Coronavirus Blog 3/24/20: Bloomington, County Reschedule Meetings | WGLT

Coronavirus Blog 3/24/20: Bloomington, County Reschedule Meetings

Mar 24, 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.

BLOOMINGTON, McLEAN COUNTY RESCHEDULE MEETINGS
5:45 P.M. Tuesday, March 24

Bloomington and McLean County governments have both scheduled their latest meetings until Thursday. The city council had to postpone its regular meeting on Monday because of technical issues as the city tried to coordinate the meeting virtually. 

City administration says public comments submitted prior to the meeting Monday will remain a part of the record, but the city is taking additional public comments by emailing the city clerk's office. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. 

The McLean County Board postponed its regular meeting on March 17 and has rescheduled for Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The county is planning to hold the meeting virtually and is discouraging the public from attending in person, but to email admin@mcleancountyil.gov if they wish to make to make public comments. 

-- Eric Stock | WGLT 

COUNTY SEEKS TO BOLSTER MEDICAL RESERVE CORPS
12:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 24

McLean County is putting out a call for retired medical professionals and others who could help with the COVID-19 response.

The county health department’s emergency preparedness coordinator David Hopper said the Medical Reserve Corps isn't new, but they want to bolster the volunteer rolls in case they are needed for an expected surge in medical staffing demands.

“It’s hard to say how many we will need,” Hopper said. “We maintain a roster of volunteers and as the need arises we communicate to all of them because at any given time, someone might not be available.”

Read the full story.

— Ryan Denham | WGLT

FORT JESSE CAFE RAISES MONEY FOR EMPLOYEES
11:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 24

Bloomington-Normal’s restaurant workers need help.

That’s the message from Nick Birky, general manager at Fort Jesse Cafe, the popular breakfast and brunch spot in Normal. His entire staff of nearly 30 people is now out of work. (Fort Jesse Cafe opted not to offer curbside pickup for customer and staff health reasons.)

“We make really great food, but the reason we’re successful ultimately is the people who work here,” Birky told WGLT. “We’re almost like a family. I spend 40 to 70 hours a week with these people, every single week for the past couple years. And knowing we just ended the employment like that—it’s tough to watch people go through something like that. A lot of these people have families and kids, and some were already living paycheck to paycheck.”

Read the full story.

— Ryan Denham | WGLT

LIBERTARIANS STUCK IN 'STALEMATE' ON BALLOT ACCESS
10:10 a.m. Tuesday, March 24

The Libertarian Party of Illinois says it's caught in a stalemate because of COVID-19 that will jeopardize its ability to get its candidates onto the November ballot.

Independent and "new party" candidates (such as Libertarians) were supposed to begin collecting signatures this week to get on the ballot. Social distancing makes that impossible.

The Libertarian Party says it's been told only the General Assembly can address the problem—but it's unclear when the next session will happen because of the coronavirus.

"So, in this stalemate created by the COVID-19 virus, independent, Libertarian, Green, and other party candidates are left with no access to appear on November's ballot," the Libertarian Party said in a statement Tuesday. "Illinois already has some of the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country, but now the state is not giving such candidates even a difficult path to appear on the ballot."

The Libertarians say they haven't missed ballot access in the general election in the last decade.

— Ryan Denham | WGLT

CHICAGO RESERVING HOTELS FOR ISOLATION, QUARANTINE
6:20 a.m. Tuesday, March 24

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the city plans to reserve thousands of hotel rooms for people with mild cases of the coronavirus and others unable to return to their homes while awaiting test results. Lightfoot announced the city has partnered with five hotels and will have 1,000 rooms available by Tuesday.

Chicago officials describe the plan as a proactive measure to keep hospital beds available for people with severe symptoms.

— The Associated Press