Sam Dunklau

Sam is a Public Affairs Reporting intern for spring 2018, working out the NPR Illinois Statehouse bureau.

Automobile dealers in Illinois were among the hardest hit businesses during the state’s COVID-19 stay-at-home period.

As outrage and protest against police brutality and racial injustice has spilled into the streets of cities across the country, several Black Illinois state lawmakers are offering their plans for how to fix those problems.

Illinois is on track for salons, some offices and outdoor seating at restaurants to open this weekend as the state moves into its next phase of reopening. The state’s movie theaters, which have been shut down since March, said Wednesday they want to welcome customers during that phase too.

Expanded voting-by-mail is coming to Illinois. Governor J.B. Pritzker said Friday he will sign the expanded voting measure into law.

A lawmaker who portrays himself as an outsider found himself on the outside Tuesday. A group of protestors, meanwhile, made their voices heard as state lawmakers convened for the first day of a special legislative session.

Two county health departments are trialing a new “tech-based” approach to COVID-19 contact tracing. Meanwhile, Governor J.B. Pritzker Monday defended rules that lay out penalties for businesses disobeying statewide shutdown orders.

Pritzker’s office announced both St. Clair and Lake County’s health departments will use a “state-of-the-art” software platform that is designed to gather data from infected persons and track the virus in real-time. Another 95 counties will join them over the next few weeks.

Illinois wants hundreds to potentially thousands of contact tracing workers trained and ready to start tracking the spread of the new coronavirus by the end of this month. At the same time, big tech companies are developing technology that could help with tracing efforts.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, along with other legislative leaders, are "ready to convene" a special session as early as next week, according to letters sent to lawmakers and shared with the media.

Gig workers and independent contractors now qualify for unemployment benefits in Illinois. While many of those workers have been trying for weeks to receive financial help, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday a new third-party system is already helping to process claims more efficiently.

A senior Pritzker administration staffer tested positive for COVID-19, and all employees in the Governor’s office are now working from home as a precaution.

Despite a number of legal challenges that have yet to be resolved, Governor J.B. Pritzker says Illinois will remain under a stay-at-home order, which takes effect Friday through the end of May.

Attorney Thomas DeVore, who’s representing a southern Illinois state lawmaker and another from Rockford, is confident he’ll win legal challenges against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order on two fronts. Meanwhile, the governor maintains the suit is “the height of recklessness,” and Congressman Rodney Davis is among those weighing in.

An Illinois Republican is suing Governor J.B. Pritzker over restrictions he’s put in place to combat the new coronavirus pandemic.

Governors from nearly every Midwestern state are collaborating on when and how to reopen the regional economy once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. Meanwhile, Illinois saw its highest one-day death toll, and new jobless claims continue to flood the state system responsible for handling them.

The new coronavirus pandemic has affected how and even when Illinoisans buy food from grocery stores. But the virus has also impacted the farmers working to keep that supply chain running.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could end up costing Illinois state government as much as $28 billion in revenue over the next few years. That’s just one of the key takeaways from the latest report from the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

Illinois’ COVID-19 caseload surpassed 10,000 this weekend. Governor J.B. Pritzker said residents must continue to do their part to slow its spread.

Governor J.B. Pritzker is ordering Illinoisans to remain at home as much as possible until the end of April. The original order was set to end next week, and the extension comes as the federal government extended its social distancing guidelines.

Illinois leaders are calling for more retired healthcare workers to return to the profession to help the state combat the new coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, millions more dollars are being pumped into social service programs designed to help those in need.

Artists throughout Illinois have been hit particularly hard by the social distancing effects of the coronavirus pandemic. For many, their primary source of income has dried up as gigs and events have been canceled.

For this week’s Illinois Issues report, I gathered stories of their struggles and their solutions for keeping creativity alive during a global pandemic.  

Illinois health officials announced a surge of new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. The state’s Department of Public Health has confirmed 128 new cases across 17 counties, bringing the total to 288.

As widespread disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic continues around the country, Illinois retailers are asking residents not to buy more supplies than they need.

Tomorrow will be the first day Illinois residents can start filling out the 2020 U.S. Census form online. State officials said remote technology will help with the count amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

Electricity and environmental advocates offered their pitches to Illinois state senators this week on how to reduce a portion of the state’s carbon emissions. But each group has different ideas about how to do it.

Drive down any U.S. interstate and there's a good chance you will see a pun or a funny reference on the next electronic message board you spot. Such messages have become ubiquitous across the country lately.

But besides getting a snicker, what's behind these roadside bits, and are they making drivers behave differently?

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritkzer and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tried to calm fears over the worldwide COVID-19 outbreak on Friday. They said efforts are already underway to minimize Illinois’ exposure to the disease also known as novel coronavirus.

A group of Illinois House lawmakers this week began considering whether one of their colleagues is qualified to serve in the General Assembly. It’s a rare process — and part of the continuing fallout from a federal corruption investigation.

In a call for unity during his annual budget address, Governor J.B. Pritzker called out lawmakers who have suggested severing Chicago from the rest of Illinois. It got a standing ovation, but not everyone was clapping.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is forgiving the remaining prison sentence of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. That move has received bipartisan criticism.

State lawmakers and public health advocates want to make it more convenient for Illinoisans to get rid of their unwanted medicine.


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