Olivia Mitchell

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

As coronavirus cases surge nationwide, Governor J.B. Pritzker introduced a new plan to address a resurgence in Illinois. 

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois was already fighting a public health crisis - the opioid epidemic. Clinicians at two drug rehab centers said more patients have been admitted to their facility since the coronavirus pandemic. 

The University of Illinois Springfield released its fall plan with details on how students and faculty would return to the campus and remain safe during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Drivers in Illinois will no longer have their license or vehicle registration suspended for unpaid parking fines and tollway violations. 

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

Those in the real estate industry were hoping for a competitive and prosperous housing market during the spring season, but the rapid spread of COVID-19 put a pause on their plans. One broker offered advice to the industry on what it should be doing through the pandemic.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker called on former physicians and medical professionals, including those who are retired, to “join the fight” against COVID-19. 

Republicans are renewing their call to suspend Automatic Voter Registration after more problems with the system came to light this week.

Earlier this year, it came out that several people who self-identified as non-citizens were permitted to vote. Now, more than 1,100 actual citizens in Illinois were improperly classified as having opted out of voter registration — potentially denying them their right to vote.

Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Springfield Sunday for the annual Women’s Day March. Demonstrators focused on opposing policies they say threaten women’s health and target immigrants.

The Illinois House has approved legislation that would allow people to use Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP benefits, online.

Illinois officials say the state should be doing more to level the playing field for women and girls. A council working toward that goal released its first annual report today. 

Illinois lawmakers are considering whether parents should be allowed to keep their children from participating in active shooter drills at school.

Some parents and school personnel say the exercises have a negative effect on children. State Sen. Scott Bennett, a Democrat from Champaign, said he’s not against active shooter training, but he said it should be conducted with more sensitivity.

Lawmakers are considering whether to make comprehensive sexual education mandatory for grades K-12 in public schools across the state.

The Illinois State Police says opioid overdoses are declining, but that agency is also reporting an uptick in the use of methamphetamines. 

In the past, meth was homemade, so the state restricted access to some of the ingredients like sudafed. Now, drug cartels are smuggling the drug into the U.S.

Pet owners in Illinois that live in public housing often have to choose between keeping their pet and staying in a place they can afford. A proposed Illinois measure aims to prevent that situation from ever happening.

Even though Gov. J.B. Pritzker says school funding is one of his top priorities, Republican lawmakers are criticizing his budget proposal, which could significantly cut promised funding if voters don’t approve the graduated income tax in November.

A group of Illinois lawmakers and health care advocates want the state to more equitably provide money for low income hospital patients.

Illinois lawmakers are considering a proposal to give students mental health days away from school.

The legislation would allow children in kindergarten through twelfth grade who have mental health issues the opportunity to take up to five days off during the school year.

As public universities in Illinois have seen enrollment declines in recent years, one state lawmaker has an idea aimed at keeping high school graduates from leaving.

Both of Illinois’ U.S. senators voted in favor of a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

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