Stories by Acacia Hernandez

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Little Village

The vibrant Little Village community has been bustling with Mexican Pride as celebrations are in full force for Mexican Independence Day. (WTTW News)

The vibrant Little Village community has been bustling with Mexican Pride as celebrations are in full force for Mexican Independence Day.

Some Push Back on Federal Vaccine and Testing Mandate for Businesses

(WTTW News)

The mandate is intended to push about two-thirds of American workers to get vaccinated, but some are claiming it's government overreach. 

Chicago’s Workforce After More Than a Year Into the Pandemic

Illinois has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. Federal pandemic unemployment benefits ended on Labor Day, cutting off weekly payments to more than 300,000 people in the state. 

Illinois Students Can Soon Take 5 Days Off for Mental Health

Under a new law recently signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker, students can take up to five mental or behavioral health days off from school, without having to provide a doctor’s note. (WTTW News)

Starting in January, students ages 7-17 can take up to five mental or behavioral health days off from school without having to provide a doctor’s note. Under the new law, students are referred to school staff for professional help after their second mental health day.

Animal Shelters Expect Influx of Pets When Eviction Ban Lifts

A dog in the care of The Anti-Cruelty Society. (WTTW News)

Illinois’ eviction moratorium is in place for one more month, but many residents fear they’ll be out of a home once that ban lifts. And now animal shelters are preparing for what could be an influx of pets in need of homes, too. 

How Health Care Workers Are Handling COVID-19 Vaccine Concerns

(WTTW News)

Despite the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, some people are still hesitant to roll up their sleeves. A local medical professional talks about the reasoning behind some of this reluctancy and how it’s being addressed.

College Students on the Return to In-Person Classes, Activities

College campuses across the state with the return of in-person classes and activities after more than a year. (WTTW News)

There are lots of familiar sights on college campuses across the state as students return to lecture halls and activities. But what exactly has this transition from largely virtual instruction to in-person been like?

Amazon Delivery Lockers in Chicago Parks Create Controversy

An Amazon locker at Leone Beach in Rogers Park. (WTTW News)

The e-commerce giant recently began installing lockers inside Chicago parks, and says the lockers are a “secure and convenient” option. But that so-called convenience has proven controversial. 

Chicago Public Schools Parents on Return to In-Person Learning

In this file photo, CPS students sit masked and socially distanced. (WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools students are scheduled to return for in-person classes Monday. But what will that return look like amid an ongoing pandemic? CPS parents join “Chicago Tonight: Latino Voices” for a panel discussion.

Cook County Public Defenders to Represent Immigrants in Removal Cases

A pair of bills signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker provides not only legal counsel, but also public information campaigns so immigrants and refugees will know their rights. (WTTW News)

A pair of bills signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker provides not only legal counsel, but also public information campaigns so immigrants and refugees will know their rights.

Here’s What to Expect When Chicago Theaters Reopen

Lyric Opera of Chicago (WTTW News)

To open or not to open: That's been the question for Chicago’s performing arts community over the last year and a half. Now, the League of Chicago Theatres has announced new COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures as productions are set to fill up stages once again.

City Colleges to Provide Over 60 Free Short-Term Programs This Fall

New fall programs offered by City Colleges are aimed at helping Chicagoans start or resume their college education amid the pandemic. (WTTW News)

New fall programs offered by the City Colleges of Chicago system aim to help city residents start or resume their college education amid the pandemic.

Addressing Unemployment: City Initiative Seeks to ‘Jump Start Local Economy’

(Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)

The Chicago area has seen a 6.6% unemployment rate decrease, from 15.1% in June 2020 to 8.5% in June of this year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. How a new program aims to get even more job seekers employed.

Remittance Flow From Chicago Increases, Pandemic Heightens Need

(WTTW News)

For families around the world and especially in Latin America, receiving money transfers from relatives working in the U.S. provides a critical line of support. With a large immigrant population, Chicago has been a significant source of these money transfers.

Critics of Property Tax Appeals Board Say It’s Time to End the Experiment

(WTTW News)

There are four ways to appeal property tax assessments in Cook County. But is that a good thing? Former state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie and Assessor Fritz Kaegi weigh in.

Communities and City Collaborate for Safer, More Accessible Transportation

The city’s transportation department has been installing a new grid of bike routes in Belmont Cragin and Hermosa. (WTTW News)

The city’s transportation department has been installing a new grid of bike routes in Belmont Cragin and Hermosa as part of the Chicago Works Capital Plan to modernize infrastructure and improve access to and safety of transportation.

New Target Warehouse in Little Village Draws Environmental Concerns Despite Job Creation

A new Target warehouse facility in Little Village is expected to provide up to 2,000 jobs. (WTTW News)

It is expected to provide up to 2,000 jobs, but a new Target warehouse in Little Village — on the site of a botched coal plant demolition in April 2020 — has sparked protests among some community members.

New Research Explores How COVID-19 Affects Your Sense of Smell

(Free-Photos / Pixabay)

Many unknowns about COVID-19 remain more than a year into the pandemic, among them the mysterious loss of taste and smell. But new research offers insight into the cause of this common symptom.

How a Newly Created Advisory Board Could Help Restore Chicago’s Urban Canopy

Currently, the city’s tree canopy cover is at 16%, a 3 percentage point decrease since 2010, according to a 2020 census of Chicago’s trees led by the Morton Arboretum. (WTTW News)

The City Council has unanimously approved an ordinance to create an Urban Forestry Advisory Board — charged with strategically caring for Chicago's urban tree canopy.

Local Street Markets Adjust to Pandemic Restrictions

The Lincoln Square Farmers Market is one of Chicago’s many street markets that have had to adapt to new health safety protocols in response to COVID-19. (WTTW News)

After a challenging year, Chicago’s street markets are adapting to new health and safety standards, and showing signs of recovery.

New Book ‘Nobody Knows’ Examines Intergenerational Trauma, Stress

The book cover for “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen: The Emotional Lives of Black Women.” (WTTW News via Amistad)

In her new book, author and psychologist Inger Burnett-Zeigler examines the stress, trauma and unacknowledged emotional suffering Black women have faced for generations, while offering a new way of being strong that includes being comfortable with vulnerability.

How Universities Are Preparing for Another School Year Amid COVID-19

The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. (WTTW News)

What will the fall semester look like on college campuses? We discuss reopening plans with the leaders of three area universities.

‘Aftershocks’ Series Uncovers Lasting Impacts of Chicago Gun Violence

The Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. (WTTW News)

Gun violence is on the rise in Chicago and across the country, and its impact is felt not only by victims, but their families and communities, too. We learn about a new series from The Trace, a national news organization covering gun violence in the U.S.