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More Illinois Healthcare Pros Needed, More Money Coming For Food Assistance, Homeless Shelters

Illinois leaders are calling for more retired healthcare workers to return to the profession to help the state combat the new coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, millions more dollars are being pumped into social service programs designed to help those in need.

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Mary Altaffer/AP

Emergency physicians across Illinois are bracing for an onslaught of patients sick with the coronavirus disease COVID-19.

Illinois Governor J-B Pritzker announced new measures to help businesses stay afloat during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Commentary: A Tribute to Nathan

Mar 25, 2020
Courtesy photo

As the executive director of the Western Illinois Regional Council, I hired Nathan Cobb in June 2009.  I remember interviewing him and thinking, not only did he have the right qualifications to work in the Weatherization program; I also felt he had the attributes and qualities to be someone who could do anything he set his mind to, and that is exactly what he did. 

CDC

The Des Moines County Public Health Department said the Iowa Department of Public Health has confirmed a case of novel coronavirus in Des Moines County. The person is self-isolating at home.

ILLINOIS OFFICE OF COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION

Just a few weeks ago, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker offered up a spending blueprint for Illinois.  But that was before the COVID-19 pandemic was on the radar. 

Picking up where they left off last week, the Shop Talk panelists share more thoughts about news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic.  The panelists say the crisis demonstrates why reliable sources of information are imperative for an informed society, and why owners of media outlets should be investing in journalism instead of cutting staff to maximize profits for a few shareholders.

For the first time, an infant was among the newly discovered cases of COVID-19 announced daily by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Officials on Sunday said they’d confirmed 296 new cases of coronavirus disease, though official tallies are thought to significantly understate the actual number of infections.

Rich Egger

So far, much of western Illinois has managed to steer clear of the novel coronavirus. But Dr. Ed Card, Chief Medical Officer at McDonough District Hospital, said residents must remain vigilant to prevent the spread of the disease.

Eric Stock

Service industry employees who have lost work due to the COVID-19 response could possibly find employment in one job sector that is rapidly hiring to meet demand: grocery stores.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide stay-at-home order starting Saturday at 5 p.m. through April 7 to slow the spread of COVID-19. State public health officials reported Illinois’ fifth death from the virus Friday.

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Harvest Public Media

Iowa Learning Farms and Practical Farmers of Iowa conducted a 10-year study on the conservation benefits of planting cereal rye as a cover crop on corn and soybean fields. Their results show the practice improves soil health. The cover crop may cause a slight dip in yields the first year or two, but that can be overcome and eventually small increases in soybean yields may occur.

After the day’s meals are done on a recent Tuesday, Gilbert Community Schools director of food service Deb Purcell shuffles through a stack of papers. Gilbert, a town north of Ames in central Iowa, serves about 1400-1600 meals a day. 

“This is what I do, planning for a week,” Purcell says pointing to columns on a page. “And there's actually seven pages minimum that go with each day.”

She’s counting cups of vegetables and documenting other details about every meal she’s served to comply with stringent federal rules. Her job could soon get easier.

For many farmers, 2019 was the first year of growing hemp, since it became legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. In addition to the normal challenges of farming, hemp growers have had to deal with a different kind of problem: theft.

 

Midwest grain will reach foreign markets faster thanks to a channel-deepening project in the Lower Mississippi River that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced will begin this year. 

While that’s one bit of good news for infrastructure, it doesn’t make it any more likely other projects will follow. 

A Senate committee passed an infrastructure bill last July with bipartisan support, but Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the finance committee, says funding it will be a heavy lift. 

Many farmers are wrapping up a frustrating first year of growing hemp, which was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill.

“It’s kind of a good way to start, in that that’s about as bad as it can get,” said Jeff Cox, Bureau Chief of Medicinal Plants at the Illinois Department of Agriculture. “There’s a lack of expertise, just a general lack of knowledge as to how to grow hemp the best way."

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