Stories by Kristen Thometz

$46M in Grants Awarded to Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020 that $46 million in grants have been awarded to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. (WTTW News)

Grants of $10,000 to $20,000 have been awarded to more than 2,600 small businesses throughout the state that have experienced financial loss or disruptions as a result of coronavirus-related closures.

Study: Electric Cooker Sanitizes N95 Masks

(Credit: Chamteut Oh / University of Illinois)

With limited supplies of critical protective equipment, University of Illinois researchers have found a new way to decontaminate N95 masks using a common kitchen appliance. 

Pritzker Anticipates ‘Tremendous Need’ as Application Period Opens for Rental Assistance

Governor says he will lobby federal government for additional funds

(ArtisticOperations / Pixabay)

The state is providing $300 million in assistance to renters and homeowners struggling to meet ends meet during the coronavirus pandemic, but those funds won’t reach everyone who deserves help, Gov. J.B. Pritzker acknowledged.

Preckwinkle: 2020 on Pace to be Worst Year for Suicides in Black Community in a Decade

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle talks about the rise in deaths by suicide in the Black community at a press conference on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020. (Toni Preckwinkle / Facebook)

More African Americans in Cook County have died by suicide this year than during all of 2019, with a notable increase among young people, according to county officials. “This is horrifying,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.

Advocates Host Virtual Vigil to Honor Slain Homeless Man, Demand Housing Resources

A virtual candlelight vigil is held Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 for Aaron Curry, who was killed in July while living in Grant Park. Advocates for homeless individuals are calling on the city to dedicate additional resources to housing. (WTTW News screenshot via Zoom)

Advocates hosted a virtual candlelight vigil Wednesday morning to honor Aaron Curry, who was killed last month while living in Grant Park, and to call on the city of Chicago to dedicate an additional $100 million annually to housing resources. 

Pritzker: Without Local Action to Stop COVID-19 Spread, More Restrictions Could Come

Gov. J.B. Pritzker gives an update Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020 about the coronavirus and implores local officials to take action to stop the virus from spreading in their communities. (WTTW News)

With coronavirus cases rising, Gov. J.B. Pritzker implored local officials to take action to stop the spread of the virus and warned if they don’t, more stringent regulations could be on the way, including another stay-at-home order. 

Pritzker: COVID-19 Pandemic is Now Worse in Carbondale Than Chicago

Gov. J.B. Pritzker gives an update Tuesday, Aug, 4, 2020 on the coronavirus in Carbondale. (WTTW News)

When the coronavirus pandemic struck Illinois in the spring, Cook County was hit hard while areas downstate were largely spared. But that’s changing. “We’re seeing troubling signs,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday.

Rising Number of COVID-19 Cases Prompts New Cook County Guidelines

(JamesDeMers / Pixabay)

In an effort to curb COVID-19 infections, the Cook County Department of Public Health is asking bars, breweries and taverns that do not serve food to only serve customers outside.

Pritzker Launches $5M Face Mask Campaign: ‘It Only Works If You Wear It’

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

Despite a statewide mandate, not all residents are wearing masks. A new campaign aims to encourage folks to do just that. “A mask is like anything that keeps us safe. It only works if you wear it,” the governor said.

Returning to Work? Here’s How to Prepare Your Pets for Alone Time

(Michael Siebert / Pixabay)

The coronavirus has upended daily routines around the globe, but it’s not just humans who have been impacted. Our pets have grown accustomed to us being home around the clock.

With COVID-19 Cases Rising, Pritzker Releases Safety Guidelines for Recreational Sports

(Keith Johnston / Pixabay)

With the number of new coronavirus cases rising in Illinois and a handful of outbreaks linked to youth sports, the governor announced new guidance restricting youth and adults sports in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Northwestern Seeking 5,000 Volunteers for COVID-19 Prevention Trials

(Credit: Northwestern Medicine)

Northwestern Medicine is seeking 5,000 people who are at risk of exposure to the coronavirus and are interested in participating in vaccine studies to join its newly launched COVID Prevention Trials Registry.

