Stories by Erica Gunderson

As COVID-19 Cases Rise in Illinois’ Latino Communities, So Do Fears of Undercounting

People wearing masks line up for a food drive in Brighton Park on Chicago’s Southwest Side on April 23, 2020. (WTTW News)

As Latino communities scramble to understand why the coronavirus has hit them so hard, they’re calling upon elected officials to do more to help reverse the trend of rising infection rates.

Ready for a ‘Road Trip’ Through Time? New PBS Series Debuts

Emily Graslie at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana, for Episode 2 of “Prehistoric Road Trip.” (Credit: Julie Florio / WTTW)

The new WTTW-produced PBS series “Prehistoric Road Trip” is a project more than two billion years in the making. Host Emily Graslie tells us about the show.

How Community Organizations Can Help Reduce Dependence on Police

(WTTW News)

For many people, calling the police to handle everything from noise complaints to neighbor disputes is a reflexive response. But for some, a troubled history with police makes calling 911 a difficult choice. 

Is That Cough COVID-19 or Allergies? Here’s How to Tell

(flockine / Pixabay)

As those of us who are accustomed to sniffling, coughing and sneezing our way through spring and summer already know, it’s allergy season. But during a pandemic, those coughs could signal something more than a high pollen count.

Pro Sports Make a Game Plan for Returning to Play

(stanbalik / Pixabay)

Sports fans, the countdown can finally begin. As the country takes its first steps out of a coronavirus-induced slumber, plans for the re-emergence of pro sports are surfacing. 

Having ‘The Talk’: How Families Prepare Black Children for Police Interactions

(cocoparisienne / Pixabay)

Just about every teenager gets safe-driving tips from their parents when they get their first driver’s license. But for black teens, the freedom and independence that comes with driving necessitates an added conversation.

Having the Talk: What to Say to Kids About Protests, Racism and Violence

Jahan James, 8, sits on the shoulders of his father, Jonathan James, who addresses the crowd during a protest on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 in Old Town. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

As images of police brutality and cities on fire saturate the media, keeping kids in the dark may not be an option. Here are tips for talking to children about difficult topics.

Communities in Conflict: Little Village Quiets After Days of Anger, Violence

A unity march in Little Village follows days of unrest and reports of racially motivated violence. (WTTW News)

How Chicago communities came together to push past tensions that were feeding a racial divide. 

Riot or Rebellion: Why Peaceful Protests Can Become Violent

A chaotic scene in downtown Chicago on the evening of Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Hugo Balta / WTTW News)

The line between peaceful political protest and chaotic violence can be become blurred in an instant. Activist Jahmal Cole and educator Reuben Jonathan Miller of the University of Chicago weigh in.

Ask Geoffrey: A Brief History of Chicago’s Trash

(WTTW News)

Longtime Chicago Ald. Roman Pucinski once said, “There’s nothing as crucial to an alderman as garbage.” So how did garbage cans become a source and symbol of political power in this city? Geoffrey Baer talks trash.

How to Protect Your Credit Score’s Health During the Pandemic

(Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash)

For the 1 in 6 Americans who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus, their credit score might be the last thing on their minds. 

Furloughed Restaurant Workers Deliver 3,200 Free Meals to Front-Line Workers

Bill Phan, left, and Kevin Yoo of Initiative 77(3)12. (Courtesy of Phan and Yoo)

Through a nonprofit effort dubbed Initiative 77(3)12, friends Bill Phan and Kevin Yoo are feeding hundreds of health care workers each week across Chicago – and they hope to keep it going as long as the need continues.

Ask Geoffrey: What’s the History of Chicago Common Brick?

Chicago common brick. (Courtesy Will Quam)

Chicago’s brick buildings put on a refined face for the street side, but if you peek past the facade, you’ll find that what’s holding them up is a little bit rougher. Geoffrey Baer has this history of the Chicago common brick.

Chef Rick Bayless Sounds the Alarm on Restaurant Survival

Chef and restaurateur Rick Bayless, as pictured in a screenshot from the PBS show “Mexico — One Plate at a Time.”

He’s a familiar face, thanks to his PBS program “Mexico: One Plate at a Time.” And his food is familiar too, thanks to his multiple restaurants. Chef Rick Bayless talks about what the industry needs to stomach the pandemic.

Ask Geoffrey: Historical Markers That Don’t Quite Hit the Mark

History buffs are big fans of historical markers, those often-overlooked plaques that tell the tales of site-specific events from years past. Geoffrey Baer tells us about some unusual historical markers around Chicago.

How Older Adults Can Stave Off Anxiety, Isolation During the Pandemic

(beejees / Pixabay)

As the group most at risk from the virus, older adults are advised to stay indoors as much as possible. But they’re also the group most at risk of mental health problems due to social isolation. 

Pandemic Parenting: Helping Kids Cope with COVID-19

(Wokandapix / Pixabay)

As the days of social distancing turn into months, anxiety and frustration continue to mount. We get advice on safeguarding kids’ emotional well-being during the pandemic.

Ask Geoffrey: The Story Behind the Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium

(WTTW News)

A onetime tree nursery became a bucolic place of rest and recovery for tuberculosis patients on Chicago’s North Side. Geoffrey Baer has the story of a decadeslong battle against a contagion.

UIC Nurse Battles COVID-19 at Hospital and at Home

David Ortiz, a registered nurse, appears on “Chicago Tonight” via Zoom on Wednesday, April 29, 2020. (WTTW News)

If there’s one thing we’ve learned with certainty since the arrival of COVID-19 in the U.S., it’s that nothing is certain — least of all for the health care workers on the front lines of the crisis.

Chicago’s Anti-Violence Workers Face Fight on Two Fronts

(WTTW News)

Even in the shadow of the pandemic, gun violence in Chicago has not stopped. How the fight against COVID-19 is affecting the fight against violent crime.

Ask Geoffrey: How Major League Baseball Survived Past Pandemics

As Chicago baseball fans hunker down and hope for the return of their favorite summertime sport, a viewer wonders how Chicago sports soldiered through the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918.

Co-Parenting and Cohabiting During COVID-19

(Pexels / Pixabay)

For parents who share custody of their children, or those in the process of divorce, the pandemic has turned situations that are challenging at best into much more complicated scenarios — virtually overnight.

Dispatches from the Block, Week 5: Household Shortages

(Derek Hatfield / Flickr)

As Chicagoans hunker down amid the pandemic, we check in with some familiar faces on how they’re weathering the storm – and what weird shortage their households are experiencing. 

Documentary Chronicles Jordan’s ‘Last Dance’ with Chicago Bulls

Former sportswriter Melissa Isaacson joins “Chicago Tonight” for a virtual interview on Monday, April 20, 2020. (WTTW News)

On Sunday night, Chicago sports fans were treated to the much-anticipated premiere of an ESPN documentary. Former Bulls beat writer Melissa Isaacson shares her take on the 10-part series.

Chicago Nurse Raising Funds to Keep COVID-19 Patients Connected With Loved Ones

(Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash)

Cellphones are lifelines for hospital patients. But when batteries run out, a patient’s ability to call home might also. Meet a Logan Square nurse practitioner who’s making an effort to keep patients plugged in with family.