FTC Warns of Contact Tracing Scams

FTC Warns of Contact Tracing Scams

July 6th, 2020- The state of Illinois is hoping to hire about 4,000 contact tracers in the fight against COVID-19, but the Federal Trade Commission is warning about scams related to contact tracing.

Contact tracing is kind of like being a COVID-19 detective. Contact tracing involves calling people infected with the virus to see who they have had contact with in recent days. It also means reaching out to those who may have been exposed to people with COVID-19.

The Federal Trade Commission reported scammers pretending to be coronavirus contact tracers are sending text messages to falsely warn people they’ve been exposed to someone with the virus and need to click a link to learn more. The link downloads malicious software onto a person’s smartphone, giving hackers access to private information.

Shameka Walker, an attorney for the FTC’s Division of Consumer & Business Education, said tracers should beware.

“They may ask you for payment, they may ask you for your Social Security number or your financial information, they may ask you for your immigration status, they may ask you to click on a link or download something,” Walker said. “You shouldn’t do any of those things.”

Walker said a legitimate tracer will only require certain information.

“They are going to ask you for your name and address, your health information, and possibly the names of places and people that you visited, so those are the kinds of things you should be looking for someone asking you about,” she said.

For information about the latest scams, go to www.ftc.gov/coronavirus.

Salvation Army Welcomes New Officers

Salvation Army Welcomes New Officers

June 29th, 2020- New officers will be taking the helm at the Salvation Army in Decatur.  Starting July 1st, Lieutenants Kenesa & Shanell Debela will take over the Decatur operations for Majors Greg and Carla Voeller as they move their appointment to Chicago.  The Voellers have served at the Decatur Salvation army for 2 years.

Kenesa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration/Information Systems and a Master’s degree in Theological Studies/Interfaith Relationships. He has experience as Director of IT at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Shanell holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Sociology and a Master’s degree in Theological Studies with a focus in urban ministry. Before becoming an officer, she was the Leadership gift representative for the Metropolitan Division. She was also in her past a television news reporter.

LISTEN: Tanya Andricks of Crossing Healthcare

LISTEN: Tanya Andricks of Crossing Healthcare

June 29th, 2020- Tanya Andricks of Crossing Healthcare joins Byers & Co. to talk about how she is tracking local COVID-19 numbers for trends as well the numbers in states that are seeing spikes, her concern about mask usage and availability, and the alarming positive tests for people of color and of younger ages. Listen to the podcast now.

Macon County Environmental Management Hold Paint Disposal Event

Macon County Environmental Management Hold Paint Disposal Event

June 9th, 2020-Do you have unwanted paint in your garage?  Need a safe way to get rid of it? The Macon County Environmental Management will be collecting and properly disposing of any unwanted paint on June 27th. The event will be held in the parking lot of the Macon County Environmental Management Recycling Center at 1750 N. 21st St., Decatur, Illinois 62526.

If you want to participate you must register for an appointment to drop off unwanted paint. Appointment times are almost full. Times still available included 8:30-8:45 am and 10:30-10:45 am. Up to twenty containers of paint at no charge can be dropped off during appointment time. Latex-paint, oil-based paint, and most stains and varnishes in originally labeled containers will be accepted.

Due to regulatory directives, specialty paints and paints other than those generated from a household cannot be accepted. Environmental management says empty or dry paint cans do not need to be brought to the drop-off and can be thrown away at home.

Registrations can be made either online at www.MaconGreen.com or by calling the Macon County Environmental Management Department at 217-425-4505.

The Environmental Management staff will be practicing social distancing during the event. Staff will be wearing facial coverings or masks, and request everyone to do the same. Residents will be asked to stay in their cars at all times. To maximize social distancing efforts residents are asked to have their paints prepared in the beds or trunks of their cars allowing for easy access.

Conservation District Updates Guidelines For Phase 3

Conservation District Updates Guidelines For Phase 3

June 4, 2020 –  The Macon County Conservation District is continuing to exercise caution in an effort to help control the spread of COVID-19. As Macon County and its region moves into Phase 3 of the Restore Illinois Plan, the status of the Conservation District’s amenities are as follows (as of June 1, 2020):

· All Conservation Areas (Rock Springs Conservation Area, Fort Daniel Conservation Area, Friend Creek Conservation Area, Sand Creek Conservation Area, and Griswold Conservation Area) continue to remain open for hiking, walking, and nature exploration. As you visit these areas, you must continue to follow all social distancing guidelines. Pets are welcome to enjoy the conservation areas with you, but all pets must be leashed at all times.

· At the conservation areas, outdoor restrooms are now open. Drinking fountains and playgrounds remain closed.

· Sometimes trails close due to flooding. You may check the status of trails at any time, on the homepage of the District’s website, under “News & Announcements”: MaconCountyConservation.org.

· For the time being, Rock Springs Nature Center is open by appointment, for conducting office business. For example, you may make an appointment to come in person if you are unable to make an activity transaction by phone or

online. To schedule an appointment, call 217-423-7708. All those entering the building will be required to wear a mask, if they can medically tolerate doing so.

· Friends Creek Campground is now open, with the exception of the single large group campsite. The campground offers both electric and non-electric campsites. Daily fees for electric sites are $17 for Macon County residents, $20 for non-residents. Non-electric sites are $10 for Macon County residents and $12 for non-residents. You may reserve campsites over the phone by calling 217-423-7708. Campsites are otherwise allotted on a first-come, first-served basis.

