SPRINGFIELD – The Senate Higher Education Committee held a hearing Monday on the progress of SHIELD Illinois, the system which administers University of Illinois’ state-of-the-art rapid COVID-19 test, which uses saliva rather than the common nasal swab and is intended to be made available to all of the state’s public universities.

Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), a member of the Senate Higher Education Committee, has been supportive of University of Illinois’ efforts since the project’s early stages.

“The University of Illinois has stepped up to help other higher education institutions make a safe, responsible return to in-person learning,” Bennett said. “The U of I has proven the success of the saliva test, keeping their positivity rate below 1% despite nationwide surges. Expanding this testing program is more vital than ever for our colleges and universities.”

According to Tim Killeen, president of the U of I System, the university is organizing a testing program and infrastructure to deploy the innovative test across the state. This plan includes a prototype lab on wheels that will allow testing to take place where it is needed most.

“SHIELD is launching a network of high-capacity labs across the state to process test samples and provide fast, accurate results,” Killeen said. “This groundbreaking technology has attracted global attention, and we are working to expand the reach across Illinois and beyond.”

The test has such high sensitivity and specificity that there are almost no false positives or false negatives, which is one of the driving factors that has led to the university’s low positivity rate.

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Holiday Drive

CHAMPAIGN – To help ensure folks stay warm during the cold winter months, State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is collecting supplies to benefit C-U at Home.

“The ongoing public health crisis has left families and neighbors in need of basic items this year,” Bennett said. “I’m confident we can come together as a community and support these people during this incredibly challenging time.”

C-U at Home is in particular need of new backpacks, hygiene supplies, long underwear and socks. These items are urgently needed to meet the needs for homeless individuals in the community.

“These folks are looking for a helping hand this year to survive the cold winter months,” Bennett said. “Donate today, if you can.”

Residents are encouraged to drop off donations to the collection box outside of Senator Bennett’s office in Champaign, located at 45 E. University, Suite 206 through Friday, Dec. 18. Bennett reminds those donating to wear a mask in the building and practice social distancing.

07152019CW0043aCHAMPAIGN – Senate Agriculture Chair Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) received the Jim Guilinger Legislative Award from the Illinois Leadership Council for Agricultural Education (ILCAE) on Friday, Dec. 4 for his support of agricultural education and Future Farmers of America (FFA) student programs.

“Agriculture plays a significant role in our state’s economy, so it’s important we place a strong emphasis on agriculture education in the General Assembly,” Bennett said. “By embracing programs like FFA and promoting agriculture education, we can instill positive values in students and shape tomorrow’s agricultural leaders.”

Since 1987, the Jim Guilinger Legislative Award has been presented to legislators who advocate for and have been publicly supportive of Illinois agricultural education. According to ILCAE, these legislators understand the importance of the agricultural industry that makes up about a quarter of Illinois’ jobs. They also know the importance of today’s youth understanding the ever-evolving and expanding agricultural industry with the knowledge gained through a current and progressive agricultural education.

The award is named in honor of the late Jim Guilinger, a nationally recognized agricultural education leader and former secretary of the McDonough County Farm Bureau. Guilinger spent 56 years of his life dedicated to agricultural education, constantly seeking out innovative and cutting-edge technology and curriculum for the betterment of his students.

“I am honored to receive this prestigious award from the Illinois Leadership Council for Agricultural Education that is having such a positive impact on our young people,” Bennett said.

Giving Tuesday FB

DANVILLE – Giving Tuesday is Dec. 1, and State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) is encouraging those who are able to give back to their communities on this charitable occasion.

“As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, so does the need for help from local charitable organizations,” Bennett said. “There’s something everyone can do to help, whether it is donating to a good cause, volunteering your time to help others in our community, or simply showing acts of kindness.”

Giving Tuesday, created in 2012 as a day to encourage people to do good, has since grown into a global movement for charitable giving on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Bennett encourages folks willing and able to consider reaching out to a local charitable organization to ask how they can help. These organizations may include animal shelters, blood banks, or other groups serving children and youth, artists, small businesses, restaurant workers, homeless individuals, and more.

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Office Info

Champaign Office:
45 E. University Suite 206
Champaign, IL 61820
P: (217) 355-5252

Danville Office:
201 N. Vermilion St. Suite 323
Danville, IL 61832
P: (217) 442-5252

Springfield Office:
311C State House
Springfield, IL 62706
P: (217) 782-2507