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Remembering 2020: A Lansing COVID-19 timeline

compiled by Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (December 30, 2020) – Throughout 2020, The Lansing Journal has documented the many ways life has changed due to COVID-19, from the earliest cases of the virus in Illinois to how holiday plans have changed because of it. At the end of a year unlike any other in Lansing, The Lansing Journal has continued to add to a coronavirus timeline going back to the first Illinois case in January, with particular attention given to the virus’s impact on Lansing. Links to original stories or relevant websites are included in the timeline:


24 – Illinois health officials report the first case of coronavirus in Illinois and the second in the United States: a woman who returned from Wuhan, China, where she was caring for her sick father.

30 – The CDC announces first person-to-person spread of coronavirus in the United States as husband of woman who returned from Wuhan becomes infected.

30 – The World Health Organization declares coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency.


The World Health Organization announced the novel coronavirus could be called COVID-19 on February 11.

11 – The World Health Organization (WHO) gives the novel coronavirus a name: COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The name was selected because it “did not refer to a geographical location, an animal, an individual or group of people, and [it] is also pronounceable and related to the disease,” according to the WHO.

28 – The first COVID-19 death occurs in the U.S. outside of Seattle, WA.


5 – The fifth Illinois case of coronavirus is confirmed after a man returns from Italy.

9 – Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker issues a disaster proclamation as a result of COVID-19, thus declaring a state of emergency in Illinois.

10 – Illinois’ case number increases to 19, with the first cases outside of Cook County confirmed.

11 – The World Health Organization declares the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

11 – The NBA suspends its season, the first major sport to do so.

13 – Governor Pritzker announces statewide school closures from March 17–30. School districts in Lansing begin preparing for e-learning.

13 – President Trump declares the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency.

14 – First positive cases of COVID-19 in central and southern Illinois announced.

14 – First coronavirus case in a long-term care facility in Illinois announced in DuPage County.

The Patti Leach Youth Center announced on March 15 it would close in tandem with state orders. (Photo: Jamilyn Hiskes)

15 – The Patti Leach Youth Center announces it will close in tandem with the school closings mandated by the Governor.

15 – Governor Pritzker orders that all restaurants and bars close their dining rooms. Lansing eateries respond by expanding their take-out and delivery options. The Lansing Journal begins compiling a directory of Lansing restaurants other businesses to make it easier for residents to patronize local businesses.

17 – The first Illinois COVID-19 death is announced—a Chicago resident in her 60s.

17 – Polling places in Lansing work to ensure equipment is sanitized for voters. Even so, several locations report low voter turnout.

17 – Lansing Mayor Patty Eidam delivers a video address to Lansing residents and announces that the Lansing Municipal Center is closed and all non-essential Village services are suspended through the end of March.

17 – The Lansing Village Board of Trustees holds its regularly scheduled meeting while practicing social distancing.

18 – The Lansing Public Library building closes until further notice, but staff continue to make online resources available.

18 – Governor Pritzker announces coronavirus.illinois.gov as a way to provide updated news, prevention and preparation practices, and FAQ information to the public.

19 – Mayor Eidam’s Senior Easter Breakfast, originally scheduled for April 9, is postponed to a later date.

19 – The Lansing Police Department announces court hearings scheduled for March 19 and April 2 will be rescheduled.

20 – Governor Pritzker announces a stay-at-home order will go into effect at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 21.

Governor Pritzker announces a stay-at-home order in Illinois on March 20. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

20 – The IRS moves the tax filing deadline to July 15.

20 – The Illinois Secretary of State’s office announces that all driver services facilities will be closed through April 7. Expiration dates on driver’s license, state IDs, and other documents will be pushed back to thirty days after the Governor’s disaster proclamation has ended.

21 – The stay-at-home order goes into effect in Illinois. Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, and evictions are halted.

21 – The Illinois Department of Employment Security ends a busy week of unemployment claims, with the week seeing a 1,400% increase in calls compared to the corresponding week last year.

22 – Many Lansing churches use a variety of technological options to bring Sunday services to their communities virtually.

Bethel Church pastor Jason Nelson (right) and worship leader Andrew Hoekstra brought a virtual message of hope to viewers in Lansing and beyond on March 22.

23 – The Village of Lansing announces the Municipal Center will be closed through April 7.

24 – Mayor Eidam releases updated COVID-19 video message to keep Lansing residents informed.

