Stories by Nick Blumberg

Illinois Nursing Homes Face Spike in Cases, Staffing Shortages Amid COVID-19 Surge

COVID-19 cases and deaths at U.S. nursing homes are once again on the rise. (Pixabay)

According to CDC data, Illinois saw its highest-ever case rate for nursing home residents this month, surpassing even last winter’s surge. Cases among staff have also reached record levels. 

The Week in Review: CPS Classes Resume, But Tensions Run High

(WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools students are back to in-person learning but tensions still surround the CTU. A new entrant is set to join the Republican candidates in the governor’s race. Mayor Lightfoot gets COVID-19. And the Bears search for a new general manager and head coach.

Longtime Anchor Pat Cassidy Reflects on Career in Radio News

Pat Cassidy has hosted mornings on WBBM Newsradio for most of the last 22 years. (Courtesy of WBBM Newsradio)

“I just love breaking news, because I know I’m telling people things they don’t know,” said Pat Cassidy, who after 51 years as a radio news anchor has signed off. 

Bears, Officially Out of Playoff Contention, Prepare to Face Seahawks

(WTTW News graphic)

Chicago fell to the Minnesota Vikings 17-9 on Monday Night Football, the team’s third straight loss.

Embattled Thompson Center Lands Buyer With Plans For Overhaul, Reuse

The James R. Thompson Building, designed by architect Helmut Jahn. (WTTW News)

Late last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a deal to sell the love-it-or-hate it state building downtown to the Prime Group for $70 million. The development firm plans to overhaul the Helmut Jahn-designed structure rather than demolish it and start anew, as others had proposed.

Beyond Net Zero? A New Prototype for a Building That Absorbs Carbon Pollution

A rendering of the Urban Sequoia prototype. (Courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)

What if our cities could be more like forests? That’s the question at the heart of a new building prototype developed by architecture and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Concerns in South Shore

The South Shore community lies just south of Jackson Park along Lake Michigan – which is also a point of concern for residents.  (WTTW News)

The Obama Presidential Center announced Thursday that a number of its spaces will be named for historic human and civil rights figures. But as that center marches closer toward its opening date, one neighboring community has concerns about the center’s impact on longtime residents.

New Book Argues Focus on Profit and Lax Oversight Led to Deadly Boeing Crashes

Boeing’s former CEO defended the company’s safety record after a pair of deadly crashes, and implied some of the blame lay with insufficiently trained pilots. But a new book argues changes in corporate culture and government oversight led Boeing to prioritize profit over safety.

The Week in Review: Looking Ahead to 2022, 2023 Elections

(WTTW News)

As 2021 draws to a close, the 2022 election is already well underway and Chicago’s election in early 2023 is looming on the horizon. On a special holiday edition of “The Week in Review,” a look at what offices are on the ballot, who’s running, and the key issues at stake.

Return Most Federal Land to Native Americans, Op-Ed Argues

Shawnee National Forest in Herod, Illinois. (WTTW)

The op-ed also raises the idea of doing away with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and says tribes would be “freed” of treaties with the federal government – an idea some Native Americans oppose.

New Book ‘Foxconned’ Argues Controversial Wisconsin Facility Was a Bad Deal

In 2017, federal and state leaders heralded a massive new factory in southern Wisconsin to be built by Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer Foxconn. The facility was supposed to create thousands of jobs and spur economic development, but a new book argues those promises have come up short.

Advocates Call For Chicago’s First Majority Asian American Ward

(WTTW News)

Some community leaders want to see Chinatown and the surrounding area included in a single ward as part of the city council’s once-a-decade remap process. Advocates are also calling for Asian American communities in Albany Park, West Ridge, and Uptown to stay together in their respective wards to ensure their voices are heard. 

Improving Investment in Women’s Health Research, Health Care

Just a fraction of research funds into Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and autoimmune disease goes toward women, even though they disproportionately face those ailments, according to a new report by Women’s Health Access Matters. (WTTW News)

A new report says we collectively understand women’s health far less than men’s health. That’s because just a fraction of research funds to study things like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and autoimmune disease go toward studying women -- even though they disproportionately face those diseases.

COVID-19 Vaccines May Protect Against Other Coronaviruses: Study

(WTTW News)

A new study shows that vaccination against a coronavirus or a previous infection can provide protection against other viruses in that same family – and it shows that generic vaccines could be developed to protect against future viruses.

