Expanded family leave; farm equipment on the roads

Illinois expands employee leave for certain family situations
The Child Bereavement Leave Act was signed into law earlier this summer. Under the Act, Illinois employers who have at least 50 employees must grant up to ten days of unpaid leave to eligible full-time employees who have suffered the loss of a child. Except in emergency situations, there must be 48 hours of notice. The employee will have 60 days during which to take the leave time. Some Illinois employers already have bereavement policies under which they voluntarily pay workers who take this kind of leave.

The legislation was Senate Bill 2613. It passed the House 108-1.

Motorists encouraged to drive safely around farm equipment
As the fall harvest season gets underway, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois State Police and Illinois Farm Bureau are reminding motorists to be alert for farm equipment on roadways this time of year. The three have partnered for the “Caution, Slow Down, Share the Road” program this year to promote safe travel for both farm vehicles and highway motorists.

In 2014, there were 241 accidents between cars and farm equipment on Illinois highways; accidents which injured 57 people and killed five. The goal of the safe driving program this fall is to remind motorists that slow-moving farm equipment is out on the roads, and to encourage drivers to give farm vehicles; which often move at around 25 miles per hour; plenty of room.

Drivers should avoid positioning themselves immediately behind farm equipment because it is difficult for the farmer to see the car. Farmers are also reminded to make sure their orange slow-moving-vehicle emblem is displayed and their amber lights are flashing to warn oncoming motorists.

More Zika cases reported in Illinois
With the coming of fall, the danger from the mosquito-borne Zika virus has not diminished in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reports that the number of known Zika cases in Illinois has reached 60. That figure includes nine new cases reported since September 7.

While the epicenter of the illness continues to be Latin America and the Caribbean, the Department of Public Health is urging all Illinois residents who have visited a country where Zika is circulating and who notice symptoms in the two weeks after their return to contact their doctor. The types of mosquito known to be capable of carrying and spreading the virus can live in tropical and subtropical environments.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a webpage that describes Zika symptoms. They include fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). These symptoms may last from several days to one week. Illinoisans are urged to continue to take the standard precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites, even as we move into the fall.

Public Health recommends flu shots
Flu season is right around the corner, and the Illinois Department of Public Health is encouraging Illinoisans to get flu shots now. Flu season typically starts in October and runs through May, but tends to peak between December and February.

This year, Public Health is recommending that persons six months of age and older get the flu shot, not the nasal vaccine which has been used in years past. Young children, pregnant women, seniors and persons with chronic health conditions are at higher risk of serious flu-related complications, and are especially encouraged to get flu shots.

Contact your local health department to find out about flu shot clinics or other availability in your community.

Did You Know?
The first Illinois State Fair was held in Springfield on September 26, 1853. The week-long event was meant to, “elevate the individual farmer’s opinion of his own profession,” and to showcase the “best in field and garden crops, cattle and labor-saving implements.” More than 20,000 people attended the first State Fair, which had an admission price of 25 cents. Over the next few years, the Fair would be held in different cities throughout the state. After the Civil War, the Fair returned to its permanent home in Springfield.