The (Crystal Lake) Northwest Herald
After a second Illinois state trooper was killed in a week on Illinois roads, state police are alarmed, and you should be, too.
So far this year, motorists have hit 16 squad cars stopped along Illinois roads. Three of those incidents cost three Illinois State Police troopers their lives.
This year's 16 collisions, occurring statewide at a rate of more than one a week, already are more than the yearly totals for 2016 (5), 2017 (12), and 2018 (8).
And there have been 495 recorded violations of the law, compared with 184 during the same period last year.
Scott's Law requires motorists to move over and slow down for emergency vehicles that are stopped and have their hazard lights flashing. It was passed in Illinois in 2002. In 2013, the law was extended to apply to other vehicles, including ambulances and tow trucks.
Perhaps the turbulent winter led to more emergency vehicles being out on the road. Regardless, all the crashes were preventable.
Those who violate Scott's Law face fines from $100 to $10,000 and a possible loss of a driver's license. The law is named after Chicago Fire Department Lt. Scott Gillen, who was struck and killed while assisting at a crash on a Chicago expressway in December 2000.
And if you're ticketed for violating Scott's Law, know that the fine you pay is small compared with the potential life the ticket saved.
The Quincy Herald-Whig
It has been a long time coming, but Illinois and Missouri are now issuing Real ID-compliant driver's licenses, which will be needed to board planes or enter some federally controlled buildings starting next year.
These secure forms of identification soon will become a part of most people's lives, blending into the many "new normal" experiences in our ever-changing world.
Back in 2005 when the Real-ID Act became federal law, many people saw it primarily as a response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The hijackers had obtained identification cards from a variety of states.
The United States was lax in its identification procedures when compared to most European countries.
The years of work to comply with the law were overseen by the Department of Homeland Security, which said the secure identification system also will help block domestic criminals from operating under assumed names.
Illinois has been issuing Real-ID compliant cards since January but only at limited sites. Now the cards are available at any of the state's licensing facilities.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said applicants for the cards must apply in person and provide documents proving their identity, Social Security number and written signature and two documents showing proof of Illinois residency.
The new cards are marked with a gold star in the top right corner and cost $30, the same as current cards.
Both Illinois and Missouri allow residents to seek Real ID cards or noncompliant cards. Those without compliant cards would need to present passports or some other form of federally issued identification to board commercial airplanes or enter military bases, federal facilities or nuclear plants. Those restrictions will start in October 2020.
The (Champaign) News-Gazette
A study of the state's response to a string of Legionnaire's outbreaks that began in 2015 and continued in 2016, 2017 and 2018 has been released by the state auditor general's office.
It identified the source of the outbreak as a contaminated water tank at the Quincy veterans' home that was out of action between July and August 2015. After the tank was returned to operation, the outbreak quickly followed, with disastrous results.
The report states that "in addition to the 57 legionella cases at the (home) in 2015, there were numerous residents and staff sick during the first legionella outbreak; in total, 220 residents and staff were sick in August and September 2015."
Legionnaires' disease — known as legionellosis, — is a form of atypical pneumonia bacteria whose symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle pains and headaches. Spread by breathing in mist containing bacteria, it can contaminate hot-water tanks, hot tubs and cooling towers of large air conditioners.
The audit makes clear that however badly the outbreaks were addressed at the outset, state officials worked feverishly to bring them under control.
The state spent more than $9.6 million between August 2015 and June 2018 on "legionella remediation."
One thing is crystal clear about what happened — authorities were not prepared to address a problem of this magnitude once they finally were aware what was happening.
There is no question the state's response to the Legionnaires' outbreak was botched from the get-go, and as a result, the price in pain and suffering was unnecessarily high.
Given that reality, the best that can be salvaged from this occurrence is the opportunity to learn from — and not repeat — the deadly mistakes that were made.