Stories by kristen thometz

COVID-19 Pandemic Challenged Harm Reduction Organizations to ‘Think Outside of the Box.’ Some of Those Lessons Stuck.

(Photo by @plqml // felipe pelaquim on Unsplash)

A key tenet of harm reduction is meeting people who use drugs where they’re at. The coronavirus challenged advocates’ ability to do just that, prompting them to think differently about how they provide and deliver services.

2022 Chicago Summer Festival Guide

Do Division Street Fest (Courtesy of West Town Chamber of Commerce)

Summer and the return of festival season will be here before you know it. Get ready for fun with this guide to neighborhood street fests, art shows, outdoor concerts and cultural celebrations of all sizes across Chicago and the suburbs.

With Vaping Up and COVID Lingering, Northwestern Recruiting Millennials for Lung Health Study in Chicago

(valelopardo/ Pixabay)

Nearly 40 cities across the country are recruiting 4,000 young adults ages 25-35 to participate in a study that will track and analyze their lung health over their lifetime to better understand how environment, lifestyle and physical activity impact respiratory health.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: May 12-15

(Credit: Chicago Park District)

An organic plant sale, total lunar eclipse, migratory birds and a writers festival usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago this weekend.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: May 5-8

(Credit: Chicago Park District)

Colorful flowers, cabaret shows, dance performances and circus acts usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago this weekend.

DuPage County Ranked Healthiest County in Illinois for 2nd Year in a Row: Report

(Geronimo Giqueaux / Unsplash)

The western collar county is once again the healthiest in the state and has ranked in the top 6 healthiest counties since 2011, according to a comprehensive report comparing counties’ health statewide. 

10 Things to Do This Weekend: April 28-May 1

(Courtesy of One of a Kind Show)

A unique craft show, sudsy beverages, classical music and an alfresco art fair usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago this weekend.

Only 48 Out of 102 Illinois Counties Monitoring COVID-19 via Wastewater, But 80% of Population Covered

Health officials see potential future uses for surveillance beyond COVID-19

(WTTW News)

Fewer than half of Illinois’ 102 counties are participating in a statewide program that monitors the virus that causes COVID-19 and its variants in wastewater. But state health officials say the participating 68 wastewater treatment plants in 48 counties covers more than 80% of Illinois’ population.

Illinois Health Officials: 3 Suspected Cases of Severe Hepatitis Found in Kids

(valelopardo/ Pixabay)

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Monday announced it has learned about three suspected cases of severe hepatitis in children under 10 that are potentially linked to a strain of the adenovirus. 

Life Expectancy in Chicago Dropped Almost 2 Years During 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic

(Goodfreephotos_com / Pixabay)

From 2019 to 2020, life expectancy in Chicago dropped almost two years – one of the sharpest single-year decreases on record, according to city officials. Latino and Black Chicagoans experienced the steepest declines, with life expectancy for the latter falling below 70 years for the first time in decades.

Is That Stuffy Nose Allergies or COVID-19? Here’s How to Find Out

(flockine / Pixabay)

Budding plants and blooming trees signal the return of spring, triggering congestion, coughing and sneezing for the millions of seasonal allergy sufferers. With COVID-19 still circulating, how can you tell if your stuffy nose is just a case of hay fever and not something more? Here’s what you need to know.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: April 21-24

(Courtesy of The Other Art Fair)

Art shows, doughnuts, circus acts and dance performances usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in Chicago this weekend.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Illinois’ Former Top Doc, Tapped to Lead Sinai Chicago

Dr. Ngozi Ezike appears via Zoom on “Chicago Tonight” on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. (WTTW News)

Dr. Ngozi Ezike will take over as the new president and CEO of Sinai Chicago on June 13. “I received many calls about various opportunities over the past year, but this is the right choice for me and the right moment. Sinai Chicago is where I want to be,” Ezike said in a statement. 

10 Things to Do This Weekend: April 14-17

(robyrad /Pixabay)

International wines, a festive 5K, dance performances and a theater festival usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in Chicago this weekend.

Here’s What You Can Do to Protect Yourself From COVID-19 Based on Community Spread

State health officials adopt new COVID-19 reporting guidelines

(WTTW News)

Most of Illinois is experiencing low levels of community transmission of COVID-19, but with case rates slowly rising, state health officials are sharing tips for how residents can prevent infection.

Cook County Awarding $12M in Grants to Address COVID-19, Mental Health and More

Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle announces the launch of the Building Healthy Communities initiative Tuesday, April 12, 2022. (WTTW News)

Community-based organizations, health centers, local municipalities and schools in suburban Cook County can apply for funding starting Tuesday. “Working with grassroots organizations is critical in reaching our most vulnerable populations,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Study Seeking to Understand Why Some People Get Long COVID Open to Illinois Participants

People walk in Chicago’s Northalsted neighborhood in September 2020. (WTTW News)

Why do some people experience long-term effects after having COVID-19? And what can be done to speed recovery and prevent it? Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago are part of a national effort to answer those questions and more. 

10 Things to Do This Weekend: April 7-10

EXPO CHICAGO 2019. Image by Kevin Serna, Courtesy of Kasmin (New York) and EXPO CHICAGO.

International artwork, poetry, historic homes and craft brews usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago this weekend.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: March 31-April 3

(Oddities & Curiosities Expo / Facebook / Photo by: Megan Vescio Photography)

Eclectic collections, a musical about family, Mexican stews and reptiles usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago this weekend.

‘Hunger Doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum’: OpenShelf Connects Chicago Residents with Food, Resources

(Photo by Aaron Doucett / Unsplash)

Looking for food pantries on the West Side got a little easier, thanks to an online platform that allows pantries to detail their hours of operation, types of food they provide, languages spoken and other resources they provide like immigration services in a searchable map. 

Chicago, Cook County Contact Tracing Shifts to Target High-Risk, Unusual COVID-19 Cases

State Contact Tracing Surge Center Handling Bulk of Cases

(StockSnap / Pixabay)

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, city and county officials hired hundreds of contact tracers to help stop the spread of the coronavirus as the sheer number of cases overwhelmed local health departments. But as the coronavirus pandemic enters an endemic phase, contact tracing will become more targeted, according to officials.

Northwestern Surgeons Perform Double Lung Transplant on Patient Diagnosed With Terminal Lung Cancer

Dr. Ankit Bharat, chief of thoracic surgery at Northwestern Medicine, was part of the medical team that performed a double lung transplant on a patient with terminal cancer, a first for the hospital system, on Sept. 25, 2021. (Courtesy of Northwestern Medicine)

Six months ago, Chicagoan Albert Khoury underwent a double lung transplant to treat stage 4 lung cancer. Today, he has no signs of cancer. The success of the surgery, a first for Northwestern Medicine, “provides new hope for lung cancer patients at Northwestern Medicine,” said surgeon Dr. Ankit Bharat.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: March 24-27

(Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio / Facebook)

Special menus, fancy footwork, wines and spirits, and vegan fare usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago this weekend.

Here’s How Chicago-Area Residents Can Help Ukraine Amid Russian Attacks

(WTTW News)

Since Russia invaded Ukraine late last month, millions of Ukrainians have fled the country. As Russian attacks continue, here’s how you can support organizations providing humanitarian relief and supplies.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: March 17-20

(Courtesy of Navy Pier)

A colorful celebration of spring, a St. Patrick’s Day-themed run, German beers and film festival usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago this weekend.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: March 10-13

(Courtesy South Side Irish Parade)

A trio of St. Patrick’s Day parades, a green river, Japanese drumming and environmental films usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago this weekend.