Headlines for Tuesday, February 16th

The Wayne and Edwards county courthouses are closed today, and the Hamilton County Board meeting scheduled for today has been rescheduled for next Tuesday. All Fairfield Memorial Hospital Horizon Healthcare locations, Urgent Care, and the Outpatient Therapy Department, Pain Clinic, and Senior Life Solutions are closed today, though the Emergency Department remains open. The Wayne County Health Department is closed today, and it will call to reschedule appointments as soon as possible. Contact tracing will continue. The Edwards County Health Office and Wabash County Health Department are also closed. The vaccination clinic in Mt. Carmel has been cancelled, and people with appointments today should arrive at the same time on Thursday.

No schools in Wayne or Edwards counties have in-person instruction today. FCHS, Fairfield 112, and North Wayne schools will have traditional snow days. New Hope will have a remote planning day for teachers and a snow day for students. Jasper, Geff, and Edwards County schools will not meet in-person, but they will have remote learning, and all IECC classes today have been cancelled.

We received about eight inches of snow here at the station yesterday afternoon, though winds caused drifts considerably deeper in many areas. All 1,800 IDOT snow plows and salt trucks were out yesterday to battle the winter storm, and state police remind people to have plenty of gas, cell phone power, and blankets if they must travel.

The Clay County Health Department announced three new cases of COVID-19 from Friday to yesterday, bringing its total to 1,411. Jefferson County added six cases yesterday, and White County added three. Wayne County did not release an update, and no new cases were reported in Edwards County on coronavirus.illinois.gov. The state Department of Public Health announced 1,420 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 yesterday and 41 additional deaths. Statewide totals sat at 1,163,574 cases and 20,002 deaths. The Southern Region had a positivity rate of 2.7 percent on February 12th, down from three percent on the 11th.

More than 1.8 million of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Illinois, and officials hope to increase the pace in the coming weeks. In a committee hearing before state senate members, Public Health officials testified about the vaccine rollout, saying the average is about 280,000 doses per week. They hope to get to a mark of 900,000 per week.

Governor J.B. Pritzker is set to deliver his annual budget address today, and House Republicans say it’s more important than ever the proposal is balanced. The state is facing a three billion dollar budget deficit, and the governor has said his proposal will keep spending at the same levels as last year and won’t include a tax increase. He also says Republicans should offer suggestions about where cuts can be made to help keep costs down.

The state senate seat vacated by Democrat Andy Manar has been filled. Doris Turner, member of the city council in Springfield and Chair of the Sangamon County Democratic Party, was selected by a committee last week to take Manar’s seat in the 48th District. Turner will step aside from both her previous roles.

River stages as of this morning:  the Little Wabash east of Fairfield stands at 10.74 feet, below the 17 ft. flood stage. Meanwhile, the Skillet Fork at Wayne City has a reading of 5.44 feet (flood stage is 15 ft.). The Little Wabash below Clay City is at 7.63 feet (flood stage is 18 ft.). Bonpas Creek at Browns reads 2.75 feet, and the Little Wabash at Main Street in Carmi reads 13.19 feet. The Wabash River at Mt. Carmel sits at 6.23 feet.

Today’s crude oil price is $52.50, unchanged from yesterday. The March crude oil price is $59.60, down $0.84 from yesterday morning.