Stories by Kristen Thometz

Chicago Postpones All 3 St. Patrick’s Day Parades, River Dyeing

(Max Talbot-Minkin / Flickr)

Major weekend events celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago have been postponed due concerns over the novel coronavirus. To date, 25 people have tested positive for the virus in Illinois.

West Side United Exceeds 2019 Small Business Grant Goals

Poster boards about each of the 10 West Side United communities are set up Thursday, March 5, 2020 at Malcom X College. (Kristen Thometz / WTTW News)

A coalition of health care institutions and professionals awarded dozens of businesses on the city’s West Side $500,000 in small business grants last year, doubling the goal it had set to achieve by 2021.

Illinois’ Coronavirus Total Rises to 19 as 8 More Test Positive

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

State and local health officials reported the first cases of the novel coronavirus outside of Cook County as they announced eight more people have tested positive for the virus.

FDA, FTC Issue Warnings to Companies Claiming to Treat, Prevent Coronavirus

This image from a transmission electron microscopic image shows a sample from the first U.S. case of COVID-19. The spherical viral particles, colored blue, contain cross-sections through the viral genome, seen as black dots. (Image provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

There are currently no vaccines or drugs to treat or prevent COVID-19, yet some companies are selling products purporting to do just that. “The FDA considers the sale and promotion of fraudulent COVID-19 products to be a threat to the public health,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen M. Hahn.

10 Questions with an Infectious Disease Doctor About Coronavirus

“Staying at home if you’re sick is also effective at preventing spread” of the coronavirus, says Dr. Michael Lin of Rush University Medical Center. (flockine / Pixabay)

Who should be wearing masks? Is the virus seasonal? A local infectious disease physician answers these questions and others about COVID-19.

5th Person Tests Positive for Coronavirus in Cook County

(Kristen Thometz / WTTW News)

A man in his 20s has tested positive for COVID-19 after traveling to Italy, marking the fifth case of the virus in Illinois. The patient is hospitalized in isolation at Rush University Medical Center, where he’s reported to be in stable condition.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: March 5-8

(Courtesy of Jurassic Quest)

Prehistoric creatures, a costumed shopping cart race, thousands of flowers, and an environmental film festival usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago.

Chicago Health Officials: Coronavirus Risk Remains Low

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady speaks at a Wednesday, March 4, 2020 press conference about the novel coronavirus. (WTTW News)

There have been four confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, but health officials expect that number to rise as the state expands its capacity to test for the virus. Still, the immediate risk to the general public remains low, they say.

Patient at UChicago Medicine Tests Negative for Coronavirus

(Kristen Thometz / WTTW News)

A person suspected of having the novel coronavirus who was admitted to the University of Chicago Medical Center earlier this week has tested negative for the illness.

UChicago Medicine Treating Suspected Coronavirus Patient

(Kristen Thometz / WTTW News)

A person suspected of having the novel coronavirus has been admitted to the University of Chicago Medical Center, which is awaiting test results to confirm whether the patient has the virus. If confirmed, the patient would mark Illinois’ fifth case of COVID-19.

4th Person Tests Positive for Coronavirus in Cook County

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

A couple in their 70s mark the third and fourth cases of novel coronavirus in Illinois, according to state and local health officials. Both patients are reported to be in good condition.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Candidates Ranked by 3 Bar Associations

(WTTW News)

To help navigate the options, three local bar associations have screened and ranked each candidate. Here are their recommendations.

Pritzker, Lightfoot Outline Efforts to Handle Spread of Coronavirus

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker talks Friday, Feb. 28, 2020 about the novel coronavirus. (WTTW News)

State and local officials are again saying the risk of catching the coronavirus remains low in Illinois, but they’re expanding the state’s capacity and methods to test for the virus.

Jimmy John’s Sprouts Linked to E. Coli Infections

(Kzoo Cowboy / Flickr)

Clover sprouts served at Jimmy John’s restaurants have been linked with an E. coli outbreak that has sickened 14 people in five states, including six people in Illinois. The company said it is no longer serving sprouts.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: Feb. 27-March 1

(C2E2 / Facebook)

Superheroes and villains, an icy dip in the lake, backyard chickens and winter ales usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago.

Despite CDC Warning, Illinois Officials Say Coronavirus Risk Remains Low

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

The novel coronavirus is not spreading across Illinois communities or the U.S., but state health officials say they’re taking preventative actions to limit that from happening.

CDC: Coronavirus Spread in US a Question of ‘When,’ Not ‘If’

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Federal health officials say Americans should begin preparing for a potentially severe outbreak of COVID-19. “Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools, and everyday people to begin preparing,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC.

Survey: 81% of Illinois Residents Worry About Future Cost of Health Care

(Ken Teegardin / Flickr)

According to a new survey, four out of five Illinois residents are concerned about being able to afford some aspect of health care in the future, such as prescription drugs and health insurance.

Local Teens Say High School Class Prepared Them to Respond to Emergencies

Sarah Touhy, left, a 2019 graduate of McHenry High School’s East Campus and Breanna Darcy, a senior at McHenry High School’s West Campus, pose for a picture on Jan. 15 in the biomedical science classroom at the east campus. (Courtesy of McHenry High School)

Two students who took a biomedical science class in the northwest suburbs say the program prepared them for stressful real-life situations. “Everyone should know what goes on in the body and how things work,” said Sarah Touhy.

Cook County Cold-Related Deaths Rise to 32

(Prayitno / Flickr)

On Friday, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office reported four new cold-related deaths in the county.

10 Things to Do This Weekend: Feb. 20-23

International Carnivale Celebration (Photo by James Richards IV)

A Carnivale celebration, late-night art show, chocolate and bicycles usher in the weekend. Here are 10 things to do in and around Chicago.

Early Voting is Underway for the 2020 March Primary

Early voting is underway at 50 neighborhood sites and the city’s downtown “super site.” Here’s everything you need to know.

Study: Coronavirus Can’t be Spread from Mom to Baby in Late Pregnancy

(Lisa Runnels / Pixabay)

In a small study, pregnant women diagnosed with the novel coronavirus during their third trimester didn’t spread the virus to their newborns. While a local researcher called those results exciting, he said they can’t be generalized to all pregnant women. 

FDA Wants to Know More About E-Cigarettes Linked to Lung Illnesses

(haiberliu / Pixabay)

Vaping-related illnesses have killed more than 60 people across the U.S. since March – including five in Illinois – and hospitalized 2,758 others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Chicago to Begin Testing Patients with Flu-Like Symptoms for Coronavirus

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

Chicago is among five U.S. cities that will test patients who exhibit flu-like symptoms for the novel coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.