like 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says he would like the Governor to take a more regional approach to reopening the state…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City. Also as part of the Governor’s order, you will be required to wear a mask in public starting May 1st.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The ballot order lottery for the General Election ballot in Champaign County will be held on Friday, May 1, 2020 at 12PM at the Election Services Building, 210 Art Bartell Road, Urbana. To comply with the COVID-19 regulations regarding gathering in groups, we will be live streaming the drawing on the Champaign County Clerk's Facebook page and will give priority access to the Chairs from both parties.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- Ford County mobile home owners are being reminded that their tax bills are due soon. You have until Friday to pay your tax bill to the Ford County Treasurer’s office. At this time, Treasurer Krisha Shoemaker says the county doesn’t have any plans in place to address if someone can’t pay their bill by Friday but there could be discussions on it…

 

 

Ford County Treasurer Krisha Shoemaker. Taxes can be dropped in the box in front of the courthouse or postmarked by May 1st.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Ameren Illinois is hoping to give its customers a break on their bills. Ameren Illinois has asked the Illinois Commerce Commission to decrease the utility's electric delivery rates by $45.3 million. The decrease would impact delivery charges, which is what all customers pay to electricity delivers to their homes. Those charges take up about a third to a half of the bill. The Illinois Commerce Commission will rule on the proposal in December 2020. If passed, it would take effect on January 1, 2021.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Pritzker will sign an executive order that suspends the requirement for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation to issue up to 75 Conditional Adult Use Cannabis Dispensing Organization Licenses by May 1st. 

 

Ford County is reporting 7 have been released from isolation, 1 still in isolation. Champaign County is reporting 32 active, 86 recovered and 6 hospitalized. McLean County is reporting 80 recovered, 1 hospitalized and 10 on home isolation. Kankakee County is reporting 94 have recovered. Vermilion County is reporting 8 have been released from isolation, 9 are in home isolation and one is hospitalized. Iroquois County is reporting 12 have been released from isolation.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois Senate Democrats have requested $41 billion from the federal government in non-COVID-19-related aid. Some argue the state’s taxpayers pay more in federal taxes than the state gets back. Others think a bailout sets the wrong president for a poorly run state. Members of Illinois’ congressional delegation have different takes on whether Illinois should get tens of billions of dollars to plug state budget holes and cover state and local pension debt. 


 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says a second lawsuit against the state’s extended stay at home order is irresponsible. Representative John Cabello of Rockford has filed a lawsuit challenging the order that now runs through May. Governor J-B Pritzker responds...

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor called the first suit, filed by downstate Representative Darren Bailey, a cheap political stunt. A judge sided with Bailey and the state has already appealed in that case.

 

 

(Fisher-jm) -- A Fisher man out on bond for home invasion was arrested after he fled from police. Champaign County Deputies attempted to stop 24 year old Devon Todd northwest of Champaign. Todd took off from deputies and was later located at an apartment in Fisher. Todd resisted arrest and deputies also found a small bag containing suspected cocaine. He was taken to the Champaign County Jail where he faces charges of aggravated fleeing police, possession of a controlled substance and resisting. Bond was set at $50,000. He is due back in court June 30th.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton City Council will meet tonight in an adjourned city council meeting. Mayor Bill Ingold says the meeting will focus on grants for small businesses in the community…

 

 

Paxton Mayor Bill Ingold. Ingold says the city is working on a second round of grants for businesses that didn’t get their application in in time for the first round.


 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Village of Rantoul could make $300,000 available in grant money to aid small businesses. $203,000 will come from federal money while $97,000 is earmarked from the Federal Housing Rehabilitation Program to assist small businesses with 25 employees or less. The Rantoul village board is expected to approve the aid at their May meeting.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Iroquois County Emergency Management is promoting resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic. WPXN’s Cale Fleming has the details for how businesses can receive assistance…

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- First Busey Corporation reported first-quarter earnings of $15.4 million. The Champaign based bank said it had earnings of 28 cents per share. The results did not meet Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 36 cents per share. The bank holding company posted revenue of $112 million in the period. Its revenue net of interest expense was $97 million, which also did not meet Street forecasts. First Busey shares have dropped 35% since the beginning of the year.

 

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Cases of COVID-19 now total more than 48 thousand in 96 Illinois counties.

(Springfield-jm) -- Coronavirus deaths in Illinois hit a daily high Tuesday. 144 more people have died from the virus, bringing the total death toll to two thousand 125 says State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

State Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. Cases of COVID-19 now total more than 48 thousand in 96 Illinois counties. Locally, Ford County is reporting one additional case bringing the total to 9. Champaign County is reporting five new cases bringing their total to 114. Iroquois County is reporting four new cases bringing their total to 24. McLean County is reporting two new cases bringing their total number to 94. Vermilion County is reporting one new case bringing their total number to 18. They are also announcing their first death, a resident in his 70’s. Livingston County reported no new cases. Their total remains at 20 cases. Reminder, Governor Pritzker will hold his daily briefing at 2:30. We will have the latest on our news at 4 and 5.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says Illinois’ Stay at Home Order remains in effect despite Monday’s court ruling. The ruling from a Clay County judge temporarily halting the extended order only applies to the plaintiff, Representative Darren Bailey of Xenia says Governor Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The state is appealing although similar lawsuits could still be filed in other counties. Bailey says the Governor overstepped his authority by extending the stay at home order through May.


 

(Cullom-jm) -- An area ag teacher is being honored as one of five finalists for Ag Educator of the Year. Tri-Point High School FFA Advisor Diana Loschen was selected as a finalist for the Golden Owl Award by Nationwide Insurance. Loschen will receive a plaque and $500. The winner of the Golden Owl Award will receive $3,000 from Nationwide Insurance towards their schools ag program.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City is opening the South Park campground. The campground will open May 1st but to Gibson City residents only. Those with addresses outside of Gibson City will have to wait until after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. The city reminds the restrooms and showers will remain closed. A lockbox will be installed. Residents will be asked to fill out a sheet of paper with their name, address, phone number and license plate info. The cost is $10 per day.

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul village leaders are watching their budget due to the Coronavirus. The economic impact to the village isn’t known yet but Village Administrator Scott Eisenhower says they have made some cutbacks…

 

 

Rantoul Village Administrator Scott Eisenhower.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A local state senator is co-sponsoring legislation to limit lengthy emergency declarations without legislative input. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman is co-sponsoring the legislation. The legislation would allow the governor to issue the declaration for 30 days but would require legislative approval for extensions. If the General Assembly is unable to meet due to health/safety concerns, the Senate President, House Speaker and the House and Senate Minority Leaders would have to submit written certification that the legislature is unable to meet.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- This week saw a big jump in corn planting progress. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

While the number of cases locally rose yesterday, so has the number of recoveries. Ford County is reporting seven have been released from isolation while one is still in isolation. Champaign County is reporting 86 have recovered, 22 are active and 6 are hospitalized. Iroquois County is reporting 11 have recovered. Livingston County is reporting 16 have been released from isolation. McLean County is reporting  80 have recovered, one is hospitalized and 10 are on home isolation. Reminder, Governor Pritzker will hold his daily briefing at 2:30. We will have the latest on our news at 4 and 5.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The pace of soybean planting around the country is twice the five year average. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary Medical Center in Urbana and OSF HealthCare Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville are now requiring anyone entering the facilities to wear a mask. Those younger than 2 years old or those with medical conditions that would prohibit wearing a mask will be excused. If a personal mask is not available, a disposable mask will be provided.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An area lawmaker is pushing back against Governor J-B Pritzker’s push for a progressive income tax. During a recent daily briefing, Governor Pritzker says now more than ever it is important voters approve his progressive income tax in November. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington disagrees…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois is preparing for students to return to campus in the fall. In a mass email sent out Tuesday, University President Tim Killeen announced he is creating a task force to study how the university could prepare for classes in the fall with class sizes and dorms.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois House Republicans are asking for more transparency when it comes to how state prisons are handling the threat of COVID-19. Representative Avery Bourne of Morrisonville and some of her colleagues say they want more information about why certain inmates have been released and if victims have been notified…

 

 

State Representative Avery Bourne of Morrisonville. A list of inmates released early from state prisons since March 1st is available on the Illinois Department of Corrections website. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City was a part of the group speaking out…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Normal--jc)  --  A plan between Normal based Rivian and the Ford Motor Company  to build a Lincoln-branded electric vehicle in Normal has been canceled as the auto industry struggles to navigate the current pandemic. While there were never specific details about the product, where it would be built or timing for its launch, the automakers planned to build the new vehicle using startup electric truck manufacturer Rivian’s platform. The two companies are expected to re address the project in the near future.

 

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Nearly two thousand new COVID-19 cases are being reported, bringing the total to well over 45 thousand

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says the Coronavirus knows no regional boundaries. In his daily briefing, the Governor addressed downstate Illinoisans who think the virus is only a significant problem in Chicago and Cook County…

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Nearly two thousand new COVID-19 cases are being reported, bringing the total to well over 45 thousand. 50 more patients have lost their lives. The total death toll in Illinois is now one thousand 983. Locally, Vermilion County is reporting 3 new cases bringing their total number to 17. Champaign County is reporting 4 new cases and one additional death bringing their numbers to 109 total cases and 6 deaths. Iroquois County is reporting 2 new cases bringing their total number to 20. Kankakee County is reporting 6 new cases and one additional death bringing their numbers to 338 total cases and 27 deaths. McLean County is reporting 4 new cases bringing their total to 92 cases. Ford and Livingston Counties reported no new cases Monday. Governor J-B Pritzker will give his daily briefing this afternoon at 2:30. We will continue to have the latest on our news at 4 and 5.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois State Treasurer’s Office announced it's increasing the amount of money available to small businesses for low-interest bridge loans. The additional $500 million will help employers get through the COVID-19 pandemic with more support.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Farmers were able to get some planting done before the weekend rain hit as we hear in the weekly crop report. Precipitation was about an inch above normal this past week, but planting did progress says Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener…

 

State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. 37 percent of corn acres have been planted, up from 8 percent last week. 1 percent of corn has emerged. Average statewide topsoil moisture is rated as 1 percent short, 79 percent adequate and 20 percent surplus.

 

(Washington-jm) -- The USDA's  Cattle on Feed Report from Friday has some interesting and record setting numbers. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- More summer cancellations continue to roll in. Watseka garage sales and the Momence Glad Festival are the latest cancellations. The Watseka chamber of commerce hopes to reschedule townwide garage sales for August. The Momence Glad Festival, normally held in August, is canceling this year because of not enough financial support. Earlier this month, Crescent City announced they were canceling this year’s Fireball Festival while the Champaign County Freedom Celebration also canceled their 4th of July events.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- A Champaign restaurant has closed and their move to a new location could be off. Destihl was supposed to move from downtown Champaign to the new Carle at the Fields this summer. However, the Champaign locations facebook page has been removed and the company’s website only lists the Normal location.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton City Council meets tonight for their April meeting. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton police have released their recent activity report. On April 27th, Jessica Fayard, 28, of Paxton was cited for driving on a suspended license after a traffic stop at Walnut and Maple. A passenger, Timmy Fayard, 40, of Paxton was arrested for possession of cannabis, possession of meth and possession of drug paraphernalia. On April 25th, Jezmary Freytes Burgos, 40, of Paxton was arrested for aggravated domestic battery and criminal damage to property. On April 23rd, Chandler Marshall, 24, of Paxton was cited for driving on a suspended license.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- How does the climate forecast for the last week of April and beginning of May look? State Climatologist Trent Ford has the details…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford.

 

 

 Total COVID-19 cases in Illinois are now well above 45 thousand. One thousand 983 patients have died. Several of the area counties are seeing recoveries from the Coronavirus. Ford County is reporting 6 have been released from isolation with 1 still isolated. Champaign County is reporting 81 have recovered, 22 cases are still active and 5 are hospitalized. Iroquois County is reporting 11 of their cases have recovered. Livingston County is reporting 16 have been released from isolation. Vermilion County is reporting 1 hospitalized and 8 released from isolation. McLean County is reporting 78 have recovered, 1 hospitalized and 10 on home isolation. Kankakee County is reporting 87 have recovered. Governor Pritzker will hold his daily briefing at 2:30. We will have the latest on our news at 4 and 5.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health launched a new web page on its site. The new page lists the number of COVID-19 outbreaks amongst residents and staff at long-term care facilities in Illinois. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Farmers were able to get some planting done before the weekend rain hit as we hear in the weekly crop report. 18 percent of soybean acres have now been planted, up from 2 percent the previous week says Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener…

 

State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. 6 percent of winter wheat has headed and 63 percent of the crop is rated in good to excellent condition. And thanks to above normal rainfall, average statewide topsoil moisture is now rated at 1 percent short, 79 percent adequate and 20 percent surplus.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Small business owners are able to get help paying employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. 106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about the additional funding for the paycheck protection program and how small businesses can apply…

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Woodland-jm) -- An Iroquois County bridge will be under construction beginning next month. Starting May 4th County Highway 40 at 1400 N road, near the west edge of Woodland will be closed for bridge reconstruction. The project is expected to be completed in late October.

 

 

(Gifford-jm) -- Some fees for students in the Gifford Grade School District will be going up. Textbook fees will go up from $55 to $65, breakfast fees will go up from $1.30 to $1.50 and lunch fees will go up from $2.40 to $2.50. Athletic fees will remain the same at $15 per sport.

 

 

(Gilman-jm) -- Gilman is moving forward with their annual clean up days. The dates for this year’s clean up is May 13-15 says Mayor Rick Theesfield…

 

Gilman Mayor Rick Theesfield.

