thumbnail largeBUNKER HILL – As remote learning becomes the norm for the foreseeable future, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is encouraging remote learners and educators to use the state’s new drive-up Wi-Fi hotspot map to find free wireless internet locations.

“A high-quality remote learning experience demands reliable internet access for every student,” Manar said. “While teachers statewide conduct full digital lessons, there are students who have yet to begin e-learning since their schools closed because they don’t have internet access. This map will help support those families while we work toward permanent solutions to this and other digital inequities brought to light by COVID-19.”

Designed to assist students at every level who don’t have consistent internet access in their homes, the interactive map provides drive-up Wi-Fi locations throughout the state and specific log-in instructions for visitors. Students and their parents or guardians should continue to practice social distancing by remaining in their cars while using the hotspots.

As of May 8, the Wi-Fi map has 380 hotspots students can use to complete coursework.

Manar has championed legislation to help ensure rural classrooms have access to internet access and resources for tech and digital learning, but says the ability to connect to the internet is now more important than ever, especially for young children in rural areas who may be experiencing social isolation.

“Connectivity is vital for continued learning, and as a parent, I know that being able to interact with teachers and peers through digital video conferencing platforms can lift a student’s spirits as they navigate this period of social distancing,” Manar said.

To find a hotspot near you, click here.

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The Illinois Department of Human Services’ Mental Health Division is operating Call4Calm, a free emotional support text line for Illinois residents experiencing stress and mental health issues related to COVID-19.

Illinoisans who would like to speak with a mental health professional can text “TALK” to 5-5-2-0-2-0. Once a resident sends a text to the hotline, within 24 hours they will receive a call from a counselor employed by a local community mental health center to provide support. Individuals can also text key words such as “unemployment” or “food” or “shelter” and will receive information on pertinent resources and services.

NAMI HelpLine

The NAMI HelpLine is a free, nationwide peer-support service providing information, resource referrals and support to people living with a mental health conditions, their family members and caregivers, mental health providers and the public. HelpLine staff and volunteers are experienced, well-trained and able to provide guidance.

To contact the NAMI HelpLine, please call 800-950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., ET, or send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

NAMI Resources

Additionally, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has published a COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide to answer frequently asked questions regarding the intersection between the novel coronavirus and people affected by mental illness, their caregivers and loved ones. The guide features FAQs on a variety of topics, from managing anxiety and social isolation to accessing health care and medications.

Helpful Tips

Senator Manar encourages residents to take simple steps to care for themselves, such as:

  • Connect with friends and family online,
  • Keep regular work hours while at home,
  • Prepare healthy meals,
  • Spend time outside,
  • Exercise regularly, and
  • Stay up to date with accurate information.

Immediate Help

If you or a loved one are in need of immediate assistance:

beaver dam2BUNKER HILL - Under the state’s new modified Stay at Home Order that went into effect today, 60 state parks and historic sites in Illinois are now open for recreational outdoor activities, including Beaver Dam State Park.

 Last week, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources released an initial list of just 25 parks that were set to open. Concerned about the absence of parks within a reasonable travel distance for families in Macoupin and surrounding counties, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and other downstate legislators asked the Department of Natural Resources and Governor JB Pritzker to include Beaver Dam State Park.

 The Pritzker administration today announced it amended the new Stay at Home Order to include Beaver Dam among 35 parks added to the initial list published by IDNR.

 “Outdoor recreation is among the healthiest ways to cope with the uncertainty and ease the restlessness that many are experiencing right now. Our family is struggling at times with the Stay at Home Order—especially our three children. Getting outdoors helps them,” Manar said. “I appreciate IDNR and the governor taking into consideration my suggestions for reopening Beaver Dam State Park in Macoupin County.”

 Provided that they follow social distancing guidelines, guests will be allowed to engage in activities at reopened state parks such as boating in groups of no more than two, wildlife observation, hiking, biking, horse riding, and fishing.

 All visitor centers, campgrounds, playgrounds, shelter reservations, interpretive educational programs, beaches, special events and concessions will remain closed. Manar said he believes the next phase of opening will include additional parks and camping on a limited basis.

A full list of parks that reopen today, as well as social distancing guidelines for guests can be found here.

Lawmakers say increased funding is key to reopening economy

3097 macoupin county health department 62626 wke 1SPRINGFIELD - To help local health departments sustain their COVID-19 response efforts in addition to their basic functions, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and other Downstate Senate Democrats are pushing to double state funding to support local health departments for the coming year.

Manar’s plan would increase funding for Local Health Protection Grants to $36 million in the state’s next budget, which Manar says is key to opening up the economy.

“Our state’s response and recovery will require 97 fully staffed local health departments to continue to do their part each and every day to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They are the first line of response and are the foundation to reopening the economy,” Manar said.

Manar says mounting fiscal uncertainty and looming cuts to county and municipal budgets could impede local public health efforts and our state’s progress as a whole. “This additional funding will ensure they have what they need to do their jobs effectively through the end of our recovery period,” he added.

As a lead budget negotiator and chair of one of the Senate’s two appropriations committees, Manar has been vocal about the need to reinforce support for local health departments.

“As we continue to seek solutions to the unique problems the coronavirus pandemic has presented to our state, we have to adopt an approach that continues to breathe life into the organizations that allow our downstate communities to thrive,” said State Senator Dave Koehler, a Democrat representing parts of Tazewell, Peoria, and Fulton Counties. "Downstate is built on the back of entities like small businesses and local health departments, so we need to give them every chance to succeed going forward.”

"Our economic response to COVID-19 needs to match the scale of the crisis," said State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Centreville). "We must be ready to deal with the financial fallout after this emergency, and as our local governments prepare for cuts, we have to prioritize funding for our health departments to ensure our communities can bounce back."

“This is a budget process unlike any we’ve ever faced before,” said State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign). “Our local health departments are the first line of defense against an infectious disease, and we will fight to ensure there is adequate funding available to them to cover their programs.”

“By increasing funding for local health departments, Illinois is reaffirming its commitment to the well-being of its residents,” said State Senator Rachelle Crowe, a Democrat representing parts of Madison, Jersey, and St. Clair Counties. “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring health departments can operate is critical to public safety.”

Local Health Protection Grants provide funding to certified local health departments to ensure that basic levels of protection for Illinois residents are maintained at the community level for infectious diseases, food protection, safety of potable water supply and private sewage disposal. Funds are distributed by the Illinois Department of Public Health based on a formula that includes population and poverty levels within each jurisdiction.

“This pandemic has demanded an unprecedented response beyond the operating capacities of most local health departments and the budgetary capacities of most county boards, so departments are already forced to spread themselves thin,” Manar said. “As local governments begin to grapple with balanced budgets, it is critical that local health departments remain stable and are able to respond to the spread of COVID-19 when needed. This is key to reopening the economy.”

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Springfield Office:
119A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-0228

Decatur Office:
Macon County Office Building
141 S. Main St., Suite 502
Decatur, IL 62523
Phone: (217) 429-8110

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Phone: (618) 585-4848