Stories by Marissa Nelson

Pandemic Worsening Existing Teacher Shortage in Illinois

(WTTW News)

Illinois is facing a teacher shortage — and a new survey shows school leaders fear it is getting worse.  The survey was conducted in Fall 2021, before the highly contagious omicron COVID-19 variant, which poses added challenges to schools as some struggle to keep buildings staffed enough to host in-person classes.

Pilsen Pet Boutique Brings Handmade Mexican Designs to Chicago Pet Owners

(WTTW News)

A Chicagoan took the extra time the pandemic provided as an opportunity to start her own side hustle. Now, she’s the owner of a shop in Pilsen that connects its customers and their pets with handmade designs from Mexico.

Boost in Funding Moves Invasive Carp Barrier Forward: ‘This Money Can’t Come Soon Enough’

(WTTW News)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $225.8 million to the Brandon Road Lock and Dam invasive carp barrier. The funds will complete the planning and engineering phase of the project.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Harvey

(WTTW News)

In recent years, Harvey has faced financial issues and political infighting, and it’s grappling with poverty, unemployment and crime. But officials and community leaders here say they're working to turn it around. And residents say even with the challenges the suburb faces, they feel proud of where they come from. 

Rank-and-File CTU Members Vote on New COVID-19 Mitigations

(WTTW News)

Rank-and-file members of the Chicago Teachers Union are in the process of voting on the deal reached by the union and the city on new COVID-19 mitigation efforts. Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said she expects the vote to be complete by the end of the week. 

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Clearing

The Clearing community on the Southwest side of Chicago is home to many city employees and families and the southern portion of Midway airport.  (WTTW News)

The Clearing community on the Southwest Side of Chicago is home to many city employees and families and the southern portion of Midway Airport. We spent the day talking to people about how the neighborhood is adapting to all the changes throughout the pandemic.

Sun-Times Report Finds Sexual Assault Reports Nearing Pre-Pandemic Levels

(WTTW News)

Reports of sexual assault in Chicago appear to be returning to pre-pandemic levels, and the Near North police district — which includes River North — reached a 20-year high, according to a recent report in the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Week in Review: Another Year Marked By COVID, Political Tensions

In Illinois the COVID vaccine distribution got underway, and Illinois fully reopened in June. But, vaccine resistance, the delta variant, and later omicron caused cases to surge again. (WTTW News)

From the shocking events of Jan. 6 to COVID’s dip and surge, a changing of the guard in Springfield, to high crime rates and political battles in City Council. We recap the year’s biggest stories.

Spotlight Politics: CDC Director Explains Altered Isolation Guidelines

COVID is surging across the country and public officials warn residents to be cautious during New Year’s celebrations. (WTTW News)

COVID-19 is surging across the country and here in Illinois as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention faces criticisms for changing its isolation guidelines. Our Spotlight Politics team has that and more.

How to Deal With Grief, Stress During The Holidays

(WTTW News)

Holiday music, decorations and commercials say it’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of year. But not everyone experiences the holidays as merry and bright.

‘Latino Voices’ Community Conversation: Latino Holiday Traditions

(WTTW News)

The holidays are typically marked by family gatherings, delicious food and joyful music. We talk with community leaders about celebrating this holiday season amid the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about the omicron variant. Watch the full discussion.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Grand Boulevard

Located on Chicago’s South Side, the Grand Boulevard community is home to several historic institutions. (WTTW News)

The area includes part of the Bronzeville neighborhood. And it has a rich history, from its churches to its hospital. We spoke with community leaders about that and efforts to bring people together this holiday season.

Chicago’s COVID Response Corps ‘Ready for The Next Challenge’ Ahead of Winter, Holiday Gatherings

(Andrés Rodríguez / Pixabay)

Earlier in the pandemic, the program began by focusing on contact tracing. But it has since expanded to meet other needs – like scheduling vaccine appointments and working the city’s COVID-19 hotline. 

