Coronavirus Blog 3/14/20: ISU Tightens Access as Woodford County COVID-19 Case Detected | WGLT

Coronavirus Blog 3/14/20: ISU Tightens Access as Woodford County COVID-19 Case Detected

Mar 14, 2020

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.

You can also see (or add to) our list of cancellations, closures, and rescheduled events. Find all of our coverage at WGLT.org/Coronavirus.

NEW POLLING PLACE REQUESTED IN LIEU OF ST. PATRICK'S OF MERNA
4:56 p.m. Saturday, March 14

St. Patrick Catholic Church of Merna has decided to not allow the Bloomington Election Commission use of its building as a polling location. The Election Commission instead has arranged to use Holiday Inn and Suites, 3202 E. Empire St., as an emergency polling location.

Due to how late this cancellation has happened the Election Commission will not be able to get letters sent to the voters in precincts 34, 38 and 51 that are affected by this closure. Signs will be posted on the doors at St. Patrick's to direct voters to the Holiday Inn. Early voting is still occurring at the Election Commission office this weekend. It's open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, and 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday.

-- Charlie Schlenker | WGLT

ISU FURTHER REDUCES CAMPUS PRESENCE
4:32 p.m. Saturday, March 14

Illinois State University President Larry Dietz said beginning Tuesday, March 17, the university will encourage staff who can work from home to do so in response to the coronavirus. ISU will maintain limited staff in campus offices and buildings.

“While I am not mandating staff to work from home, I do want to increase the number of employees who are working remotely to the greatest extent possible,” said Dietz. “This will support social distancing efforts, in a way that still supports the necessary operations of the University.”

The message to the campus indicated decisions about who can telecommute must be made in consultation with department leadership. Not everyone’s job duties will allow a work-from-home option. Departments and Human Resources will decide.

-- Charlie Schlenker | WGLT

PRITZKER ASKS FOR MEDICAID WAIVER DURING PANDEMIC
4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14

Gov. JB Pritzker said his administration will file a federal waiver to expand Medicaid coverage under the Stafford Act as COVID-19 continues to spread.

A federal waiver would "allow our Medicaid program to more freely respond to the COVID-19 crisis by expanding medical services,” said Pritker. 

“During this crisis we are working to ensure that those who fear that they may be getting sick have access to the testing and treatment that they need without being saddled with costly medical bills for their care,” said Pritzker.

Pritzker earlier called for the expansion of unemployment insurance and for utilities to halt shut-offs and late payment fees.

If the federal waiver is approved, the state will be able to expand Medicaid services through the addition of new medical providers, increased access across the state and ramped up services to many of the state’s most vulnerable populations.

-- Charlie Schlenker | WGLT

AMEREN HALTS SHUTOFFS DURING PANDEMIC
4:30 p.m. Saturday, March 14

Ameren Illinois has suspended service disconnections and will forgive late payment fees for nonpayment through at least May 1, in response to economic hardships from the pandemic.

"We want all of our customers to have peace of mind that they will have energy service as we navigate through this unprecedented situation," said Richard J. Mark, chairman and president, Ameren Illinois.

-- Charlie Schlenker | WGLT

WOODFORD COUNTY COVID-19 CASE DETECTED
3:45 p.m. Saturday, March 14

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

Those two cases are from Woodford County, and Cumberland County, about an hour south of Champaign. There were also two cases in St. Clair County — in the Metro East area near St. Louis. The Woodford County case is a man in his 70s.

“As we expected, we are beginning to identify cases of COVID-19 outside of the Chicago area,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “Over the past several days, we have announced aggressive measures to reduce and slow the spread of the virus in Illinois. These are not easy decisions to make and we are not taking them lightly, but we believe these actions will help limit the spread of the virus in our communities and keep our residents safe.”

Read the full story at WCBU.org.

-- Charlie Schlenker | WGLT