COVID-19

Zaiser Pumpkin Farm / Facebook

John Ackerman of Ackerman Family Farms in Morton admits he feared COVID-19 would threaten the commercial viability of the fall pumpkin season.

Jeff Smudde / WGLT

The City of Peoria has been chosen to participate in a nationwide program examining ways to confront budget issues from COVID-19 and to assist economic recovery.

Tim Shelley / WCBU

More than five months after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down large segments of the economy, trends indicate a slow recovery has started. According to figures from the Greater Peoria Data Hub, consumer spending is on the rise and unemployment is declining.

City of Peoria / YouTube

One last change to Peoria’s budget for 2020 has been finalized, settling a lingering labor dispute and reversing a planned cut. But 2021 budget discussions to address COVID-19 shortfalls will wait another week.

WCBU

As thousands of airlines employees across the nation face time away from work, the director of the Gen. Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport does not expect cutbacks to land there.

Brasky's Bar and Grill / Facebook

Through the summer months, many dining establishments adapted to health and safety guidelines related to COVID-19 by increasing the amount of available outdoor seating.

Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center / Facebook

Maintaining the blood supply doesn’t take a break around the Labor Day holiday, and COVID-19 has compounded the challenge.

City of Peoria / YouTube

Facing escalating obligations to police and fire pensions, Peoria city leaders want residents to give direction on a course of action.

City of Peoria / YouTube

One week after voting down a plan to borrow $10 million and decommission two fire engines to balance Peoria’s budget, a divided City Council has approved the proposal.

Jeff Smudde / WGLT

Rik Edgar believes the Peoria Civic Center holds the key to the city’s economic revival after the COVID-19 pandemic – but only if it can survive the next two months.

Tim Shelley / WCBU

Health officials announced Friday the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Tri-County area since the start of the pandemic has risen to 2,633.

Peoria Public Schools District 150 / YouTube

Public school students in Peoria have two options for remote learning this fall.

Local health officials announced Thursday that a Tazewell County man in his 80s died from COVID-19 complications, marking the Tri-County area's third pandemic-related fatality this week.

On Wednesday, a Peoria County woman in her 40s was confirmed as the region's youngest patient to succumb to the disease since the pandemic began. Both recent victims had underlying health conditions.

The death toll for the area now stands at 46, with 34 coming from Peoria County.

RICH PEDRONCELLI / AP

School school districts are having trouble getting laptops and tablets in the hands of students, as the start of the fall semester inches closer. That comes amid shipping and fulfillment backlogs born of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tim Shelley / WCBU

Tri-County health officials reported 170 new COVID-19 infections over the weekend, bringing the region’s total to 2,288 since the start of the pandemic.

The figures announced Monday included 94 new cases in Peoria County for a total of 1,598. Tazewell County added 59 new positives for a sum of 535, while Woodford County’s total increased by 17 to 155. No new deaths were reported.

Screenshot from Illinois.gov live-stream

As the number of COVID-19 cases trends upwards in Illinois, state officials want to see better enforcement of mask-wearing and other public health guidance.

The average daily number of new COVID-19 cases in the state is up 31% compared to two weeks ago. The seven-day positivity rate stands at 4.1%.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, says a new emergency rule — announced Friday — aims to increase compliance with the state’s mask mandate.

She says research shows face coverings reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The City of Peoria Council will receive $1.4 million in federal assistance to help small businesses adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

An additional $400,000 has been awarded to the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council. The U.S Commerce Department announced the CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants on Wednesday.

The federal money for Peoria is aimed at assisting business owners as they work to rebound from financial instability. The aid will be dispersed through a revolving loan fund.

Facing the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Peoria-area real estate market slipped a bit in the second quarter. But brokers are still seeing indications of a turnaround.

“We've seen a really active real estate market since early spring,” said Kendra Sipes, president of the Peoria Area Association of Realtors (PAAR). “We did expect things to kind of be a lot slower when our initial shelter-in-place went into effect.”

Breanna Grow / WCBU

This is the second of two stories exploring how the Peoria Riverfront Museum has adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic. This story was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center. For more stories about the effect of COVID-19 on museums, please visit the Prairie State Museums Project at PrairieStateMuseumsProject.org.

UnityPoint Health / OSF HealthCare

Peoria health experts believe the COVID-19 pandemic is having a detrimental impact on mental well-being for many people, causing an increase in stress, anxiety and depression.

“We’re facing an invisible enemy that one of the ways to try and beat it or contain it is to not be around other people,” said Ted Bender, president of UnityPlace, the behavioral health and addiction services branch of UnityPoint Health.

Tim Shelley / WCBU

Peoria Public School District 150 will use a hybrid plan to reopen schools this fall during the COVID-19 pandemic. But for other districts in the Tri-County area, hybrid learning may not be the best option.

“It just depends on the district, the students and families they serve, and then they’re using all that information to make the best decisions they can,” said Beth Crider, Peoria County regional superintendent of schools.

Catholic school students in central Illinois will have the option of returning to the classrooms this fall.

The Diocese of Peoria, which includes the Bloomington-Normal area, announced Friday that all 42 of its primary and secondary schools will open for the 2020-21 academic year.

Students and parents can choose to enroll in five days a week of in-school instruction, or five days a week of online learning. A hybrid alternative is not included in the Office of Catholic Schools’ Diocesan Plan.

YouTube

Peoria Public Schools Superintendent Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat said the district has valiantly responded to the COVID-19 health crisis with an approach to reopening this fall that shows a continued commitment to students.

Joe Deacon / WCBU

Governor JB Pritzker offered condolences to victims and support for the Peoria community Monday following a weekend of gun violence that included an incident that injured 13 people Sunday morning on the Riverfront.

“No one should ever experience the trauma of a shooting, or multiple ones. May that belief fuel our work to bring peace to a state that we all call home,” Pritzker said during an appearance at Manual High School to tout a summer jobs program.

The prospect of high school sports returning to competition in the fall could be in jeopardy, according to Limestone High School Athletic Director Brian Clausen.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) announced Tuesday afternoon it will allow state agencies to take over setting guidelines for returning to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, the IHSA first announced its Phase 4 guidelines, limiting physical contact and prohibiting scrimmages against other schools.

Dana Vollmer / WCBU, Peoria Pulic Radio

Some nonprofits have had to re-envision staffing, as Illinois adds another 75 cents to the minimum wage in a ramp-up to $15 an hour. That comes as many are still grappling with the financial blow of COVID-19.

Staff / WGLT

Some Illinoisans were eager to grab a bite indoors or return to their gym over the weekend, as the state moved into the next phase of the governor's reopening plan. Others chose to stay home.

Peoria Riverfront Museum

This story was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center. For more stories about the effect of COVID-19 on museums, please visit the Prairie State Museums Project at PrairieStateMuseumsProject.org.

It’s a Monday afternoon with nothing to do. Your other plans have been rained out, so you decide to pay a visit to the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

Peoria Public Library / Facebook

The Peoria Public Library is slowly revving back up services, after COVID-19 guidance forced buildings to close to the public.

AP Photo/G-Jun Yam

Pride Month is usually a time of togetherness for the LGBTQ+ community. But with social distancing guidelines in place, organizers have had to get creative.

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