Quick hits: Illinois news in brief for Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Illinois’ prison system reports first COVID-19 death

Prison watchdog group the John Howard Association said it was tragic that a prisoner at Stateville Correctional Center died from complications related to COVID-19.

State public health officials said there are 12 people at the prison who are sick and dozens of others being monitored.

John Howard Association Executive Director Jennifer Vollen-Katz said weeks ago the prisons should release vulnerable inmates such as the elderly, those who are pregnant and those who are close to a release date in order to limit their exposure.

Remote learning starts Tuesday for students statewide

As school districts across the state start remote learning days with school buildings closed down to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, Illinois Association of School Boards Deputy Executive Director Ben Schwarm said it could cause labor problems.

Schwarm said some districts could have to bargain with teachers’ unions for the new work requirements spurred by the governor’s executive order.

Tornadoes damage homes in parts of Illinois

Officials reported two EF-1 rated tornadoes damaged property in parts of West Central Illinois on Saturday evening.

The National Weather Service said one of the tornadoes damaged homes and outbuildings in Fulton County. The second twister damaged trees and roofs southwest of Peoria.

Illinois prepares for surge capacity, adds more hospital beds

Of 27,465 non-intensive care unit beds in Illinois, as of Monday 15,318 were taken, or 55 percent occupied.

There are 1,525 ICU beds of the state’s 2,578 occupied, or 59 percent. The latest ventilators rate is 32 percent occupied, or 785 of 2,460 used.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said McCormick Place in Chicago, a facility in Elgin and another in Blue Island are also being eyed for bringing back online to handle any future need. He also said shipments of supplies are going out to medical staff and first responders across the state.

Illinois police praise residents’ for complying with stay-at-home order

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police said it has seen voluntary compliance across the state to the governor’s state-at-home order.

The order is meant to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Association Executive Director Ed Wojcicki said a lot of that voluntary compliance could be attributed to the public getting the message from media reports about the orders.

Some gambling continues amid COVID-19 outbreak

While casinos, sports betting and video gambling machines are on hold during the COVID-19 crisis, the Illinois Lottery is still announcing winners. A gas station in Olney sold a $1.3 million winning Lucky Day Lotto ticket Sunday evening.

The lottery said while many places, like convenience stores that sell lottery tickets, are still open, Acting Lottery Director Harold Mays encourages players to practice social distancing when buying tickets.

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