As Illinois' COVID-19 vaccine distribution begins its next phase Monday, many older residents and essential workers are eager to get their shots, officials said at Wednesday's meeting of the McLean County Board of Health.

The Bloomington City Council on Monday overwhelmingly voted to join the Welcoming Network, a nonprofit group that prides itself on creating inclusive environments for immigrants through community engagement, job training and other initiatives. 

Lawyers for the Town of Normal and a local business accused of violating COVID-19 restrictions faced off Tuesday at a Liquor Commission hearing, but a decision on the matter isn’t expected for several weeks.

Hospital patient in bed
Jae C. Hong / AP

McLean County is reporting 84 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the community's total probable and confirmed cases to 11,355.

The Normal Town Council voted overwhelmingly Monday night to waive next year’s liquor license fees for certain businesses negatively affected by Restore Illinois’ pandemic closures and restrictions.

Drive-through virus testing
Lynne Sladky / AP

With plans for saliva-based testing held up at the federal level, Illinois State University will begin in-house rapid antigen testing in January.

If Normal wants Restore Illinois restrictions enforced, it’s going to require a local ordinance, according to Normal Mayor Chris Koos. 

Fraudulent unemployment claims are skyrocketing across Illinois as scammers try to access jobless benefits using employees' Social Security numbers.

The Normal Town Council on Monday OK’d an estimated $13.1 million tax levy that, if formally approved after a Dec. 7 public hearing, is likely to keep the property tax rate flat at about 1.5%.

D-87 Returning To Remote Learning Nov. 23 To Dec. 4

Nov 11, 2020

District 87 will return to an all-remote schedule for the week of Thanksgiving, and the week after the holiday, the district announced during Wednesday’s school board meeting.

Besides that period of Nov. 23 to Dec. 4, a third all-remote week of Jan. 4 to 8 is planned after the winter break.  Officials also warned a local increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations, could even mean a switch to all-remote earlier than Thanksgiving week.

At the Normal Town Council’s Monday meeting, Mayor Chris Koos and others responded to a return to stricter crowd limits because of a surge in COVID-19 cases, with Koos saying despite mixed feelings about the metrics used to include Normal, he won't encourage anyone to violate the restrictions. 

The Bloomington City Council on Monday narrowly approved a change to how the city's Public Safety and Community Relations Board makes recommendations and handles outreach. 

But before the 5-4 vote, council members disagreed in a lengthy discussion about whether the change constituted slightly amending bylaws to clarify the board’s purpose, or significantly broadening its mission. 

Breanna Grow / WGLT

Members of the McLean County Board of Health looked to health department administrators Wednesday night for reassurance the agency will be prepared for a potential surge in COVID-19 this winter.

The Bloomington City Council Monday night OK’d the next steps in a plan to extend the Constitution Trail in southeast Bloomington, creating a safer way for bicycle and foot traffic to cross under Veterans Parkway. 

When complete, the trail would stretch from Lafayette Street to Hamilton Road.

Also at the remote meeting, the council approved plans to spend $775,000 on design for a new O’Neil Pool; updated city codes including  sprinkler requirements in businesses; and heard from residents calling for Oct. 12 to be known as Indigenous People’s Day instead of Columbus Day.

John Minchillo / AP

The pandemic may be wrecking a lot of things for a lot of people. But one part of the economy that’s doing well is home improvement.

Exterior of Midwest Food Bank
Eric Stock / WGLT

Thanksgiving will look quite different this year due to the pandemic, and nonprofits across Bloomington-Normal are asking for the community's help for families in need.

Georgia Nugent
Breanna Grow / WGLT

Education has been deeply impacted by both the COVID-19 pandemic and rising pressure to end racism. 

Local education administrators detailed how they’re responding to the concurrent issues during a virtual Bloomington-Normal NAACP town hall Thursday night.

Larry Lyons speaks at a virtual meeting
Breanna Grow / WGLT

Illinois State University students and board trustees say they want more updates from administrators on their progress addressing anti-Blackness on campus.

Board of Trustees on a conference call
Breanna Grow / WGLT

Illinois State University administrators fended off criticism and debunked myths surrounding COVID-19 on campus during a virtual update to the Board of Trustees on Saturday.

Normal and other cities shouldn’t expect a full economic recovery until 1 to 3 years after a COVID vaccine becomes available, administrators told the Normal Town Council on Tuesday.

Breanna Grow / WGLT

Last spring students at Illinois State University led a crowd of least 250 in a march through Uptown Normal to demand governments take action to fight climate change.   

The Normal Town Council voted Wednesday to keep in place through Dec. 31 new rules limiting crowds near the Illinois State University campus in response to a spike in local COVID-19 cases, mostly among ISU students.

Bloomington-Normal Human Resource Council / WGLT

The Human Resource department is where employees turn to with a plethora of questions. With COVID-19 surging and the unknown muddying answers, HR professionals have had to adjust.

The Bloomington City Council gave the official OK Monday night for Grossinger Motors Arena to be used as a “universal” voting site for McLean County residents on Election Day on Nov. 3.

Students lined up to be tested
@IllinoisStateU / Twitter

UPDATED 6:20 p.m. | McLean County's testing positivity rate jumped again Thursday as 41 new coronavirus cases were reported, including a worsening outbreak at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Brian Snyder / Pool Reuters via AP

Political campaigning is a social endeavor. But like the rest of us, candidates have had to shift to virtual platforms to connect with voters and get their message heard.

Kids running on playground

Child care programs for Bloomington-Normal students are filling up, with less than a week until the start of the fall semester.

Jeff Smudde / WGLT

The growing number of positive COVID-19 cases is making it harder to staff nursing units in central Illinois.

Illinois State University faculty and staff asked public health experts their lingering COVID-19 questions during a live webinar Friday on the eve of the fall semester.

Illinois State University administrators received authorization to spend up to $3.3 million this semester for COVID-19 testing of asymptomatic students, with the ISU board of trustees approving the plan Wednesday during a virtual meeting.