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Illinois sees 862 more virus cases and 10 more deaths

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois health officials say the daily total of coronavirus cases climbed by 862 and the number of people killed by the virus rose by 10. Saturday’s update by the Illinois Department of Public Health brings the state’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases to 146,612 and the death toll to 7,014.  As the number of cases has surged elsewhere in the United States, Illinois has not seen a daily total of confirmed cases greater than 1,000 since June 5.


700 nurses at Joliet hospital go on strike over pay, safety

JOLIET, ILL. (AP) — More than 700 nurses at Amita Health St. Joseph Medical Center Joliet have gone on strike after negotiations between the hospital and the nurses union failed to result in a contract. The strike over pay and issues related to the safety of nurses began Saturday morning. In preparation for a possible strike, Amita Health said it would cancel non-urgent surgeries, bring in licensed nurses and, if necessary, prepare to have ambulances bypass the hospital. The Illinois Nurses Association has been in negotiations with Amita Health since February and the nurses have been working without a contract since May 9.


Pritzker kicks in $51.5 million more for taxes initiative

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is contributing an additional $51.5 million to a ballot initiative committee backing his constitutional amendment that would dump the state’s flat-rate income tax structure in favor of one that takes a bigger bite from the wealthy. The contribution from the billionaire governor comes about six months after he contributed $5 million to the committee called Vote Yes for Fairness. In November, voters will be asked whether the state constitution should be amended to allow a graduated tax structure instead of the current flat rate structure.


Man charged with murder of Southern Illinois toddler

CARLINVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a 23-month-old girl who died after her head was apparently slammed against a wall of her mother’s Southern Illinois home.  Authorities say that Allan R. Castleberry Jr. was the live-in boyfriend of the child’s mother in February when he allegedly struck her head against the wall inside their Carlinville home on Feb. 3. Castleberry was arraigned this week in a Macoupin County courtroom, where a judge set his bond at $1 million.


Illinois opening more centers to support small businesses

CHICAGO (AP) — Seven new state-run centers will open this summer to support Illinois small businesses. The Small Business Development Centers set to launch in July or already opened are in Chicago, Elgin and Joliet. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development said the $11.5 million effort brings the total of centers statewide to 42.


Illinois regulators warn casinos to take virus precautions

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois regulators are warning that casinos failing to follow guidelines aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus could be disciplined, including loss of their license. Illinois allowed video gaming businesses and casinos to begin reopening on Wednesday. The administrator of the Illinois Gaming Board, reminded operators in a message released Thursday that they must follow state protocols for operating during the pandemic. Those include face coverings in gaming establishments and casinos and social distancing along with regular hand washing.


Officials: Don’t let guard down against COVID over holiday

CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker and health officials are urging businesses and residents to comply with public health measures over the holiday weekend, warning that precautions must continue to slow the spread of COVID-19. Pritzker noted Friday that states across the U.S. are seeing a spike in the number of new cases of the coronavirus. He said he won’t hesitate to close down businesses that don’t abide by capacity requirements, and he encouraged people to avoid large crowds and wear face coverings. Pritzker says “Letting our guard down now would fly in the face of the progress we’ve made over many months.”


Nigerian man charged with cyber fraud against US companies

CHICAGO (AP) — A Nigerian national has appeared in court in Chicago on charges that he orchestrated an international cyber fraud scheme that defrauded U.S. businesses in six states out of tens of millions of dollars. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago said Friday that 29-year-old Olalekan Jacob Ponle, originally of Lagos, Nigeria, was arrested last month in the United Arab Emirates, where he was living. He was expelled from the country and into FBI custody, and arrived in Chicago Thursday. He’s charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud against companies based in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, New York and California.


Illinois seeking new poet laureate, state’s 1st since 2017

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois is looking for a new poet laureate. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has launched a search committee to fill the post, which has been vacant since 2017. He says Illinois has been home to talented poets including Carl Sandburg, Gwendolyn Brooks and Sandra Cisneros. Pritzker says he wants to hear from “the next generation of great writers.” A poet laureate works to promote the art of poetry, nationally or at the state level. Over a dozen poets, writers and artists have been named to the search committee, which will consider nominations through Aug. 15.


Judge rules Illinois governor’s order exceeded authority

LOUISVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A county judge has ruled Gov. J.B. Pritzker exceeded his authority by extending the state’s public health disaster declaration beyond the first 30 days in response to the coronavirus outbreak. The impact of Thursday’s ruling by a judge from southern Illinois’ Clay County wasn’t immediately clear as the governor’s office maintains other courts have upheld his orders. The judge’s ruling said the state constitution did not allow Pritzker “to restrict a citizen’s movement or activities and/or forcibly close business premises.” A Pritzker spokeswoman says other courts have upheld his orders to protect health and safety.

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