Charlie Schlenker | WGLT

Charlie Schlenker

News Director

GLT News Director Charlie Schlenker grew up in Rock Island, Illinois and graduated from Augustana College. He has spent more than three decades in radio and has won numerous state and national awards for journalism. He lives in Normal with his family.

JB Pritzker
Vishesh Anand / Illinois Public Media

There are now 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in McLean County.

The McLean County Health Department released the latest tally Sunday afternoon. The new people with COVID-19 are a man in his 70s and a woman in her 30s. Both are self-isolating at home.

There has been one death and 120 negative tests in McLean County. There are 40 tests outstanding, according to the health department.

As Illinois State University wrapped up its first week of online classes, ISU Chief Technology Officer Charley Edamala said the transition from face-to-face education to online instruction amid the pandemic so far has been smooth.

A tent next to a hospital.
Ryan Denham / WGLT

Bloomington-Normal hospital officials said Thursday they have planned for surges in COVID-19 cases that could demand "desperate action."

John Milhiser and Adam Ghrist
Eric Stock / WGLT

The coronavirus story is developing quickly in Illinois. Here are updates from WGLT's newsroom and our partners at Illinois Public Radio, NPR, and The Associated Press.

Bloomington and Normal fire chiefs said they have adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for now. That includes masks, gloves, and gowns. 

Normal Fire Truck
Staff / WGLT

One of the difficulties in estimating the penetration of the novel coronavirus in Bloomington-Normal has been a lack of testing. As of Tuesday, there were only eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in McLean County. Protocols have not called for testing everyone. Early on there was also a lack of swabs used to collect test matter from nasal passages, though that is rising.

Nurse with a test
Martin Meissner / AP

The coronavirus story is developing quickly in Illinois. Here are updates from WGLT's newsroom and our partners at Illinois Public Radio, NPR, and The Associated Press.

Safe Harbor
Mark Romine / Salvation Army of McLean County

The homeless population in Bloomington-Normal is at increased risk of COVID-19 sickness, according to service providers.

Pritzker at press conference
Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

A woman in intensive care in Bloomington-Normal has died of COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The McLean County Health Department said she was in her 70s and tested positive last week. The department said the woman died late last week.

Charley Edamala
Illinois State University

Illinois State University Chief Technology Officer Charley Edamala described it as the calm before the storm, as the extended spring break tapered down. The global pandemic has disrupted face-to-face education at most universities in the United States. Classes at ISU resume online Monday.

Cristan Jaramillo / WGLT

Those living close to the edge have a lot of fear and uncertainty amid the pandemic. Government responses to the coronavirus pandemic have prompted a flood of calls to 211 centers across the state.

Nurse with a test
Martin Meissner / AP

The daily increase in reported cases of COVID-19 in Illinois is 168. One more person has died, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The Cook County man was in his 70s. So far, there have been 753 confirmed cases of coronavirus caused sickness in the state.

McLean County Mutual Aid Team

A mutual aid group in Bloomington-Normal is channeling anxiety and stress over the coronavirus into helping others.

Meghan Reha of the McLean County Mutual Aid Team says the group formed because it's important that people at high risk stay home. Reha said they have about 15 volunteer drivers who will deliver groceries or medicine from pharmacies when authorized.

Monty Greutman / Bridgestone

The Bridgestone tire plant in Normal will shut down starting this weekend to avoid coronavirus-related problems, the company said in a news release Thursday.

Woman shakes Dietz's hand
Illinois State University

Illinois State University’s graduating seniors are grappling with a double dose of bad news this week: They won’t be able to finish out their final semester on campus, and they’re now entering a job market that’s a lot shakier than it was a few weeks ago.

Dave Anderson
Courtesy

An iconic city manager of Normal has died at the age of 82.

Biden and Sanders greet
Evan Vucci / AP

McLean County Democrats went for former Vice President Joe Biden in Tuesday’s primary election, as the coronavirus depressed turnout and support for Sen. Bernie Sanders eroded.

Illinois State University student Hannah Beer defeated longtime Democratic McLean County Board member George Gordon in Tuesday’s primary election. Democrat Lea Cline won out over Nathan “Chiko” Russo in the only other contested primary for County Board.

Chris Koos
Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

Mayor Chris Koos of Normal said the town will enforce the restaurant and bar closure ordered by the governor because of the coronavirus.

Larry Dietz at news conference
Illinois State University

Illinois State University students will not return to in-person classes for the rest of the spring semester, extending a shift to online learning prompted by the coronavirus, officials said Tuesday. 

United Way of McLean County
United Way of McLean County

The United Way of McLean County said it will provide targeted help to reduce financial damage from the coronavirus pandemic. The United Way has announced a $100,000 allocation to support youth and families in the community affected by the outbreak.

Charlie Schlenker / WGLT

As the coronavirus pandemic forces the nation to disconnect from usual routines, communities of faith tried all the harder to hold on to each other and offer solace. Many turned to worship online, some as a regular part of the program, others for the first time, using meeting programs such as Zoom.

Sign outside polling place
Jacob DeGeal

Among the many uncertainties the coronavirus has created in central Illinois is election turnout.

"That is the question of the decade," said McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael.

Health administrator at podium
Tim Shelley / WCBU

The first downstate cases of coronavirus disease were announced Saturday. Two are in Central Illinois.

Students walk in the quad
Cindy Le / WGLT

Illinois State University continues to work to retrieve students studying abroad. At the start of the semester spokesperson Eric Jome says that number was about 116 students in other countries.

State Farm HQ
Staff / WGLT

UPDATED 7:30 a.m. | State Farm late Thursday issued an updated statement clarifying how it plans to allow most employees to work from home.

Larry Dietz at news conference
Illinois State University

UPDATED 7:20 a.m. | Illinois State University is sending students home until further notice because of the coronavirus.

a fence and field with Special Olympics signs.
Special Olympics Illinois / Twitter

Special Olympics Illinois has canceled its state basketball tournament this weekend in Bloomington-Normal and Peoria.

Wind turbines
David Mercer / AP

Green energy advocates are pushing Illinois lawmakers to back a plan to wean the state off fossil fuels by 2050.

Mike McCurdy / WGLT

The coronavirus is affecting businesses in central Illinois even before the first actual case comes to the region.

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