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Rolling seven-day positivity rate for Will County at 23 percent

Hospitals feeling the pinch as COVID patients file into emergency rooms

The rolling seven-day test positivity rate for Will County climbed to 23 percent on Jan. 7 (the most recent data available), according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The Illinois Department of Public Health last Friday Friday reported 131,643 COVID cases for Will County, an increase of 1,964 more cases than were reported just a day earlier, on Thursday.

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My positive COVID test

The Times Weekly Staff Reporter On the morning of Dec. 30, I tested positive for COVID. The night prior to the test I had many symptoms – chills, fever, headache, muscle aches, nausea, a bad cough, and a sore throat. Some of these persisted for a day or two, but my overall health consistently improved each day leading up to Sunday morning, Jan.2, when I awoke from a good, long sleep feeling, well …, great, compared to the first night. Why? How is it that I recovered from this so quickly? Well, it's commonsense really. I am fully vaccinated – first shot in February, second shot in March, booster shot in October. I followed the science – not something I dug up on the Internet or through listening to some conspiracy theorists telling me COVID is just something the government is using to control me or some other ridiculous anti-vaccine nonsense. After contracting COVID, I didn’t in any way question the efficacy of the vaccines. That would have been foolish and go against my faith in the science behind them. Also, the vaccines do not cure COVID. They keep us from developing severe symptoms that could put us in hospitals unable to breath, or worse yet, in the grave.

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Plan floated to save, redevelop old Will County Courthouse building

Demolish or redevelop? That is the question for Will County board members to consider when it comes to the now-vacant, more than 50-year-old Will County Courthouse in Joliet’s downtown. The board was set to consider a timeline for demolition of the old courthouse building at 100 W. Jefferson Street at its meeting scheduled for Jan. 20. However, that has now been changed due to a proposal being floated to redevelop the old courthouse, which is near the new $215 million courthouse, which opened in 2020 and was built on the former First Midwest Bank site, on the southwest corner of Ottawa and Jefferson streets. A partnership has been formed and a proposal submitted to the county board to consider a public-private redevelopment of the old courthouse building.

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Joliet council approves grant money for Old Joliet Prison

Consultant to be hired to research prison's history

The Joliet City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved taking the next step toward getting a National Register Historic District nomination for the Old Joliet Prison.

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Will County's COVID test positivity rate nears 22 percent

CDC shortens isolation, quarantine period for general population

The rolling seven-day test positivity rate for Will County hit 21.9 percent on Dec. 30, according to Will County Health Department Spokesman Matthew Bedore. The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 125,375 COVID cases for Will County, 1,184 more cases than what was was reported on Monday.

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Top stories of 2021

As 2021 comes to an end, it’s time to look back on the year and reflect a bit on some of the significant stories from the region. While there is no way to touch on all the big stories of 2021, let us take a brief look at five of them. 1. Will County receives millions in COVID relief In March, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, a $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan to provide funding to assist in getting the country back on its feet. While Will County received more than $120 million in funding in 2020 through the CARES Act, it received $133 million in American Rescue Plan money. The county received half of that funding this year, and it is expecting to receive the other half in 2022. This time around, larger communities, such as Joliet and Bolingbrook, received direct funding payments (albeit much less than what the county received) from the federal government. Joliet city officials have said they want the county to share some of its funding with the city, but county officials have yet to dole out any of that second round of COVID relief funding. Many residents throughout the county are eager to know where the bulk of the funding will go. In November, Mike Theodore, spokesman for the Will County Executive’s Office, told The Times Weekly that while the funding will play a large part in county-wide recovery from the pandemic, it has yet to be decided how the funds will be allocated. More to come in 2022.

Legal expert takes closer look at new laws for Illinois

More than 300 new laws are set to take effect on Jan. 1. Gwen Daniels, deputy director of Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO), the state’s largest non-profit online legal aid resource, has provided some perspective on some of the laws that could have most impact.

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New automated Vote-By-Mail system coming together for Clerk’s office

Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry earlier this week accepted the first major piece of equipment to automate the Vote By Mail program in Will County. The high-speed, state-of-the-art EvoluJet Printer from BlueCrest has the capability of printing 2,200 ballots per hour. Specialists from BlueCrest and the manufacturer, Kyocera, were on hand to assemble the EvoluJet’s components and make the necessary adjustments to begin printing test ballots on location at the Will County Clerk’s Office. The EvoluJet Printer will be joined by two other major pieces of equipment: The high-speed Relia-Vote MSE Inserter will automate the assembly of Vote By Mail packets, and the Relia-Vote Vantage Sorter will streamline the sorting of Vote By Mail packets for outbound mailing and for organizing return ballots. These three machines will improve efficiency and accuracy across the entire Vote By Mail program. They also will save Will County taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars each election compared to the cost of assembling and processing Vote By Mail Ballots manually. Staley Ferry announced back in August that the Will County Board had unanimously approved $1.9 million in funding to purchase equipment to automate her office’s growing Vote By Mail program.

