FDA loosens restrictions on MSM donating blood

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced looser restrictions on gay, bisexual men and men who have sex with men (MSM) donating blood on Thursday.

Among others changes, the FDA is changing the deferral period for MSM from 12 months since their last sexual contact to three months.

The FDA said in their announcement that the changes were because of the pressure put on the blood supply because of the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing and the cancellation of blood drives have pushed down the available supply.

Illinois has 937 new coronavirus cases, shelter at home to be extended

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on Tuesday announced 937 new cases of coronavirus disease in the state, including 26 additional deaths.

Media across the state also reported that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker would be extending the shelter in place order to the end of April. According to the Peoria Journal-Star, the order will extend Pritzker’s previous order from its original April 7 end date through April 30, and will also mean that schools would continue distance-learning for students through at least that point.

Illinois records first coronavirus infant death

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) on Saturday reported the death of an infant younger than one year in Chicago who tested positive for coronavirus disease.

“There has never before been a death associated with COVID-19 in an infant. A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of death,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike during the daily press conference. “We must do everything we can to prevent the spread of this deadly virus. If not to protect ourselves, but to protect those around us.”

Illinois announces 128 new cases of coronavirus

SPRINGFIELD — The State of Illinois announced that there were 128 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday afternoon.

In a press release, the state department of public health said that brought the number of cases in the state to 288 in 17 counties. Most of the cases were in urban areas such as the Chicago metro area, MetroEast and other metro areas of the state. Cook County still has the largest number at 178.

Illinois records first COVID-19 death

CHICAGO — The state of Illinois announced the first death from COVID-19 in the state during the daily press conference.

The person who died is a woman in her 60s in the Chicago area who had been in contact with someone else who had coronavirus, according to Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Illinois, neighboring states close all bars, restaurant dining rooms over coronavirus

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois and the neighboring states of Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky are closing bars and restaurant dining rooms because of coronavirus.

According to CBS 2 Chicago, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said all restaurants and bars in Illinois will be closed effective at the end of the business day, continuing through March 30, due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said the state was looking at ways for kitchens to remain open so delivery could continue. Drive-thru and curbside pick-up are also still allowed.

The TV station said the announcement came just after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that the city would require bars and liquor establishments to have less than half their regular maximum capacity of customers and a maximum of 100 people. The announcement came after bars were packed with people for St. Patrick’s Day.

Iowa state police eject LGBTQ students over restroom use

DES MOINES — About 150 LGBTQ students were kicked out of the Iowa State Capitol after trying to use the bathroom on Thursday.

According to the Des Moines Register, students with Iowa Safe Schools, an advocacy group for LGBTQ students, were told by state police that they couldn’t use the restroom of their gender identity. When Iowa Safe Schools executive director Nate Monson told the police that the students could use the restroom, he was told that wasn’t the law.