Stories by blair paddock

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.

Chicago Expands Vaccine Eligibility for Youth Ages 12 to 15

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of Chicago’s public health department, announces all city-operated COVID-19 vaccination sites will be open to children ages 12 and up during a news conference on May 11, 2021. (WTTW News)

Vaccine eligibility is expanding. We speak with Dr. Allison Bartlett, a pediatrician and associate professor of the pediatrics section of infectious diseases at University of Chicago Medicine, to learn more about vaccinating young people.

Group Works to ‘Redefine the Narrative’ and Reduce Number of Women in Prison

(WTTW News)

At the end of 2020, about 1,400 women were in the Illinois prison system, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. One group is aiming to cut that number in half.

How to Stay Informed and Avoid Burnout from 24-7 Media

Protesters gather in Logan Square on April 16, 2021 to denounce the police killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo. (WTTW News)

Over the past year, news coverage about traumatic topics like the pandemic and fatal police shootings have caused many to feel burnt out. Is there a balance between staying informed and not feeling overwhelmed by distressing stories?

At What Point Does a COVID-19 Infection Become a Disability?

(Courtesy of Northwestern Medicine)

COVID-19 has put some people on disability benefits, but others say the system isn't built for people with the virus. We discuss the obstacles people with long COVID-19 symptoms are facing.

COPA Investigation Just Beginning as Community Responds to Toledo Shooting Video

A still image from a two-minute compilation video released April 15 by the Chicago Police Department highlights the location of a gun at the scene of the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo by a Chicago police officer on March 29. (WTTW News via Chicago Police Department)

The Civilian Office of Police Accountability delivered on its promise to publicly release video of the fatal police shooting of Adam Toledo within 60 days, but the agency’s work has just begun. What’s next for the investigation.

Another Spike in COVID-19 Cases Shows Clear Pattern, Cause for Caution

Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said the latest surge in COVID-19 cases is being heavily driven by younger Chicagoans—18-29 years old leading. (WTTW News)

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that easing restrictions on indoor dining in restaurants can increase COVID-19 cases and deaths. After easing restrictions in Chicago, the city’s positivity rate is again on the rise. 

Universal Basic Income Skeptics Say Cash Should Go to Existing Services

Last week, Chicago aldermen approved a resolution calling for the city to use dollars from federal relief funds for a basic income pilot program. (WTTW News)

Chicago aldermen recently approved a resolution calling for the city to use federal relief funds for a basic income pilot program. Some organizations have already been testing out the idea, but skeptics are looking to build up social services instead.

Alderman Calls for Equity in Metered Parking Along Lakefront

A file photo of Montrose Beach in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Metered parking is already in place at lakefront destinations like Rainbow Beach, North Avenue Beach, 31st Street Beach, 63rd Street Beach and Foster Avenue Beach. Now it’s coming to Montrose Harbor — and some residents aren’t happy about it.

Atlanta Attacks Raise Concerns About Increasing Violence Against Women

We discuss a rise in racial and gender-based violence — and resources for those in need. (WTTW News)

A mass shooting in Atlanta last week has left Asian women across the country heartbroken and scared for their safety. We discuss a rise in racial and gender-based violence — and resources for those in need.

Cook County’s New Public Defender Talks Goals, Challenges

Sharone Mitchell Jr. appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Monday, March 22, 2021. (WTTW News)

Sharone Mitchell Jr. is coming in at a turbulent time: Jury trials resumed Monday with a massive backlog of cases, and a controversial criminal justice bill was signed by the governor last month. All of this, of course, comes against the backdrop of COVID-19.