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Investigators believe a fire at a Mexican restaurant and grocery store in Rantoul was arson. The fire took place in the early morning hours of April 13th  at the business on North Garrard Street. The fire caused several hundred thousand dollars in damage. Anyone with information is asked to call Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 373-TIPS.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- Ford County mobile home tax owners are being reminded their tax bills are due soon. Ford County Treasurer Krisha Shoemaker says the bills are due May 1st…

 

 

Ford County Treasurer Krisha Shoemaker. Shoemaker says right now the county does not have plans in place at this time to address if someone can’t pay their bill May 1st because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Taxes can be dropped in the box in front of the courthouse or postmarked by May 1st.

 

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Governor J-B Pritzker says Illinois may not see the peak of Covid-19 until mid-May

(Springfield-jm) -- As unemployment claims in Illinois reach historic numbers during the COVID-19 outbreak, some households are working to manage debts. More than 600,000 Illinoisans have filed for unemployment since early March. That's about 5 times more unemployment claims than during the first 6 weeks of the Great Recession. Nathan Grant, senior credit industry analyst with the website Credit Card Insider, said the first step for those in debt should be to reach out to lenders, credit cards and banks. Grant said it would be financially smart to use some of the money people aren’t spending at bars and restaurants to pay down high-interest loans. Grant suggested using any federal stimulus money for the same purpose.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- With more than 33 thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19, Governor J-B Pritzker says Illinois may not see the peak until mid-May. The numbers continue to rise, including 119 additional deaths. The current stay at home order ends April 30th, and the Governor says they are looking at ways to tweak it moving forward…

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says he has ruled out opening everything back up on May 1st, since there still isn’t enough testing and tracking available. The virus has now been confirmed in all but six Illinois counties. Locally, Champaign County is reporting their 96th confirmed case, Livingston County is reporting their 18th confirmed case and Kankakee County is reporting 10 new cases and one additional death. Governor Pritzker will give his daily briefing at 2:30 this afternoon. We will have the latest numbers tonight on our news at 4 and 5.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Area counties are reporting COVID-19 recoveries and releases from isolation. Vermilion County is reporting six of their cases are released from isolation while Livingston County is reporting 16 released from isolation. Champaign County is reporting 79 of their cases have recovered while McLean County is reporting 73 recoveries and Kankakee County is reporting 65 recoveries.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says the state is offering more help for student loan borrowers and low income families struggling during the pandemic. The Governor says the state has secured relief options with 20 student loan providers…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Additionally, households receiving SNAP benefits will get a boost automatically added to their link cards. Families not receiving SNAP, but whose kids receive free or reduced meals at school will be able to apply for benefits at: abe dot illinois dot gov as early as next week.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Iroquois County Emergency Management is promoting resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic. WPXN’s Cale Fleming has the details for senior citizens…

 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Planting season is underway in Illinois. After a low crop season last year and trade wars with China causing market uncertainty, what will central Illinois farmers plant? Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Brad Uken provides some possible insight…

 

 

Champaign County Farm Bureau Manager Brad Uken.

 

 

(Fisher-jm) -- The Village of Fisher will spend just over $81,400 on road projects this year. In a 6-0 vote, the village set aside over $46,400 for seal coating and $29,450 for miscellaneous road repair projects.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A state lawmaker wants the U.S. Congress to allow the people of Illinois to sue China for damages from the COVID-19 pandemic. State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, earlier this month introduced two resolutions that he said would compel the People's Republic of China to pay the state of Illinois for damages caused by the virus by urging Congress to lift the sovereign immunity clause. Some have said that allowing people in the U.S. to sue China could open the U.S. up to legal actions from other countries.

 

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- Some area counties reported no new cases Tuesday. Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion Counties all reported no new cases. The Ford County Public Health did announce that one of their previously reported cases was at a congregate living facility.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As families spend more time together, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is reminding parents about the A-B-C’s of safe sleep. It all comes down to a few basics says DCFS Spokesperson Deborah Lopez…

 

 

DCFS Spokesperson Deborah Lopez. Lopez says the baby’s crib should have a firm mattress with tightly-fitted sheets and no pillows, blankets, stuffed animals or bumper pads. Unsafe sleep practices are the leading cause of death for children one year old and younger.

 

 

(Gifford-jm) -- One area business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is Gordyville. Spokesperson Jody Quiram says they’ve canceled all events in April but are looking at future events on a week by week basis…

 

 

Gordyville Spokesperson Jody Quiram.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Last week was a cold and wet week. How does the outlook for the remainder of April and beyond look? State Climatologist Trent Ford has the details…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford.

 

 

(Ludlow-jm) -- The Ludlow village board has given the green light to issue revenue bonds for the new water system project. At their monthly meeting, the village board approved the bonds not to exceed $940,000 to pay for their share of the new system. The project is estimated to cost $2.85 million. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- This is Work Zone Awareness Week and the Illinois Department of Transportation asks drivers to be careful and pay attention. There are less drivers on the roads these days, but that’s meant more speeders, says IDOT Spokesperson Maria Castaneda…

 

 

IDOT Spokesperson Maria Castaneda. The fine for speeding in a work zone is at least 250 dollars. Hit a worker and you face a fine of up to 25 thousand dollars and jail time.

 

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All but seven Illinois counties now have patients with confirmed Coronavirus infections

(Springfield-jm) -- Some state and federal lawmakers have questioned Illinois Senate Democrats' request for a $41 billion bailout from the federal government for state and local governments amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal lawmakers have approved and implemented several relief packages. One package included nearly $5 billion for Illinois to deal with the public health crisis. State Senate President Don Harmon’s request seeks $15 billion for the state, $10 billion for state pensions, $6 billion for unemployment, $1 billion for public health spending and $9.6 billion for municipalities. U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville said Illinois’ financial problems were around before the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

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(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois has lost 59 more people to the Coronavirus. That brings the total number of deaths to one thousand 349 and total cases now surpass 31 thousand. Governor J-B Pritzker says nearly 46 hundred of those patients are currently in the hospital…

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor cautions that it does not appear that Illinois has hit its peak yet. All but seven Illinois counties now have patients with confirmed Coronavirus infections. Ford County is reporting a new case of COVID 19, a male in his 80s. Vermilion County is also reporting a new case, a teenager. Kankakee County is reporting four new cases and one additional death.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The USDA has approved new benefits to feed kids in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Human Services announced that Illinois has been approved to provide approximately 316,000 Illinois households with additional SNAP benefits. The Pandemic EBT program will provide SNAP households in Illinois with roughly $112 million in additional benefits for their children.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Soybean planting has begun in Illinois. Farmers are getting some time in the fields, with about four days suitable for fieldwork last week says Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener…

 

State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. Two percent of winter wheat has headed and 68 percent of the crop is rated in good to excellent condition. Average statewide topsoil moisture is rated as one percent very short. Five percent short, 84 percent adequate and 10 percent surplus.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- IDOT is reminding drivers of the width restriction over a bridge on I-57 in Ford County. Because of the work on the I-57 bridge south of Paxton, the maximum width allowed is 10 feet 5 inches. Over the past few weeks, over width loads have attempted to drive through the zone and got stuck. All the loads were driving off their permitted route and disregarded the warning signs placed near Paxton and Rantoul. Each driver was issued citations.

 

 

(Fisher-jm) -- The Fisher School District is mourning the loss of a long time educator. The district announced the passing of Christine Jamison. Jamison was a special education teacher for the district for 13 years.

 

 

(Bloomington-jm) -- An area lawmaker is encouraging the Governor to look at all parts of the state when considering re-opening the state’s economy. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman says the Governor shouldn’t take a one size fits all approach to re-opening the state…

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington.

 

 

(Rantoul--jc)  Rantoul police are seeking information on the whereabouts of a person who drove a car into a fire hydrant at the corner of Urbana Avenue and Eagle Drive early Monday morning.  The Dodge Durango S-U-V came to rest near a building. The vehicle was on fire as Rantoul Fire Department officials arrived on the scene. No injuries were reported. If you have any information on this incident you are asked to call Rantoul police or Champaign County Crimestoppers. 

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Students around the state are adapting to changes following Governor J-B Pritzker’s order to close schools because of the Coronavirus. Rantoul Township High School Superintendent Scott Amerio talks about how his district is handling the crisis…

 

Rantoul Township High School Superintendent Scott Amerio.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Due to the stay at home order, the homeless population has slowly dwindled from once popular spots, such as the gas station or the downtown library. Local outreach programs for those without shelter, like Helping the Homeless, and social services, like United Way, continue to serve the homeless throughout the COVID-19 pandemic stay at home order. 

 

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois Senate Republicans are calling for greater communication from the governor’s office when he commutes prison sentences, but Governor JB Pritzker has not indicated he will make any voluntary changes to the process, which is spelled out in state law and also goes through the state Prisoner Review Board. The Chicago Tribune reported Pritzker commuted 17 sentences between March 11 and April 9. Another two commutations were conducted on April 13, according to the Prisoner Review Board. The Pritzker administration also faced a lawsuit from civil rights activists seeking the release of thousands more prisoners due to health concerns earlier this month, but a judge denied the request to intervene. According to the IDOC website, as of Monday, 148 incarcerated individuals had tested positive for COVID-19 in Illinois prisons, 62 of whom have recovered, and 135 prison staff had tested positive for the virus, 35 of whom have recovered.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says the state is working to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus in Illinois nursing homes. Facilities have already limited or banned visitors and boosted sanitization efforts. Public Health Officials have been deployed to nursing homes with outbreaks of the virus. Now, Governor J-B Pritzker says the state is ramping up testing, even at facilities where there are currently no cases...

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Infection data for Illinois long term care facilities is available online at: dph dot illinois dot gov slash COVID19.


 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois soon could run out of state funds to pay jobless benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. A new study produced by the Tax Foundation has found the state to be one of the least prepared for an economic crisis like the one the country is experiencing. Illinois has enough to pay out about 11 weeks of benefits before borrowing. That places the state 40th in the country in terms of how many weeks a state’s trust fund can cover. The ranking is based on 2020 fund solvency levels and initial and continuing claims as of April 4.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Soybean planting has begun in Illinois. Two percent of soybeans and eight percent of corn has now been planted. That’s a little ahead of last year. Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener turns to the winter wheat crop…

 

 

State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. Rain was below normal last week and average statewide topsoil moisture is rated as one percent very short, five percent short, 84 percent adequate and 10 percent surplus.

 

 

 

(Savoy-jm) -- The University of Illinois Police Department reports damage was done at the U of I Willard Airport in Savoy. An employee said that on Thursday night, someone caused about $1,000 in damage to a chain-link gate that provides access to the tarmac. Security camera footage showed the suspect had tried, unsuccessfully, to ram the gate with his vehicle.

 

(Paxton-jm) -- A Paxton business will be selling hand sanitizer from their parent company. Scott Allen, owner of Paxton Hardware and Rental says True Value has started their own brand…

 

 

Paxton Hardware and Rental Owner Scott Allen.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- At least $36 million will be offered in new, targeted financial aid to help students within the U of I System. The Students FIRST : COVID-19 Emergency Fund will help defray tuition, housing and other costs for undergraduate and graduate students experiencing unexpected shortfalls. The U of I System says financial aid for students from Illinois will be a priority, including a guarantee to cover next year’s tuition increase for every new in-state undergraduate student.

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- Ford County mobile home tax owners are being reminded their tax bills are due soon. Ford County Treasurer Krisha Shoemaker says the bills are due May 1st…

 

Ford County Treasurer Krisha Shoemaker. Shoemaker says right now the county does not have plans in place at this time to address if someone can’t pay their bill May 1st because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Taxes can be dropped in the box in front of the courthouse or postmarked by May 1st.

 

(Undated-jm) -- The annual Lyrid meteor shower will peak this week. The meteor shower, which is usually active in mid-April, will peak tonight into the early morning hours tomorrow, EarthSky reports. As many as 10 to 20 shooting stars per hour are expected to light up the night sky.

 

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Covid-19 has 1,197 new cases and 33 additional deaths in Illinois

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois lawmakers, citing the state’s pension costs, budget shortfalls, and empty unemployment trust, are asking for more than $40 billion in no-strings-attached aid from the federal government. In a letter to the state's Congressional delegation, Senate President Don Harmon said Illinois state government is projecting significant budget shortfalls in the current, coming and preceding fiscal years.  Illinois could see an estimated revenue loss of $14.1 billion for 2020-2021 due to this pandemic. The loss would deplete approximately one-third of Illinois’ general funds in one fiscal year, significantly impacting state services and long-term obligations.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says he wants things to get back to normal as much as anyone, but it will depend on the data. Each day the Governor is asked if the stay at home order will be extended and when can things open back up…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says it’s a tough challenge to balance public safety and people’s livelihoods. In his daily briefing Sunday, Governor Pritzker announced 1,197 new cases and 33 additional deaths bringing the total number of cases to 30,357 and total deaths to 1,290. Champaign County is reporting 95 total cases and four total deaths, Ford County is reporting five cases and one death, Iroquois County now has 14 cases after 2 new ones Friday. McLean County is reporting 85 confirmed cases and 3 deaths, Kankakee County has 279 confirmed cases and 18 deaths. Livingston County is reporting their first COVID-19 death. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Budgetary experts say Illinois is in for some real pain when lawmakers get around to crafting a budget for the coming fiscal year that will be marred by low revenue and higher bills due to the economic fallout over COVID-19 shutdowns. Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office revised its revenue estimate for the remainder of the current fiscal year and the one that begins in July. A predicted $2.7 billion shortfall from the current year will roll into next year’s budget that Pritzker says will hinge on his progressive tax proposal passing ballot muster in November. If the progressive income tax takes effect, the budget gap is approximately $6.2 billion. If the graduated income tax structure does not go into effect, the estimated budget gap is approximately $7.4 billion. Experts say cuts to education, social services and public safety will likely come to address the shortfall. Some experts also say a constitutional amendment to alter the state’s pension debt is needed.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Kids will be finishing out the school year from home. Schools will stay closed through the end of the academic year and students will continue learning remotely says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor recommends that grades issued during the pandemic reflect the unprecedented circumstances students currently face.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Last year, the nation’s corn farmers sent more than 5 billion bushels of corn to the ethanol industry. That’s about 40 percent of the product. With people driving less, that 40 percent of the corn market is disappearing. Ethanol is a form of alcohol used as an additive to gasoline, and the gasoline market is tanking fast. A spat between Saudi Arabia and Russia has lowered crude oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic means people aren’t driving and ethanol plants are slowing or shutting down.

