Sam Dunklau

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.

Expanded voting-by-mail is coming to Illinois. Governor J.B. Pritzker said Friday he will sign the expanded voting measure into law.

A lawmaker who portrays himself as an outsider found himself on the outside Tuesday. A group of protestors, meanwhile, made their voices heard as state lawmakers convened for the first day of a special legislative session.

Two county health departments are trialing a new “tech-based” approach to COVID-19 contact tracing. Meanwhile, Governor J.B. Pritzker Monday defended rules that lay out penalties for businesses disobeying statewide shutdown orders.

Pritzker’s office announced both St. Clair and Lake County’s health departments will use a “state-of-the-art” software platform that is designed to gather data from infected persons and track the virus in real-time. Another 95 counties will join them over the next few weeks.

Illinois wants hundreds to potentially thousands of contact tracing workers trained and ready to start tracking the spread of the new coronavirus by the end of this month. At the same time, big tech companies are developing technology that could help with tracing efforts.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, along with other legislative leaders, are "ready to convene" a special session as early as next week, according to letters sent to lawmakers and shared with the media.

Gig workers and independent contractors now qualify for unemployment benefits in Illinois. While many of those workers have been trying for weeks to receive financial help, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday a new third-party system is already helping to process claims more efficiently.

A senior Pritzker administration staffer tested positive for COVID-19, and all employees in the Governor’s office are now working from home as a precaution.

Nursing homes across Illinois claim they haven’t received the amount of personal protective equipment they have asked for. In response, a group of Illinois Senate Democrats are asking the state’s public health department to disclose more information about shipments. 

Governor J.B. Pritzker reiterated during a press briefing Monday that law enforcement can arrest anyone who is defying Illinois’ stay-at-home order. Meanwhile, two big tech companies are looking to develop contact tracing apps, but for now, the governor has nixed the idea for Illinois.

Despite a number of legal challenges that have yet to be resolved, Governor J.B. Pritzker says Illinois will remain under a stay-at-home order, which takes effect Friday through the end of May.

Attorney Thomas DeVore, who’s representing a southern Illinois state lawmaker and another from Rockford, is confident he’ll win legal challenges against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order on two fronts. Meanwhile, the governor maintains the suit is “the height of recklessness,” and Congressman Rodney Davis is among those weighing in.

An online forum hosted by Springfield’s NAACP chapter this weekend highlighted Illinois’ COVID-19- related racial disparities and aimed to dispel myths about the new coronavirus.

A Clay County judge is lifting Illinois' extended stay-at-home order for a single state representative.

An Illinois Republican is suing Governor J.B. Pritzker over restrictions he’s put in place to combat the new coronavirus pandemic.

Governors from nearly every Midwestern state are collaborating on when and how to reopen the regional economy once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. Meanwhile, Illinois saw its highest one-day death toll, and new jobless claims continue to flood the state system responsible for handling them.

The new coronavirus pandemic has affected how and even when Illinoisans buy food from grocery stores. But the virus has also impacted the farmers working to keep that supply chain running.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could end up costing Illinois state government as much as $28 billion in revenue over the next few years. That’s just one of the key takeaways from the latest report from the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

Illinois school personnel can now temporarily use a type of previously-banned physical restraint on students if necessary. A few state lawmakers Monday said they’re “disappointed” in that decision to roll back the ban.

Governor J.B. Pritzker is ordering Illinoisans to remain at home as much as possible until the end of April. The original order was set to end next week, and the extension comes as the federal government extended its social distancing guidelines.

Artists throughout Illinois have been hit particularly hard by the social distancing effects of the coronavirus pandemic. For many, their primary source of income has dried up as gigs and events have been canceled.

For this week’s Illinois Issues report, I gathered stories of their struggles and their solutions for keeping creativity alive during a global pandemic.  

Illinois health officials announced a surge of new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. The state’s Department of Public Health has confirmed 128 new cases across 17 counties, bringing the total to 288.

As widespread disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic continues around the country, Illinois retailers are asking residents not to buy more supplies than they need.

Illinois' U.S. Senator, Dick Durbin, said the Senate will vote soon on the latest deal to address a nationwide outbreak of COVID-19.

RIVERS CASINO

Legalized sports betting has officially launched in Illinois. This week, a casino in suburban Chicago opened the state’s first place for gamblers to legally bet on professional sports games. But rolling out Illinois’ sports books has been a slow-going process, and uncertainty remains about how much revenue the practice will end up generating for an already cash-strapped state. For this week’s Illinois Issues report, I explored what’s happening in the wide world of Illinois sports wagering.

Electricity and environmental advocates offered their pitches to Illinois state senators this week on how to reduce a portion of the state’s carbon emissions. But each group has different ideas about how to do it.

Drive down any U.S. interstate and there's a good chance you will see a pun or a funny reference on the next electronic message board you spot. Such messages have become ubiquitous across the country lately.

But besides getting a snicker, what's behind these roadside bits, and are they making drivers behave differently?

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritkzer and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tried to calm fears over the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak on Friday. They said efforts are already underway to minimize Illinois’ exposure to the disease also known as novel coronavirus.

A group of Illinois House lawmakers this week began considering whether one of their colleagues is qualified to serve in the General Assembly. It’s a rare process — and part of the continuing fallout from a federal corruption investigation.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is forgiving the remaining prison sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. That move has received bipartisan criticism.

State lawmakers and public health advocates want to make it more convenient for Illinoisans to get rid of their unwanted medicine.


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