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News Around Illinois – Aug. 26, 2020

The latest news around the state, for Aug. 26, 2020.

Illinois Expands Rules On Wearing Masks During Indoor Dining

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois officials have expanded rules requiring masks while dining indoors, saying Tuesday that customers must wear face coverings during each interaction with servers and other restaurant workers. State officials said the requirements — including while servers are an taking order or bringing a bill — go into effect Wednesday and follow a recent increase in COVID-19 cases. Also starting Wednesday, indoor dining won’t be allowed in Will and Kankakee counties following consecutive days of a positive test rate of 8%, roughly double the statewide rate. Currently, customers are required to wear masks except while eating and drinking. The revision extends the requirement to all interactions with employees while seated. – Associated Press

Dismissing Some Claims, Judge Allows A Lawsuit Against The Chicago Impound Program To Proceed

A federal judge is allowing parts of a lawsuit challenging Chicago’s vehicle impoundment program to move forward, marking yet another development in the years-long unraveling of the city’s towing practices. The lawsuit was filed last year by the Institute for Justice, a legal group which calls itself “the National Law Firm for Liberty.” The suit alleged the city’s impound program was unconstitutional because it assessed excessive fees. Federal District Court Judge Mary Rowland dismissed that part of the suit, but allowed other parts of it to proceed under a claim the program violated state law on proportionate penalties. A recent WBEZ investigation revealed that over the past decade, Chicago police initiated hundreds of thousands of impounds during arrests for misdemeanors in predominantly Black neighborhoods. WBEZ also revealed that officials had intentionally raised caps on impound storage fees in an attempt to generate additional revenue. – Elliot Ramos, WBEZ

McLean County’s Testing Positivity Rate Climbs Past 8% With 50 New Cases Reported

McLean County’s COVID-19 testing positivity rate has surpassed 8% — a benchmark that, if continued, could trigger tighter restrictions under the Restore Illinois plan. The rolling 7-day positivity rate is now 8.2%. That comes as the McLean County Health Department (MCHD) reported 50 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Wednesday. Of the new cases, 28 are among people in their 20s. Another 15 are among those ages 18 and 19. This continues an upward trend in infection among college-age people. Two other cases are patients under the age of 10. Four COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized, while another 450 are isolating at home. The county’s cumulative positivity rate (since the pandemic began) has climbed to 3%. Meanwhile, Illinois State University reported 353 student cases Wednesday. That’s up from 273 cases Monday, the last time the university’s data was updated. ISU’s testing positivity rate stands at 19.3%. – Dana Vollmer, WGLT

Need Body Cameras? Sell City Hall

The City of DeKalb is selling the old City Hall building and using some of those funds to buy body cams for police. Not everyone is on the same page. Between the dash cam footage of Elonte McDowell’s controversial arrest late last year and the recent protests that followed the death of George Floyd, DeKalb community members have been calling for leaders to reimagine not just the culture of local policing but how police are funded. Bill Nicklas is DeKalb’s City Manager. He had an idea to sell the former city hall building and use the proceeds to outfit all police officers with body cameras. That’s because, Nicklas said, city operations were able to move to a smaller location this summer. Nicklas said the City put out a request for proposals and received three applications from local developers under serious consideration: Mason Properties, Irving Construction, and Pappas Development.  The first proposal to the City Council came from Jim Mason, and he promised to buy the building for $400,000 dollars and release it back to the city after his death. Pappas Development promised the largest sum for the old municipal building, $600,000 dollars. Nicklas says he recommended the Pappas proposal to the City Council for two reasons: “One, certainly for the taxpayers,” he said. “This is a tremendous offer, both in the acquisition price and also in what they can generate over time for the TIF district.” – Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco, WNIJ

As Fall 2020 Semester Opens, SIU Makes Plans, Changes

Students are back in class both on- and off-campus across the Southern Illinois University system, and administrators hope they can continue through the fall semester with little interruption. SIU Carbondale classes are roughly 40% online this semester, with 30% in-person and another 30% in a hybrid model. President Dan Mahony is cautiously optimistic that balance will make it easier to pivot, should COVID-19 spike again. When it comes to enrollment, numbers won’t be released for another week – but Mahony and other administrators say there’s room for optimism in the preliminary data. – Jennifer Fuller, WSIU

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