 

(Urbana--jc)  -- Saturday just before 5pm, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office responded to Dobbins Down, Champaign for a male subject who had sustained a gunshot wound in the 2700 block of Dale Drive. A male subject was located and immediately transported from the scene to Carle Hospital for further medical treatment. This is an ongoing investigation. If anyone has information regarding the shooting or suspect information they’re encouraged to contact the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office @ 217-384-1213 or Champaign County Crime Stoppers @ 217-373-TIPS. 

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Iroquois County Emergency Management is promoting resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic. WPXN’s Cale Fleming has the details for those looking for childcare assistance…

 

 

 

(Gilman-jm) -- Could Iroquois West be the next school to leave the Sangamon Valley Conference? The school board will discuss the athletic conference at tonight’s school board meeting. The district will consider contracts with Homefield Energy and Tylex Energy. School board members will discuss the high school bathroom project and roof inspections. The Iroquois West School Board meeting gets underway at 7 pm at the Iroquois West High School cafeteria in Gilman.

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul Village Board approved the purchase of five new switch cabinets for the new $20 million sports complex on the village’s west side. Village Administrator Scott Eisenhower explains what a switch cabinet is…

 

 

Rantoul Village Administrator Scott Eisenhower.

 

 

(Fisher-jm) -- Fireworks are a go at least for now in the village of Fisher. The Fisher village board approved to pay 25 percent deposit to Jamaica Pyrotechnics for the show, currently planned for July 3rd. Because of the wording in the deal, if the village show can’t happen on July 3rd it can be pushed back to later in 2020. If it gets canceled this year, the company would apply as much of the deposit as possible to the 2021 show.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ nursing home residents account for an outsized portion of deaths attributed to COVID-19.  New information released Sunday shows long-term care facilities where residents or staff have contracted the virus and also lists the number of deaths. As of Sunday, 286 long-term care residents have died, presumably due to COVID-19. The information lists more than 1,800 cases but does not discern between cases borne by residents or health care workers. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has approximately 1,200 long-term care facilities that serve more than 100,000 residents. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Cases of COVID-19 now exceed 30 thousand in Illinois. Officials report nearly 12 hundred new cases and 33 additional deaths Sunday, bringing the total number of lives lost to the virus to one thousand 290. Governor J-B Pritzker urges people to wear a mask in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says he may still decide to mandate that everyone wear a mask in public. No word yet on if the stay at home order will be extended past April 30th. Champaign County is reporting 95 total cases and four total deaths, Ford County is reporting five cases and one death, Iroquois County now has 14 cases after 2 new ones Friday. McLean County is reporting 85 confirmed cases and 3 deaths, Kankakee County has 279 confirmed cases and 18 deaths. Livingston County is reporting their first COVID-19 death. 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The COVID-19 outbreak has put a damper on the 2020 census, which now has been extended until April 2021. The state of Illinois is in the process of losing one House seat and there’s no way we will be able to recover that one, and we’re actually on the fence of losing a second seat. That has big ramifications because it reduces Illinois’ voice in Washington D.C.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new telehealth program for Coronavirus patients is now available statewide. Anyone who has tested positive is eligible for the telehealth service, regardless of their health insurance says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Patients will get daily virtual visits from a health care worker and receive a wellness kit. Find the number for the telehealth program available in your area at: coronavirus dot illinois dot gov, under “resources.”

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- University of Illinois Police are asking for the public’s help in looking for a man who fled to Illinois after being involved in a shooting in Wisconsin. Ian J. Kearns, 22, of Sandwich, Illinois, and two other men are suspected to have been involved in the March 20 shooting death of a man in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, during a robbery attempt. The University of Illinois Police Department became involved when police in Eau Claire developed information that Kearns may have been staying with his girlfriend near the U. of I. campus. His car and some personal items were located at a Champaign motel.  Kearns is described as a white man, 5’7”, 180 pounds, with short brown hair, brown eyes, and a “VL” or “XL” tattoo on the front of his neck.


(Undated-jm) --  More nonprofits in central Illinois were awarded grants through the fourth round of the COVID-19 Response Fund. The United Way of Central Illinois announced a total of $80,000 was awarded to local nonprofits who are serving the community during the coronavirus pandemic. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Illinois and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Illinois each received $10,000.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police will be conducting Occupant Restraint Enforcement Patrols in April. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Kempton-jm) -- The Tri-Point School District will discuss several topics at tonight's school board meeting. School board members will be asked to approve participation in IESA and IHSA programs for the 2020-2021 school year, set fees for the 2020-2021 school year, hear an update on summer projects and discuss teacher placement for the 2020-2021 teacher placement. The Tri-Point School Board meeting gets underway at 7 pm.

 

 

(Gilman-jm) -- The Gilman City Council approved their motor fuel tax plan for this summer. Gilman Mayor Rick Theesfield talks about some of the areas that will see work…

 

 

Gilman Mayor Rick Theesfield.


 

(Thomasboro-jm) -- Thomasboro is suspending water disconnections and late payment fees on delinquent accounts because of the Coronavirus. The suspension, which runs until Governor J-B Pritzker ends the public health emergency, applies to residential, commercial and industrial customers.

 

Traffic Alert- Starting today and running through Friday morning, April 24th, you will likely experience traffic delays on I-57 near mile post 316 in Kankakee County. There will be nightly detours, traffic delays, and lane closures between the hours of 6 pm and 5:30 a.m. to remove the Larry Power Rd. overpass beams. Please avoid the area if possible or use Rt. 45/52 or Rt. 50 to detour the traffic congestion. Troopers will be in the area to assist with traffic issues.

 

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Illinois suffers its highest daily toll in the battle against the Coronavirus

(Springfield-jm) -- Fewer Illinoisans filed for unemployment last week, but the new numbers give additional insight into how the spread of COVID-19 is affecting the state's economy. According to statistics released by the U.S. Department of Labor, 141,000 people filed for unemployment benefits last week in Illinois. That is nearly 60,000 fewer than the week before. Nationwide, workers filed 5.2 million initial unemployment insurance claims in the week ending April 11. Americans have filed a total of 22 million claims over the past four weeks, a rate of job loss never before seen in American history.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois suffers its highest daily toll in the battle against the Coronavirus. 125 more lives have been lost to COVID-19. That brings the total number of deaths to one thousand 72. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says they learn more about the virus each day…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. There are now more than 25 thousand confirmed cases of Coronavirus in 90 Illinois counties. Governor Pritzker will hold his daily briefing at 2:30 this afternoon. We will have the latest numbers on our news at 4 and 5 tonight.

 

Locally Iroquois County reported their 12th case of COVID 19. Ford County remains at four confirmed cases with one death, Champaign County reported their 91st confirmed case and four deaths one of which Rantoul Mayor Chuck Smith confirmed was a resident of his community. McLean County reported their third COVID-19 death. They reported no new cases Thursday leaving their total at 82. Livingston County also reported no new cases. Kankakee County is reporting 21 new cases bringing their total to 265. 13 people have died from COVID-19 in Kankakee County.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Parents of children in foster have turned to technology to stay in touch with their children after DCFS suspended some in-person visits to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Gladys Boyd, president of the nationally-recognized Illinois Foster Adoptive Parent Association, said it’s sad that parents can’t hug their children and pick them up and be with them in person. Boyd said that when a child sees that the foster parent and the biological parents are getting along, it seems to make things work more smoothly. As the statewide stay-at-home order continues, social workers said they are concerned about how the lack of in-person visits could affect parent-child bonds. When they decide if a child can be returned to the biological parent, the strength of that bond is the main factor in that decision.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois and a handful of other midwestern states are coordinating efforts to reopen the regional economy. Governor J-B Pritzker says he’s talking with leaders in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana, exchanging ideas about what it will take to start getting back to normal…

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says that should include sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations and best practices for social distancing in the workplace. A small group gathered at the state capitol Thursday demanding the Governor reopen the state and get people back to work.

 

 

(Rural Elliott-jm) -- Elliott firefighters were called to a 2 vehicle accident Thursday afternoon. Firefighters were called to the accident at 200 N 1000 E around 3:30 pm. No word on if there were any injuries.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- Three people have been arrested following an armed robbery in Iroquois County this week. Police say the suspects lured the man to a place in Sheldon and robbed him of $500 in items and cash at gunpoint. 20 year old Daelin Hoffman-Williams, 19 year old Jayce Bowen and a juvenile female were arrested on charges of armed robbery, armed violence, possession of a stolen firearm and theft.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Spring is here and that means warmer weather and more farmers hitting the roads and fields. WPXN’s Jason Madden reports…

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The American Soybean Association is sending a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue. The group is requesting soybean specific assistance as the USDA develops Ag assistance packages for 2020. The American Soybean Association says COVID-19 has compounded the already down soybean market because of the U-S China trade war. Among the requests the group is asking for payment based on the lack of price recovery from the pandemic and trade war and the ability for growers to access and qualify for loans and programs.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Illinois House Republicans are demanding action after thousands of residents are having issues filing for unemployment with the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Since the Coronavirus outbreak began and Governor J-B Pritzker ordered all non-essential businesses to close, the number of people seeking unemployment has skyrocketed. Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin says something has to be done…

 

 

Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton firefighters were called to a bus fire late Thursday morning. The fire occurred in the 600 block of E. Pells around 10:30. No word on the cause of the fire. Firefighters were on scene for over an hour and a half.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois lawmaker and a county sheriff are raising fresh concerns about Governor J.B. Pritzker’s decision to release inmates as the spread of COVID-19 continues in the state’s prisons, including questions about transparency.  Illinois Department of Corrections officials confirmed the release of some inmates on a list released by State Rep. John Cabello. However, officials said the list included people who were released for reasons unrelated to the governor’s executive order and the transmission of COVID-19. The spreadsheet, titled “COVID FINAL list of early exits” listed the names of 761 inmates. The charges included murder, forcible sexual assault, armed robbery, making heroin, aggravated domestic battery, aggravated vehicular hijacking of a handicapped person and other violent crimes. The data was provided by Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey, who said his office found it on the Illinois Department of Corrections website after an exhaustive search. Subsequent searches turned up no such document.

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says Illinois is expanding testing efforts and loosening restrictions on who can get the test. The Governor says they have increased capabilities to run the tests and the equipment needed to do so. That means more people can be tested…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says they recommend that sites test anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms like cough, fever and shortness of breath. He urges people with only mild symptoms to check with their doctor first. Testing sites will be posted at: coronavirus dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Traffic on I-57 southbound had to be diverted through Paxton Thursday afternoon. An oversized load couldn’t make it through the bridge construction zone south of Paxton and had to back up to the Paxton exit. State Police say this is the third time that traffic had to be re-routed on the interstate while construction is ongoing because oversized load drivers are disobeying the IDOT routes that send them on Route 45 between Paxton and Rantoul. The drivers who disobey the routes are fined.

 

 

(Gilman-jm) -- Two Gilman men have been arrested for possessing a stolen vehicle. Police say 19 year old Dylan Blair and 24 year old Daniel Blair were spotted in a vehicle reported stolen. Dylan Blair faces additional charges of aggravated fleeing and eluding, speeding, disobeying a stop sign and no valid drivers license.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The Agriculture Secretary says there's no shortage of food in this country. It's just taking the food system a little time to adjust to the new demand situation.  Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois said it's been preparing for the best- and worst-case scenarios since January when it comes to COVID-19, but never thought they might serve as a possible overflow hospital. Just a few weeks ago, the Activities and Recreation Center was filled with students. Now, the vacant facility could be turned into a potential overflow hospital for Carle Hospital patients. In addition, U of I may house medical staff in their residence halls.

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- The Coronavirus has caused several state agencies to adjust guidelines and due dates. One of those affected is FOID card and Concealed Carry licenses, says 106th State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City…

 

 

106th State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

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The Illinois Department of Public Health is announcing more than 13 hundred new COVID-19 cases and 80 additional deaths

(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois professor of economics said he expects it will take some time for the economy to get back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic. Carl Campbell, professor of economics at Northern Illinois University, said even he was startled by the number of unemployment claims. Campbell says he thinks the expanded federal unemployment benefits will lessen the impact as long as people can apply. It is no secret Illinoisans have experienced issues with the IDES website and some are unable to get through to the call center. Campbell said he expected some businesses would begin to open up in May, but not at full capacity.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state’s retail association wants municipalities across the state to get on the same page when it comes to enforcing social distancing policies and the statewide stay-at-home order. Some cities and towns have enacted their own ordinances following Governor J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order to allow local police to enforce social distancing in retail stores deemed essential and open to the public. Illinois Retail Merchants Association Vice President Alec Laird said the lack of uniformity across the state puts businesses in a tough spot, especially if there are added economic sanctions. He also warned against having stores be the enforcers saying it puts employees at risk.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is announcing more than 13 hundred new COVID-19 cases and 80 additional deaths. That brings the total number of cases to more than 24 thousand in 89 Illinois counties. 948 people have died. Governor J-B Pritzker has recommended people wear masks in public, but what about mandating them…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor reminds that even if you wear a mask, you should still maintain a safe distance from others. Iroquois County is reporting their 11th case of COVID. Vermilion County is reporting their 9th case. Champaign County is reporting two new COVID-19 deaths bringing their total to 4 and one new case bringing their total number of cases to 90.

