Stories by Kristen Thometz

Illinois Officials Report 4,004 New COVID-19 Cases, 21 Deaths

(WTTW News)

The number of coronavirus cases statewide continues to climb as officials reported Friday more than 4,000 new and probable cases, as well as 21 virus-related deaths.

All Suburban Cook County Residents Eligible to Get Vaccine April 12

(WTTW News)

Suburban Cook County residents ages 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday, and while eligibility in Chicago doesn’t expand until April 19, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said adults in Chicago are also “absolutely welcome” to sign up at any state-run mass vaccination site starting Monday.

Cook County Officials Not Reimposing COVID-19 Restrictions – Yet

(JamesDeMers / Pixabay)

Suburban Cook County health officials are extremely concerned with the rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations but are holding off on reimposing mitigations to curb the spread of the virus, at least for now.

University of Illinois, Northwestern Seeking Students for Clinical Trial of COVID-19 Vaccine

Richard Biggs, 20, an evolutionary biology major at the University of Colorado Boulder, gets his first dose of the Moderna vaccine from Dr. Laird Wolfe. Biggs is one of the first group of students in a new study to determine if the vaccine can prevent COVID-19 infection and transmission in the student population. CU Boulder students will join 12,000 other college students in the country.  (Photo by Glenn Asakawa / University of Colorado)

More than 20 colleges and universities across the country are looking for students to enroll in a clinical trial to see if the COVID-19 vaccine prevents infection and spread of the virus among them.

Feds Sending Illinois $124M to Expand Vaccination Efforts

(WTTW News)

New funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will allow Illinois to “move quickly to further expand our aggressive efforts to reach those most vulnerable to COVID-19,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. 

Study: COVID-19 Long Haulers’ Symptoms Impact Quality of Life, Cognitive Abilities

Dr. Igor Koralnik, left, examines a patient. (Credit: Northwestern Medicine)

A Northwestern Medicine study of 100 COVID-19 long haulers found that 85% experienced four or more neurologic symptoms, including “brain fog,” that impacted their quality of life and, in some patients, their cognitive abilities. 

Federal Officials Warn of COVID-19 Surge, Open Mass Vaccination Site in Gary, Indiana

(WTTW News)

Federal officials announced Monday a mass vaccination site will be opening in Gary, Indiana, as they warned of rising coronavirus cases across the country and urged residents to wear masks, social distance and limit travel.

Suburban Cook County Eases Restrictions Despite Uptick in COVID-19 Cases, Illnesses

(JamesDeMers / Pixabay)

The move comes a day after the city of Chicago loosened restrictions on outdoor businesses and social gatherings.  

Efforts to Address Health Disparities Can’t Stop in Post-Pandemic World, Experts Say

(WTTW News)

The pandemic has exposed disparities in access, experts say. A look at the ongoing efforts to make vaccine distribution more equitable and the need to continue those efforts in a post-pandemic world.

Illinois Attorney General: Contact Utility Companies Before Shut Off Moratorium Lifts

(WTTW News)

Starting April 1, state-regulated electric, natural gas and utilities may begin to disconnect customers who haven’t paid their bills, according to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who urged customers to contact their providers if they’re facing financial hardship.

Asian Community Calls for Action in Wake of Deadly Atlanta Shooting

State Rep. Janet Yang Rohr speaks Monday, March 22, 2021 about the anti-Asian discrimination. (WTTW News)

A coalition of state representatives and organizations representing the Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander community called on residents to unite against discrimination in the wake of a mass shooting in Georgia that eight people, including six women of Asian descent.

Officials Launch Mass Vaccination Site in Forest Park

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces the opening of a new COVID-19 vaccination site in Forest Park on Monday, March 22, 2021. (WTTW News)

A year after the state shut down to stop the spread of the coronavirus, officials announced the opening of a new mass vaccination site in Cook County that will be open to all eligible Illinois residents starting Friday.

West Side United Receives $6.9M to Respond to Pandemic

(WTTW News)

A coalition of health care institutions and professionals working together as West Side United are providing relief to businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through small business grants and emergency rental assistance. 