As Women Leave the Workforce, Researchers Say Low-Income Working Moms Need More Support

(Photo by Daniel Bosse on Unsplash)

Women have lost nearly 3 million jobs since February 2020. A look at the barriers facing low-income, working mothers.

Grant Program Aims to Boost Equitable Development Near Train, Bus Lines

Coalition Food Hall, set to be located near the California Green Line Station in Garfield Park, is one of 11 equitable transit-oriented developments that received a grant this week.  (Credit: Coalition Food Hall)

The city’s Equitable Transit-Oriented Development pilot program awarded micro-grants to 11 projects around Chicago on Wednesday. The funding goes up to $20,000, and technical assistance to get projects off the ground is also included.

UIC Lab Tracking COVID-19 Trends and Hot Spots By Testing Wastewater

(WTTW News)

A University of Illinois Chicago lab and its partners have been tracking the virus that causes coronavirus in wastewater and sharing the data with local public health agencies. 

Study: Black, Latino Bicyclists Face More Ticketing and Less Infrastructure

Cyclists of color in Chicago get a disproportionate number of tickets from police, according to reports by the Chicago Tribune. (WTTW News)

Cyclists of color in Chicago get a disproportionate number of tickets from police, according to reports by the Chicago Tribune. Bike advocates hope a new city initiative can help address the problem but say it’s not just about infrastructure.

Developers Turn 12 Vacant Acres on the Far South Side Into a New Community

The northwest corner of 115th and Halsted streets sits at the intersection of West Pullman, East Morgan Park and West Roseland. Local leaders are working to redevelop the massive site into a mixed-use, community-driven project. (Courtesy Far South Community Development)

Local leaders are working to redevelop a massive city site into a mixed-use, community-driven project. They’ve gotten millions in seed money from the state — and are hoping for city support, too.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: West Loop

 The West Loop is known for its trendy Michelin-rated restaurants and lively nightlife scene. (WTTW News)

The neighborhood has changed from an industrial hub to an area bustling with bars and restaurants. And more changes are on the way, with huge new developments under consideration, including a Guinness brewery.

Chicago’s 4th Architecture Biennial Reimagines City’s Vacant Lots

In Englewood, one of the biennial’s 15 sites, the community partner is Grow Greater Englewood and they are constructing a new Englewood Village Plaza at 58th St. and Halsted. (WTTW News)

The exposition kicks off Friday. Past editions have been based at the Chicago Cultural Center, but now, its focus shifts to neighborhoods across Chicago — and to finding creative opportunities to meet those communities’ needs.

The Week in Review: Energy Overhaul Finally Moves Ahead

Byron Nuclear Generating Station in Ogle County, Illinois. (WTTW News)

An energy bill passes the House. Calls grow to investigate an alderman accused of retaliating against residents. Thousands of CPS students are potentially exposed to COVID-19. And the Chicago Bears kickoff their season Sunday.

Spotlight Politics: Calls to Punish Alderman Grow

City Council colleagues of Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th Ward) are calling for him to be punished after text messages show him using offensive language and seeking to withhold city services from a constituent. (WTTW News)

City Council colleagues of Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th Ward) are calling for him to be punished after text messages show him using offensive language and seeking to withhold city services from a constituent. Our politics team weighs in on that story and more.

Class-Action Lawsuit Targets Chicago Police Stop-and-Frisk Practices

(WTTW News)

More than two million people might be eligible to join a class-action lawsuit over the Chicago Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices, according to attorneys suing CPD and the city. We hear from one of the plaintiffs in the suit and an attorney.

‘Chicago Tonight’ in Your Neighborhood: Des Plaines

Des Plaines is a diverse city, with a growing population of more than 58,000 people, located just North of O’Hare Airport. (WTTW News)

Des Plaines is a diverse suburb just north of O’Hare Airport. It has a high vaccination rate but is still facing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. It’s also looking forward to the reopening of a historic theater, and the expansion of one of its major employers.

Illinois Advocates Hope High-Speed Rail Is on the Horizon

A new High Speed Rail Commision is also charged with integrating current rail service from Metra and Amtrak. (WTTW News)

Imagine getting from Chicago to St. Louis by train in just a couple of hours. That’s the vision of high-speed rail advocates, who want to see an ultrafast train cut across Illinois — and the vision has gotten a boost from Illinois lawmakers.