 

(Rural Thomasboro-jm) -- Firefighters believe a short in a video game controller caused a fire in rural Thomasboro. Firefighters were called to the house northwest of Thomasboro after the homeowner came home, heard the smoke detector going off and found a mattress in a second floor bedroom on fire. There was no structural damage to the house and minimal smoke damage. Rantoul firefighters assisted on the call.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Will online grocery shopping devastate our local grocery stores? Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson City leaders are expected to discuss some relief for businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic in a special meeting tonight. Council members will be asked to delay liquor license renewal dates to July 31 and prorate fees for months the establishments are closed. Council members will also be asked to consider waiving CDAP interest and payments for businesses affected by COVID-19 and also creating a small business loan program to help businesses affected by COVID-19. In non-COVID-19 action, council members will be asked to approve the purchase of flowers and plants for two intersections in the downtown area. The Gibson City city council meeting gets underway at 7pm. 

 

 

(Fithian-jm) -- While the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Illinois, Governor J-B Pritzker is doing daily updates on the state’s response to both the crisis and the side effects including unemployment issues among other issues. The Governor has been holding his daily briefings in Chicago which local State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian says is rubbing some downstaters the wrong way since the majority of cases are in the Chicagoland area…

 

 

State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

(Chicago--jc)  -- Will there be a state fair this year? Illinois Governor. J.B. Pritzker says he’s hopeful the fair can happen as scheduled this summer but said it’s still unclear if concerns over spreading COVID-19 will subside by August. The governor said there’ll have to be a decision made soon before vendors for the fair look to finalize contracts. Closer to home local county fairs continue to be scheduled with the Ford County Fair in late June with the Champaign, Iroquois and Fisher Fair in July. WPXN News will continue to follow this issue.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Gov. J.B. Pritzker defended his decision Wednesday to arrange for two charter flights to transport millions of masks and gloves from China to Illinois to bolster the state's limited supply of personal protective equipment as it responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. The flights, which cost about $1.7 million, were listed in a new state comptroller portal that tracks state spending on the public health crisis. Details of the flights are being kept secret out of fear President Donald Trump's administration might seize the cargo, Pritzker said. State officials arranged the flights to Shanghai with FedEx Trade Networks. Records show the state prepaid $888,275 for each flight, according to the comptroller's website.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Business closures and government stay-at-home orders have taken their toll on the American economy, but they have offered a silver-lining to some in Illinois: Fewer robocalls. To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the new coronavirus that’s killed hundreds in Illinois alone, state and local governments have restricted business operations to only essential businesses. YouMail estimated that robocalls nationwide declined in March to 4.1 billion calls from 4.8 billion in February.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Coronavirus pandemic is blowing a huge hole in the state budget. Governor J-B Pritzker says you don’t have to be an epidemiologist to see that the virus is going to hit our budget hard…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says that number will be even higher if voters don’t approve his graduated income tax plan in November. He urges Congress to pass another stimulus bill to help out struggling states.

 

(Vermilion County-jm) -- Officials are conducting an investigation after human remains were uncovered in Vermilion County. Vermilion County Coroner Jane McFadden announced the remains were discovered over the weekend. The Vermilion County Sheriff's Office, the Vermilion County Coroner's Office, and Illinois State Police are continuing the investigation.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police in Ashkum will be conducting Alcohol Countermeasure Enforcement Patrols in April. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A new school board member is expected to be named at tonight’s Rantoul City School board meeting. School board members will also do a first reading of some board policies. The Rantoul City School board meeting gets underway at 6:30 pm.

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- A move by Governor J-B Pritzker to furlough the sentences of some state prisoners has lawmakers raising some concerns. 106th State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City joined several lawmakers in raising those concerns…

 

 

106th State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

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A new survey finds most COVID-19 patients in Illinois are recovering

(Springfield-jm) -- Hospital occupancy rates have fluctuated in recent weeks, but the trend is giving some a bit of cautious optimism as Illinois works to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Governor J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday said the state’s doubling rate of COVID-19 cases, or the number of days it takes for the state’s number of positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths to double has increased, and that’s a good thing. The governor’s office said the case doubling rate on March 22 was just over 2 days. By April 12, the administration said the rate increased to 8.17 days. Similarly the mortality doubling rate has increased. At the beginning of April it was at 2.5 days and it is now at 5.5 days.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new survey finds most COVID-19 patients in Illinois are recovering. The Illinois Department of Public Health sent out electronic surveys to patients, asking how they are feeling after testing positive. Staff also called those who didn’t respond and interviewed them over the phone. Dr. Ngozi Ezike shares the results…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. 69 percent reported no symptoms after 28 days and feeling much better. The Governor will hold his daily briefing at 2:30. We will provide the latest update in our news at 4 and 5.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday that state's financial footing would be further tested as Illinois responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. Illinois has already spent $168.5 million responding to the outbreak, according to figures from the state comptroller’s office. The Governor is joining other state Governor’s in asking for federal assistance.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says he’s talking with leaders in other states about how things will eventually return to normal. The Governor says he’s spoken with his counterparts on the East Coast and in the midwest so far…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says his pre-conditions include more testing, tracking the virus, treatment and personal protective equipment availability for the general population.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration  announced on Tuesday it will award $446,739,181 in aid to 78 airports in Illinois. Champaign’s Willard Airport will receive $1.8 million while Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington will receive $4.6 million.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Iroquois County Emergency Management is hosting a PPE drive during the COVID-19 pandemic. WPXN’s Cale Fleming has the details…

 

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- Local police have released recent activity. Gibson City police arrested Michael Price, 38, for domestic battery on April 11th. On April 13th, Derrick Akerland, 23, of Paxton was arrested for possession with intent to deliver, possession of a controlled substance, possession with intent to deliver cannabis, possession of cannabis, possession of adult use cannabis in a motor vehicle, operating an uninsured motor vehicle and improper lane usage following a traffic stop on E. State Street. A Paxton officer noticed a one hitter pipe in plain site and a search uncovered several pills of alprazolam and several baggies of cannabis. Both suspects were taken to the Ford County Jail.

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Summer maintenance projects and the fiscal year 20 budget hi-lite the agenda for the Paxton Buckley Loda School Board meeting tonight. In addition, school board members will also consider the Project Lead the Way grant for the junior high. The PBL School board meeting gets underway at 6pm.

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Many of the state’s offices have closed due to COVID-19. One of those closed is drivers services facilities. State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City talks about some of the changes coming from the Secretary of State’s office…

 

 

State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul police continue to seek the public's help in the search for a suspect from a shooting last week. The shooting occurred Friday afternoon at Falcon Way apartments. Police say an 18 year old was shot in the upper back and taken to the hospital with non life threatening injuries. Police don’t have any suspects at this time. Anyone with information is asked to call Rantoul Police.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Despite a slowdown in February, U.S. sales of agricultural products to China so far this fiscal year are far higher than the year before. USDA announced another big sale. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul is warning the public about scams related to economic stimulus payments. The first wave of payments is just going out and Attorney General Raoul says his office is already getting complaints about con artists trying to get people’s personal information. He offers this advice…

 

 

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul. Raoul reminds you don’t have to apply for the payments, pay any fees or give out personal information in order to receive the money.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois’ small businesses are in a better position to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic than those in most other states. Illinois has the 7th least affected small business marketplace, according to a study from Wallethub. Illinois scored well in the share of small businesses operating in high-risk industries, ranking 46th, and also high risk among total small business employees, ranking 45th.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $218 million to Illinois institutions of higher education for emergency financial aid to students. The funding, which comes from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the CARES Act, will be used to provide cash grants to students for expenses related to disruptions to their educations due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Colleges and universities will be required to use the funding to provide cash grants to students to cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

(Ivesdale-jm) -- First responders were called to a motorcycle accident in rural Champaign County. The accident occurred east of Ivesdale. The man driving the motorcycle was airlifted to the hospital.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Saving time and money at the supermarket or grocery store could be as simple as seeing what is in your food pantry, fridge or freezer. Rod Bain reports…

 

 

 

(Gifford-jm) -- The Gifford Grade School board will meet tonight where fees for the upcoming school year will be discussed. School board members will set meal fees as well as textbook and athletic fees. School board members will also discuss the districts plan moving forward. The Gifford Grade School meeting gets underway at 5:30.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Spring means flowers blooming and farmers in the field. That also brings havoc to allergy sufferers. But how can you tell the difference between allergies and the Coronavirus. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Iroquois County-cf)-- Iroquois County Health Officials have reported a tenth case of COVID-19. According to IDPH the man is in his 60’s. Three of the ten cases in Iroquois County have recovered from the virus. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- This is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services says we must stay vigilant during the pandemic. Given the current stay at home order, it’s important that those who do have contact with kids, reach out says DCFS Acting Director Marc Smith…

 

DCFS Acting Director Marc Smith. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, call the DCFS 24 hour hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE.

 

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1,173 new cases of Coronavirus are being announced and 74 additional deaths

(Springfield-jm) -- Coronavirus deaths in Illinois are close to 800. 1,173 new cases are being announced and 74 additional deaths. That brings the total number of confirmed infections to more than 22 thousand. 794 have now died. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. COVID-19 patients have ranged in age from younger than one to over 100. 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Ford County is reporting their 4th confirmed case of COVID-19. The individual is a woman in her 40s. Champaign County is reporting 2 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 87. Kankakee County is reporting 7 new cases bringing their total number of cases to 220. Livingston County is also reporting an additional case bringing their total number to 17. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says the state is working to meet unprecedented demand for unemployment benefits. The Illinois Department of Employment Security received more than half a million unemployment claims from March 1st through April 4th. To handle the influx, the Governor says the state has brought in recently retired employees and expanded daily call center hours…

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says they have also eased eligibility requirements and waived the week people usually have to wait to get benefits. House Republicans say their offices have been inundated with complaints about the claim filing process. State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian provides his thoughts on the issue…

 

 

Local State Representative Mike Marron of Fithian.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A new bill would require the June property tax bill to be pushed back 90 days and comes as several Illinois counties look at ways to give taxpayers additional time.  Property tax bills are due in June and September in Illinois. Seeing the economic fallout from business shutdowns and layoffs from COVID-19 measures, there’s a new push to waive any penalties for taxpayers not paying their summer property tax bills as long as the payments are made before the September bill comes due. While state law allows counties to delay payment, East Dundee Republican Rep. Allen Skillicorn has filed legislation that would make it explicit. The bill also puts a blanket 90-day delay of the June 1 tax bill. It wouldn’t affect those who pay property taxes in escrow or those who have prepaid. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Many frontline employees will be able to get worker’s compensation if they contract the Coronavirus under a new emergency rule. The rule assumes that police, firefighters, healthcare workers and grocery store employees who contract COVID-19, got it on the job and are therefore eligible for worker’s comp. Alice Johnson with the Illinois Nurses Association says the change is appreciated and necessary…

 

 

Illinois Nurses Association’s Alice Johnson. This covers several other industries including laundry service, restaurants offering drive thru and delivery and more. Business groups oppose the new rule, saying employers are already struggling to get by.

 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Normally tonight the city of Paxton would meet for their monthly meeting. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will not meet tonight. The meeting will take place on April 28th at 7pm.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- United Way and the Community Foundation are moving quickly to get help where it's needed most. Thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund, the Fund is able to release the largest and broadest wave of funds to date. Wave 3 of Relief Funds includes $234,000 to support food, housing, and financial assistance. $126,000 to 14 programs to provide food for families, homebound seniors, and food pantries. $36,000 to 4 organizations to provide emergency shelter and mortgage assistance. $22,000 to five organizations to provide one-time emergency financial aid to families. To donate to the fund, visit www dot uwayhelps dot org slash COVID19

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- A COVID-19 resource guide to federal programs for rural communities, organizations and individual use is available. The USDA stated the COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide is a resource for rural leaders to find information about federal funding and partnership opportunities during the pandemic. For more information on the actions the USDA has taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit usda dot gov slash coronavirus.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Corn planting has started as we hear in the weekly crop report. There were nearly five days suitable for fieldwork this past week, letting farmers continue tilling and spraying and begin planting says Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener…

 

 

State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. 61 percent of the winter wheat crop is rated in good to excellent condition, which is about the same as last week. Average statewide topsoil moisture is rated as six percent short, 79 percent adequate and 15 percent surplus.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Coronavirus’ impact could be felt for months and maybe years to come for some communities. One community that could feel that impact is Rantoul. Work on the site of the new $20 million sports complex continues however business development around the complex could be hampered. The complex is expected to draw hotels, retail establishments and restaurants. Village leaders say with the current restrictions in place, they can’t do site visits with potential developers.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- April started out warm but has since cooled down to below average. So how does the rest of the month look? State Climatologist Trent Ford has the details…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford.

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Hospitality workers will be getting some financial help from the Visit Champaign County Foundation. The foundation and with the Visit Champaign County Board have created a Hospitality Relief Fund to provide direct financial support for individuals who have immediately formerly worked in the greater Champaign County area as housekeepers, caterers, cooks, front desk staff or anywhere in our hotel partner operations. A $250 cash award will go to staff members at each of the foundation's 24 hotel partners. 

 

(WPXN-cf)- There is a fun and creative way to get your kids outside while the weather is getting warmer! WPXN’s Cale Fleming has the details 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Court-ordered fines that were due to the Champaign County court system between March 16 and April 30 have received a nearly six-month extension. Champaign County Judge Tom Difinas signed a court administrative order on the matter Monday. The order extends the payment due date for assessments, fines, fees, costs and restitution in traffic, DUI, criminal felony, criminal misdemeanor and juvenile delinquency to 180 days past their original date.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul village board members will discuss a handful of items at tonight’s village board meeting. Village leaders will discuss redistricting, discuss and potentially vote on the fiscal year 2020-21 budget, approve a construction contract for Rudzinski Park redevelopment and approve switch cabinets for the new sports complex. The Rantoul village board meeting gets underway at 6pm. Those who wish to participate can call 892-6810.

