Quick hits: Illinois news in brief for Monday, April 20, 2020

Nearly 70 percent of ICU beds in state in use

The latest hospital capacity numbers from the Illinois Department of Public Health show 69 percent of intensive care unit beds in Illinois are occupied.

Around 42 percent of the state’s ventilators are in use. Of the nearly 31,000 hospital beds, officials say 4,300 are occupied by confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients.

Protesters call for end of stay-at-home order in Illinois

A spontaneous protest against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order outside the Illinois State Capitol on Thursday drew five people.

Another protest against the order Sunday grew to about 75 people.

Josh Ellis with the group Re-open Illinois expects a protest in Springfield and Chicago May 1 to draw thousands. He said it is not just about allowing the economy to open back up, but it’s also about exercising First Amendment free assembly rights.

Some question closure of Illinois Department of Natural Resources sites

Turkey hunting season is underway in Illinois, but there aren’t any hunters on state-owned lands.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources closed state parks, fish and wildlife areas, and recreational areas last month in response to the COVID-19 threat.

The agency will not be providing refunds for licenses, but a spokesperson said the agency was “reviewing all possible solutions.”

Outdoor enthusiasts said such activities are imperative in times of bad news and hardships.

More airlift supplies to arrive in Illinois today

Another Airlift of PPE is expected to arrive in Illinois to help health care workers fight COVID-19 Monday.

The equipment will be inspected at state warehouses before it is shipped off to health care centers across the state.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office released a memo last week saying some of the masks that the state distributed were counterfeit and shouldn’t be used.

Northern Illinois mayors call for local control of re-opening of economy

Five mayors from near Rockford are demanding that small businesses capable of social distancing should be allowed to re-open immediately.

The Rockford Register-Star reported the mayors of Loves Park, Machesney Park, South Beloit, Cherry Valley and Durand wrote a letter to Gov. Pritzker demanding as much on Friday.

400 Illinois troops return from Afghanistan

Four hundred Illinois National Guard soldiers are home. Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that the 1st battalion of the 178th Infantry Regiment Operation Freedom’s Sentinel was released from its tour of duty in Afghanistan.

The battalion departed from Illinois in July of 2019.

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