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Two sisters died days apart from coronavirus in Illinois. Family members didn't see them in their last moments

The transient slaughterhouse workers of Beardstown still fill the rooms at the Budget Inn in the small central Illinois town, but the motel owner admits, beyond that “business is very slow.”

Some 30 miles southeast in Jacksonville, a sewing supply shop has closed its doors, posting instructions on how to make protective face masks, next to a plastic bin to collect donated masks.

And in southern Illinois, a small-town mayor worries that the economic downturn will lead to a spike in the already above-average suicide rate.

“The majority of people — especially in Southern Illinois — live pay-check to pay-check, and one day off work or two days off work — it is going to devastate families,” Mount  Illinois News Vernon Mayor John Lewis said.

In Illinois, the focus on the coronavirus crisis has been squarely on Chicago, but the hardships, fears and worries have spread across the state, even if the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 cases are in Cook County, not the state’s other 101 counties.

9:32 p.m. Fired Mercy Hospital nurse alleges retaliation for speaking out about lack of protective masks while treating coronavirus patients
A former nurse at Mercy Hospital alleges she was fired after she expressed concerns that the hospital didn’t provide adequate protection for staff members treating coronavirus patients.

Regina Haglund filed a discrimination charge March 26 against the hospital with the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board. She was was fired March 25, allegedly for retaliation after she spoke up about the lack of protective masks, the filing states.

According to the seven-page filing, Haglund was working in triage for the hospital March 22 and saw a patient who presented with coronavirus symptoms.

The patient wasn’t given a mask because there weren’t any suitable ones in the triage area, and the patient coughed twice on Haglund, the filing states. The person was placed in isolation, and Haglund said she has not been told the patient’s test result.

9:02 p.m. Fact-Check: Booze ban? No, Illinois hasn’t stopped liquor sales because of COVID-19
You can call off your emergency trip to the liquor store — states aren’t really stopping the sale of alcohol. But recent Facebook posts would have you think otherwise.

“No beer or alcohol sales in state of Illinois as of 3pm starting Monday March, 30th,” reads an image posted by one account. Then there are links to stories with headlines like this one: “NC Governor to stop all alcohol sales beginning Friday, April 3rd.” Another one claims “Gov. Gavin Newsom suspends alcohol in CA as of March 28.”

These posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed.

Some of these posts, such as one about Mississippi banning Press Release Distribution Services In Illinois booze that has since been pulled down, appear to be screenshots of a news story. But if you click on the links in other posts, it brings you to a page that says “you got pranked.”

The joke, however, is getting lost on many Facebook users as they share both these blog posts and images of seeming media stories with this tee-totalling news.

Read the full story here.
8:30 p.m. Cook County Circuit Court extends postponement of most criminal, civil cases through May
Cook County Circuit Court is extending its suspension of most criminal and civil cases through May and expanding the use of videoconferencing amid the growing COVID-19 outbreak.

Originally postponed until April 15, most court cases are now suspended until May 18, the office of Chief Judge Timothy Evans said in a statement Monday.

Evans also ordered the expansion of videoconferencing for all court proceeds deemed necessary or emergencies, officials said. All court hearings will be conducted via video no later than April 16. Currently, all detainees with bail hearings appear in court via video.

7:56 p.m. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s new PSA: ‘Stay home. Save lives.’
Mayor Lori Lightfoot launched a new PSA Monday to explain social distancing and encourage Chicagoans to follow just one simple rule: stay home.

“The data shows that social distancing works,” the mayor said. “Please pay attention. Stay home. Save lives.”

In the public service announcement, Lightfoot took on different personas, such as the decorator and even the astrologer, to convince people to stay home.

“Apologies to all the Aries, but if you stay at home now, maybe you can celebrate with all the Geminis later,” she said with a cup of tea and saucer in hand.

Even Lightfoot, the White Sox fan, made a plea for Chicagoans to stay in, boasting that if the White Sox win, then Chicagoans must stay home. The clip that follows is one from the Sox’s World Series win in 2005.

But it’s Lightfoot, the realist, who sums it all up best.

“The truth is, 40,000 hospitalizations will break our healthcare system,” Lightfoot concludes. “Stay home. Save lives.”

Watch the video for yourself, and if it wasn’t already clear: stay home and save lives.

7:01 p.m. NCAA to give spring sport athletes extra year of eligibility
The NCAA will permit spring sport athletes who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus outbreak to have an additional year of eligibility.

The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to give college athletes who compete in spring sports such as baseball, softball and lacrosse a way to get back the season they lost, but did not guarantee financial aid.

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