 

 

(Rantoul--jc)  A fire to a Rantoul business property caused 250 thousand dollars in damages. Rantoul firefighters were called to a property at 124 North Garrard around 12-30 Monday morning. The fire caused an additional 250 thousand dollars to the contents inside the building. The building at 126 North Garrard was also damaged by the blaze. An estimation on damage to that building was placed at 150 thousand dollars. No injuries were reported, but the family living on the second floor of the address were displaced by the incident. The State Fire Marshal’s office is on the scene trying to find out what started the fire. Gifford and Thomasboro fire departments assisted Rantoul Firefighters. They were on the scene for over 6 hours. 

 

 

 

 

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The Internal Revenue Service deposited the first wave of stimulus payments on Saturday

(Undated-jm) -- The Internal Revenue Service deposited the first wave of stimulus payments on Saturday, the agency said. This is part of the $2 trillion bill passed by Congress to stimulate the economy after the decline caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The payment is based on federal tax returns for 2019 or 2018. Americans who made less than $75,000 in 2019 will be eligible for the full payment of $1,200. Couples who filed together and made less than $150,000 will get $2,400. For every child in the household, an additional $500 will be paid.  The payment will not be taxed.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Cases of Coronavirus now top 20 thousand in Illinois, but Governor J-B Pritzker says there are some signs the curve is stabilizing. The Governor is reporting  more than 16 hundred new cases and 43 additional deaths. That’s with an increase in testing to nearly eight thousand for the day…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Additionally, Governor Pritzker says the latest death toll is the lowest it’s been in six days.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Iroquois County is reporting their 9th confirmed case of COVID-19. The individual is a woman in her 40s. Champaign County has 85 confirmed cases and 2 deaths, Ford County 3 confirmed and 1 death, McLean County 77 confirmed cases and 2 deaths, Vermilion County 9 confirmed cases, Livingston County 16 confirmed cases and Kankakee County has 213 confirmed cases and 11 deaths.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- We aren’t out of the woods yet, but Governor J-B Pritkzer says his office is discussing what returning to normal would look like. The Governor says when will depend on the rate of Coronavirus infection and recovery, but the how will be a little trickier…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says they want to be very careful so as to not cause a resurgence of cases.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The coronavirus outbreak could put the brakes on the housing market in Illinois. In February, homes sales were up 5 percent and the median prices increased 7 percent compared to the previous year. Ed Neaves, president of Illinois Realtors, said its seller's market. Geoffrey Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois, said it is unclear how the pandemic will affect the housing market. In the past, consumers have become very risk-averse when faced with uncertainties about the economy,” Hewings said. “The difference with the current crisis is the limitations on interactions and fear of infection. This may prove to have a very significant impact on the housing market over the next two to three months.”

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state is launching a new mental health text line for those struggling during the pandemic. The initiative, “Call-for-Calm”, lets the public speak to a mental health expert for free says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Text “TALK” to 55-2020 and a counselor will call within 24 hours. You can also text key words like “unemployment” or “food” to receive more information on those topics. The number again is 55-2020.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The COVID-19 recession is already expected to be deeper than the Great Recession that ended in 2009, but the recovery could be quicker. University of Illinois Springfield Professor Kenneth Kriz said there are two possible economic recoveries once the state lifts the government-imposed economic shutdown that was implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19. A V-shaped recession would be an immediate bounce back, that’s what the National Association of Business Economists see. Some other forecasters have looked at a U-shape, which would be a slightly longer recovery period.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Secretary of State Jesse White’s Office is further extending expiration dates for Illinois driver’s licenses. Once Illinois Driver Services Facilities reopen, you’ll have about an extra three months now to renew your license, I-D card or vehicle registration says Secretary of State Spokesperson Dave Druker…

 

 

Illinois Secretary of State Spokesperson Dave Druker. There are several things you can do online, like renewing your vehicle registration and your license if you qualify for the safe driver renewal program. Visit: cyber drive illinois dot com.

 

 

(Roberts-jm) -- Weather permitting the village of Roberts will be flushing hydrants starting today.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- One person was taken to the hospital with non life threatening injuries following a shooting in Rantoul Friday afternoon. Police were called to the 1100 block of Falcon Drive at the Falcon Way Apartments for a person who was shot around 2:40 pm. Police continue to investigate. Anyone with information is asked to call Rantoul Police or Champaign County Crimestoppers.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- Paxton firefighters were called to assist firefighters in Iroquois County with a barn fire Saturday morning. Firefighters were called to the barn fire at 637 N 100 E around 11:45 Saturday morning. No word on the cause of the fire.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Ford County Board could declare a State of Emergency at tonight’s county board meeting. In addition, county board members are expected to approve a law enforcement contract with Melvin, approve a mutual aid agreement between Ford County EMA and Paxton EMA and award bids for roadwork in Dix Township and Pit Road. The Ford County Board meeting gets underway at 7pm. The public is invited to attend via phone 1(866)899-4679 AND THE ACCESS CODE IS 558-713-157#

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Iroquois County Emergency Management is promoting resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic. WPXN’s Cale Fleming has the details for how businesses can receive assistance…

 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The Central District of Illinois is helping the local healthcare community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The District donated nearly 500 masks, including 175 N95 respirator masks, previously stored at its various courthouses, to help combat the personal protective equipment shortage our nation is facing. The Urbana division donated to the Champaign Urbana Public Health Department.

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says the minimum wage increase scheduled for July 1st should go on as planned. The state minimum wage will rise from the current $9.25 an hour to $10 an hour this summer. Some business groups, lawmakers and other elected officials are calling for the increase to be delayed since many small businesses are really struggling during the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

(Rantoul--jc) Firefighters from Rantoul and several other departments were called to a building fire earlier this morning in the village. Firefighters were called to a building in the 100 block of Garrard Street in the downtown area of the village around 12-30 this morning. Firefighters remained on the scene as of the 6am hour. The building had housed a Mexican restaurant. No word on cause or damage estimates were available. Gifford and Thomasboro firefighters assisted Rantoul firefighters. WPXN will update this story as more information becomes available. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- 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. Illinois Department of Aging distributed the funds, provided through Emergency Assistance Services grants, to the state’s 46 Care Coordination Units to support meals programming for older Illinoisans at the highest risk for malnutrition and hunger. If you or an older family member, friend, or neighbor are in need of any kind of assistance contact the Senior HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (hearing impaired call 888-206-1327).

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois' Attorney General is warning residents to stay vigilant and report scams involving planned federal economic stimulus payments. As part of the $2.2 trillion federal CARES Act, people who earn up to $75,000 a year and married couples who earn up to $150,000 a year will get one-time direct payments of up to $1,200 for individuals who pay taxes and $2,400 for married couples, plus $500 per child, according to a news release from the Illinois Attorney General's Office. Attorney General Kwame Raoul urged people to not respond to email messages, text messages, letters or phone calls regarding the CARES Act stimulus package that request personal information or ask recipients to click on a link. Such messages likely are sent by scammers to steal personal information.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As planting season begins, the Illinois Department of Labor is urging both drivers and farmers to practice safety. You’re probably starting to see more farmers out on the roads and that can slow you down. But Department of Labor Spokesperson Mike Matulis urges motorists to approach cautiously...

 

 

Illinois Department of Labor Spokesperson Mike Matulis. Matulis says drivers also need to remember farm vehicle operators have limited rear visibility. Farmers should make sure they are well rested, buckled in properly and have the proper lighting on their equipment.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Local mothers in need of milk won't have to travel far to find it. The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District is now the home of central Illinois' first human milk dispensary. It will offer donor milk to families at home when mothers have a low milk supply, are sick, on certain medications, or in cases where a baby is adopted or there's a surrogate mom.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The Champaign County Coroner’s office is releasing the name of a teen killed in Urbana over the weekend. Coroner Duane Northrup says 15 year old Tearius Pettis died at Carle Foundation Hospital Saturday night after a shooting that afternoon on Philo Road in Urbana. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

 

 

(Gilman-jm) -- The Gilman city council is expected to discuss a trio of topics at tonight’s city council meeting. Council members are expected to set their motor fuel tax resolution, set city wide clean up days for May 13-15 and discuss renewing video gaming licenses for establishments. The Gilman city council meeting gets underway at 7pm.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul Township High School school board will meet for their monthly meeting tonight. School board members will be asked to designate Chromebooks as surplus equipment and approve bid specs for the foods room remodel, west wing chiller replacement and interior door replacement projects. The meeting gets underway at 7pm and will be live streamed on principal Todd Wilsons facebook page.

 

 

(Springfield-jc) -- 105th  District State Representative Dan Brady (R-Normal) on Tuesday night at 6pm  will host a public conference call outlining vital information to help local small businesses and workers impacted by the coronavirus crisis navigate unemployment procedures and programs available to help. Brady says this is one way to help…

 

 

105th District State Representative Dan Brady of Normal

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul police are investigating a report of shots fired. Police say they received a call of shots fired around 9 pm on April 5th in the area of Sangamon Avenue and Ludlow Street. Detectives found two shell casings. No suspects or victims were located. Anyone with information is asked to call Rantoul police.

 

 

(Cissna Park-cf)-- The deadline to file your taxes has been moved back a few months due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The deadline is now July 15 for your taxes to be completed however, you can file your taxes now and if you owe, you can pay up until the July 15th deadline says Russel Leigh of Russel Leigh and Associates in Cissna Park… 

 

 

Russell Leigh  of Russel Leigh and Associates in Cissna Park and Gibson City. 

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Illinois gun owners frustrated with delays are getting a reprieve

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois gun owners frustrated with delays are getting a reprieve. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic brought things to a virtual standstill, Illinois State Police officials said they were working through a backlog of tens of thousands of Firearm Owner Identification card renewal requests. Some applicants said they have waited months. On Thursday, the Illinois State Police filed emergency rules effective immediately that made expired cards valid during the disaster and for 12 months after. The new rules also say CCL renewal applicants won’t have to file proof of three-hours of additional training through the emergency, but they will have to file them within a year of the end of the emergency order.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- More than 500 people in Illinois have lost their lives to the Coronavirus. Total COVID-19 cases are now over 16 thousand, and 528 patients have died. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says now is not the time to become complacent…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. State officials say the curve is starting to bend in Illinois, but that is because of current precautions. They urge everyone to continue staying home and social distancing. Iroquois County is reporting their 8th confirmed case. Champaign County is announcing their 2nd COVID-19 death, a Champaign man in his 70s. 


 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says organizers of large summer events should consider canceling. The current stay at home order lasts until April 30th and the Governor says he doesn’t expect that to end early. He says we will need to be careful as well during the summer months…

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Governor Pritzker says he knows that’s hard to hear but that they want to prevent another spike in cases in Illinois. Some local summer events have already been canceled including the Champaign County Freedom Celebration and the Crescent City Fireball Festival.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Unemployment claims in Illinois jumped nearly 13% last week, with 201,041 new claims largely attributable to the spread of the coronavirus. The jump in Illinois, breaking a record set just a week earlier at 178,421, comes as new claims nationally dipped slightly, according to the Labor Department. State officials increased the number by 101 from an earlier federal estimate. Nationally, new claims totaled 6.6 million, a dip of 3.8% from the previous week, the Labor Department said.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA says export prospects for most U.S. crops are much dimmer than it appeared just a month ago. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Rural Paxton-jm) -- Traffic was diverted from I-57 through Paxton yesterday afternoon following an incident on the interstate south of town. Illinois State Police say a wide load truck disregarded the approved route provided by IDOT. The truck was unable to make it through the construction at the bridge south of Paxton and had to back all the way up to Paxton. While the semi had to back up to Paxton, the southbound lanes were shut down and traffic rerouted to Route 45. 

 

 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Transportation is issuing a weight restriction on a portion of Ford County road. The weight restriction affects a bridge over a culvert on Route 115 about 5.6 miles south of Route 24. The load restriction is 41 tons and is due deteriorating conditions of the existing structure. IDOT says the bridge is expected to undergo replacement soon.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Non-profits are suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that there are grants available to non-profits through the Charitable Trust Stabilization Fund. The great news is that non-profit organizations now have until April 30 to submit their paperwork to get the grant. Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs says $375,000 in grants is available. The next application cycle runs from July 1 to September 30, 2020. Visit illinois treasurer dot gov to complete the application.

 

 

(Buckley-jm) -- Those looking for an Easter meal can do so this Sunday in Buckley. Christ Lutheran High School will be hosting a drive thru Easter meal says Executive Director Sandy Spitz…

 

 

Christ Lutheran High School Executive Director Sandy Spitz.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Weather has delayed site prep work for the new sports complex in Rantoul. The village planned additional days into the construction schedule. The $20 million sports complex is expected to open in 2021.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The COVID-19 recession could be worse than the Great Recession, according to a University of Illinois task force. The University of Illinois's Institute of Government and Public Affairs assembled more than four dozen faculty experts from the three system universities to serve on the task force. The findings predict the COVID-19 crisis will likely squeeze the finances of all local governments and have a “trickle-down” effect. The crisis will squeeze the finances of all local governments, counties, municipalities, school districts and transit agencies. The report emphasizes there will be no easy answers, but suggested that policymakers focus on 5 basic principles: transparency, protection of the vulnerable, economic efficiency, minimizing borrowing for operating purposes and flexibility.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Infants and toddlers with disabilities or delays will now be able to have Early Intervention services through live video visits. An EI provider and family will need to be present during the visit. EI services include help with movement, learning, interacting, behavior, and self-help skills. The COVID-19 social distancing guidelines led to EI services being suspended on March 16. Families can access EI services through the Illinois Department of Human Services website.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Amidst social distancing, Farm Service Agency offices around the country are still open -- just pick up your phone instead of going in person. Stephanie Ho reports…

 

 

 

(Bloomington-jm) -- State Farm is one of the latest car insurance companies to give drivers a break on their insurance because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bloomington based company says customers will see a 25 percent policy credit. State Farm joins Allstate, American Family Insurance, Geico, Liberty Mutual and USAA in offering similar discounts.