Pritzker: ‘This is Our Moment to Pull Together’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks Monday, July 27, 2020 in Quincy, Illinois, about the coronavirus. (WTTW News)

For nearly a week, more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Illinois each day. The spike has prompted Gov. J.B. Pritzker to repeatedly urge residents to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Local Researchers Develop Wearable Sensor to Monitor COVID-19 Symptoms

Researchers at Northwestern University and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab have developed a wearable sensor to monitor and interpret key symptoms of the novel coronavirus. (Credit: Northwestern University)

Worn 24/7, the soft, flexible sensor is being used to monitor cough, shortness of breath and fever in a small number of patients and front-line health care workers. Researchers hope the device can provide more insight about the coronavirus.

Illinois Officials Warn of Fraud Linked to Federal Pandemic Unemployment Program

An Illinois Department of Employment Security office on Lawrence Avenue in Chicago. (WTTW News)

State officials announced Wednesday they are investigating a widespread nationwide fraud schemed linked to each state’s federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

1,598 New COVID-19 Cases in Illinois as Officials Again Implore Residents to Wear Masks

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike talks Wednesday, July 22, 2020 about the rise in coronavirus cases. (WTTW News)

State officials on Wednesday reported the highest single-day increase in COVID-19 cases for the month of July, prompting a stern warning from Illinois’ top doctor: Wear a mask or we’ll move backwards.

COVID-19 Restrictions Could Return to Metro East Region of Illinois, Pritzker Warns

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at a press conference Tuesday, July 21, 2020 in Collinsville, Illinois. (WTTW News)

Illinois has a plan in place to roll back restrictions if COVID-19 positivity rates spike. Now, one of the state’s 11 regions is “dangerously close to that threshold,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday.

How Does This Infectious Disease Expert Unwind? By Making Soap

Dr. Emily Landon holds up a bar of soap she made. The infectious disease expert has been making soaps and candles for years. (WTTW News)

Dr. Emily Landon is one of the city’s preeminent experts on the coronavirus, which has dominated her life for the past six months. To unwind, Landon makes her own soap – a hobby she started years ago.

Gov. Pritzker: Wear a Face Mask Every Time You Leave Home

Family members wearing masks walk along the sidewalk in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Thursday, May 7, 2020. Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, all residents should wear face masks or coverings when social distancing is not possible. (WTTW News)

As Chicago reimposes restrictions to stop a recent uptick in coronavirus cases, Gov. J.B. Pritzker implored residents to wear face coverings to “protect the gains we’ve made” against the virus.

Preckwinkle, Cook County Officials Sound the Alarm on Rising Opioid Overdose Deaths

(Marco Verch Professional Photographer and Speaker / Flickr)

COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities, but the opioid crisis is also taking a “devastating toll” on Chicago-area residents this year, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said.

Chicago Museums Can Reopen in Phase 4, But Not All of Them Will

(Adler Planetarium / Facebook)

Museums and aquariums can now reopen their doors — with restrictions — but few of them have, and at least one Chicago institution says it will remain closed until phase five of Illinois’ reopening plan.

Pritzker Outlines Plan that Would Trigger Additional COVID-19 Restrictions

Gov. J.B. Pritzker outlines a new plan that would trigger additional coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday, 15, 2020. (WTTW News)

With the number of coronavirus cases rising in Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday announced a new COVID-19 mitigation plan to combat a possible resurgence of the virus.

Pritzker Says He Won’t Hesitate to Reimpose COVID-19 Restrictions

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces an apprenticeship program expansion on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, in Chicago. (WTTW News)

“I will not hesitate to reimpose some mitigations if we see (coronavirus) numbers moving upward,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday. “My concern again is all about the health and safety of the people of Illinois.”

Infectious Disease Expert: Better National Leadership Needed to Fight COVID-19

Dr. Emily Landon appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Monday, July 13, 2020. (WTTW News)

COVID-19 numbers are rising nationally to startling new highs. Cases in the city and state are also climbing. What’s going on? We check in with Dr. Emily Landon of UChicago Medicine.

Got Maskne? Tips to Prevent, Treat Acne Under Your Mask

(Juraj Varga / Pixabay)

Wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently and using hand sanitizer can take a toll on your skin. A local dermatologist shares tips to preventing and treating ailments like “maskne.”