Mary Hansen

Mary is a reporter at NPR Illinois and graduated from the Public Affairs Reporting program at UIS and received her BA in International Studies from American University. Previously Mary worked as a planning consultant and reported for the State Journal-Register where she covered city government.

Mary is a lifelong NPR listener since tuning into her home station WESA in Pittsburgh.

The same day the first employees at Memorial Health System hospitals in central Illinois were getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, an internal blog post was published: “Debunking COVID-19 Vaccination Myths.”

Students and faculty at the University of Illinois Springfield will return to their in-person classes Thursday, after a two-day closure due to COVID-19 cases.

Fifteen people tested positive for COVID-19 at the University of Illinois Springfield’s campus Monday.

Early voting for the November election began Thursday in most of Illinois. Local election authorities can also start sending out 1.8 million vote-by-mail ballots.

After weekend protests against postponing many fall high school sports, Gov. JB Pritzker again defended the decision.

Illinois is starting to award grants to renters to help them catch up on late payments. But the need far outpaces the funding available and more than 50,000 applicants won't get help.

Eighteen young people tested positive for COVID-19 in Sangamon County during the week of August 23.

The weekly number of new cases among those less than 20 years old in each county is one of four metrics the Illinois Department of Public Health began publishing late last month to assist local schools and health departments in making decisions about in-person learning.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported a new peak in new COVID-19 cases at 5,368. But department officials say the spike is due to a backlog of data.

A couple hundred students, staff and faculty at the University of Illinois Springfield waited more than 48 hours for results from their saliva-based COVID-19 tests taken last week. Initial university instructions said results should be sent within a day or two.

Nearly 200 cities told the Illinois Municipal League that they expect to bring in less money from taxes on shopping, gaming, gas and other sources due to the coronavirus pandemic. The responses come from a survey conducted between June and July.

Beginning Wednesday, restaurant and bar patrons must wear a mask when interacting with servers and bartenders in an effort to stem the recent spread of COVID-19.

Chicago’s election agency plans to allow voters to drop off their mail-in ballots at all early voting sites starting in mid-October. In Champaign County, the county clerk plans to have up to six drop boxes for voters to put their ballots in through Election Day.

People in Illinois who have not yet filled out their census forms will soon get a knock at their door.

Illinois will launch a new rental assistance program that could help approximately 30,000 tenants struggling to keep a roof over their heads, according to the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

Millions of voters across Illinois are getting vote-by-mail applications.

A new law signed by the governor this summer directs all election authorities in the state to send out the applications by August 1. 

Unionized faculty and staff at Illinois’ universities and colleges want their institutions to start almost entirely online this fall.

Pritzker Deciding Whether To Halt Evictions Again

Jul 16, 2020

Governor J.B. Pritzker says he is considering extending a moratorium on evictions beyond the end of July.  During a stop in Rockford, Thursday, Pritzker was asked if he planned to renew the order when it expires at the end of the month.

As protests against police brutality continue throughout Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he’s working on police and criminal justice reform, and investment in communities of color with lawmakers.

On Monday, Allaijah Davis and her friends Nykeyla Henderson and Ariona Fairlee led an estimated 1,000 peaceful demonstrators down Capitol Avenue in Springfield.

Illinois health officials suspect a handful of children in the Chicago region have a syndrome connected to COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health and a physician on a task force looking into the syndrome.

Illinoisans won’t be able to eat at restaurants until the end of June at the earliest, under the governor’s plan to reopen the state. The statewide association representing restaurants is pushing to move that up to the end of May.

Editor's Note: As of May 29, Illinois is in Phase 3 of the plan, moedified to include restaurants offering outdoor seating; and some offices, salons, barbershops and gyms can open with capacity restrictions and public health precautions. Read more here. 

Illinois is seeing the highest number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths in Chicago and its suburbs, which is also the most populous region of the state.

Critics of the governor say the stay-at-home order and other restrictions shouldn’t be applied statewide because there are fewer cases in central and southern Illinois. But Gov. J.B. Pritzker defended the move Monday, saying that infection and death rates are guiding decisions.

In Illinois, at least 186 nursing homes and long-term care facilities are reporting at least one confirmed COVID-19 case, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, according to new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Illinois will likely take in $2.7 billion less this fiscal year, which ends in June, and another $4.6 billion less next fiscal year – all fallout from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

With concerns that the new coronavirus is being spread by asymptomatic people, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is advising Illinois residents to wear masks while out in public.

Pana Community Hospital – about an hour south east of Springfield – is preparing to treat patients sick with COVID-19. But, like many of the rural hospitals around Illinois, it’s also wrestling with financial challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Thirteen more people with COVID-19 have died in Illinois, including an infant in Cook County.

At his daily press briefing Saturday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker grew emotional announcing the deaths, which also included an Illinois Department of Human Services employee.

Illinois residents have been receiving mailers saying they’re a “2020 Congressional District Census.” But it’s not that census – the once-in-a-decade population count.

The mailer is a survey and fundraising document from the Republican National Committee, and that has the Democratic Party of Illinois crying foul.

Advocates for an accurate census count are claiming a mailer from an anti-immigration group constitutes a “disinformation” campaign. The letter, sent out last fall, calls itself a “Consensus Survey” and asks residents for their views on immigration policy.

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