 

(Champaign-jm) -- The State Farm Center and Assembly Hall at the University of Illinois as well as Soldier Field in Chicago were lit in blue last night. It was part of project Light it Blue to show support for healthcare, frontline and essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul City School board has selected a new board member. The school board held a special meeting this week to interview potential candidates to replace Kevin McCallister who resigned. The new board member will be announced and introduced at the school boards April 16th meeting.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police in Ashkum will be conducting Alcohol Countermeasure Enforcement Patrols in April. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- $250,000 in COVID-19 relief money has been redirected to the Champaign County United Way. The money is part of the state’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which has distributed more than $5.5 million in funding to 30 nonprofits in Illinois. The fund prioritizes swiftly deploying resources to local community foundations and nonprofits in support of residents in need of: emergency food and basic supplies; interim housing and shelter; primary health care services; utility and financial assistance; supports for children and other vulnerable populations, and nonprofit safety and operations assistance.

 

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Illinois has more than 15 hundred new cases and 82 additional deaths due to COVID-19

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is seeing its largest jump in COVID-19 numbers. Troubling figures are being announced, more than 15 hundred new cases and 82 additional deaths. But State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says there is a glimmer of hope…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Still, Dr Ezike says people must be very vigilant, staying home if at all possible, washing hands and social distancing from others. More than 15 thousand people in Illinois have now tested positive for the Coronavirus.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund announced they have awarded the first grants since the fund's launch. More than $5.5 million has been awarded to 30 nonprofit organizations across the state. The grants range from $25,000 to $250,000. Local recipients include the Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley, United Way of Central Illinois, United Way of Champaign County and United Way of McLean County.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Revenue is offering help to distilleries joining the fight against COVID-19. During the pandemic, distilleries will be able to purchase alcohol to make hand sanitizer tax free says Department of Revenue Spokesperson Sam Salustro…

 

 

Illinois Department of Revenue Spokesperson Sam Salustro. Normally, distilleries pay taxes based on the amount and strength of alcohol used to make their products. Salustro says the state has sent producers instructions on how to claim a tax deduction for their efforts in making hand sanitizer.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Presidents of several of Illinois' public universities are coming together to ask for help from the federal government. A letter was sent to the state's congressional delegation on Tuesday asking for relief from the increasing costs of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The most significant financial impacts came from refunding room and board, costs of transitioning to online education and telework, lost revenue from canceled programs and events, and more. In the letter, the presidents of the universities say the expenses and revenue losses to date total to around $224 million collectively.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Agriculture is releasing harvest totals from the state’s inaugural hemp growing season. The state issued 651 hemp growers licenses last year. All but 137 of those growers planted at least an acre. In all, the hemp yield was more than two million pounds says Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants Jeff Cox…

 

 

Illinois Department of Agriculture Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants Jeff Cox. Cox says the majority of hemp farmers in Illinois are growing for the production of CBD oils.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced Wednesday a proposal for new and expanded hunting and fishing opportunities across the country. This proposed rule would be the largest expansion of hunting and fishing opportunities by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in history. It would create nearly 900 distinct new hunting and fishing opportunities. The proposal would bring the total expansion to 4 million acres nationwide. The Department intends to finalize the proposed changes in time for the upcoming 2020-2021 hunting seasons.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- The Iroquois County Emergency Management is promoting resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic. WPXN’s Cale Fleming has the details…

 

 

 

(Fisher-jm) -- Fisher village board members are expected to approve two budget appropriations at tonight's village board meeting. Village trustees will be asked to approve the village’s annual budget which begins May 1st. They will also be asked to approve the motor fuel tax budget. In addition, trustees will be asked to approve the purchase of a mower for $13,000. The meeting gets underway at 6pm.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Fireworks will not be going off in one area community this summer. The Champaign County Freedom Celebration is canceled this summer over concerns of COVID-19. That means no parade, fireworks or 5k. The events were expected to take place on July 4th in Champaign-Urbana.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- USDA's report on farmers' planting intentions can be right on target with actual plantings or very much different. Gary Crawford has the details…

 

 

Updated

(Chicago--jc)  -- Illinoisans aren’t really interested in getting loans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumer finance website WalletHub says of all states, Illinois ranked No. 40 for interest in loans.Among the metrics reviewed, Illinois was 36th for change in average inquiries from this month to January, and 41st for home equity loan searches.Illinoisans are looking for payday loans, as the state ranked No. 10 in that category.

 

SPRINGFIELD — Although the COVID-19 outbreak in Illinois so far has been mainly concentrated around the Chicago area, public health officials are bracing for a surge of cases in rural areas of downstate Illinois, including areas that already have shortages of hospital beds, health care providers and equipment. According to IDPH, each of those 11 regions has one main hospital designated as the coordinating center. For example, the Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana serves as the coordinating center in the Champaign region, which covers 18 counties in east-central Illinois.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Cities across Illinois are looking to stack civil penalties on top of criminal penalties for people who violate the stay-at-home order that lasts through April 30. Public health officials say the order is meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. Governor J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday said local authorities were responsible for enforcement of his stay-at-home order. However, he said he didn't encourage arrests. Similar civil charges like obstruction or other ordinance violations cities may have could also be applied to stay-at-home violations.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Emergency shelter availability in Champaign County will now be extended through at least April 30. This comes thanks to additional funding, the Emergency Lodging Fund, authorized by the Illinois Department of Human Services. Both seasonal emergency shelters, The Men’s Emergency Shelter and Austin’s Place Women’s Emergency Shelter, are extending their availability during the Stay At Home order. If the Stay At Home order is extended beyond April 30, the Champaign County Continuum of Service Providers to the Homeless says it will work to see what it can do for the homeless in Champaign County.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County’s Food Pantry is still open and operating during the pandemic with a change in how people receive their food, says director Andy Kulcziki… 

 

 

 Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County Andy Kulcziki

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- High winds from storms caused issues across the area. Traffic had to be re-routed onto Route 45 after a semi blew over on I-57 between Ashkum and Gilman. Kempton-Cabery and Roberts-Melvin firefighters were also called for several trees and power lines down. 

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- With the global pandemic that is taking place, it has caused one area  business and all others to halt all in person conferences and interviews, meetings etc. Shaffer Tax and Accounting in Paxton did so on Monday March 23rd. You can still fax, email, or drop off all of your tax documents says owner Jeff Shaffer… 

 

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Shaffer Tax and Accounting owner Jeff Shaffer. 

 

 

(Watseka-jm) -- 21st Circuit court services will continue to be reduced. Chief Judge Michael Kramer extended the order limiting services until May 18th. The 21st circuit order affects the Kankakee and Iroquois County circuit courts. Courthouses will still be able to handle emergency issues.

 

 

(Gibson City--jc)--  Continue to practice social distancing and stay at home, those are the words from one local legislator. 106th District  State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City says the orders remain in effect until at least the end of the month…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett, Republican from Gibson City

 

 

(Undated--jc)  -- Cities across the state may be looking at leveling local civil penalties on top of any possible criminal penalties for people found violating the state’s stay-at-home order.Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order limits groups of ten in public or private. Normal’s mayor issued an order Saturday that gives local police the authority to issue citations.Springfield’s mayor is expected to issue an order Wednesday to level civil penalties on top of criminal charges for violating the order.

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Ford County is reporting their first death from COVID-19

(Ford County-jm) -- Ford County is reporting their third case of COVID-19 and sadly the county’s first death from COVID-19. The third case is a woman in her 30’s. The first death is a man in his 80s. The Ford County Public Health Department says he had an underlying health condition.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois has suffered the largest daily increase in COVID-19 deaths since the outbreak began. 73 people have died, bringing the total number of Coronavirus related deaths in Illinois to 380 says Governor J-B Pritzker…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The State Department of Public Health says 68 percent of the more than 13 thousand 500 cases are in people 50 and younger. But 80 percent of those who have died are 60 or older.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says as Coronavirus cases increase, the state is working to make sure there are enough hospital beds for patients. While many may have the virus and not know it, Governor Pritkzer says thousands end up in the hospital…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. More than one thousand of those patients are in the I-C-U and 821 are on ventilators. The Governor says only about 43 percent of hospital beds in Illinois are still available. The state is setting up field hospitals to help with the potential overflow.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois is ahead of the national average in terms of responding to the U.S. Census, according to federal officials. In total, 66,700,000 residents have responded to the U.S. Census, the nation’s decennial headcount initiated by the Constitution. By March 30, just under 40 percent of Illinois households had responded to the U.S. Census. As of April 5, Illinois had surged to just under 50 percent, a lower rate than only seven other states.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Budget experts are at odds over how to handle Illinois' coming pension debts. Ted Dabrowski, president of financial watchdog Wirepoints, said the stock market’s meltdown and falling interest rates will likely mean a shortfall for Illinois’ five state-run pension funds. Taxpayers could be required to make up any shortfall. He cited credit-rating agency Moody’s most recent pension shortfall calculation, before the crisis, totaled $241 billion. That could climb to more than $310 billion this year if existing conditions hold through the funds’ fiscal year-end in June. Ralph Martire, executive director for the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, does not see that happening. Martire's organization has advocated for restructuring the state's pension debt to be paid off over a longer timeline as well as paying more into the system. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The COVID-19 crisis has hit rural and small Illinois school districts hard. While larger districts are designing and running online classes for remote learning, many of the 400 school districts that Dave Ardrey, executive director of the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, works with are scrambling to get meals to their students. Without school meals, many students in rural and small districts risk going hungry. Ardrey said he would like to have all the students in his districts logging on for e-learning. For most of them, however, remote learning is not an option. About 400,000 students in Illinois attend rural and small schools, he said. Many of them live in areas without strong, fixed broadband. Even where high-speed internet is available, not all families can afford it and not all families have computers at home.

 

 

CHICAGO - As if protecting oneself from the new coronavirus isn't daunting enough, consumer watchdogs say Illinoisans also need to guard themselves against price gouging. Mary Schuermann reports…

 

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Prom is the latest casualty in the COVID-19 pandemic. Rantoul Township High School announced they are canceling this year’s prom. The prom was originally scheduled for April 25th.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Food Pantry at the Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County is still operating at their normal hours from 10am to 4pm during the pandemic, as of now. If you would like to pick something up, you need to call them once you are in the parking lot, and the food will be brought out to your vehicle says director Andy Kulczcki…

 

 

 Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County Andy Kulczcki.

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- Paxton police have released their recent activity report. On April 4th, Catalina Diaz was arrested on a Kane County warrant for failure to appear on DUI following a domestic disturbance at 101 E. Center Street. On April 2nd, police responded to a two vehicle accident at Vermilion and Orleans St. Emma Schuler, 18, of Paxton was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Plantings for many crops this spring could be higher than 2019. Gary Crawford reports...

 

 

 

SPRINGFIELD — Social distancing and stay-at-home orders, instituted to combat the novel coronavirus pandemic, are in direct conflict with Illinois’ ballot eligibility requirements, the Libertarian and Green parties of Illinois allege in a lawsuit. Both are considered “new” parties under state election rules, meaning a candidate running for office under those banners must receive a greater number of in-person petition signatures than those with “established” parties typically, the Democrats and Republicans. Libertarians and Greens have from March 24 until June 22 to gather enough signatures  in person with a canvasser watching to qualify for inclusion on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. But party officials allege meeting that threshold will be “practically impossible” given Gov. JB Pritzker’s social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- An Illinois organization is calling on the governor to fix the state’s unemployment filing system. Many Illinoisans who have tried to file for unemployment have said the state’s website was not working and no one was answering calls. Kayleen Carlson, the CEO of Illinois Rising Action, said the issues have put some people in a tough spot. Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker told reporters the state’s unemployment filing system is ten years old and has not been updated. Carlson said that was no excuse.

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed an executive order to allow medically vulnerable people out of Illinois’ prisons during the COVID-19 emergency. Public health officials have reported at least two deaths at Stateville Correctional Center. About 100 other inmates and staff members at the facility have tested positive for COVID-19.  He later signed an executive order allowing furloughs for medically vulnerable prisoners during the emergency. The order suspends language in state law that says to allow for prisoners to be furloughed for the duration of the governor’s emergency order. Pritzker said Tuesday 60 people have been released from the Department of Juvenile Justice, and over 1,100 low-risk prisoners have been released from the Department of Corrections.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Good things are happening across Illinois in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local organizations are working to deliver necessities to vulnerable people, manufacturing companies are donating resources to make personal protective equipment for frontline health care workers and people and businesses are donating money to help those who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. People from across the state have donated millions of dollars to the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund. The United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, working with the Gov. J.B. Pritzker's Office, established the fund to "raise funds from individual, corporate, and foundation donors to be disbursed to nonprofit organizations across the state serving individuals, families and communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic," according to its website.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The ACLU of Illinois called on law enforcement agencies across the state to avoid using widespread arrests to enforce Gov. J.B. Pritzker's emergency stay-at-home order. As some communities have ramped up police enforcement of the stay-at-home order, the ACLU of Illinois asked police to take a step back. The nonprofit group reminded law enforcement agencies across Illinois that their role was to build voluntary compliance with the order rather than use it to make mass arrests.

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(Gibson City-cf)-- The Ford County Public Health Department and Parkland Community College will be holding a Food Safety Certification Course. WPXN’s Cale Fleming has the details… 

 

 

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Area Chamber of Commerce is reminding businesses and visitors, they are still available despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The chamber closed their office to the public because of the pandemic. However, the group says they can still be reached through their facebook page.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- This month's USDA agricultural supply and demand forecasts will be made using all available data, including the market effects of COVID-19. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Christie Clinic has decided to furlough 25% of its 900 employees, or approximately 225 people. Christie Clinic expects all team members to return to work no later than June 1, 2020.