Pritzker Unveils Reopening Plan, Says All Adults Will Be Eligible for Vaccine by April 12

Gov. J.B. Pritzker gives an update on the coronavirus and announces new reopening guidelines on Thursday, March 18, 2021 (WTTW News)

In less than a month, all Illinois residents ages 16 and older will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday. “COVID-19 has not gone away, but the light we can see at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter as more people get vaccinated,” he said.

Pritzker: Georgia Mass Shooting ‘An Attack on All of Our Communities’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks Wednesday, March 17, 2021 in Decatur. (WTTW News)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday condemned a mass shooting a day earlier in Georgia that left eight people dead, most of them women of Asian descent.

Illinois Launches Hotline for COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

(Mimzy / Pixabay)

A new call center will help eligible Illinois residents — including those without access to the internet — secure a coveted COVID-19 vaccine appointment by phone. 

Cook County Launches ‘My Shot’ Campaign to Address Vaccine Hesitancy

The Rev. Claude Porter of Maywood’s Proviso Missionary Baptist Church, is part of a new public education campaign aimed at addressing vaccine hesitancy. (Credit: Cook County Health / Cook County Government / Cook County Public Health)

Personal stories from Cook County residents who have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine highlight a new campaign that aims to dispel misinformation and encourage others to roll up their sleeves when it’s their turn.

Event Organizers Cautiously Optimistic for 2021 Summer Festival Season

If and when fests do return, they’ll look different than they did before the pandemic. (Credit: Amdur Productions)

The 2020 summer festival season was a bust, thanks to COVID-19, but local organizers say they’re feeling hopeful about the return of neighborhood street festivals and art shows this year. Here’s what to expect.

Cook County Pilot Program Brings COVID-19 Vaccines to Residents

(WTTW News)

A just-launched program will bring coronavirus vaccines to residents at temporary pop-up sites across suburban Cook County as part of an “equity-focused approach to the vaccine distribution,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Thursday.

Cook County Officials Launch Rental Assistance Program for Suburban Residents

(WTTW News)

Applications for the new program are being accepted through April 9. Suburban residents can receive up to $15,000 in assistance to cover up to 12 months of missed rent and utility payments and up to three months of future rent payments. 

For Advocates Serving Homeless, Outreach Efforts Can’t Wait for Virus to Go Away

(WTTW News)

As the spread of COVID-19 sparked restrictions and closures across the U.S. a year ago, organizations serving the homeless were forced to balance their work with the goal of keeping staff members safe. Here’s how some Chicago providers have handled the pandemic — and how they’re dealing with the latest set of challenges.

Report: Chicago Traffic Ranked 3rd Worst in US

(WTTW News)

The average commuter in the Chicago metro area spent 86 hours in traffic last year — that’s nearly four days — according to a new report from INRIX, a global mobility analytics company.

Have COVID-19 Questions? The Nerdy Girls at ‘Dear Pandemic’ Have Answers

(Photo by Daniel Bosse on Unsplash)

Acknowledging the overwhelming amount of information — good and bad — circulating about the coronavirus pandemic, a team of women launched an effort last year to answer questions big and small, using language that’s relatable — and sometimes snarky. A year later, they’re still going strong.

Aurora Church Hosts COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for Black Residents

The second doses of the Pfizer vaccine in Chicago were administered at Norwegian American Hospital on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. (WTTW News)

The Cathedral of Grace St. John AME Church hosted a coronavirus vaccination clinic for Black suburban residents as part of a larger effort to vaccinate communities disproportionately impacted by the virus. 

Pritzker: Illinois to Receive 100K COVID-19 Vaccine Doses Daily by Mid-March

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks about the coronavirus at a vaccination site in Peoria on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. (WTTW News)

Illinois will soon be able to ramp up its vaccination effort. “Things are getting better,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday. “This pandemic will end, but in the meantime, we have to mask up, help each other out and we’ll get through this together.”

Pritzker: Expansion of Food Benefits Will Help 1 Million Children in Illinois

(Jasmine Lin / Pixabay)

Children who would have received free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program if their schools were not closed or operating with reduced hours are eligible for the benefits.