Coronavirus Blog 3/20/20: County Opens EOC; ISU Commencement Goes Virtual | WGLT

Coronavirus Blog 3/20/20: County Opens EOC; ISU Commencement Goes Virtual

Mar 20, 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.

RIVIAN PLANT TO SHUT DOWN TEMPORARILY
3:05 p.m. Friday, March 20

Rivian on Friday became the latest Bloomington-Normal employer to shut down amid the coronavirus. The electric automaker it was temporarily shutting down all its facilities, including its manufacturing plant in Normal. Rivian has 307 employees in Normal.

Read the story.

— Ryan Denham | WGLT

COUNTY OPENS EOC; SETS UP SERVICE STATION
1:55 p.m. Friday, March 20

McLean County Board chair John McIntyre issued an emergency proclamation Friday, and county government announced plans for a walk-up "customer service station" starting next week.

The Government Center is closing to the public Monday, March 23. To continue providing essential services, the McLean County Customer Service Station will open Monday. It's located on East Street between Washington and Front streets. It is a walk-up service station, with parking available nearby. Citizens are encouraged to contact county government offices first, as many services can be completed remotely.

Meanwhile, the county's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) has been activated. It is operating virtually for now.

— Ryan Denham | WGLT

ISU SETS PLAN FOR VIRTUAL COMMENCEMENT, DECEMBER CEREMONY
11:30 a.m. Friday, March 20

Illinois State University is changing its May commencement into a "virtual" ceremony and offering students the chance to walk across the stage in December.

ISU follows many other universities in canceling their in-person graduation ceremonies because of the coronavirus.

At a web-based ceremony in May, President Larry Dietz and other ISU officials will speak, and students can submit photos for recognition.

Spring and summer 2020 graduates will be invited to participate in in-person commencement ceremonies on Dec. 12.

"Illinois State recognizes that the disruption caused by the pandemic has touched every aspect of life and that this is not the commencement that graduates, their families, and their friends were looking forward to," ISU said in a statement Friday. "The University hopes that these plans, both virtually and in person, will allow graduates to celebrate their great achievements at Illinois State during this extraordinary time in history."

— Ryan Denham | WGLT

ILLINOIS WESLEYAN SHIFTS TO ONLINE-ONLY THROUGH SPRING
11:25 a.m. Friday, March 20

Illinois Wesleyan University President Georgia Nugent has announced the university will continue remote instruction through the end of the spring semester and for May Term. 

"We recognize this decision will be a great disappointment for our students, who were looking forward to returning to campus and reconnecting with family and friends," Nugent said in an email. "I am particularly pained by what this means for our seniors and their expectations at this time." 

IWU won't be holding commencement cermonies in its traditional format. The university said it is working with a committee of graduating seniors to develop alternative plans, which they plan to announce by April 1. 

-- Eric Stock | WGLT 

COUNTRY FINANCIAL EXTENDS WORKING FROM HOME
11:15 a.m. Friday, March 20

Country Financial has extended work from home for its employees through April 12. Country says only employees who have critical roles will report to corporate offices and no visitors will be allowed without a critical reason to be there. 

Country Financial originally announced employees would work from home until March 27. The company has already restricted all non-essential business travel. 

-- Eric Stock | WGLT 

BLOOMINGTON  MAYOR TO HOST OPEN HOUSE VIA CONFERENCE CALL
9:15 a.m. Friday, March 20 

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner has announced this week’s open house will be held virtually due to the potential spread of COVID-19.  The sessions, which are held on the Friday afternoon before a city council meeting, are typically held at city hall.

The mayor’s open house at 4:30 p.m. Friday will be available only via conference call. The number is 1-877-668-4490, with the access code 801-954-393.

The Bloomington City Council and Normal Town Council are both expected to approve emergency ordinances in response to COVID-19 on Monday.

-- Eric Stock | WGLT