· Pavilions at conservation areas are once again available for rent. However, the maximum number of occupants has been reduced to 10 people, and groups are expected to follow social distancing guidelines during their gatherings. Unless a pavilion has a reservation sign posted, they are otherwise available for free on a first-come, first-served basis. To rent a pavilion call 217-423-7708.

· Programs: This year’s Summer Concert Series will be streamed live on Facebook, beginning Sunday, June 7 at 7pm. Staff are planning additional educational activities for families and individuals this summer. Watch for these to be announced on MaconCountyConservation.org and on the Conservation District’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MaconCountyConservationDistrict.

For more information about the Macon County Conservation District, visit MaconCountyConservation.org.

15 Second PSA – All Macon County Conservation Areas continue to remain open for hiking, walking, and nature exploration. When you visit, continue to follow all social distancing guidelines. Pets are welcome, but must be leashed at all times

Park District Offering Picnic Tables To Re-opening Restaurants

Park District Offering Picnic Tables To Re-opening Restaurants

May 28, 2020 – The Park District, in cooperation with the City of Decatur, will be offering use of picnic tables for local Decatur restaurants as they seek to reopen in compliance with the State of Illinois and City COVID-19 guidance. The Park District says they to provide assistance as these small businesses seek to come out of this most difficult time.

Tables will be available by calling 422-5911 or emailing mchildress@decparks.com Monday – Friday 8 A.M. – 5 P.M. Pick-up site will be determined at the time of the request. Delivery and pick-up will be available for a nominal charge. Individuals will be required to sign a waiver and provide a $100 per table (FULLY REFUNDABLE) damage deposit.


Gov Pritzker Says State To Hit Peak In Mid-June

Gov Pritzker Says State To Hit Peak In Mid-June

May 12th, 2020- As top researchers from Illinois’ higher education institutions continue to build out and improve the state’s coronavirus model with real-time data, Governor JB Pritzker released an updated statewide model and regional metrics tracking progress in the Restore Illinois reopening plan.


Compared to the previous model forecasts which predicted peaking between late April and early May, that timeframe of plateauing near a peak has been expanded from mid-May into mid-June in Illinois. Daily death and hospital capacity data over the course of the last two and a half weeks have informed the model and led to the updated predictions.

A later and lower peak is a positive indicator of flattening the curve and a result of a slowdown of the state’s rate of transmission, which leads to a slower rate of increase over a longer period. Under current mitigations, hospital bed and ventilator capacity remains sufficient to treat COVID-19 patients. In other words, Illinois will reach the peak without overloading the state’s health care system as seen in other parts of the world.


The state’s modeling efforts are led by top researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern School of Medicine, the University of Chicago, the Chicago and Illinois Departments of Public Health (IDPH), and managed by Civis Analytics, using IDPH’s data of COVID-19 cases, deaths, hospitalizations, ventilator and ICU usage from hospitals in Illinois.


All four of the regions are meeting many of the key metrics, with three of the four on pace to meet all of the Restore Illinois reopening metrics to move forward after the 28-day period: North-Central, Central and Southern.

As of midnight, May 8, the Northeast region’s positivity rate is at 22.3 percent, higher than the 20 percent cap on this metric to move into the next phase. The North-Central region is at 9.1 percent, the Central region at 6.0 percent, and the Southern region at 10.5 percent.

All of the regions have seen a dip in hospitalizations since May 1st: 18.6 percent decrease in the Northeast region, 35.8 percent decrease in the North-Central region, 44.4 percent decrease in the Central Region, and 54.3 percent decrease in the Southern region.

A requirement to move forward to the next phase is that a region sees no overall increase, rather stability or a decrease, in hospital admissions for COVID-like illness across a 28-day period.

As of midnight May 8, all four regions met the third requirement of available surge capacity of at least 14 percent for ICU beds, medical/surgical beds, and ventilators.

Region Med/Surge Bed Availability ICU Bed Availability Ventilator Availability
Northeast 17.8% 18.8% 64.3%
North-Central 41.1% 40.6% 64.9%
Central 52.4% 44.2% 74.6%
Southern 45.8% 28% 80.7%

Please note that Illinois has begun using a seven-day rolling average of daily-reports since May 1, to smooth volatility in the daily metrics and to better inform the overall time trend.

How To Make A Mask: Sew, Simple Sew and No-Sew Designs

How To Make A Mask: Sew, Simple Sew and No-Sew Designs

April 9, 2020 – The CDC and public health officials are urging people to cover their nose and mouth when going out in public. NowDecatur is offering you a guide to a sewing machine mask, a simple sew mask as well as a no-sew mask.

As a reminder, there is a stay at home order and spending time in public should be limited to essential trips only.  While in public, a mask is NOT a substitute for social distancing practices, so please still adhere to the 6 foot rule when you are around others and limit your time in public spaces.

The following sewing machine option can be found at CraftPassion.com.  The site includes printable patterns and step by step directions. You can also watch the tutorial for this mask below with NowDecatur.com’s Lindsay Romano. This tutorial also includes instructions on how to make T-shirt yarn, an excellent and free alternative to elastic.

If you would like a ‘No-Sew” option, Check out THIS LINK.  This option provides designs using everyday materials you can find at home.

If you do not have a sewing machine and would like a “simple-sew” option, please check out the video below by JoAnn Fabric.