News Around Illinois - March 12, 2020

 
Reginald Hardwick/Illinois Newsroom

Illinois Colleges Suspend In-Person Classes Due To COVID-19

CHICAGO  — Illinois, DePaul, Northwestern and Illinois State universities have decided to suspend in-person classes due to coronavirus fears. The schools on Wednesday joined colleges and universities around the U.S. that have announced a halt to face-to-face instruction. None of the universities are reporting cases of COVID-19 on their campuses. In an e-mail to about 90,000 students at its campuses in Chicago, Champaign and Springfield, University of Illinois officials said there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus among faculty or students. However, in-person instruction was being halted to help curb its spread. Northwestern's spring break will be extended one week until April 4 and then classes will be conducted remotely for at least three weeks. - Associated Press

Lawmakers Cancel Session

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois General Assembly is canceling its work days next week. Lawmakers say they’re doing their part to prevent  community spread of the coronavirus disease. Session days can draw thousands of people to the Illinois Capitol from legislators to everyday citizens. State Rep. Bob Morgan (D-Deerfield) says lawmakers should do what they can to protect the public. “We function and our whole existence relies on the ability of the public to access us," said Deerfield. "And when that exact premise is what is putting people in danger, I think we have to be very, very thoughtful about that, and take the steps necessary to keep people safe.” Officials are also banning large groups from the Capitol Complex including rallies and school tours. Public health authorities say “social distancing” is one of the key ways to prevent or at least slow the spread of COVID-19. - Brian Mackey, Illinois Public Radio

Secretary of State Office Questioned

SPRINGFIELD - Republicans are questioning whether the Illinois secretary of state’s office can handle being in charge of Automatic Voter Registration. The latest in a string of problems involved 1,100 people incorrectly “opted out” of voting. State Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) says the agency’s front-line staff already has its hands full. “Renewing your driver’s licenses, figuring out REAL ID vs non REAL ID, your state ID vs. that…getting your registration for your car, everything like that," said Butler. "They have a lot of other things to do other than registering people to vote.” Republicans want another meeting between Secretary of State Jesse White and local election authorities, and an independent audit of the state’s voter database. They also say the automatic voter registration system should be suspended, fixed, and back up and running by the end of 2021. - Olivia Mitchell, NPR Illinois

2020 Census Launches Thursday

SPRINGFIELD - Illinois census officials say residents can begin filling out the 2020 US Census form online starting Thursday. Counting efforts are moving forward despite public health concerns about the spread of  COVID-19. Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary Grace Hou says in light of the new virus that’s so far affected the Chicagoland area, remote methods for filling out the nine question form are crucial. “There is an option, right, to do it online, by phone, or by mail, and I think potentially that’s an even more important message today more than ever: that there is an opportunity to do it on your own," said Hou. Illinois has dedicated nearly $30 million to its counting efforts in the hopes of securing tens of billions of dollars in federal money that is based on its census count. Click here to fill out the online census form. - Sam Dunklau, NPR Illinois

Story source: Illinois Newsroom