Olivia Mitchell | WGLT

Olivia Mitchell

Olivia Mitchell is a graduate Public Affairs Reporting intern for the spring 2020 legislative session.

The Abraham Lincoln Association has launched a $400,000 campaign to acquire vacant land to construct an accurate replica of Lincoln’s original cottage - before the home was expanded.

The Seizure Smart School Act, is a new law in Illinois that requires schools to train employees and care aides on how to handle students with epilepsy, and how to administer their medications.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which the brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder in the country.

The Kidzeum of Health and Science in Springfield - a children’s museum promoting science education through exhibits -- will temporarily close, just two years after opening. 

PNC Financial Services has reversed its decision to close one of its Springfield branches. The facility in the 800 block of South 11th Street is one of the few remaining banks serving the city’s east side.

Ward 2 Alderman Shawn Gregory said the closure would’ve been another economic blow for that part of Springfield. 

Nearly 150 students, faculty, and staff at Southern Illinois University’s School of Medicine in Springfield participated in a demonstration Wednesday night calling for an end to systemic racism in their field.

The school’s chapter of White Coats For Black Lives - a nationwide medical-student-led movement - planned the event.

The 2020 Illinois and DuQuoin State Fairs have been canceled.

In a video announcement posted to Facebook, State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon said the decision stems from wanting to protect people from contracting COVID-19.

In Springfield, demonstrations continued over the weekend against police brutality and racism sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police.

Many speakers addressed how to create change at a rally called “Manifesting Our Momentum,” where elected officials and faith leaders took a prominent role.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin met with faith and community leaders in Springfield over the weekend at Union Baptist Church to discuss legislation to address police conduct.

Durbin said the measure - set to be introduced this week - would include a ban on the use of chokeholds, outline acceptable use of force by officers, and make recommendations on recruitment and training. He’s joining Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, both former Democratic presidential candidates, in sponsoring the Justice In Policing Act.

Black Lives Matter protests in Springfield continued Wednesday. Young activists said they aren't giving up on voicing their concerns anytime soon. 

More than a thousand demonstrators shouting ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘No Justice, No Peace’ took to the streets in Springfield again Monday, demanding an end to racial injustices.

Although the hospitality industry continues to struggle, Portillo's, a Chicago-area restaurant chain unveiled plans for a Springfield location, its fourth in central Illinois.

The restaurant, known for their Chicago-Style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches, announced plans to open in Springfield in late 2021 at the site of a closed pharmacy at Veteran’s Parkway and Lindbergh Boulevard, on the southwest side of town.

Ward 10 Ald. Ralph Hanauer, who represents the area, said he has no concern about the restaurant opening up, even during the pandemic.

As the hospitality industry continues to struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois lawmakers approved a measure to allow bars and restaurants to serve cocktails for curbside pick-up and delivery. The bill awaits the governor’s signature.

Springfield’s Ward 2 Ald. Shawn Gregory has been teaming up with restaurants and other businesses to pass out free dinners during the coronavirus pandemic. He said the goal goes beyond giving out free food. 

A group of downstate Illinois lawmakers are calling again for an alternative plan to reopen the state’s economy.

Those lawmakers said since economic and social interaction levels differ in certain areas of the state, Illinois should be divided into 11 regions instead than the four broad regions already laid out by the state’s public health authority. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker called for the legislature to reconvene to discuss an economic recovery plan for the state.

Pritzker said his administration has supported residents and small businesses by banning evictions, delaying tax filing deadlines, and expanding unemployment eligibility, but he said more work needs to be done to get the economy going.

Illinois has processed more than 20,000 COVID-19 tests in one day for the first time since the pandemic began. The state ranks fourth among all fifty states in testing availability and completion, behind California, Texas, and New York. 

Springfield is looking for input on its plan to spend nearly $800,000 from the federal aid package approved in March for coronavirus relief efforts.

The draft plan outlines five priorities – rental assistance, grants to small businesses, support for the food bank, health and safety equipment, and funding for public services.

The city held its first public meeting Thursday via Zoom to listen to input from residents and businesses about fund distribution.

Illinois Republican lawmakers are taking issue with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan that outlines how officials plan to reopen the state’s economy in five phases. 

Brian Galecki, owner of Dumb Records in downtown Springfield, normally sells records and CDs, but since the pandemic hit, he’s been selling t-shirts online. He said his online sales have been strong.

“A big challenge in that still is that even with us doing well, we’re still going to be less than what we would be doing if our physical store is open,” Galecki said.

Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder announced Thursday the city will enforce Governor J.B. Pritzker's extended stay-at-home order, despite legal disputes for the state to reopen.

A coronavirus outbreak at a nursing home in Decatur has led to ten deaths and sickened 74.

Herald Review Editor Allison Petty recently visited Fair Havens Senior Living. NPR Illinois talks with Petty about the challenges she heard from staff working through an outbreak.

As Illinois increased its COVID-19 testing capacity, the state saw its largest one-day spike Friday with more than 2,700 newly confirmed cases, bringing the total to nearly 40,000. 

Before the coronavirus hit Illinois, Shannon Egli practiced dissections with first year medical students and helped doctors train for procedures in preparation to work on patients.

He is the coordinator for the Anatomical Lab at OSF HealthCare’s Jump Simulation and Education Center and a clinical associate for the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria.

But now, he spends much of his day taking phone calls, being a remote tech assistant, and dropping off packages for people sick with COVID-19, taking proper precautions.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that Illinois schools will not hold any in-person classes for the rest of the academic year.

The governor said the decision reached by his administration and the state school board was a hard one. But, he told reporters during a daily press briefing he is confident that schools will expand remote learning opportunities for students. 

Every year, crowds of people flood the fairgrounds in Springfield anticipating entertainment at the Grandstand, corn dogs, shake-ups, and rides. But it’s unclear if the fair will go on this year. 

Shenecko Jimerson beat breast cancer a few years ago. After her celebration, she found out the cancer returned and she was diagnosed with triple metastatic breast cancer. She is on radiation - treatment that uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Illinois residents who have COVID-19 symptoms or may have been exposed will be able to recover from their homes with the help of a new patient monitoring program.

The governor announced the statewide program Saturday. Those who are sick but don’t need to be in the hospital will have daily virtual visits with health workers. They will also receive wellness kits with alcohol wipes, thermometers, and blood pressure cuffs. 

Illinois acquired the former Vibra Hospital in Springfield on Friday to use for COVID-19 patients who need medical attention but not intensive care. Gov. J.B. Pritzker approved the acquisition in anticipation of a surge in COVID-19 patients, using powers under the state emergency declaration. 

With concerns that the new coronavirus is being spread by asymptomatic people, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is advising Illinois residents to wear masks while out in public.

The nutrition program for women with infants, and young children, commonly referred to as WIC, is operating through the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some recipients say they are having a hard time finding food that is WIC-approved at grocery stores.

Last year, more than 182,00 Illinois residents participated in the program. 

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