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News Around Illinois – Sept. 4, 2020

The latest news around the state, for Sept. 4, 2020.

Man Charged In Student’s Death Was Also Charged As Juvenile

CHICAGO (AP) — A man charged in the July killing of a University of Illinois student was one of five Chicago youths accused of murder after another teen was shot to death during an attempted car theft last year, authorities said Thursday. Cook County prosecutors say 18-year-old Steven Davis fatally shot 21-year-old Be’Rasheet Mitchell on July 16. Mitchell was trying to defend his sister, who was Davis’ girlfriend, during a domestic incident when he was shot in the abdomen, authorities said. He died the next day at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. Davis was arrested in Galesburg nearly two weeks later and charged with first-degree murder. He is being held without bond in Cook County Jail. Mitchell was pursuing a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at the time of his death. – Associated Press

U Of I Lab Working To Reduce Time To Get Results Of Saliva COVID-19 Tests

A couple hundred students, staff and faculty at the University of Illinois Springfield waited more than 48 hours for results from their saliva-based COVID-19 tests taken last week. Initial university instructions said results should be sent within a day or two. A leader with the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at the Urbana Champaign campus, which has been repurposed to analyze the tests, said the delay is due to the volume of tests the lab is trying to process. On Monday, just over 18,000 samples were processed, said Timothy Fan, a professor of Veterinary Clinical Medicine. He said so many tests coming into the lab has created bottlenecks. The samples now come from three university campuses under the Illinois SHIELD program, the U of I initiative responsible for developing the novel, rapid test for use at the university and beyond. Those coming to work or class at the Springfield campus this fall must get tested once a week, and those living or working at the Urbana-Champaign campus must be tested twice a week. The U of I recently announced a partnership with Greenville University in southern Illinois to provide screening there. Fan said the team is making changes that will increase the efficiency of processing. They plan to use robots to load samples into the machines that analyze them, and want to use smaller test tubes that collect 4 milliliters of saliva through a straw, instead of the 50 milliliters containers used now. Fan said the lab, which the university runs in partnership with OSF Healthcare, is operating 24 hours on weekdays and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. He praised the hard work of the lab techs and assistants. – Mary Hansen, WUIS

COVID-19 Testing Lab Coming To UIS

The University of Illinois’ COVID-19 testing program – SHIELD – plans to put a lab on the Springfield campus, an official with the program confirmed Thursday. The lab would process saliva samples from UIS. Currently, a lab in Urbana analyzes samples from the two campuses and Greenville University. More than 18,000 samples were processed on Monday of this week, according to a professor from the SHIELD team. “We’re going to be able to stand on our own… and serve our teaching and learning interests and serve the greater Springfield area,” UIS Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney said on a virtual town hall Thursday. – Mary Hansen, WUIS

Professor: Pandemic Costs Child Care Providers And Families

A researcher at the University of Illinois recently showed how child care providers have been hurt financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. Elizabeth Powers is an economist at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs. She says measures put in place to slow COVID-19 reduced revenues for childcare centers and restricted the number of slots that were available to families. “Losing 25% to 33 % of their capacity of kids that were attending, on net, they might see a change their balance sheet anywhere up to 50%,” she said. She says then costs rose for the providers when some of the original restrictions were lifted and they were allowed to reopen. That’s because social distancing rules cut down the number of children they could take care of, along with added new staffing and cleaning costs. – Maureen Foertsch McKinney, WUIS

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