 

 

(Cissna Park-cf)-- The Tax deadline for this year has been pushed back on both the state and federal level due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Russell Leigh and Associates has one option. If you still need to file your taxes to be done, you can drop them off at offices in Hoopeston Watseka, CIssna Park and Gibson City says owner Russ Leigh… 

 

Russell Leigh and Associates owner in Cissna Park Owner Russ Leigh. If you need to file, you can call and make an appointment at 815-457-2325 or drop them off at either location. 

 

 

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois comptroller’s office borrowed $105 million from various funds in March, in large part so it could make bigger-than-normal payments to hospitals as they brace for the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak later this month. But Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza is advising all state vendors that there will likely be payment delays in April, in part because the tax filing deadline for both state and federal taxes has been pushed back to July 15. The inter-fund borrowing was noted last week in the state’s monthly revenue report from the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability. That report noted that total tax receipts in March, at $3.4 billion, was about what was expected, and 3.3 percent above the same month last year. But it also noted that the impact of the economic slowdown brought on by Gov. JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order and closure of nonessential businesses had not yet shown up in the revenue numbers.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The American Lung Association is suggesting now could be the perfect time to quit smoking. Mark Courtney, manager of the Illinois Tobacco Quitline, said the nature of the COVID-19 virus makes lung health extremely important. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smokers that are diagnosed with the coronavirus are susceptible to a more serious infection. And no matter how long you’ve been smoking, Courtney said it’s not too late to act. A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found people who smoke were 2.4 times more likely to have the most serious symptoms associated with the coronavirus.

 

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Ford County is reporting their 2nd confirmed case of COVID-19

(Undated-jm) -- Ford County is reporting their 2nd confirmed case of COVID-19. The latest is a man in his 80s. Champaign County is reporting 7 new cases of COVID-19 bringing their total to 63. The county is also reporting their first death, a man in his 80s. Iroquois County has 7 total cases, McLean County has 48 total cases, Livingston County has 10 cases, Vermilion County 5 cases and Kankakee County 86 cases. McLean County has reported 2 deaths while Kankakee County has reported 5 deaths.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As the weather warms, the Illinois Department of Public Health is urging people to still stay home and practice social distancing. One thousand six new cases are being reported, and 33 more patients have died. State Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike says people need to continue to stay home, no matter how nice it is outside…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says 70 percent of patients who have died from their infection has an underlying condition such as hypertension, diabetes or heart disease.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois SNAP recipients will start getting their maximum benefit amounts. According to the Illinois Department of Human Services over 450 thousand Illinois households will start receiving additional benefits today. All those eligible should receive them by April 20th. The full amounts are for April and May.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois farm fields are still fairly wet as we hear in the first weekly crop report of the season. Average statewide topsoil moisture for the past week is rated at 71 percent adequate and 29 percent surplus says Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener…

 

 

State Crop Statistician Mark Schleusener. 62 percent of the winter wheat crop and 60 percent of pastures are rated in good to excellent condition.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- If you go to Walmart be prepared to potentially stand in line longer. The store is limiting the number of customers inside due to COVID-19. No more than 5 customers per 1000 square feet will be allowed inside at a time. Also, customers will only be allowed to enter and exit from one entrance. Walmart joins Target and Home Depot as national retailers setting restrictions.

 

 

(Champaign County-jm) -- Ruth Wyman has conceded the circuit judge nomination race. Wyman decided not to seek a discovery recount after the vote retabulation last week showed 6 precincts and one early voting precinct showed no change in votes. Ramona Sullivan defeated Ruth Wyman in the March primary by a vote of 9674 to 9435. Sullivan will face off against Cheire Kisler in November.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The internet continues to be a help for businesses to provide goods and services. With vehicle service, Shields Auto Mart in Paxton has options to schedule your vehicle service online says, Shields Auto Mart in Paxon  Manager Pete Klein... 

 

 

Shields Auto Mart in Paxon  Manager Pete Klein

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Two Carle locations in Champaign County are designated for respiratory treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting Monday Carle Urbana on Windsor and Carle Mahomet will be open only to patients with symptoms of COVID-19 and other seasonal respiratory illnesses. Carle Urbana on Windsor dedicated Respiratory Treatment Center (RTC) will be open daily, including holidays, until further notice. Their hours of operations are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Carle Mahomet dedicated RTC will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritzker says the state wants to make sure essential workers have access to child care. More than 550 child care centers and over 15 hundred home daycares are currently operating under the state’s emergency license program. Governor Pritzker reminds that a one time stipend is available to these providers…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Additionally, Governor Pritkzer says all essential workers, from doctors to grocery store clerks now qualify for the state’s child care assistance program, meaning the state will pick up most of the tab. Again visit: coronavirus dot illinois dot gov for more information.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- After reports about essential workers being stopped by public health workers or law enforcement, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is asking governors who have put residents under stay-at-home orders to distribute an official document to show that a worker’s status is essential. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has already said essential workers in Illinois don't need any documentation. Earlier in March, Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked about if essential Illinois workers needed some sort of documentation from employers. He said that wasn’t necessary.

 

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- Gibson Area Hospital is announcing stricter visitor restrictions because of COVID-19. All visitors and patients will be screened upon arrival. No visitors under the age of 12 will be allowed, only one visitor per patient per day and isolation patients will not be allowed any visitors.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- The Rantoul Public Library will be offering temporary library cards to residents who don’t already have one due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those interested are asked to call the Library at 893-3955 and leave a message.

 

 

 

(Buckley-cf)-- Due to the social distancing guidelines that were set by the CDC, many Easter Egg hunts will not happen this year. However, the village of Buckley has had a surge of participants hiding eggs around town for kids to still enjoy the tradition. Buckley Resident Kari Stachura gives us the details… 

 

 

If you would like to hide eggs in your lawn or in front of your business, please leave a comment on the flyer posted on the Buckley, Illinois Facebook page.

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The Champaign County Courthouse will continue to run on limited operations through April 30. The courthouse will stay closed for regular business until May 1. Mandatory hearing and court proceedings will take place via video when possible. All other proceedings will be continued generally. There is no need to file motions to continue. Felony pretrial hearings have been continued to the next pretrial date when the courthouse reopens. Notice for new dates will be mailed.

 

 

 

 

 

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There are now more than 11 thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Illinois and 274 deaths

(Springfield-jm) -- There are now more than 11 thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Illinois and 274 deaths. The latest report shows 899 cases and 31 more deaths on Sunday. Saturday more than 1400 cases were reported. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike continues to urge the public to wash their hands, wear a mask when out, and not grocery shop as a family. She also urges religious leaders to host services online…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Officials also say that kids that can stay home, should do so. That means no play dates or hanging out with friends. There are now seven confirmed cases in Iroquois County

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state's March employment report listed more than 14,700 layoffs in Illinois, an indication of how companies in a variety of industries are struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the 14,702 layoffs reported to the state in the March report, 8,970 were listed as permanent and 5,592 were listed as temporary. Another 140 were listed as a mix of temporary and permanent.

 

(Watseka--jc)  -- The cases of Covid-19 are rising in Iroquois County. WPXN’s Joel Cluver has the story…

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As cases of Coronavirus continue to rise, Governor J-B Pritzker is recommending the public wear a mask when they are out in public. While your best bet is to stay home, if you have to venture out, the Governor says it’s a good idea to wear a mask or any fabric covering your mouth and nose…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) --  Illinois ranked near the top in a new study of state economies most vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic. Personal finance website WalletHub said some states are better positioned economically to deal with the pandemic than others, and ranked Illinois the 10th most vulnerable. Illinois right now has one of the lowest shares of workers with access to paid sick leave. Illinois also ranked second to last behind Connecticut for worst fiscal condition index.

 

 

(Chicago-jm) -- The first 500 beds are set up at McCormick Place in Chicago to handle the growing number of Coronavirus patients. The state is preparing for a rapid increase in hospitalizations. Governor J-B Pritzker says the state’s first alternate care facility in McCormick Place will be used for COVID-19 patients who need care, but are not sick enough to be in the ICU…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says they are working to set up more care centers in Elgin, Blue Island, Melrose Park and Springfield.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul factory is closed after one of their employees has a presumptive positive for COVID-19. Vista Outdoors says one of their employees is under quarantine for symptoms and a presumptive positive test. The factory is closed until a professional cleaning service performs a deep clean and full sanitization of the entire facility.

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- Rantoul police are investigating the theft of electronic equipment from a construction site. Police say sometime between April 1st and 2nd someone stole between $45,000 and $60,000 worth of electronic equipment from two trailers at the construction site of the Rantoul Sports Complex.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- March weather was warm and wet in Illinois.The average statewide temperature for March was 43 point five degrees says State Climatologist Trent Ford. That’s more than two degrees above normal. Precipitation was also above normal…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford. 

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- The unemployment rate was down in all 14 of the states metro areas in February. According to numbers from the Illinois Department of Employment Security, the unemployment rate in Ford County dropped from 5 point 5 percent to 3 point 5 percent. In Iroquois County, the unemployment rate dropped from 5 point 6 percent to 4 point 2 percent, Champaign County fell from 4 point 3 percent to 2 point 6 percent, Vermilion County 5 point 9 percent to 4 point 1 percent and McLean County 4 point 4 percent to 2 point 8 percent. The Illinois Department of Employment Security warns though these numbers do not take into account the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Home sales in Champaign County were down in February but not all the news is bad. According to the Champaign County Association of Realtors, sales were down 4 point 3 percent from February of 2019 with 134 homes sold. The good news is 230 sales are pending. That is up 31 percent.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The deadline for both state and Federal Taxes has been pushed back until July 15. That will help immensely for individuals who need to file still, but are using caution going outside for non-essential travel says Jeff Shaffer of Shaffer Tax and Accounting… 

 

 

Shaffer Tax and Accounting owner Jeff Shaffer. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois broke the record among all states for firearm background checks in March. The FBI reported over 645,000 background checks in March alone. Last year, the number was nearly half that.

 

 

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois needs thousands more ventilators than the federal government plans to send and the state is desperately searching for more before its expected peak in coronavirus cases later this month, the governor said Sunday, hours before officials announced the number of people to test positive in the state more than doubled in a week. Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he requested 4,000 ventilators from the federal government last Tuesday and has received 450, far short of even the 1,400 ventilators that Vice President Mike Pence said the state needs.

 

 

(Iroquois County-jm) -- All committee meetings for the Iroquois County board have been canceled for April. Also for the county board meeting, only the county clerk, deputy clerk, board chairman, finance manager and EMA director will be allowed in the board room. The county board members and visitors will be asked to call in.

 

 

URBANA, Ill. (AP) — A teacher who also coaches cross country at an Urbana high school has been arrested on child pornography charges. Doug Mynatt appeared in federal court by video and remains in custody. He works at University of Illinois Laboratory High School, also known as Uni High. Investigators say Mynatt admitted receiving and distributing images of young girls, and thousands were found on his phone. Uni High's website says Mynatt teaches sports, fitness, and strength training and coaches the track and cross country teams.

 

 

(Rantoul-cf)-- The Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County is still operational for now during the pandemic. There has not been a surge of people at the Food Pantry yet, but that might happen when the order is lifted says Direcotr Andy Kulsyicki… 

 

 

 Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County Director Andy Kulsyicki. 

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul business is under new ownership. Beltone Hearing purchased Auditory Care Center. A grand opening will be held once restrictions have been lifted.

 

 

(Kankakee-jm) -- An area organization is raising funds to help families in need. The United Way of Kankakee and Iroquois County has created a COVID-19 Community Response Fund. The fund will be distributed to families who need assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. More details are available on the groups facebook page.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The state is expanding services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. More than a million dollars will go towards helping survivors. Illinois Department of Human Services Spokesperson Patti Thompson says that includes a streamlined way to connect people with safe housing…

 

 

Illinois Department of Human Services Spokesperson Patti Thompson. The money will also go towards rape crisis centers statewide. Governor J-B Pritkzer says while there is a stay at home order in place due to the Coronavirus, not everyone has a safe home to go to. The domestic violence helpline number is: 1-877-to-end-dv.

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Illinois Department of Public Health is starting to see clusters of COVID-19 cases at essential businesses

(Springfield-jm) -- Unemployment claims once again spiked in Illinois. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor, 178,133 workers filed for unemployment benefits for the week ending March 28, a 56 percent increase over last week’s record 114,114 filings. The number of filings continues to climb as employers feel the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Nationally, more than 6.6 million Americans filed unemployment claims.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is starting to see clusters of COVID-19 cases at essential businesses. Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says businesses that remain open must take steps to protect workers and customers…

 

State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Ezike says businesses should be thoroughly clean each day and consider ways to keep customers and staff six feet away from each other. That may include roping off areas or installing plexiglass at the checkout counter.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Recreational cannabis sales neared the $36 million mark in March, according to preliminary figures from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Statewide adult-use cannabis sales totaled $35,902,543 from the sale of 812,203 products during the month. Illinois residents spent about $27 million on recreational cannabis products while out-of-state residents spent about $8.8 million, according to IDFPR numbers. Both medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries are considered essential businesses under Gov. J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home order, which was issued March 21 to slow the spread of COVID-19.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Illinois State Police officials have received nearly 50,000 firearm transfer inquiries since March 13. Illinois State Police officials provided updated numbers on Thursday. Since March 13, ISP’s Firearms Services Bureau has received 49,342 inquiries. That’s up from 38,929 requests announced from March 13 to March 25, and up from 18,980 inquiries from March 13 to March 18. 

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Congress has passed a 2 trillion dollar stimulus bill to help American families who are hurting financially due to Coronavirus. But how will the stimulus package help you? WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- Ramona Sullivan, one of four candidates running for the Democratic nomination for the Champaign County judgeship position, still leads following the counting of mail in ballots. Sullivan received 9,674 votes compared to second place finisher Ruth Wyman who received 9,435 votes. Sullivan will go up against Republican Cherie Kesler for the spot.

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Spring is here and the weather is getting warmer. But how does the forecast outlook look for the rest of spring? State Climatologist Trent Ford provides the forecast…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford.

