Stories by Kristen Thometz

Pritzker Says Illinois on Track to Move to Phase 4, Won’t Lift Restrictions Early

New statewide totals: 129,837 cases, 6,095 deaths

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces a shelter-in-place rule to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus, during a news conference Friday, March 20, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast)

A group of Republican lawmakers are calling on Gov. J.B. Pritzker to lift additional restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus by Friday — weeks ahead of the timeline outlined in the governor’s reopening plan for Illinois.

$270M of Illinois’ Federal Coronavirus Funding to Help Child Care Providers

(ponce_photography / Pixabay)

While schools and nonessential businesses temporarily closed in March, hundreds of child care centers stayed open to care for the children of essential workers. The state is now dedicating millions of dollars toward their financial health.

City Cancels Summer Festivals Through Labor Day

(EMR / Flickr)

This year’s summer festival season will look a little different, with large outdoor festivals canceled or moved online, including Lollapalooza.

More than 1 Million COVID-19 Tests Performed in Illinois

New statewide totals: 125,915 cases, 5,795 deaths

(WTTW News)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the milestone was the result of the “incredible work of so many people behind the scenes.”

Northwestern Study of Pregnant Women with COVID-19 Finds Placenta Injuries

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The placenta provides nutrients and oxygen to a developing fetus, among other things. In a small study, researchers found the placentas from pregnant women with COVID-19 showed signs of injury.

Pritzker Signs Legislation Permitting Sale of To-Go Cocktails

(Photo by Lightscape / Unsplash)

Next time you order takeout food, you can pair it with a premade to-go cocktail, thanks to legislation signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday. 

How to Clean Your Cloth Face Covering

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Cloth face coverings should be washed after each use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares tips on how to get yours squeaky clean. 

Faith Leaders, Activists Call for Peaceful Protests, Reform

James Norwood, 53, of the suburb of South Holland, came to the Saturday, May 30, 2020 protest with his daughter Hannah. (Evan Garcia / WTTW News)

Following days of violence and looting throughout the city and county, a group of faith leaders, community activists and politicians are urging peaceful protests while calling for reform. “There’s a way we can resist constructively,” said Jahmal Cole.

Illinois Surpasses 120,000 Coronavirus Cases as State Slowly Reopens

New statewide totals: 120,260 cases, 5,390 deaths

Pedestrians wear masks as they walk along the sidewalk in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Thursday, May 7, 2020. (WTTW News)

Just days after the state began slowly reopening, public health officials said 120,260 people have so far tested positive for the virus in Illinois, including an additional 1,343 between Saturday and Sunday.

Illinois Headed in ‘Right Direction’ on Eve of Phase 3: State’s Top Doctor

New statewide totals: 115,833 cases, 5,186 deaths

A passenger wearing a face mask boards a CTA bus in Chicago. (WTTW News)

“As a state we’re definitely headed in the right direction, we’ve successfully met the metrics to move into phase three, but we must proceed with caution,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

Online Pet Adoptions a Success, Chicago Shelters Say

(Bolanu Teslaru Andrei / Pixabay)

Chicago Animal Care and Control and PAWS Chicago pivoted to online pet adoptions when Illinois’ stay-at-home order was issued. We check in on how that’s been going — and how else the pandemic has impacted animal shelters.

Filing for Unemployment in Illinois? Here’s What You Need to Know

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More than 1.2 million unemployment claims have been processed in Illinois since March, and many people are filing for unemployment insurance for the first time. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process.

Residents Question Hilco’s Commitment to Neighborhood Ahead of Demolition

The partly demolished site of the former Crawford Power Generating Station, which was active from 1925 to 2012. (WTTW News)

During a 90-minute town hall Saturday, Chicago residents questioned officials about plans to demolish what’s left of the Crawford Coal Plant and Hilco Global’s commitment to the neighborhood.

More than 720K COVID-19 Tests Completed as Illinois Inches Toward Next Phase

New statewide totals: 107,796 cases, 4,790 deaths

The drive-thru testing facility at 6959 Forest Preserve Drive in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Illinois remains on track to enter the next phase of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data, which shows 722,247 coronavirus tests have been conducted to date.

Street Sweeping Tickets Mistakenly Issued During Stay-at-Home Order

(Arvell Dorsey Jr. / Flickr)

Residents aren’t supposed to be ticketed for cars parked along street sweeping routes during Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, but some have. Those tickets were issued in error, according to the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation. 

Outdoor Restaurant Seating Can Resume in Phase 3: Pritzker

New statewide totals: 100,418 cases, 4,525 deaths

(JamesDeMers / Pixabay)

By the end of the month, Illinoisans could be dining alfresco at local restaurants – a change from the state’s original reopening plan that limited restaurants to pickup and delivery services during phase three.

Show Your Appreciation for Essential Workers by Howling for Heroes

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Join Chicagoans and their pooches across the city each night at 8 p.m. to show your support for health care workers, first responders and essential employees by howling.

Illinois on Track for Phase 3 of Reopening Plan: Pritzker

New statewide totals: 98,030 cases, 4,379 deaths

(kaleido-dp / Pixabay)

Barbershops, salons, offices and manufacturing could reopen in just 10 days if the state moves into the next phase of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan. What that phase looks like.

Illinois Launching Contact Tracing Pilot Programs in Lake, St. Clair Counties

New statewide totals: 96,485 cases, 4,234 deaths

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As part of Illinois’ push to create an “army” of contact tracers to identify people at risk of developing COVID-19, the state is launching pilot programs in two counties that have seen a combined 7,430 cases of the virus.

Illinois Launches Jobs-Focused Website Amid Spike in Unemployment

New statewide totals: 87,937 cases, 3,928 deaths

(Pexels / Pixabay)

As Illinois faces record levels of unemployment, the state has launched a website aiming to connect job seekers with employers and provide free online access to workforce development courses.

Pritzker Provides Update on Nursing Homes as State Sets Record for COVID-19 Deaths

New statewide totals: 84,698 cases, 3,792 deaths

(WTTW News)

Illinois has set a new record for the number of coronavirus-related deaths in a single 24-hour period: 192. To date, the 3,792 deaths in Illinois are linked to the virus and 84,698 people have tested positive for it, according to health officials.

Chicago Street Sweeping Starts Monday, But Cars Won’t Be Ticketed or Towed

(Arvell Dorsey Jr. / Flickr)

After weeks of delay, Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation will begin its street sweeping season on May 18. But residents won’t get tickets for cars parked along cleaning routes as long as the stay-at-home order remains in effect.

Illinois Sets Single-Day Record for COVID-19 Testing, Cases

New statewide totals: 83,021 cases, 3,601 deaths

In this April 16, 2020, file photo, a medical worker places a swab in a vial while testing the homeless for COVID-19 through the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, during the new coronavirus pandemic, in Miami. (AP Photo / Lynne Sladky, File)

In a 24-hour period from Monday to Tuesday, the state conducted nearly 30,000 coronavirus tests and confirmed another 4,014 cases of COVID-19. “The more you test, the more positive cases you find,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

Oakton Community College Offers Training Program for Contact Tracers

(Andrés Rodríguez / Pixabay)

Illinois is seeking to create an “army” of contact tracers, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said earlier this month. A suburban college is hoping to meet that demand.

Addiction Treatment Providers Offering ‘A Necessary Service’ During Pandemic

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The impact of the coronavirus is being felt in nearly every aspect of daily life, but it’s not the only health crisis people are facing. “Addiction can kill you as well,” said Aaron Weiner, a local addiction services director.