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.

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

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.

A rise in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations landed Sangamon County on the list of counties at a warning level, according to Illinois Department of Public Health. Morgan, Cass, Pike and Greene are on the list as well.

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.

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.

The Illinois High School Association announced a new sports schedule following new public health guidelines issued by the state.

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 17, 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.

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.

Concerts, festivals and other large events could be called off this summer. Gov. J.B. Pritzker urged organizers to “think seriously” about cancellations as restrictions could still be in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

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.

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.

As Illinois prepares for the 2020 census count, leaders of the state census office said they’re focusing on getting correct information out to communities, in particular clearing up confusion about job qualifications for census enumerators, the use of online forms and the timeline for the decennial count.

Illinois plans on spending $400 million over the next several years to improve internet access to farms and small towns.

But first, the state needs to know who has a reliable internet connection and who doesn’t.

The federal government tracks where high-speed internet is available. But the mapping has been criticized for overstating access, particularly in rural areas. Around 30 percent of residents living in rural Illinois lack internet access at speeds of 25 mbps and above, according to a report from the Federal Communications Commission.

Illinois is in a precarious position when it comes to the 2020 census. The count determines congressional representation, and the state is at risk for losing up to two seats.

Central and southern Illinois appear most vulnerable to losing a congressional seat, which is why it’s especially important to make sure everyone participates, according to Anita Banerji, director of the Democracy Initiative with Forefront Illinois. The Chicago-based civic engagement nonprofit has been working to ensure an accurate count.

The ACLU of Illinois, press freedom groups and victims’ rights advocates urged the university to alter a policy that requires reporters to tell campus officials about sources’ sexual harassment complaints.

The site of remains of burned down homes from the 1908 Race Riot in Springfield, in which a white mob lynched two innocent black men, is on the path to becoming a National Historic Monument.

Former University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign professor Gary Gang Xu assaulted and threatened students while university officials downplayed complaints, a lawsuit says. He ultimately resigned, taking $10,000 as part of his separation agreement.

This article was produced in partnership with NPR Illinois, which is a member of the ProPublica Local Reporting Network.

There are rising calls for tighter restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes in Illinois. They come as another death linked to vaping was reported this week.

A public health advocate and a state legislator want the state to ban flavored e-cigarettes and vaping in public.

Just inside the main gate of the Illinois State Fair sits a cluster of white booths around a gazebo. At the entrances, signs read “Ethnic Village.” For nearly 40 years, fair-goers have found food from around the world as well as music and other performances. But this is the last year it will have that name.

Governor J.B. Pritzker recently approved legislation to rename it the “Village of Cultures,” and the signs will change for next year’s fair.

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