 

(Urbana-jm) -- OSF HealthCare is taking precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic. A tent has been placed outside of the Emergency Departments at OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary and OSF HealthCare Sacred Heart Medical Centers. Those tents are where patients entering the hospital will be screened prior to entry. Also, to protect patients, family members, and staff from the spread of infectious conditions, OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary and OSF HealthCare Sacred Heart Medical Centers have implemented strict visitor guidelines and hospital access. OSF Heart of Mary and OSF Sacred Heart will restrict visitors to one visitor per patient for only critically ill patients, patients at the end of life and patients in labor & delivery.

 

(Paxton-jm) -- The Paxton Park District is canceling all spring activities. In a post on facebook, the park district is canceling the entire youth soccer season, remainder of ballet, gymnastics and tumbling sessions and karate. The daddy/daughter dance will be rescheduled at a later date. The park district says summer programs so far are going forward as planned. The deadline to register is April 15th.

 

(Washington-jm) -- Stocks of old crop grains and soybeans are smaller than they were a year ago. Gary Crawford reports from Washington…

 

 

 

(Watseka--jc)  -- One local county has three more cases of Covid-19. WPXN;s Joel Cluver reports…

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- A growing number of out-of-work Illinoisans are frustrated with the state's unemployment application process, which has buckled amid a record number of claims. Illinoisans trying to file for unemployment benefits found the Illinois Department of Employment Security website temporarily down for part of Thursday. Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday said the computers the state uses to process claims were ten years old and the systems weren't acting properly given the volume of applications. He has asked people to space out filings by only applying on specific days based on the first letter of your last name.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As of April 1, 10 states have ordered the release of inmates at the state level, 23 states have ordered the release of inmates on the local level, and 17 have not released inmates due to coronavirus. Some state-level changes have been made by courts. The governors of Michigan and Illinois issued executive orders allowing local governments to release incarcerated individuals who are vulnerable to the disease and do not pose a risk to the public.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The new “All in Illinois” statewide initiative aims to reinforce the state’s message to stay home. Officials say they probably sound like a broken record, but the call to social distance and stay home is vitally important. Governor J-B Pritzker says the new “All In” campaign hammers home that point…

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritkzer. Cases of COVID-19 in Illinois are now over 76 hundred. It’s been found in 61 counties and 157 people have died. The initiative’s website is: all in dot illinois dot gov.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Drug treatment centers and other behavioral health facilities are struggling to continue to serve those who need help as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread in Illinois. A survey of 147 community-based organizations found that their estimated Medicaid billing to the state had plummeted by $6.3 million at the end of March. The survey also found that their non-Medicaid billing is expected to balloon by about $800,000.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- There are a lot of questions surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic leaving most people scrambling for answers. The best answer is to follow our governmental leaders, says 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington… 

 

 

 53rd District State Senator Jason Barickman of Bloomington


 

(Bloomington-jm) -- Special Olympics Illinois is canceling their state summer games. The games were to be held June 12-14 in Bloomington. The group says they are canceling to protect the safety of athletes and volunteers due to COVID-19.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- Not only do all Illinoisians have to stay home until April 30th, many area businesses including Subway in Paxton have changed their hours to keep their employees safe, they are now from 9am to 7pm says Manager Alicia Weber…

 

 

Paxton Subway Manager Alicia Weber

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- The University of Illinois announced Thursday summer classes will be done online due to COVID-19. Registration for classes will begin April 20th. Summer study abroad programs have also been suspended.

 

 

(Ashkum-jm) -- District 21 Illinois State Police in Ashkum will be conducting Alcohol Countermeasure Enforcement Patrols in April. WPXN’s Jason Madden has the details…

 

 

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The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 986 new cases of Coronavirus

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health is reporting 986 new cases of Coronavirus. The new figures include 42 additional deaths. The total now for Illinois is nearly seven thousand cases and 141 people dead. State Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike says the coming weeks will get more and more difficult as the numbers rise…

 

 

Illinois Public Health Director Dr Ngozi Ezike. Those actions include staying home, social distancing, washing hands and cleaning frequently touched surfaces often. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Hundreds of people are signing up to join the fight against Coronavirus. Governor J-B Pritzker says the state has received more than 11 hundred applications from retired and out of state health care workers wanting to help out…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor says they are also looking at other options such as allowing fourth year medical students and nurses just about done with their programs to join the fight as well.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state's unemployment fund doesn't have enough money to cover the surge in unemployment benefit claims spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the governor said he was counting on another loan from the federal government to pay those claims. The governor said more federal dollars would be needed, not just for the state's unemployment fund, but other budgets. A February report from the U.S. Department of Labor showed Illinois’ trust fund had the fifth-lowest solvency level of all U.S. states and the Virgin Islands. 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- While you’re doing your part and staying home, Governor J-B Pritzker urges all Illinoisans to fill out the 2020 census. Completing the census form might not be on your to-do list at the moment, but the Governor says it’s vitally important…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Visit: my 2020 census dot gov to get started. 

 

 

(Urbana-jm) -- An Urbana man has been sentenced to 30 months probation for assaulting his ex girlfriends new boyfriend. 28 year old Coleton Rauch received the sentence after pleading guilty to criminal trespass to a residence. Police say Rauch entered the home in Fisher back in November and punched his ex girlfriends new boyfriend several times. In exchange for his guilty plea, more serious charges of home invasion were dismissed.

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- With the stay at home order in effect, all non essential businesses are closed. One business still open however is grocery stores. But with everyone racing to the stores how can you stay safe? WPXN’s Jason Madden has some tips…

 


 

(Ford County-jm) -- The Ford County Sheriff’s office has released results from March. During the month, deputies responded to 6 traffic accidents and issued 22 traffic citations including 15 for speeding and 2 for DUI. Deputies also responded to 3 missing persons reports, 2 abuse cases, 5 sex offender notifications and one burglary.

 

With the shelter in place being extended to April 30th, the Rantoul Little League will be extending registration as well. Please register at my-rantoul dot com. If you are planning on using a Kids Foundation voucher, please contact the Little League after April 30th so they can work with the foundation to make those vouchers available to families. 

 

 

SPRINGFIELD – Despite projected increases in corn and soybean plantings this year after a disastrous 2019 planting season, farmers are gripped by uncertainty surrounding spring weather and the economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual prospective plantings report, which shows how many acres farmers of major crops intend to plant this spring. Illinois farmers are expected to plant 11.3 million acres of corn and 10.5 million acres of soybeans this planting season, according to the report. If all expected acreage is planted, that would be an increase of 8 percent for corn and 6 percent for soybeans over last year, when record precipitation from January to June decreased plantings and dropped production by 18 percent for corn and 20 percent for soybeans.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- There are a lot of options for Illinois’ small businesses to choose from in finding assistance through the economic downturn from the government restrictions on certain businesses imposed to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. More information about what’s available from the state can be found at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity or the Small Business Administration through the federal government.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Secretary of State Jesse White’s office is reminding that several services are available online. All driver services facilities are closed to the public through the end of the month, but Secretary of State Spokesperson Dave Druker says you can get some things done on: cyber drive illinois dot com…

 

Secretary of State Spokesperson Dave Druker. You can also renew a standard driver’s license with the safe driver renewal program and apply for a vehicle title and registration at cyberdrive illinois dot com. Expiration dates for license and registration will be extended at least a month after offices reopen.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The Illinois Farm Bureau is working to support those in the farming community who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization added a page devoted to COVID-19 on its website. It includes information on economic impacts, livestock and mental health resource for farmers. For information, go to www.ilfb.org and click on the COVID-19 tab.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Corn growers have plenty of things to consider when they make their planting plans, such as prices, input costs and weather, but this year they've got a totally new wild card to analyze. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

 

(Rantoul-jm) -- A Rantoul restaurant is temporarily closing their doors because of COVID-19. Yellow Ducky Express made the announcement this morning. The company has been in business for about two months. They say they will reopen once the virus passes.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association is applauding the Illinois Attorney General’s efforts to stop price gouging during the COVID-19 outbreak. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 33 attorneys general, has urged Amazon, Walmart, Facebook and others to monitor for price gouging practices by online sellers. IRMA President and CEO Rob Carr said that price increases are not always the result of actions taken by retailers.

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Governor J-B Pritkzer is extending the current stay at home order through April 30th

(Springfield-jm) -- Governor J-B Pritkzer is extending the current stay at home order through April 30th. The order was supposed to be lifted next week, but the Governor says the state needs to continue working to stop the spread of the Coronavirus…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. Illinois is now up to nearly six thousand cases of COVID-19 and 99 deaths. Champaign County is reporting 29 cases. McLean County is reporting 19 cases, Kankakee County 42 cases, Livingston County 3, Iroquois County 2 total and Livingston and Ford County 1 total each.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- As the stay at home order is extended, school doors will remain closed through April 30th as well. Students won’t be reporting to school but Governor J-B Pritzker says districts are working with the state board of education to implement remote learning…

 

 

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker. The Governor tells students that it’s ok to be sad about missing friends, school sports and big events like prom.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has offered guidance for attending funerals, saying there’s no danger in being in the presence of someone who has died from COVID-19, but guidance on crowd restrictions mean well-wishers are possibly putting themselves in danger and, in some states, breaking executive orders.


 

 

(Rantoul--jc)  -- With the governor’s announcement  that money is available to downstate small businesses, some local companies may not qualify. The money was set aside to aid small businesses recover from the financial hardships due to the COVID-19 response. Unfortunately, this program excludes those communities in Illinois who receive direct entitlement through the Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Program. That includes Rantoul. Efforts are underway by local leaders to work with HUD to use some of the program dollars in a similar allotment. Rantoul Village leaders will forward that information to local businesses.

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- The latest hospital capacity numbers from the Illinois Department of Public Health show the number of beds increasing, but so is the need for those beds. There were 27,465 total non-intensive care unit beds Monday, according to IDPH. That number increased to 28,005 Tuesday, the day after Pritzker announced an additional 500 beds being readied at McCormick Place in Chicago. Of the total beds, 16,202 were occupied. That's an occupancy rate of 58 percent. That’s up from 55 percent on Monday. For ICU beds, there has also been an increase in the total number of available beds. On Monday, the number was 2,578 in total. On Tuesday, there were 2,654 total, of which 1,743 were occupied, a rate of 65.7 percent. That’s up from 59 percent Monday.  Tuesday also saw an update of ventilator numbers. There are now 2,568 ventilators. That’s up from Monday’s total of 2,460. President Donald Trump said Monday that Illinois would get 150 ventilators this week. Of the new total, 1,276 were being used, a rate of 49.7 percent. That’s up from 32 percent reported Monday.


 

(Washington-jm) -- Tuesday's USDA report on farmers' planting intentions may surprise some analysts. Gary Crawford reports…

 

 

State Conservationist Ivan Dozier announced the U. S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will offer funding for the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) and the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). Producers who have agricultural, pasture, or forest land in an Initiative project area can apply for assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to implement a range of conservation practices that will improve water quality, decrease soil erosion, and improve wildlife habitat. The MRBI includes portions of Ford, Iroquois, Livingston and McLean Counties. The deadline to apply is May 1st.

 

(Paxton-cf)-- The Illinois General assembly has been postponed again due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That doesn’t mean that business, and other proceedings are being halted as well. 53rd District State Senator Jason Barrickman tells us that everyone is still in communication… 

 

 

53rd District State Senator Jason Barrickman of Bloomington

 

 

(Undated-jm) -- Today is Census Day. You can fill out your census online, by phone at 844-330-2020 or you should have received the survey by mail. More information can be found online at census 2020 dot gov.

 

(Champaign-jm) --No Fooling,  April starts today. What can we expect for weather in the first part of the month? State Climatologist Trent Ford has the answers…

 

 

State Climatologist Trent Ford.

 

 

 

(Springfield-jm) -- In accordance with Governor JB Pritzker's Stay At Home order extension,. The Illinois Gaming Board will also extend the suspension of all video gaming operations at all licensed establishments of any kind and all casino gambling operations in Illinois until at least April 30.

 

(Springfield-jm) -- Unable to meet during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Joint Commission on Ethics and Lobbying Reforms missed its deadline to provide recommendations to clean up some questionable practices in Springfield, but a member of the commission said it will get back to business. The commission held meetings throughout the first quarter of the year, but hasn't met since March 5. It missed a March 31 deadline to produce a report with recommendations. Another commission state lawmakers created last year, the Illinois Property Tax Relief Task Force, was supposed to produce a report with recommendations by the end of 2019, but that report has never materialized.

 

 

(Washington-jm) -- Crop producers saw month-over-month price increases per the latest USDA Ag Prices Received report, but what did that mean for the overall commodity index? Rod Bain reports from Washington…

 

 

 

(Champaign-jm) -- Parkland College is announcing registration for summer classes is underway. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, summer courses will be online. Register by May 17 for the session that starts May 18, by June 14 for classes that begin June 15 and by July 12 for classes that begin July 13. 

 

 

(Gibson City-jm) -- No action has happened at the state capitol as the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the spring legislative session so far. One bit of good news came out of Washington, says local State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City…

 

 

106th District State Representative Tom Bennett of Gibson City.

 

 

(Paxton-cf)-- During the Stay at home Order from Gov. JB Pritzker, one area dealership is open for service only, while sales are temporarily shut down. Shields Auto Mart in Paxton Manager Pete Klein tells us… 

 

 

 Shields Auto Mart in Paxton Manager Pete Klein

 

 

(Watseka--jc)  -- There continues to be a shortage of personal protective equipment or P-P-E-s. Iroquois County is hosting a donation drive every Wednesday from 9 AM to 12 PM at the Iroquois County Youth Center, located at 114 North 3rd Street, Watseka to gather necessary supplies for emergency responders and healthcare workers. Items will only be accepted if they are unopened and in the manufacturer’s original packaging. Call Iroquois County EMA with any questions at 815- 432-6997.

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