Top Regional News: State sees 87 additional COVID-19 deaths – News – The Register-Mail

The Register-Mail

Top Regional News: State sees 87 additional COVID-19 deaths – News – The Register-Mail


The following stories are among today’s top news of central Illinois.

State sees 87 additional COVID-19 deaths

SPRINGFIELD — State public health officials on Thursday announced 2,268 new, confirmed cases of COVID-19 and an additional 87 deaths.

There have now been more than 102,686 confirmed cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus and 4,607 deaths in Illinois, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said Thursday afternoon at a news conference in Springfield. Ezike and Gov. JB Pritzker are there for part of an abbreviated legislative session that began Wednesday.

Ezike again urged residents to follow social-distancing measures, noting that it’s clear that the new coronavirus “can be spread even a few days before symptoms occur” in someone who has the disease caused by the virus.

Pritzker, meanwhile, faced a series of questions about the state’s Department of Employment Security, given the continuing struggles many residents are having to apply for, certify and then receive unemployment assistance. He said that he hopes to be able to use funding in the state’s budget to upgrade systems at IDES as well as expand the staffing base.

Pritzker also announced an additional $1.3 million from the federal coronavirus relief funding that the state will receive in family violence protection funds.

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Pritzker activates National Guard for flooding preparation

SPRINGFIELD — Gov. JB Pritzker activated nearly 60 National Guard soldiers to help communities along the Illinois River prepare for forecasted floods.

Pritzker on Thursday issued disaster proclamations for four rural counties along the Illinois River: Grundy, Pike, Scott and Morgan. Grundy County is southwest of Chicago, while the other three counties are in west-central Illinois.

Soldiers will help with sandbagging operations in those communities as the National Weather Service forecasts major flooding over the next several days along parts of the Illinois River, as well as minor to moderate flooding along nine other rivers. For example, the NWS expects the Illinois River to reach major flood stage Saturday morning in the small Morgan County town of Meredosia, continuing to rise through the middle of next week. As of Thursday morning, the NWS also forecasts major flooding near LaSalle, Henry, Peoria and Havana.

Victims identified in fatal Mercer County shooting

PREEMPTION — Two people were found dead with apparent gunshot wounds following a 911 call at 1:04 p.m. Wednesday in Preemption.

Mercer County deputies found the man and woman, who were then pronounced dead on the scene by the county coroner. The two victims, both of Preemption, were identified as Myra Long, 62, and Richard “Steve” Reams, 65.

The sheriff’s office was assisted by Aledo Police, Viola Police, Sherrard Fire Department, AMT Ambulance and Illinois State Police crime scene services. The incident is under investigation. The Mercer County Sheriff’s Office says there is no known evidence of an ongoing safety risk.

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Vote-by-mail bill heads to House floor

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois will send vote-by-mail applications to millions of voters this fall under a bill approved by the House Executive Committee Thursday.

In an 8-5 partisan vote, Senate Bill 1863 will also make Election Day this year a holiday for schools and university staff. Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, said that will allow schools to continue to be used as polling places without potentially exposing students to the COVID-19 virus. The changes are being made to give voters a chance to participate in the Nov. 3 election without having to vote in person and potentially spread the coronavirus. The changes are for the 2020 general election only.

All five Republican committee members voted against the proposal, raising skepticism about the plan and whether there were sufficient safeguards to protect against voter fraud.

Currently, a person must request an application from local election authorities in order to vote by mail. Under the bill, anyone who voted in the 2018, 2019 or 2020 election will be automatically mailed an application to obtain a vote by mail ballot, including those who voted by mail in those elections. Burke said that would mean about 5 million voters.

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