Lansing Deputy Fire Chief John Grady picks up half-gallons of hand sanitizer produced at Thornton Distilling Co. in Thornton on March 24. (Photo: Andrew Howell)

24 – Lansing Deputy Fire Chief John Grady picks up three gallons of hand sanitizer from The Well in Thornton, which had switched production from alcohol to sanitizer.

25 – One Trick Pony Brewery in Lansing starts offering same-day home delivery for “to-go” beer orders.

26 – The United States becomes the country with the most COVID-19 cases in the world with over 86,000 positive cases confirmed.

27 – Munster’s Theatre at the Center and The Center for Visual and Performing Arts announces suspension of all events.

28 – The Illinois Department of Public Health announces the death of an infant who tested positive for COVID-19.

29 – School District 158 posts on Facebook that it is completing its laptop donation campaign to supply 50 refurbished laptops to students in district schools to aid with remote learning.

30 – The Good Friday Prayer Walk—a Lansing tradition that typically attracts hundreds of participants—is officially canceled. Several days later, Pastor John Holyer of Trinity Lutheran Church offers a virtual prayer walk via YouTube.

31 – Governor Pritzker announces the stay-at-home order and K-12 on-site learning suspension will extend through April 30.

31 – Mayor Eidam and Lansing Village Clerk Vivian Payne release a video message with COVID-19 updates and encourage residents to participate in the April 1 “Shine a Light on Lansing” event.

31 – District 215 Superintendent Teresa Lance releases a statement on remote learning and priorities moving forward.

31 – The Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce announces the Good Neighbor Day Parade—originally scheduled for May 2—will be postponed.

31 – Theatre at the Center postpones Talley’s Folly until 2021.

31 – Lansing’s parks are closed.


1 – Many Lansing residents participate in “Shine a Light on Lansing” event, featuring candlelight dinners inside their homes and take-out food, as well as other sorts of light displayed in and around their homes. The display is meant to show support for medical professionals and first responders as well as local businesses.

3 – Village government announces the municipal center will be closed through April 30.

3 – School District 215 Superintendent Lance releases COVID-19-related updates, including a revised class schedule for remote learning to take effect on April 13.

5 – More than 90 cars join a caravan starting at Bethel Church to drive around three area hospitals and pray for first responders, medical workers, and patients.

On April 5, cars from Bethel Church cars caravanned to three area hospitals to pray for first responders, medical workers, and patients. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

7 – The Lansing Village Board of Trustees holds its regularly scheduled meeting while practicing social distancing and live streaming the meeting. Mayor Eidam issues a statement about how Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home order impacts municipal government.

11 – The United States becomes the country with the most COVID-19-caused deaths in the world with over 19,500 fatalities.

12 – Churches across Lansing celebrate Easter Sunday in creative ways: via livestream, in a parking lot, or with photos of parishioners in the pews.

New Hope Church was one of a few churches that set up “people” in its sanctuary to support pastors as they preached to empty sanctuaries. (Photo: Ashlee De Wit)

17 – Governor Pritzker orders all Illinois flags to be flown at half-staff to honor and remember those who have died due to COVID-19.

18The Village adapts Community Clean-Up Day by providing trash bags and pick-up services to residents wanting to do their own clean-up.

22 – District 215 Superintendent Teresa Lance announces prom cancellation.

24 – District 171 teachers and staff form a parade to greet students during quarantine. Over 50 decorated vehicles wound their way through 10 miles of Lansing and Lynwood neighborhoods.

District 171 teacher Cynthia Faltenburg decorated her car with pictures her students had made while they were still meeting as a class. Her car was one of many in a parade that snaked through Lynwood and Lansing on April 24. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

24 – The Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster holds the first of three blood drives in its ballroom.

30 – Minuteman Press on Torrence Ave. closes after 14 years of serving Lansing’s printing needs.

May 1

1 – Governor Pritzker’s extended stay-at-home order goes into effect through May 30. The order makes face masks mandatory in public spaces.

5 – Governor Pritzker announced Restore Illinois, a five-phase, public health-driven re-opening plan for the state.

6 – The presses stayed silent as the Lansing Journal did not print its monthly issue for the first time since 2017.

The Lansing Journal decided not to print a May issue of the newspaper, focusing instead on digital news and digital advertising opportunities as a lower-cost way of publishing. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

9 – Dozens of drivers paraded through Lansing’s Schultz Park neighborhood to show their support for Joe Bugajski, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

23 – We Win Foundation hosts a food donation event in the American Legion parking lot.

27 – The United States exceeds 100,000 COVID-19 deaths.