Chicago Small Businesses Deal With Supply Chain Issues, COVID Economic Impact

Some small business owners say they hope the holiday season will provide a much-needed boost to revenue as retailers large and small face supply chain issues and inflation more than a year and a half into the pandemic. (WTTW News)

The holiday shopping season is underway and U.S. sales are on track to surpass spending records. Some small business owners say they hope the season will provide a much-needed boost to revenue as retailers large and small face supply chain issues and inflation more than a year and a half into the pandemic.

Omicron Variant Raises Concerns of Vaccine Equity

(WTTW News)

A growing number of states and countries are detecting the omicron variant, though it has yet to be identified in Illinois. Some say the mutation raises concerns about vaccine equity across the globe.

‘Beyond Chicago from the Air’ Premieres on WTTW

The Mississippi River from the air, as seen in Geoffrey Baer’s new special, “Beyond Chicago from the Air.” (WTTW News)

Geoffrey Baer’s latest special, “Beyond Chicago from the Air,” explores Illinois’ landscape and landmarks from the air — using drone footage to take viewers across the state.

‘Black Voices’ Community Conversation: Black Small Businesses

(WTTW News)

Brandis Friedman and a panel of guests talk about how Black-owned small businesses are navigating the holiday shopping season amid supply chain issues and labor shortages. Watch the discussion now.

How Inflation, Supply Chain Issues Are Impacting Food Insecurity in Chicago

(WTTW News)

Food insecurity continues to be far above pre-pandemic levels. Advocates say supply chain issues and inflation are worsening this problem — higher grocery bills make it even harder for some to afford food.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Washington Park

Washington Park is nestled between Hyde Park, Woodlawn and Englewood. It’s home to the DuSable Museum of African American History and to the former Schultz Baking Company. (WTTW News)

Washington Park is nestled between Hyde Park, Woodlawn and Englewood. It’s home to the DuSable Museum of African American History and to the former Schultz Baking Company. Now closed, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places and there are plans to turn it into a data center.

Behind ‘The Great Resignation’ of Americans Quitting Their Jobs in Record Numbers

(WTTW News)

In September, 4.4 million people left their jobs, according to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some say workers have spent the pandemic reevaluating their priorities and values, leading them to leave their places of work or demand more from their employers. 

Tribune Report Reveals Sexism in Chicago’s Radio Industry

Women in Chicago’s radio industry are speaking out about the sexism they’ve faced. (WTTW News)

The Chicago Tribune published a scathing 10-month investigation into what women face in the male-dominated industry. The reporters spoke with dozens of women in radio about their experiences. WTTW News spoke with three of those women to hear about what they have faced in the industry. 

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Washington Heights

Washington Heights is tightly knit, with high rates of homeownership but a relatively low COVID vaccination rate. And home to a branch of the Chicago public library that's visited by scholars from around the world. (WTTW News)

The predominantly African American community on the Far South Side has high rates of homeownership but a relatively low COVID-19 vaccination rate.

West Side Grocery Store Closure Highlights Food Inequities in Chicago

Aldi shuttered its West Garfield Park location in October 2021. (WTTW News)

The recent closure of an Aldi in West Garfield Park leaves residents with one less grocery store and points to a larger issue of food insecurity across the city, particularly in low-income and Black and brown communities that have faced decades of disinvestment, according to advocates. 

FDA Proposes Plan to Make Hearing Aids Available Over the Counter

People with mild to moderate hearing loss may soon be able to get hearing aids without a medical exam or fitting by an audiologist. (WTTW News)

Hearing aids may soon be available over the counter. Last week the FDA issued a proposal to allow hearing aids to be sold directly to consumers, without a medical exam or fitting by an audiologist.

‘Latino Voices’ Community Conversation: Dia de los Muertos

(WTTW News)

Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a two-day holiday that honors dead relatives, remembering loved ones and celebrating ancestors. We talk about the holiday’s meaning, traditions and misconceptions with community leaders.

Ask Geoffrey: The Wrigley Building’s 100th Anniversary

(WTTW News)

The Wrigley Building celebrates its 100th anniversary. The latest edition of “Ask Geoffrey” explores how the Chicago icon transformed Michigan Avenue.