Stories by Blair Paddock

WBEZ: Latest on the Bears’ Possible Soldier Field Exit

A rift between Chicago Bears leadership and the owner of Soldier Field— the Chicago Park District — may be brewing, as speculation swarms over whether the team is planning to relocate. (WTTW News)

A rift between Chicago Bears leadership and the owner of Soldier Field— the Chicago Park District — may be brewing, as speculation swarms over whether the team is planning to relocate. 

Increase in Pediatric Emergencies Driven by Other Respiratory Viruses, Not COVID, Doctors Say

An early surge in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, a common virus that usually appears in the winter, is driving an increase in patients going to the emergency room — unnecessarily. (WTTW News)

An early surge in RSV, a common virus that usually appears in the winter, is driving an unnecessary increase in patients going to the emergency room, doctors say.

Illinois’ House Speaker Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch on Energy Bill and More

(WTTW News)

A massive energy bill became law this week and among other things, it aims to get Illinois carbon-free by 2045. Meanwhile, Illinois COVID vaccination rates slow as the delta variant surges. And the legislature’s veto session is coming up in a month.

What to Expect With the Upcoming Flu Season

(WTTW News)

As flu season approaches, the country is still grappling with a surge in COVID-19 infections driven largely by the delta variant. Will flu cases and the coronavirus result in a “twindemic” this year? A local doctor weighs in.

Ruby Ferguson Talks Food Equity Policy in Chicago

Ruby Ferguson appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. (WTTW News)

Chicago has it’s first-ever food equity policy lead. Ruby Ferguson, who is taking on that role, will help address food insecurity across the city, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

How Communities Facing Food Insecurity Are Creating Equitable Systems

A food pantry in Woodridge. (WTTW News)

As part of our “Firsthand: Living in Poverty” series, we hear about the current state of food insecurity in Chicago — and possible solutions to the problem.

Rental Assistance is Slow to Arrive as Eviction Threat Looms

(WTTW News)

Renters across the country may soon face eviction now that the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down the Biden administration’s extension of the eviction moratorium. We discuss resources available to local renters.

How to Face Uncertainty in ‘Pandemic Purgatory’

In this file photo, COVID-19 health and safety signs are posted. (WTTW News)

Many people had big plans for summer: travel, concerts, gatherings with family and friends. But now, the more transmissible delta variant of COVID-19 is delaying, once again, a full reopening in Chicago and beyond. How to move past the feeling of being stuck.

Dr. Robert Murphy on Masks, Mandates and Booster Shots

Dr. Robert Murphy is the director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. (WTTW News)

Chicago has once again implemented an indoor mask requirement as the Biden administration announces a COVID-19 booster shot will be available for Americans starting in September. We talk to infectious disease expert Dr. Robert Murphy about the latest guidelines.

Nurses on Front Lines of Pandemic Talk Burnout, Staffing Shortage

John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County (WTTW News)

Across the country, hospital systems are facing a shortage of nurses. In Cook County, the shortage prompted nurses at Stroger Hospital to go on strike this summer, for the first time in decades.

How Public Health Experts are Reimagining 911 Calls

(WTTW News)

Through meetings and research, the University of Chicago’s Health Lab is working with community members to see how the nation’s emergency response system can be transformed to better serve people in crisis.

Illinois Repeals HIV Criminal Transmission Law

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a bill repealing an HIV criminalization law on July 27, 2021. (WTTW News via Governor’s Office)

People with HIV can no longer be criminally prosecuted for exposing someone else to the virus without their knowledge. Advocates say the law discouraged testing and treatment for HIV — and the repeal is long overdue.

New Illinois Laws on Marriage Certificates More Inclusive of LGBTQ Residents

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs into law two new bills advancing the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Illinois on July 27, 2021. (WTTW News via Governor’s Office)

For transgender and gender non-conforming people, the process of changing your name and getting documents to reflect those changes can be a burden. How two new laws in Illinois aim to ease that process.

