First COVID patient in Champaign County survived the virus and an unsure medical community

One of Gail Rogers’ most vivid memories while in intensive care for COVID-19 was the doctors who would not come in her room, but instead peered at her through the inside window and gave her a thumbs up sign.

As Champaign County’s first COVID-19 patient, the 52-year-old lawyer also remembers how unprepared the health profession was for the virus in March of this year, despite five weeks’ warning.

Health data shows private homes, restaurants and bars, and hospitals and clinics are top sources of new infections

Outside of private homes, bars and restaurants have been the largest source of COVID-19 exposures among cases in Champaign County, according to data from the health district.

In November and thus far in December, hospitals or clinics were the top source of COVID-19 exposure. The health district’s graphic shows 26% of reported COVID-19 cases – or 23 cases – within Champaign County were tied to a hospital or clinic in December. There were 112 cases tied to a hospital or clinic in November.

Small Business Incentive Program relief grants provides ‘much needed’ financial assistance

Forty-eight out of approximately 90 small businesses in Champaign received a total of $520,000 in grants from the Small Business Incentive Program COVID Relief Grants.

The money for these grants came from the Federal CARES Act fund. The city council amended the pre-existing Small Business Incentive Program so that the program could be used to distribute this new funding in an efficient and productive way.

Champaign Park District sells off annual flowers due to COVID-19

The Champaign Park District is well known for their spring and summer planting of beds of flowers across various parks in the Champaign County area.

But this year, the district was unable to plant flowers due to staff shortages caused by the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the flowers to be sold at flower sales instead.

Garden Hills neighborhood faces dark times, literally and figuratively

The city’s multi-decade improvement plan for Garden Hills has increased the community residents’ trepidation as they see general deterioration and an abundance of issues piling up while the city’s improvement efforts appear to have slowed.

“We’re just not a priority, let’s put it that way,” resident Amy Revilla said.

Food insecurity projected to soar in eastern Illinois and Champaign County

The nonprofit organization Feeding America has projected Champaign County’s food insecurity rate to increase by 31% by the end of 2020 in comparison to data collected in 2018. Feeding America is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community-based agencies.

COVID-19 hampers food distribution at Eastern Illinois Foodbank

Pre-pandemic, Eastern Illinois Foodbank provided food and grocery products to 100,000 people in 18 different Eastern counties in Illinois. Today, they project the number of those in need to increase by 63,000.

The foodbank expects the second wave of COVID-19 will continue to increase the need for “emergency food,” and they are preparing for just that.