27 – The Patti Leach Youth Center holds a drive-thru graduation parade.

28 – Memorial Jr. High holds a virtual graduation ceremony.

Memorial Jr. High Principal Dr. Keli Ross “emceed” the virtual commencement ceremony for Memorial Junior High’s Class of 2020.

29 – Illinois moves from Phase 2 to Phase 3 of the Illinois Resurgence Mitigation plan, allowing some businesses, like hair salons, to reopen with restrictions.

29 – Lansing parks re-open.


1 – A COVID-19 testing facility opens at South Suburban College.

A COVID-19 testing attendant shows someone how to administer a COVID test at the testing facility at South Suburban College. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

1 – Lansing pastors and church members gathered for outdoor prayer in light of racial unrest in the area.

1 – Lansing Municipal Center reopens its lobby.

John Bush is a Vietnam veteran who was scheduled to participate in Honor Flight Chicago this summer. (Photo: Maureen Grady-Perovich)

2 – Lansing Library starts offering curbside services.

11 – Honor Flight Chicago announces postponement of all 2020 flights. About a dozen Lansing veterans were scheduled to fly to Washington D.C. for the honor, and received a yard sign as consolation.

12 – A temporary COVID-19 testing facility opens in Walmart parking lot in Lansing.

23 – The Lansing Good Neighbor Day Parade is cancelled after attempts to reschedule.

26 – Illinois moves from Phase 3 to Phase 4 of the state’s Resurgence Mitigation Plan, increasing gathering limits from 10 to 50, and allowing for the reopening or expansion of health and fitness facilities, theaters, and museums and zoos, as well as indoor dining at restaurants.


13 – Lansing Masons present a $5,000 donation to Shriners Hospital, the Arcadia Palace Lodge No. 765’s first charitable gift after COVID delays.

Medinah Shriner Noble Arnell Brady (left), from Lansing’s Arcadia Palace met with Shriners Hospital’s Development Officer Kelly Matheus on July 13 to present a donation of $5,000. (Photo provided)

14 – A socially-distant Village Board Meeting begins with a somber roll call remembering recently-passed Trustee Mike Manno.

15 – The window for tax filing closes, after being extended from April 15 due to COVID concerns.

26 – Marian Catholic holds a commencement ceremony outdoors in its Spartan Stadium after a survey distributed to students and families indicated overwhelming support for a socially distanced, in-person ceremony.


17 – TF South begins the 2020-2021 school year remotely.

Alex Blackwood starts his first day of e-learning at TF South. (Photo courtesy of Julia Blackwood)

18 – Mayor Patty Eidam and Village Clerk Vivian Payne hold outdoor celebration of the 19th Amendment’s 100-year anniversary.

Participants in Lansing’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment gathered in the History Plaza for an overhead photo. (Photo provided)

20 – Lester Crawl receives school supply donation from Enchanted Backpack, delayed from original April date.

21 – Common Ground: Lansing Edition holds it launch meeting at the Lansing courthouse. The program’s start was delayed due to COVID and participant numbers were limited due to the Governor’s limit on gatherings.

29 – The first “We Are Lansing” Food Drive Drive-thru event occurs in parking lot of First United Methodist Church. Organized by TF South student Cam Sanchez, the event gave away 350 bags of food.


2 – Unity Christian Academy in South Holland starts its fall semester using a hybrid model of three days in-person and two days remote.

8 – Marian Catholic starts using the VOLO health assessment app to collect daily student and staff health survey data to keep the school safe and healthy.

19 – The 8th Annual LOOP Bike Ride staggers start times and gives away goodie bags instead of hosting a post-ride barbecue.

Changes to the 2020 LOOP bike ride included staggered start times, a bike decorating contest, and cancelling the post-ride barbecue. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Hillegonds)

19 – Illinois surpasses 5 million COVID tests.

22 – The United States exceeds 200,000 COVID-19 deaths.


2 – President Donald Trump announces he and his wife Melania tested positive for COVID-19.

9 – The Illiana Cat Project starts hosting its “Fall Fur Festival” in virtual format.

15 – Lansing ends the last day of the 2020 Census with a 75.3% response rate, marking the end of a counting process complicated by COVID-19.

15 – Developmental disabilities support organization LARC offers carry-out version of annual Fall Feast.

19Early Voting begins at the Lansing Public Library, drawing a large crowd. “Because of the pandemic, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I didn’t want them to shut everything down and I couldn’t vote,” said one voter.

