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News Around Illinois – Aug. 20, 2020

The latest news around the state, for Aug. 20, 2020.

Vehicles Hit Illinois Covered Bridge Twice After Reopening

LONG GROVE, Ill. (AP) — A covered bridge in northern Illinois has been damaged twice by vehicles within days of its reopening after a $1 million rebuild repaired severe damage a delivery truck inflicted in 2018. Less than 24 hours after Long Grove’s iconic covered bridge reopened on Friday, it was struck by a chartered bus, and on Wednesday another vehicle struck the more than century-old span, WLS-TV reported. June Neumann, owner of Viking Treasures in Long Grove, said she heard the bus collide with the bridge last weekend. “I said oh no, oh no,” Neumann told the station. – Associated Press

Douglas’ Statute To Be Removed From Illinois Capitol Lawn

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A statute of Stephen A. Douglas, a senator from Illinois whose national reputation in the mid-19th Century was built on the idea that each new U.S. territory should decide on allowing slavery, will be removed from the state Capitol lawn because he personally profited from slavery, officials decided Wednesday. The board of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol voted unanimously to remove the figure of Douglas, whose career-long nemesis was Abraham Lincoln. A rendering of Pierre Menard, an early Illinois settler, politician and slave owner, also will be removed. Architect of the Capitol Andrea Aggertt told the board that she did not yet have a cost for removal and storage. The action came after House Speaker Michael Madigan asked the board to consider removing portraits and statuary of Douglas in and around the Capitol. The Chicago Democrat said he had recently read Lincoln biographer Sidney Blumenthal’s account of how Douglas profited from family owned slaves. After George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis sparked a nationwide movement to remove Confederate symbols, Madigan decided that references to Douglas should be banished. – John O’Connor, Associated Press

Doctors And Lawmakers Protest Mercy Hospital’s Closure — But Options Are Limited

It was part rally, part reunion near Mercy Hospital in Chicago on Wednesday as dozens of doctors who trained there, Mercy employees and several lawmakers called for saving the historic medical facility from closing in the middle of a pandemic. They crowded corners and chanted: “Save Mercy Now.” They held signs that read: “Mercy For Mercy,” “Black Healthcare Matters” and “We Need Mercy Stat.” And, for a few minutes, the crowd marched on the sidewalk as ambulances passed to and from the hospital that loomed in the background. “I’ve worked in a lot of different hospitals, and this is a place where it’s a huge need for the community,” said Dr. Marcus Wong, who came to the rally from Indiana. He spent three years training at Mercy to become an emergency medicine physician. “It’s not like people can simply go to another hospital.” Mercy treats mainly low-income and elderly people of color — not the type of patients wealthier hospitals want to treat, but those getting sick and dying most of COVID-19. The historic hospital in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood just south of downtown is nearly 170 years old and was the first chartered teaching hospital in the city. It’s a staple for Black Chicagoans, and for Cantonese-speaking residents in nearby Chinatown and surrounding neighborhoods. But after years of losing money and treating patients who need expensive hospital care, Mercy announced in late July that it plans to close the hospital and its outpatient clinics between February and May. Mercy said it’s losing about $4 million a month and needs at least $100 million over five years in capital investments. Instead, Mercy said it plans to open a new outpatient center that would focus on preventative and urgent care to keep people out of pricey hospitals. Closing hospitals with lots of vacant beds in favor of providing cheaper outpatient care has been a national trend. – Kristen Schorsch, WBEZ

IWU Monitors COVID Outbreak Among Students

Illinois Wesleyan University said it is responding to a cluster of 10 COVID-19 cases among students. All 10 live in non-university housing, Dean of Students Karla Carney-Hall and Interim Executive Director of Health/Counseling Vickie Folse said Wednesday. IWU said some of the students in the group that tested positive had symptoms, but many did not. A university spokesperson said the affected students lived in various off-campus residences and not in a single apartment complex or house. Earlier on Wednesday, McLean County health officials announced a new single-day record of 51 new coronavirus cases; it is the third time in the past week that the county has set a new daily record for positive COVID-19 cases. – Charlie Schlenker, WGLT

93-Year-Old Woman is Tazewell County’s Newest Election Judge

93-year-old Hettie Beers is Tazewell County’s newest election judge. She was surprised with a swearing-in ceremony at the Morningside of Washington assisted living complex Wednesday morning after handwriting a letter to Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman earlier this month volunteering her help. Beers was a long time local elections volunteer in Peoria before moving to Washington. “My precinct was at the Bradley Fieldhouse. And it was just, I thought, really a good thing to do. I taught all my kids about elections and how it’s important,” she said. Beers was a member of the League of Women Voters Greater Peoria chapter, observing the Peoria County Board and the Metropolitan Airport Authority meetings. Beers will assist Morningside’s activities director, Amber Conover, as residents vote on Nov. 3. All Tazewell County long-term care facilities offer assistance with mail-in voting for residents registered to vote. – Tim Shelley, WCBU

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