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This is a guide to the things we do know, from scientists, doctors and public health experts — a resource that changes alongside our understanding of this virus.

FAQ:  The Essential Coronavirus FAQ
MAP:  The real-time spread of coronavirus
STATE:  Tracking by State 
HOSPITAL:  Capacity by County

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday afternoon launched a COVID-19 vaccine hotline — something advocates have been asking Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration to do for months.

Capitol View
Mark St. George/WSIU

Host Hannah Meisel (NPR Illinois) and guests Sarah Mansur (Capitol News Illinois) and Dave McKinney (WBEZ) discuss the American Rescue Plan, what effects the extra funds given to public health departments for vaccine distribution and testing for COVID-19 will have, what the top three ratings agencies say about Illinois' credit and what that means for its future, the senate back in session, Pritzker signing the Black Caucus Education Bill, ISBE releasing new school guidelines regarding COVID-19, and a federal lawsuit about FOID card backlogs.

Restaurants have been hit especially hard during the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 110,000 closing since March.

The coronavirus relief package signed by President Biden on Thursday includes $28.6 billion for independent and small-chain restaurants.

House Republicans Urge Responsibility in Use of Federal Stimulus Dollars

Mar 12, 2021

One day after President Joe Biden signed a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package, Illinois House Republicans called for the General Assembly to oversee the appropriation of funds in order to support businesses and individuals most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Friday news conference, state Reps. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, and C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Jacksonville, urged responsibility in the allocation of federal funding and warned against using the stimulus as a “magic bailout” to fund new state programs.

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Illinois Governor JB Pritzker says the state has reached another  milestone in the fight against COVID-19.  As of today (Friday) the state is receiving 100 thousand doses of the vaccine per day.  Governor Pritzker says the more vaccine is available the more people can be protected.

Lawmakers Want Role in Spending Federal Stimulus Money

Mar 12, 2021

Lawmakers from both parties told officials from Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration on Thursday that the General Assembly should have some say in how the state spends the $7.5 billion in federal funds that Illinois expects to receive from the newly-enacted American Rescue Plan.

Those comments came during a virtual hearing of the House Revenue and Finance Committee that took place just hours after President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill into law.

There is little difference in reluctance to take the coronavirus vaccine among Black and white people in the U.S., according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist survey.

Southern Illinois Congressman Mike Bost Thursday introduced bipartisan legislation to expand access to emergency funding for rural areas.

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Illinois Governor JB Pritzker says he is pleased with the progress Illinois is making in  getting residents vaccinated against COVID-19.  In response to calls for him to open up the state even more, he says he is still following  guidance from the experts at  IDPH, who are closely watching how the virus is changing.

One Year Into Pandemic, Pritzker ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ About Large-Scale Events

Mar 11, 2021

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday announced a new initiative focusing on vaccine access for rural parts of the state and said he is “cautiously optimistic” about future reopenings and public gatherings.

Speaking in a news conference at a mass vaccination site at Shabbona Middle School in Morris Thursday, Pritzker said he is encouraged that the state is “getting to the end” of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he continued to stress patience as the state works to vaccinate residents.

The White House
Noah Fortson / NPR

President Biden is giving the first prime-time address of his presidency to mark one year of the coronavirus pandemic, a day after Congress passed a massive relief package.

Updated March 11, 2021 at 9:34 PM ET

President Biden is aiming for the country to begin to find a degree of normalcy and begin to move on from the coronavirus pandemic by the July Fourth holiday, Biden announced in his first prime-time address Thursday night from the White House on the one-year anniversary of the pandemic.

Health officials have relaxed federal COVID-19 guidance for nursing homes for the first time since September, recommending that even unvaccinated visitors and residents be allowed to meet in person under most circumstances.

Democratic Illinois Officials Applaud Passage of Federal Stimulus

Mar 11, 2021

Democratic state officials in Illinois applauded the final passage Wednesday of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion federal relief package, which includes billions of dollars in aid to cash-strapped state and local governments.

The “American Rescue Plan” passed the U.S. House on Wednesday, 220-211, largely along party lines. No Republicans voted in favor of the bill while only one Democrat voted against it. The White House has indicated that Biden plans to sign the bill Friday.

Dr. Angela Chen, an emergency medicine doctor at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, says she is pretty good at dealing with the unexpected. It's part of what drew her to emergency medicine, and her work on emergency cases trained her to navigate uncertain times.

Then, there was COVID-19.