University of Chicago Examines Connection Between Poverty and Child Welfare

(WTTW News)

Families living in poverty are more likely to be involved with the child welfare system, according to a recent brief from the University of Chicago. As part of our “Firsthand: Living in Poverty” series, we look at the barriers facing families that need financial assistance.

Narcotics Arrest Diversion Program Will Soon Be Citywide

A health care professional draws Naloxone into a syringe. (WTTW News via CNN)

The city is expanding a program that works to keep people from getting a drug offense and, instead, places them into treatment. Eleven police districts are currently eligible for the program, but officials say it will be available in all districts by the end of the year.

Lollapalooza Will Go on Despite Rising COVID-19 Cases

Lollapalooza will return to Chicago at full capacity from July 29 to Aug. 1, 2021. (WTTW News)

The massive music festival that routinely attracts more than 100,000 people per day to its stages starts next week as the delta variant drives a rise in COVID-19 cases. Should the show go on? A local music critic and an infectious disease doctor share their thoughts.

Chicago Auto Show Puts Spotlight on Electric Vehicles

The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro. (Credit: Ford Motor Company)

One of the show-stopping entries at this year’s event? The Ford F-150 Lightning. That truck and other electric cars that were on display have electric vehicle advocates eager to accelerate the shift from gas to electric.

Cook County Chief Judge Responds to Officials’ Blame of Courts for Rise in Crime

Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Thursday, July 8, 2021. (WTTW News)

Are the courts to blame for a spike in crime? Chief Judge Timothy Evans responds to the repeated accusations from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and police Superintendent David Brown. 

Amid Spike in Gun Violence, Cook County’s Foxx, Mitchell Address Concerns Over Courts

(WTTW News)

More than 100 people were shot over the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, one of the city’s deadliest in years. Some officials are blaming the courts for the recent violence. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and Public Defender Sharone Mitchell Jr. respond.

How Countries are Filling Gaps in COVID-19 Vaccinations

(Source: Our World In Data)

About 46% of the United States’ population is fully vaccinated, but many countries have much lower rates. What the U.S. and other countries are doing to promote vaccine equity across the world.

How Cook County is Addressing the Opioid Epidemic After Spike in Overdoses

(Photo by James Yarema on Unsplash)

Opioid-related overdoses in Cook County increased by more than 40% last year. While this spike began in December 2019 — before COVID-19 was widespread — the pandemic accelerated the trend. We discuss the state of the opioid epidemic in the Chicago area.

In Humboldt Park, Anti-Violence Groups Work Toward Healing, Prevention

Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. (WTTW News)

Two people were fatally shot and another 10 were injured this weekend on the city’s West Side. How a local anti-violence group is working alongside the community to prevent further violence.

Chicago Area Trans Survey Will Collect Data ‘Made By and For Trans People’

(Lena Balk / Unsplash)

A transgender-led research group is working to create a comprehensive data set that reflects the trans community in Cook County more wholly. “We’re really trying to not just tell stories of trans pain, but also tell stories of trans joy,” said Dylan Felt of Northwestern University.

Why a Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline is Drawing Controversy

HB3404 would provide funding for a proposed natural gas pipeline for the village of Hopkins Park in Pembroke Township. (WTTW News)

A bill heading to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk would provide funding for a proposed natural gas pipeline in a village outside Kankakee. Supporters say the pipeline could provide economic growth for the area, but others are concerned about the plan’s environmental impact.

With Ban Set to Expire, Advocates Hope Rental Assistance Will Stave off Evictions

The Chicago Emergency Rental Assistance Program application window closes June 8

(WTTW News)

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides grants to cover 15 months of missed rental payments. By August, the eviction ban is set to be lifted in Illinois. Will this assistance be enough to keep people afloat?

Some Not Ready to Give Up Masks Despite Relaxed Guidelines

The CDC relaxes mask requirements for fully vaccinated people. But what about those who don’t want to give up masks? (WTTW News)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday lifted the state’s mask mandate for fully vaccinated residents. But not everyone is ready to follow the new guidance. We talk about the future of masks with Jocelyn Carter, director of clinical training at DePaul University.