Around 75 people were in line to vote at the Lansing Library at 5:00 p.m. on the first day of early voting. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

21 – A District 158 Board Meeting opens with over an hour of public comment read via letters submitted to the Board, which provided a wide view of the issues, frustrations, and challenges that have become a reality for many involved in education—students, parents, teachers, administrators, and Board members alike.

24A second drive-thru food drive occurs at First United Methodist Church, organized by Cam Sanchez. 1,000 boxes of food were given away.

Food Drive
Food Drive organizer Cam Sanchez helped lead the effort to give away 1,000 boxes of food on October 24. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

24 – Bishop Noll Institute presents an outdoor concert.

25 – The tally of general election early voters exceeds in five days the total number of early votes in the primary elections.

28 – COVID restrictions tighten in Suburban Cook County, forcing diners outdoors and limiting gatherings to 25 people.

31 – Fox Pointe hosts hundreds at a Trick-or-Treat event. Costumed guests walked throughout the venue and collected candy and other goodies from businesses and organizations. Village-wide trick-or-treating takes place under safety guidelines.

An estimated 750 people made loop around Fox Pointe on Halloween to gather candy and other goodies. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)


2 – South Suburban College announces its virtual classroom model will extend into the spring semester.

3 – Lansing has moderate turnout on Election Day. Lines were socially distant and equipment was regularly sanitized.

Election day
Election day in Lansing was socially-distanced and masked. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

7 – Two blood drives are held in the Lansing area to supply blood during COVID-related shortage.

17 – Midwest governors release a video encouraging residents to “Mask Up” ahead of holiday season.

19 – Glenwood Academy hosts its annual gala virtually.

20 – Due to increasing COVID-19 positivity rates, Illinois enters Tier 3 of Phase 4 of the state’s Resurgence Mitigation Plan.

30Porch delivery begins for the December print issue of The Lansing Journal, the first printed copy of the paper since April.

porch delivery
Porch delivery of December issue of The Lansing Journal began on November 30. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)


5 – Lansing residents share their COVID experiences.

6 – The Village of Lansing hosts a tree-lighting ceremony at Fox Pointe, the location of the Village’s first Christmas tree display that includes trees decorated by local families, businesses, churches, and organizations. Santa appears in a fire engine bucket to greet his fans, rather than in the non-COVID-friendly Santa House.

Santa arrived in a fire engine bucket this year, and greeted crowds from a social distance rather than in the confined space of the Santa House. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

9 – A new drive-thru COVID-19 testing location opens in Lansing in the parking lot of We Fix Phones and Boost Mobile.

12 – Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations are cancelled or altered. St. Ann Catholic Church holds a morning mass with less fanfare and people than in years past.

This year’s Our Lady of Guadalupe procession was limited to five children and three Knights of Columbus following at a safe social distance. Previous years’ processions have been much more extravagant. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

12 – Ridge Animal Clinic modifies its annual tradition of inviting pets to take photos with Santa in order to stay COVID-friendly.

14 – The Thornton Fractional High School District 215 Board votes to continue remote learning during the district’s third quarter, with tentative plans for teachers to return to school in February and students starting to return in March.

4,875 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are placed in a freezer in Illinois on December 14. (Screenshot from state video)

14 – The first COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Illinois and Indiana.

16 – The Lansing School District 158 Board approves a third phase of its e-learning and reopening plan. The plan tentatively allows district schools to use a hybrid model to bring students back to school as early as February 25, 2021.

16 – Lansing teenager Korey Ziemkowski helps to complete her third micro pantry in 2020 to help Lansing families in need of food and other basics, bringing Lansing’s total micro pantry count to four during a year when non-contact generosity is often preferred.

18 – Lansing residents find ways to be kind to one another during the pandemic.

19 – A food and toy drive donates thousands of food items and toys to families in need ahead of Christmas. The event was a collaboration of Lansing organizations, churches, businesses, families, and individuals.

22 – Cole & Young Co. Jewelers plans to close after 146 years, 44 of them in Lansing. Owner Larry Mollo partially attributes the closure to COVID-19, along with a variety of other factors.

23 – Lansing residents share plans for a COVID Christmas.

24 – Headlights replace candles and honks replace “Amens” at First United Methodist Church’s outdoor Christmas Eve service.

First United Methodist Church made adjustments to their traditional Christmas Eve service this year. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

25 – A neighborhood Christmas tree brings Lansing neighbors together amid the separation of the pandemic.

Stay informed in 2021

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Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.