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Harris reflects on nine years of service as he prepares to leave county board

Leaving public office can be hard when it is a position that taught you so much about what it means to be an elected official. That, however, is exactly what Ken Harris, Will County Board member for District 4 in Bolingbrook since first elected to the position in December 2012, is about to do. Harris will resign his position effective Dec. 31. That’s because voters in his district last April elected him to be the next DuPage Township Assessor and per state statute and to comply with the assessment cycle, the elected township assessor must take office in January. A Will County Board member cannot hold the position as assessor simultaneously. Still, Harris says he will miss being on the Will County Board. “I loved the County Board and the committee meetings where it all comes together. It was a pleasure to discuss and vote on Will County matters, and there was nothing like seeing (pre-COVID) the committee room or County Board room filled to near capacity,” Harris recalled. “Residents, county officials, employees, department heads and others are all generally concerned about the county.”

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Amid fierce opposition, Joliet council approves larger Northpoint warehouse project

Despite desperate calls from residents of mostly neighboring communities – many destined to be impacted by the 2,100-plus acre proposed warehouse development – Compass Business Park has received the stamp of approval from the Joliet City Council. For nearly two hours on Tuesday night, the City Council heard from Jackson Township property owners, Elwood and Manhattan residents, other concerned property owners, attorneys representing Stop North Point and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, and officials from both Jackson Township and Elwood.

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Joliet council approves massive warehouse project

Despite desperate calls from residents of mostly neighboring communities – many destined to be impacted by the 2,100-plus acre proposed warehouse development – Compass Business Park has received the stamp of approval from the Joliet City Council.

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SHIELD testing offered through JJC to offer students rapid COVID results

Joliet Junior College and SHIELD Illinois will hold a Holiday COVID-19 Screening on Tuesday, Dec. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon. The screenings take place in Lower J-Building at Main Campus, 1215 Houbolt Road.

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Homeowner’s push ahead in fight against Love's truck stop

A plan to bring a largescale truck stop to the southwest corner of Interstate I-80 and Briggs Street in Joliet remains tied up in court despite it being previously approved in 2018 by the City Council – albeit by a somewhat slim majority vote at the time.

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COVID cases continue to increase in Will County heading into the holidays

Will County is heading in the wrong direction with its COVID numbers as they continue to rise. The seven-day rolling test positivity rate went from 8.3 percent as of last Friday to 8.6 percent on Wednesday and COVID-Like Illinois Emergency Department (CLI-ED) visits at area hospitals rose to 10.4 percent.

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Pandemic’s adverse impact on students

Student achievement numbers drop among high school students in Plainfield

It will likely come as no surprise that the COVID pandemic had an adverse impact on student learning and for many students put them behind in their academics. Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 officials just released a report showing that high school student state academic achievement dipped in 2020-21, “at least partly because students did not have direct, in-person instruction for much of the last school year.” The State Board of Education on December 2, released the first round of 2020-21 academic achievement data as part of the new State Report Card. More detailed information reflecting actual assessment data from last spring’s state testing is expected in April 2022. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) updated information on the Illinois School Report Card website for school districts to the public. District- and school-level data can be found at illinoisreportcard.com.

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COVID's adverse impact on student learning

District 202 in Plainfield shows student achievement numbers dropped

It will likely come as no surprise that the COVID pandemic had an adverse impact on student learning and for many students put them behind in their academics.

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COVID numbers continue to climb in the region

For the second week in a row, COVID numbers for Will County are on the rise, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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Joliet man facing multiple DUI charges and endangering the life of a child

A 29-year-old Joliet man faces multiple charges after being involved in a hit and run accident and then carrying his injured 10-year-old son from the scene, only to allegedly leave him in a nearby grocery store and flee the scene.

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Joliet man being held on $5 million bond after being charged with murdering uncle

A 31-year-old Joliet man is being held at the Will County Adult Detention Facility after being charged with three counts of first degree murder, concealment of homicidal death and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.

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Will County COVID numbers on the rise

Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox recently reported a total of 54 COVID-related patients, 52 of which were “COVID-positive” and, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the seven-day test positivity rate in Will County rose to 8.6 percent. Nine of the 54 patients who came to Silver Cross Hospital with symptoms ended up in the Intensive Care Unit and either of those ended up ventilators, Hospital Spokeswoman Debra Robins said. The IDPH reported a total of 100,944 COVID cases in Will County and 1,172 reported deaths from the virus. The 8.6 percent test positivity rate for Will County on Friday (the latest data available) was higher than Cook County’s rate of 4.8 percent. The increase in cases is from the Delta variant and health officials suggest the increase is from the Thanksgiving holiday gatherings. To help stop the spread health officials are encouraging everyone to wear a mask when in close gatherings, continue to wash hands and keep a distance while out shopping during the holiday.