Stories by kristen thometz

Pritzker: Expansion of Food Benefits Will Help 1 Million Children in Illinois

(Jasmine Lin / Pixabay)

Children who would have received free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program if their schools were not closed or operating with reduced hours are eligible for the benefits.

City Closes COVID-19 Testing Sites Due to Holidays, Weather

(WTTW News)

On Monday, officials announced all city-run coronavirus testing sites will be closed Tuesday due to the weather. The sites have been closed since Friday in observance of Lincoln’s Birthday and Presidents Day.

Illinois to Focus on Administering 2nd Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine

(WTTW News)

Starting this week, more coronavirus vaccines will be allocated to people receiving their second dose of the vaccine than those getting their first due to limited federal vaccine supplies, according to officials.

Illinois to Start Vaccinating People with Underlying Health Conditions on Feb. 25

The second doses of the Pfizer vaccine in Chicago were administered at Norwegian American Hospital on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. (WTTW News)

With federal vaccine supplies steadily increasing, Illinois will soon begin vaccinating people ages 16 and older who have certain underlying health conditions, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday. But Chicago is still struggling to meet demand for the vaccine.

With St. Patrick’s Day Parades Canceled, Organizers Plan Safe Alternatives

(Squirrel_photos / Pixabay)

“Just cause there’s no parade doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate,” said Tim McSweeney, chair of the South Side Irish Parade Committee. Find out how you can celebrate the luck of the Irish this year. 

Scientists Create DIY Test for Early Detection of COVID-19

(Foundry Co / Pixabay)

Early detection of the coronavirus is crucial for reducing its spread, even as vaccinations ramp up. Now, researchers have created a DIY smell and taste challenge – and all you need is your morning cup of joe.

‘COVID Jungle’ Report Highlights Experiences of Manufacturing, Warehouse Workers Amid Pandemic

(U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr)

Temporary workers at food manufacturing, distribution and logistics facilities in Illinois keep supply chains moving — even during a global pandemic. But many feel their concerns about COVID-19 and workplace safety are often ignored, according to a new report.

State Lawmakers to Start Getting COVID-19 Vaccine: Pritzker

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at a news conference in Champaign on Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. (WTTW News)

Illinois legislators are now eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine as part of phase 1B, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday, but the governor says he’s going to wait his turn to be vaccinated.

Illinois Redirecting 97K COVID-19 Vaccine Doses from Federal Pharmacy Partnership

(WTTW News via CNN)

Illinois health officials announced Wednesday that they are temporarily redirecting approximately 97,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses that have not yet been used in order to increase the limited supply of vaccine to those who are eligible under phase 1B.

Lake County Opens Drive-Thru, Mass COVID-19 Vaccination Site

COVID-19 in Illinois: 3,751 cases, 81 additional deaths

The Lake County Fairgrounds, 1060 East Peterson Road in Grayslake, has been transformed into drive-thru mass vaccination site for COVID-19 vaccines. (WTTW News)

Located at the Lake County Fairgrounds, the drive-thru facility will initially be open three days a week and administer about 600 vaccinations per day, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker. “The goal is to build that into a seven-day per week operation with expanded hours as supplies grow,” he said.

Cook County Launches COVID-19 Vaccine Website, 1st Mass Vaccination Site

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle speaks Monday, Jan. 25, 2021 at the Tinley Park Convention Center, which will serve as a mass vaccination site for the COVID-19 vaccine. (WTTW News)

A year after the first coronavirus case was reported in Illinois, officials launched a new mass coronavirus vaccination site, website and hotline for those who live and work in Cook County. But demand for the vaccine still far outweighs supply.

4 New COVID-19 Vaccination Sites Open in Cook County

(WTTW News)

The new sites will provide vaccinations to health care workers this week and will begin vaccinating residents ages 65 and older as well as front-line essential workers starting Monday.

Cook County Ramping Up COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts

The second doses of the Pfizer vaccine in Chicago were administered at Norwegian American Hospital on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. (WTTW News)

Illinois will soon begin the next phase of its COVID-19 vaccination effort, extending doses to residents ages 65 and older as well as essential front-line workers. The rollout is again prompting officials to urge residents get the vaccine once it becomes available to them.

