Stories by Patty Wetli

Water Main Work Not Stopping for COVID-19

(Leonariel / Pixabay)

Water and sewer work across Chicago is going forward as planned. That means water shutoffs are possible, even as many city residents follow a statewide stay-at-home order.

Silver Lining: You Won’t Have to Move Your Car for Street Sweeping This Month

Chicago's street sweeping schedule has been adjusted in light of the coronavirus quarantine. (Arvell Dorsey Jr. / Flickr)

Street sweeping season usually kicks off April 1, but with so many Chicagoans (and their cars) staying put, the city decided to improvise.

Zoo and Aquarium Association Blasts ‘Tiger King,’ Everyone’s Favorite Stay-at-Home Binge


“Tiger King” has become a streaming sensation during the coronavirus pandemic, but accredited zoos and aquariums aren’t entertained by the unsavory practices on display.

Step Away From ‘Tiger King’ and Meet the New Lions at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo recently welcomed a new pair of lions. (Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

Brutus and Titus, 4-year-old brothers, arrived at their new home in mid-March. Learn more about the African lions during a Facebook Live chat on Thursday.

April Fools’ Day is Canceled. No Prank Could Top Reality

(Jonny Hughes / Flickr)

As one person succinctly summed it up on social media: “We don’t need no April fools jokes … we living in one.”

Farmers Markets Rally to Create Virtual Hubs for Hard-Hit Local Growers. Here’s a Roundup

Virtual farmers markets aim to prop up local food producers during the COVID shutdown. (Gemma Billings / Flickr)

From Green City Market’s spanking new app to McKinley Park’s Google spreadsheet, farmers market organizers are working overtime to support growers and get fresh, local food in the hands of Chicagoans.

Mayor Lightfoot is in on the Joke, Spoofing Her Own ‘Tough Mom’ Image

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot takes a humorous approach to a serious subject: “Stay home, save lives.” (Chicago Mayor’s Office)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s tough love in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has spawned a million memes. Now the mayor gets in on the joke with her own video.

Reusable Bags Aren’t ‘Banned’ But Stores Are Wary of Them. Here’s How to BYOB Safely

Some grocers are nixing the use of reusable shopping bags out of concern for employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Karin Beil / Flickr)

Grocery stores remain one of the few places in Chicago where large numbers of people are still able to mingle, and that — rightfully — has put both employees and customers on edge.

Mariano’s Joins List of Stores Offering Special Shopping Hours for Seniors

Grocers are setting aside shopping hours for seniors, to protect them from COVID-19. (Lynn Friedman / Flickr)

A number of grocers and big-box retailers have announced special shopping hours for senior citizens and others vulnerable to COVID-19 to ensure less crowded situations, as well as access to essential items.

Forest Preserves Will Be Shut Down if People Don’t Maintain Distance, Preckwinkle Warns

Wildflowers in Busse Woods. (Sajith T S / Flickr)

Most trails remain open in Cook County’s forest preserves, offering people a respite from home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that could change if people congregate like they did along Chicago’s lakefront. 

EPA Relaxes Enforcement, Citing Pandemic. Environmentalists Call it a ‘License to Pollute’

Environmentalists are seething over the EPA temporarily relaxing enforcement rules. (mvpdv0ra / Flickr)

The EPA is relaxing enforcement of “environmental legal obligations” during the coronavirus pandemic, and activists are seething.

Had Enough of Canned Goods? Local Growers Team Up to Bring Farmers Market to Your Door

A sample farmers market to-go box. (Courtesy of Closed Loop Farms)

Closed Loop Farms is leading a group of local food producers to deliver everything from Michelin-worthy greens to naturally fermented sodas directly to your door.

Help Fight COVID: Donate Vital Health Care Supplies This Weekend at United Center

Protective equipment is needed to keep healthcare workers safe during the outbreak of COVID-19. (Travis AFB / Flickr)

Masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and other vital supplies can be dropped off Sunday at the United Center and will be distributed to health care providers in Illinois.

Lightfoot Threatens to Shut Down Entire Lakefront if People Keep Gathering in Groups

Now is not the time for a long stroll or ride along the lakefront, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. (Eric Allix Rogers / Flickr)

Chicago’s mayor says too many people are flouting the governor’s order to stay home and maintain social distance, particularly along the lakefront and at playgrounds. “This situation is deadly serious,” she said Wednesday.

Still Open: Chicago Print Shop is Offering Free Signs to Small Businesses

Free banner signs help business advertise their new hours and services during COVID-19 lockdown. (Courtesy of Snappy Printing and Graphics)

Tony Grammatis, owner of Snappy Printing and Graphics, is offering free banners to small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s a Toilet, Not a Trash Can. Don’t Flush Disinfectant Wipes, MWRD Says

Keep wipes out of Chicago's sewer system. (Patty Wetli / WTTW)

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago has seen a rise in disinfectant wipes stuck to filtering screens at its water reclamation plants, and it now has some advice for residents.

Nailed It! A Chicago Bakery is Rolling With These Crazy Times

(Courtesy of TipsySpace)

TipsySpace has created a toilet roll cake that’s worthy of bingeing, not hoarding, and it’s so authentic looking, customers have nearly mistaken it for the real thing on pickup.

It Takes a Village to Bake a Loaf of Bread: Neighbors Swap Sourdough Starter

(jacme31 / Flickr)

Food continues to create a sense of community even during these days of social isolation, with strangers swapping free sourdough starter.

How Much Toilet Paper Do You Really Need? There’s a Calculator for That

(Sharon Mollerus / Flickr)

A couple of Brits created the website  to help demonstrate need vs. panic buying.

All Chicago Public Libraries and Parks to Close Saturday

(Smart Chicago Collaborative / Flickr)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the closure of the citys public libraries and parks as of 5 p.m. Saturday.

‘Chicago, We Need to Love Each Other With All Our Hearts’: Lightfoot

"We miss our neighbors." A simple truth shared by a restaurant in Lincoln Square. (Patty Wetli / Flickr)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot this week called on Chicagoans to remain connected even while practicing social distance.

Got Time on Your Hands? Check Out the Wide World of Live Web Cams

Live web cam feeds of nature and wildlife are a great way to bust free of quarantine without leaving home. (Terry Ott / Flickr)

Live web cam feeds of nature and wildlife are a great way to bust free of quarantine without leaving home. Here are 10 to check out.

Spring Still Has Hope: Season’s First Blooms Are Here

Spring is coming through with signs of life and hope. (Patty Wetli / WTTW)

Snowdrop, crocus, hyacinth and other early spring bloomers are cheering up the gloomy landscape.

Party Animals! Brookfield Zoo Carries on With St. Patrick’s Day Tradition

Lucy (left) and Charger, two California sea lions, received shamrock-shaped treats on St. Patrick’s Day at Brookfield Zoo. (Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

At least one St. Patrick’s Day tradition is alive and well in these topsy-turvy times. Animals at Brookfield Zoo received special shamrock-shaped treats on Tuesday.

Neighbors Attempt to Salvage St. Patrick’s Day Fun With No-Contact Shamrock Scavenger Hunt

Chicagoans are getting creative when it comes to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the shadow of COVID-19. (Torbakhopper / Flickr)

Neighbors in Bucktown suggested hanging shamrocks in windows for a DIY scavenger hunt, and Lincoln Square grabbed onto the idea. Who else wants in?