• Ben Szalinski
    AUG 28, 2023


    News in brief: Giannoulias responds to library threats; IDPH advises about increasing COVID activity


    Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, who serves as the state’s chief librarian in his role as secretary of state, responded Friday to recent bomb threats at Chicago-area libraries. And the Illinois Department of Public Health issued an update about COVID-19 in Illinois amid talk of rising cases.  

    GIANNOULIAS RESPONDS — Giannoulias held a news conference Friday to announce $27 million in grants was being distributed to libraries around Illinois for programs and operational expenses. The announcement came days after multiple north suburban libraries received bomb threats, the Tribune reported, forcing some to close early and call for police responses. “I’m so disgusted and disheartened with what’s taking place, especially this week. What the hell is wrong with people? They’re threatening to bomb libraries because you have libraries [that] were doing their job, which is nurturing kids. We should be putting libraries on a pedestal,” Giannoulias said. The threats come after Giannoulias successfully pushed legislation to ban libraries in Illinois from banning books, which has been attempted in some Republican-led jurisdictions around the country. “I didn’t hear one Republican across this state condemn these threats, condemn the attacks. That’s offensive, that’s scary and shows you how politics has invaded…something that is completely nonpartisan,” Giannoulias said. Giannoulias said the secretary of state’s offices only has minimal resources to assist libraries with security.  

    COVID UPDATE — IDPH issued a new release Friday noting COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low in Illinois, but the virus is being detected in great quantities during wastewater testing. All Illinois counties had low levels of COVID hospitalizations through mid-August, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, IDPH reported. However, the state’s wastewater detection system is picking up moderate COVID-19 activity in all areas of the state, though flu and RSV detection remain low. “We are fortunate the vast majority of Illinoisians have received immunity from a COVID-19 vaccine or previous infection that protects them against severe disease,” IDPH Director Sameer Vohra said in a statement. IDPH said residents can expect guidance from the CDC in September about an updated COVID vaccine, and the department encourages people to get a flu shot this fall as well to avoid a “tripledemic” of high rates of COVID, RSV and the flu. IDPH also said the state still has 200,000 doses of medications to treat COVID available for free, which will remain free until supplies run out.  

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