IDPH Director Ezike Gets 1st Dose of COVID-19 Vaccine

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 at the North Riverside Health Center. (WTTW News)

“Most people survive this illness but some don’t,” Illinois’ top doctor said before receiving her first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. “I don’t want to gamble with my life and I don’t want anyone else to gamble with theirs.”

Illinois Attorney General Warns of Scams Related to COVID-19 Vaccine

The first doses of the Pfizer vaccine in Chicago were administered at the Loretto Hospital on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (WTTW News)

“People should be wary of anyone who offers the vaccine or promises priority access to the vaccine or a COVID-19 cure in exchange for money,” said Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

3 New Laws to Know in 2021

(Meagan Davis / Wikimedia Commons)

The new year usually brings with it hundreds of new laws in Illinois. But like everything else in recent history, the coronavirus pandemic has changed that up, too. On Jan. 1, 2021, only a trio of new laws will take effect.

Cook County Medical Examiner Reports Record Number of Deaths in 2020

(Photo by Mayron Oliveira on Unsplash)

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office handled a record 16,049 deaths in 2020, with coronavirus-related deaths accounting for more than half of those cases, according to officials.

Health Officials Urge Residents to ‘Spread Joy, Not COVID’ Amid Vaccine Excitement

US Surgeon General Pays a Visit to Chicago

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams speaks Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 at a press briefing on the coronavirus with Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. (WTTW News)

Just days before Christmas, a trio of high-profile doctors, including U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, made a plea for people to follow public health measures designed to stop the spread of COVID-19, even as two vaccines are being distributed across the U.S.

Officials: Seek Respite in Cook County Forest Preserves This Winter. But Wear a Mask

(Jerzy Górecki / Pixabay)

On the first day of winter, Cook County officials touted the benefits of spending time in nature, encouraging people to discover the nearly 70,000 acres of forest preserves this season — safely.

Report: Black, Latino Families Struggling with Food, Housing Security During Pandemic

Families pick up Thanksgiving meal boxes and coats for their children at West Town nonprofit Northwestern Settlement on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (Ariel Parrella-Aureli / WTTW News)

Black and Latino communities are disproportionately getting sick and dying from the coronavirus, but a new analysis reveals additional disparities that are impacting families during the public health crisis.

State Launches Program to Close Digital Divide, Calls for Donations

COVID-19 in Illinois: 7,123 New Cases, 146 Additional Deaths

Gov. J.B. Pritzker talks Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020 during his daily coronavirus press briefing. (WTTW News)

The coronavirus pandemic has made internet access more essential than ever as people work and learn from home. But not everyone has a device to connect to the web — or internet access itself.

Pritzker Outlines $700 Million in Budget Cuts

COVID-19 in Illinois: 7,359 New Cases, 117 Additional Deaths

Gov. J.B. Pritzker talks about the state’s finances Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020 during his daily COVID-19 press briefing. (WTTW News)

Facing a nearly $4 billion budget hole, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday outlined millions in cuts that he called a “first step” toward balancing the state’s budget.

Illinois Marks ‘Beginning of the End’ as First COVID-19 Vaccines Are Administered

Plus: IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike on ‘Chicago Tonight’

A health care worker gets the COVID-19 vaccine in Peoria, Illinois on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (WTTW News)

The state’s first round of COVID-19 vaccinations outside of Chicago took place Tuesday morning in Peoria, where five health care workers rolled up their sleeves to get their first dose.

Cook County Officials Expect to Get 20K Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine This Week

Cook County Department of Public Health co-lead Dr. Rachel Rubin talks Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 about plans to vaccinate suburban Cook County health care workers and residents. (WTTW News)

Suburban Cook County health officials outlined their vaccination plans Monday as they await the shipment of 20,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. 

Illinois Receives Its 1st Shipment of COVID-19 Vaccine as Officials Urge Patience

COVID-19 in Illinois: 7,214 New Cases, 103 Additional Deaths

J.B. Pritzker talks Monday, Dec. 14, 2020 during the state’s daily COVID-19 briefing. (WTTW News)

“Today is a very special day that should instill us all with optimism and hope,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday as the state received an initial shipment of about 43,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine made by Pfizer. 

Suburban Cook County Launches Initiative to Prevent Opioid Overdose Deaths

Fentanyl pills (Credit: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration)

With suburban Cook County on track to exceed 2,000 opioid overdose deaths this year, officials announce a program to address the “silent epidemic” that will connect people with treatment.