Area hospitals receive millions of dollars in Covid-19 emergency funding

Carle Foundation Hospital has received nearly $18.8 million this month in grant money under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act, according to COVID Stimulus Watch. Meanwhile, Christie Clinic received about $2.4 million in grant money.

These grants were awarded through the department’s Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund on June 11, according to COVID Stimulus Watch, which is a service of Good Jobs First, which collects data of financial assistance from federal, state and local government programs. COVID Stimulus Watch, specifically collects and publishes data from CARES Act recipients.

Campus crime decreased after coronavirus, but crime statistics remain varied and ‘confusing’

Before University of Illinois students were sent home in mid-March, there were at least 183 crimes in Champaign-Urbana reported directly to university police — mostly underage drinking and theft. After March 21, the total number of crimes reported decreased, with 52 crimes directly reported to university police as of May 31 according to the daily crime log.

Meat and shopping: One more impact of the coronavirus on ordinary life

It began in mid-March when the new coronavirus became part of ordinary American life with shortages of household products like hand sanitizer, toilet paper and paper towels. Now, as May has turned to June, scarcity – and the fear of it — is all about the meat. As of June 6, there have been at least 20,400 reported positive cases tied to meatpacking facilities in at least 216 plants in 33 states, and at least 74 reported worker deaths, according to a Midwest Center analysis.

Urbana Park District board seeks to improve diversity on advisory board

In an effort to increase the diversity of its advisory committee, the Urbana Park District Board is focusing its recruitment efforts on areas north of University Avenue as well as other areas north of Interstate 74.

The Urbana Park District Advisory Committee currently has five vacancies.

By the numbers: Market Place Mall looting

Following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25, protesters gathered at the Market Place Mall on May 31, and 26 people were subsequently arrested by the police on a variety of charges, such as burglary, criminal trespassing and mob action.

Of those arrested, Champaign County was the primary residence. Most were local, with 22 people coming from the cities of Champaign, Urbana and Rantoul. Only one individual was out-of-state, providing a residence of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the remaining 3 came from other counties in Illinois.

Rural residents face diminishing access to quality nursing homes

Many rural counties in Illinois face the same lack of choice when it comes to high-quality nursing homes. Rural nursing homes are buffeted with a number of issues that often lead to understaffing and low quality of care. In addition, some nursing homes in rural areas are closing because of financial challenges.

There are 52 counties in Illinois with a population of under 30,000, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, and 45 of which has three or fewer nursing homes. Pope, Pulaski and Putnam, three counties with over 16,000 people in total, have no nursing homes within the counties.

Covid-19 outbreak hits Rantoul meat processing plant

Just days before President Trump ordered meat packing plants to remain open to mitigate food shortages, Rantoul Foods in Central Illinois saw its first case. There are now 21.

One of the largest meat processing plants in central Illinois is battling an outbreak of coronavirus in which 21 cases of  Covid-19 have been already been counted, a company official confirmed Monday

Rantoul Foods, which is based in Rantoul and processes between 30 million and 35 million pounds of pork each month, saw its first case on April 25, said Jerry Jacobsen, the company’s director of human resources, safety and business administration. Since then 20 more cases have been reported.

Jacobsen said the company is taking safety measures to bring the outbreak under control.

“The first thing is the health of our employees,” Jacobsen said, “because without our employees we don’t have a business.” 

The first worker identified with Covid-19 has now recovered and returned to work, he said. 

Numerous nursing homes cited for problems in infection prevention programs

At a time when nursing homes nationally are facing outbreaks of coronavirus, a review of federal inspection data reveals that more than half of nursing homes in Illinois were cited for deficiencies in infection prevention and control in 2019.

The review of the federal data on Illinois nursing homes by CU-CitizenAccess and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found that 396 of about 720 active nursing homes that are Medicare & Medicaid certified have been cited for deficiencies in infection prevention and control in 2019.

The reports showed that nursing homes did not have adequate measures to “provide and implement an infection prevention and control program.”

“Infection control practices are vitally important for long-term care facilities at all times, but especially now as we are facing a national emergency fighting COVID-19,” said Kelly Richards the Illinois State Long Term Care Ombudsman, “It is imperative that all facilities follow infection control guidance issued by the CDC and the IL Dept. of Public Health.”

Infection prevention programs at nursing homes have come under scrutiny since the start of the COVID19 outbreak, as residents and staff members from numerous facilities have tested positive and died.

According to the Illinois Public Health Department, 213 Illinois long term care facilities have COVID cases, as of April 8. Illinois has 773 cases associated with long-term care facilities (including assisted living), which includes patients and staff, the department said.

Concerns over COVID-19 lead to cuts in county jail population

Despite sharp spikes in population, such as a population of 173 on March 24, the number has stayed below the 2019 daily average since safety precautions began earlier this month. As of March 27, the number had fallen back to 157 people — with 11 serving prison sentences, 128 awaiting trial and the rest on Electronic Home Detention.

“We have taken steps to encourage officers to not bring in inmates if they don’t need to and have also been working with the State’s Attorney’s office to identify inmates who don’t pose a safety risk who can be released from jail,” Sheriff Dustin Heuerman wrote in an email to