Updated March 11, 2021 at 5:07 PM ET

In Birmingham, Ala., Alabama Regional Medical Services — a health clinic that primarily serves a lower-income, Black neighborhood — has not administered a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. That is scheduled to begin Saturday.

Meanwhile, the first doses in the state went to nearby Mountain Brook, an affluent white suburb of Birmingham, says Sheila Tyson, a commissioner for Jefferson County, where Birmingham is located.

State Housing Authority Outlines COVID-19 Assistance Plans

Mar 10, 2021

The Illinois Housing Development Authority presented their plans for how to use incoming federal COVID-19 assistance during an Illinois House of Representatives Housing Committee hearing Wednesday.

Kristin Faust, IHDA Executive Director, provided an update on two state initiatives that leverage funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to help tenants and homeowners who experienced a loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic. Those are the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program.

A southern Illinois lawmaker is urging Governor JB Pritzker to drop coronavirus restrictions and reopen the state.

Los Angeles students could be back in the classroom for in-person learning as soon as next month under a tentative deal struck between teachers and the country's second-largest school district.

The agreement, which still must be ratified by members of the United Teachers Los Angeles union (UTLA), would see most students returning to physical classrooms for the first time since they were sent home a year ago this month, just as coronavirus infections were spreading rapidly.

COVID Vaccine Outreach Still Spotty In Latinx Community

Mar 10, 2021

Through grainy video on a recent Facebook live event, Missouri health director Dr. Randall Williams explained who was currently eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. A moment later, an interpreter from the Mexican consulate in Kansas City provided a translation.

The live stream was the consulate’s idea.

Early predictions were wrong.

The continent of Africa has seen fewer deaths from COVID-19 in the last year than people initially projected, thanks to its early response to the pandemic.

The continent of 1.2 billion people has had roughly 4 million cases and 106,000 deaths, far below Europe, the Americas or Asia.

Southern Illinois Sees Vaccine Surplus

Mar 9, 2021
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While many people in Illinois are struggling to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Southern Illinois has recently had a surplus.

Part of the reason for the availability is that Jackson County has partnered with the state, and is receiving additional vaccine supply under that program.

Jackson County Health Department administrator Bart Hagston said the eligibility is still limited to those in groups 1A, 1B and 1B plus, because individual counties can't move to the next stage ahead of the state.

Updated March 11, 2021 at 2:39 PM ET

President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package on Thursday. The colossal bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, allocates money for vaccines, schools, small businesses and anti-poverty programs such as an expanded child tax credit that will mean new monthly payments to many parents.

COVID-19 Update: Positivity Rate, Hospitalizations Remain Near Pandemic Lows

Mar 8, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

The state’s rolling seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate held steady near two percent Monday as officials continue to increase vaccination efforts in all parts of the state.

The positivity rate stood at 2.3 percent, a number that has not moved more than two-tenths of a percentage point for the past 10 days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidance for vaccinated people, giving the green light to resume some pre-pandemic activities and relax precautions that have been in place.

Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife, Asma, have tested positive for the coronavirus after experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms, his office said Monday.

The couple received PCR tests after experiencing minor symptoms consistent with the virus, according to an official statement from the presidential office, as reported by the state-controlled SANA news agency. Both are in "good health and in a stable condition," the statement said.

In remarks after a divided Senate approved his $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan, President Biden praised lawmakers for securing the additional round of aid and thanked the American people for making it possible through their "overwhelming bipartisan support."

Updated at 12:56 p.m. ET

The Senate approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan Saturday, securing additional aid for American families, workers and businesses — and a legislative victory for the Biden administration.

After more than 24 hours of debate, the evenly divided Senate voted 50-49 to approve the measure. Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska was absent because he was in Alaska for a family funeral.

Updated at 2:12 p.m. ET

The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, left his home on Saturday to receive his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and promote vaccination against the coronavirus, in what was his first public appearance in over a year.

The 85-year-old scrapped plans to receive the injection at home, opting instead to travel to a clinic in Dharamsala, India, where he's lived since fleeing China after a failed uprising in 1959.

Capitol View
Mark St. George/WSIU

Host Hannah Meisel (NPR Illinois) and guests Jerry Nowicki (Capitol News Illinois) and Charlie Wheeler (UIS) discuss Robin Kelly's election as the first new Chair of the Illinois Democratic Party since 1998, the new head of the Illinois Republic Party Don Tracy, Adam Kinzinger's fight against far right elements in the Republican Party, the third federal stimulus bill, and the latest on COVID-19 vaccination rollout.